This weeks profile is from an athlete who joined us a couple of years ago after spending a number of years living and working abroad. Since he joined us he has made substantial improvements across all the distances and I am sure there is a lot more to come. This week its Paul Dunne
1 How did you get into athletics?
It wasn’t until 2012 when I was 32 that I started to run. I was living on the east coast of England at the time, there was a local half marathon near to where I was working and so along with my wife Helen, we signed up for something to do. I came home in 1.57 and it hurt. I remember thinking at the end that my eyeballs were sweating! Soon after that race I joined a local club, Deal Tri (I just ran), mainly to meet people as we lived in a little remote cottage and I thought I’d better make some friends or become a hermit.
2 Why do you run?
Running is my obsession. I’m addicted. I’m not always sure it’s a good thing but it’s here to stay. If I’m not running, I’m thinking about running or other people running. I also like the pain of a good ol’ session or the setting of a goal and the journey that brings with it. I love the health benefits of being a runner, from learning what certain foods do to your body and how eating and hydrating affect everything as a runner/person. I’ve met some truly amazing people along the way and I’m proud to say some of them have become my closest friends.
3 Did you try different events or were you always a distance runner?
I ran a mile a couple of times which I guess is classed as Middle Distance, but it was painful and not the most enjoyable. Give me a marathon any day please.
4 Can you give a brief synopsis of your running career to date?
I don’t really have any background at all in athletics or sport in general. My school was a rugby school and if you were not good enough for the teams then that was it for you. Being lanky and not having a typical rugby players body type put me in that bracket. I did join a couple of underage soccer teams but spent most of the time warming the bench.
It wasn’t until I hit my 30’s that I started to run. Deal Tri was my first club (I just ran) but as I previously mentioned it was mainly to meet people. In 2013, my wife and I decided to go on a bit of an adventure, so we packed up shop and spent 14 months cycle touring in South America, Australia and Asia. It was an amazing part of my life, but my short-lived running career was put on hold. The touring did open my mind to human endurance and endurance sport. I never thought I could cycle 100km plus in a day and then get back up and go the next day and the next and so on.
We returned to the rat race late in 2014 to live in London were I joined West4 Harriers. A great little running club based in Chiswick. I really loved it. It was possibly the first time in my life I hadn’t wished for a bigger body type and didn’t have to try be something I was not. I was just myself. In 2015 I ran my first marathon in Helsinki. Everything went well up to 20 miles and then the wheels came off. I had not trained well enough (through injury). I did not account for the hills and there where many hills and I also never thought about the fact that the race started at midday in the middle of summer. It was hot! I came home in 3.13 but I was so determined to come back and break 3. I was now hooked on the marathon and have been ever since. I went on to break 3hrs in London in 2016 and again in Dublin later that year.
In 2016 we moved home to Ireland. I ran the Comrades Marathon (87km) in the following Spring which was my last race for West4. It is such as fabulous race and event. I just missed out of a silver medal (sub 7hr 30min), well by over 30 minutes. I will go back one day to hopefully get my silver medal. After returning home from South Africa, I joined Blackrock A.C. The senior side of the club was just getting going again after a number of years were they had diminished. I took on a bit of a coaching role there and really enjoyed learning the science behind running and even more so seeing the development of the guys around me.
In 2018, my wife gave birth to our son Alfie. We moved to Rathfarnham for more space and with that ended my Blackrock A.C. and coaching days. Any of you who follow me on Strava will know me as the Dad Runner. I have been recording my runs since Alfie’s birth (minimum 1 mile). I’m now just over #800 Dad Runs. It was not long after Alfie’s birth that I linked up with Terry. I was struggling to get back up to speed and got chatting to Alan Hughes who used to work at KPMG with me and he suggested I come down to Sean Moore Park. I’ve never looked back. I think I’ve had PB’s in every distance since joining TTracers and met some incredible people and friends along the way. 2020 was a particularly difficult year for myself and my family. I found running, my friends from TTracers and Terry an amazing support and I am so grateful to them all.
- What would you consider to be your main highlight?
It’s hopefully still on the way.
From the past, breaking 80mins in the Bohermeen half last year was probably my best race, but I honestly believe the friends I’ve made are bigger than any race or time.
- When did you hook up with TTracers and what was the reason for doing so?
As mentioned previously, it was not long after my son Alfie’s birth in 2018 that I linked up with Terry. I was struggling to get back up to speed and got chatting to Alan Hughes who used to work at KPMG with me and he suggested I come down to Sean Moore Park. I’ve never looked back.
- What would be in your eyes the main advantage of being part of TTracers?
The people most of all. It is great to be around so many likeminded people but more importantly they are all really nice people.
- What’s the best running advice you’ve been given which has helped you to become a better runner?
Terry tells me to stop doing all the work, not to lead all the time and don’t try so hard. I consistently fail at all these but I am trying.
- What’s your running ambition going forward?
For me it’s all about the marathon. If I run a good time in a half the first thing I look at is how does that translate in to marathon time! My goal is to break 2.39.59 and beyond. If I never do it, I’m so happy with what I’ve achieved.