'Cuts and bruises heal and chicks dig scars'


THIS RUNNING LIFE: MARK-DANIEL GALVIN(24) has run across Korea and along the Great Wall of China and says running has brought him to amazing places

When did you start running and why?

It all started in 2008 after a six week holiday in Thailand. I needed to set myself a new goal when I got home, so I decided to get in shape and sign up for the Dublin Marathon. I cut down on nights out, stopped smoking and began to run every day. It was a life changer; I even started getting better grades in college and was generally happier. I haven’t looked back and have run 16 official marathons since, from Seattle to Seoul to Oslo.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve taken on?

The biggest running challenge I have taken on to date has definitely been running across Korea. Not only did I have to run over 40km a day for seven straight days, I also had to navigate my way across the countryside while making sure that I had enough water and food at all times in blazing 32 degree heat. I felt like Ray Mears running around the place.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Even though running across Korea was an amazing experience, the best feeling I have ever had from completing a physical challenge is probably when I finished the white river 50 mile trial run in Mt Rainer National Park in Washington state back in 2009. I had only been running about 10 months at that stage, so I was delighted at the fact that I finished in a respectable time. I went into work straight after and attempted to pull an eight- hour shift at a bar. My manager thought I was crazy and after he and everyone else in the building stopped laughing at me, he sent me home to bed.

Where’s your favourite place to run?

I am lucky enough to have travelled all over the world and to have run in some pretty amazing places, from the Great Wall of China, to the mysterious and haunting alleys of Marrakesh and even alongside the bulls at the San Fermin festival in Pamplona. However, one of my favourite runs is up along Killiney Hill. It’s a good punishing sprint all the way up those steps, but the panoramic view of Dublin is breathtaking.

What keeps you going when things get tough?

I used to be quite heavy as a teenager and I’m still pretty much a fat kid inside, so when things get seriously intense I just think of the amount of food I can treat myself to after, in order to repair my body. It’s a great feeling being able to eat constantly and not be worried about gaining weight.

Are you a morning or evening runner?

I usually run in the evening after work, however I prefer morning running as it sets you up for a new day. It’s a great way to clear your head and organise yourself.

What does your average weekly training consist of?

I’m a firm believer in mixing up runs, if you run the same distance along the same route it will not only become tedious, but your body will simply get used to that particular workout and progress will be inhibited. To me, it’s all about changing the intensity so as to make your body become adaptive to different situations, whether it be running fast, running steadily over long distances or running up acute inclines. I do a 20 minute upper body work out daily, followed by either a long run (over 10 miles, twice a week), a quick run (seven to eight miles, three times a week) and also a hill run (7 miles, usually once or twice a week). I give myself a rest day usually once or twice every two weeks.

Good or bad diet?

I try to eat well. I consume a lot of rice, noodles and veg over here. However, chocolate is like 50 cent a bar in Korea, so I’m not too averse to having a few KitKats in the fridge at any given time.

Do you have a coach?

No. I would love to join a running club over here though, and try to get my marathon time below three hours.

What do you wear on your feet?

Socks and runners.

What’s on your iPod when running?

No music. The whole point of running for me is to not only become physically fit but to also think about my life. The running high when I exercise is usually released too early when running with music. When left alone with your thoughts you can control the release of the endorphins and make them last the whole workout as opposed to using them up prematurely and spending the second half of the run trying to break through the wall.

Ever been chased by an animal?

I was chased by wild street dogs in Cambodia. They looked like something out of Resident Evil.

Worst injury you’ve had?

I fell over a bale of hay during a 10km assault course in Scotland after the first three seconds of the race. I banged up my knee pretty bad but still managed to crawl over the finish line.

Any niggling injuries now?

After the run, there are too many to mention. But cuts and bruises heal and chicks dig scars.

Favourite running tip?

Keep going; don’t worry about what people think. When I started back in 2008, I would run along the N11, pretty much two stone overweight, with blue flowery shorts, a mop of hair and an old Arsenal jersey from the 1984/85 season. Sure, I got laughed at, but now I have seen so much of the world through running and mountain climbing, so I think it was worth it.