DECEMBER 2017: Not so new anymore, but since joining RunBrighton at the start of the winter 2016/17 season, David Gillies has regularly received a mention in ambassador Brigitte’s blog, as “New David”.
Recently having retired from a senior-management career, and one of our older RunBrighton members, New David took up running at a relatively late stage in life.
He’s now training with us for his third consecutive season, and has come on, leaps and bounds.
David, firstly, perhaps you could tell us a bit about yourself. I understand you recently retired. What exactly was your area of expertise and when did you pack it all in?
My expertise lies in Human Resources. I’ve been a Director of HR for over 15 years, working in London with the BSI Group, and latterly with Ofgem, the Energy Regulator. For the last three years, I’ve stepped away from my HR role. I’ve acted as Project Director, relocating Ofgem’s offices in London and Glasgow, been Chief Operating Officer for 6 months, and managed a Transformation project in my last year. I’ve been a commuter on Southern Rail for over 25 years!
I had the opportunity to retire early, at the end of 2017, and wanted to give myself more time to do other things. This includes being Captain of West Hove Golf Club in 2018. I’ll also be looking to do interim/consultancy work in HR/change/transformation roles in 2018 and, potentially, non-executive roles in the longer term.
What did you used to do to keep fit, with a hectic work life? Has sport and exercise always played an important part in your life?
Yes, very much! I love sport generally. My two main interests, before running, were golf and Brighton and Hove Albion. I play golf at West Hove most weekends, and have been a season-ticket holder / 1901 member with the Albion for over 20 years. But commuting has made it difficult to do any fitness work on a consistent basis.
How did you originally find out about RunBrighton and what made you decide to join us?
With the opportunity to retire early, I was looking for a new challenge; running a marathon for the first time was both appealing and daunting. A colleague at work, Paul Heseltine, was a RunBrighton member and suggested coming along.
I know you ran Brighton Marathon in April. How did you get on?
I absolutely loved it – one of my most challenging, enjoyable and memorable experiences! It was a beautiful, if hot, day. The atmosphere was great. Chris Hughton, Brighton and Hove Albion’s manager, was the starter! I managed to trot round in 5 hours 8 minutes and, just as important, I was able to have a few beers afterwards. I also managed to raise £1800 for Alzheimer’s. This was the West Hove Captain’s charity for 2017.
What have you enjoyed about RunBrighton and how do you think it helped you most when it came to taking on that first marathon?
It’s been a really great experience. I simply would not have been able to do a marathon without RunBrighton. The Sunday morning runs were the foundation of my training. It was hugely enjoyable, running in some great locations around Brighton, and it provided access to a range of expertise and tips on how to manage yourself round as a debutant.
Something I can look back at now, and laugh about, is the ridiculous outfit I turned up in each Sunday for the first few weeks – my golfing waterproofs – totally inappropriate! I think it was when ambassador Brigitte spotted a vast amount of steam emerging from my sweaty body that she pointed me in the direction of Kurt Hoyte at the RUN store in Hove, for some advice on suitable running attire. I have to say that Kurt was brilliant, sizing me up perfectly; I’ve been so much more comfortable on my runs, ever since!
And another, hugely enjoyable factor, with RunBrighton, has been the opportunity to meet and socialise with some great people of all ages and backgrounds and be part of a really supportive community. There have been some exceptions, though… a chap called David Hull (‘the other David’) is even older than me and gave me dog’s abuse for several months during training, apparently as a form of encouragement. No, seriously, David Hull, and Brigitte, have been really friendly, supportive and encouraging from the start, and have kept me going. Thanks to both of them!
I know you’ve regularly attended Brigitte’s Tuesday training group, to help you with some of your midweek speedwork. How have you found that?
Having more time away from my job and commuting, I’ve attended Brigitte’s Tuesday sessions these past weeks. These are more intense sessions, building up your speed, lasting about 50 minutes, and I have found them both tough and a great supplement to the longer Sunday runs. Again, there is a really good, friendly and supportive group who do these sessions, and I plan to continue with it in 2018. I also plan to attend Liz Ollosson’s weekly yoga sessions on a Wednesday in January and February. These are great for anyone new to Yoga and again are a great supplement to the Sunday runs.
So, now into your third season with RunBrighton, what would you say has surprised you most? It seems to me that you’re running so much better than when you started out just over 12 months ago.
There are a few things, Mike. One, that I could run a Marathon for the first time at 58! That will always be one of my greatest achievements. Two, how enjoyable it is to be part of the RunBrighton community. It really becomes part of your life and something you want to keep doing and, linked to that, it has opened up a new social life.
Your marathon last April was completed in quite tough conditions. As you mentioned, it was a very hot day. Are you targeting a faster time in 2018, or will you be taking part just for fun?
The key for me is getting to the start line, injury free. At my tender age, you really need to take the time to do stretching, warm-ups and cool-downs, and follow the advice provided. Assuming I can do that, I would love to better my 2017 time and get under 5 hours, and also raise over £2000 for charity.
What would be your key tips for anyone just starting to train for their first half or full marathon?
Apart from Join RunBrighton! These are my tips.
- Start nice and easy and build up your stamina and endurance gradually.
- Supplement your training runs with stretching and conditioning; Matt Bartsch’s sessions at Riptide in Hove Park are perfect for this.
- Find a group within RunBrighton around your standard and run with them. This will keep you going. (It makes such a difference being part of a community and having a regular commitment.)
- On the day, make sure you enjoy the experience and make your finish time secondary.
David, it’s great having you in the RunBrighton group, and congratulations on completing your first marathon at 58. I wish you well with your progression over the coming months, as well as with your continued fundraising. See you for our next run this Sunday!
For full details of RunBrighton membership, check out http://runbrighton.com/membership/
By Mike Bannister