Great Edinburgh Run winner Dan Wallis, of New Zealand shares his experiences of the big day
Recently I was lucky enough to take part in my first Great Run event, The Great Ireland 10k. A week later I had already made it two by winning the Great Edinburgh Run 10-mile on a brisk morning in Scotland’s stunning capital.
In only a matter of seven days the Great Run events had become a home away from home. The hospitality in Dublin led me to feel as if I was a local, while as strange as it may sound, it was incredibly comforting to see a host of familiar faces only a week later in Edinburgh.
Travelling and racing around the world is immense fun, but given the life of an athlete is often one of routine and structure, being abroad can present its own unique set of challenges.
Despite having never raced in Edinburgh before, I had barely begun my warm-up before familiar faces greeted me as if I was an old friend. Immediately I felt more relaxed and excited to run, even if it was barely 3 degrees outside!
Although my preparation for the Great Run may have been slightly different from others competing, every runner goes through the same feelings before race day, no matter their level of fitness.
While we all have our own habits and routines before races, I believe there are ways to approach your own Great Run to make it the very best it can be.
Take it easy on yourself
Don’t force your running in the days leading up to the race. At this stage there is nothing you can do to improve your fitness. If travel or work pile up, you’re better off running a little less and giving yourself more time to rest. The morning of my trip to Dublin was an early one, so I chose to run short and have the benefit of a little more sleep and recovery. Travelling, work and racing is hard enough on the body as it is, so there’s no need to make it tougher than it needs to be.
Enjoy where you are
The Great Run events are known for their incredible host cities, yet many people don’t get to see more than the airport, their hotel, and the course for fear of jeopardising their race.
A friend of mine and three-time Olympian Lee Troop, of Australia, once told me that races are just a ‘glorified workout’, which is a great way to take a bit of pressure off leading into race day. With that in mind, you’d never sit around locked in your room the day before an important session, so why do that to yourself in an amazing city like Dublin, Edinburgh, or wherever you are lucky enough to be?
I wanted to make the most of my opportunity to go to Dublin as part of The Commonwealth team, so I flew in a couple of days early. A city like Dublin has something for just about anyone, and for me that meant a couple of pints of Guinness at the Stags Head; the favourite pub of famed Irish Statesman Michael Collins.
Overthinking a race can use a lot of unnecessary mental energy, so don’t try and control the uncontrollable. Heading out for a walk, a meal or even a beer (or two) in the days prior to the event can help to take your mind off running and save that energy for race day.
Racing is the fun part; it’s the reward for all the hard work we put in each day, so make the most of it. For those like me who have travelled a long way to be there, the Great Run events are an introduction to a place like none other. Even for those running at home, its a chance to see the city like you never have before, something I am sure everyone in the Great Edinburgh felt as they made their way up the Royal Mile, an area normally too crowded to walk let alone run.
I’ve raced across the world, yet nothing compares to my experience with the Great Run. I’m already counting down the days until I can get back to another!
Happy Running, Dan.