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Q&A with Ambassador Drew Mitchell

Drew Mitchell played Rugby Union at the highest level for more than a decade, but this weekend he’ll be taking on a brand new challenge, running a Half Marathon at Australia’s pinnacle running event, The Canberra Times Australian Running Festival.

What sort of running did you do during your rugby career?

Mostly shorter distance interval running to replicate short burst efforts and the ability to repeat these whilst under fatigue.

Why did you start long distance running?

Once I retired from professional Rugby, I needed to find something to commit to and work towards to stay fit. I was looking for something that was going to challenge me but was also achievable if I put in the effort.

Why did you choose to run the NY marathon? How was the experience?

When I committed to it, it was about 10 months away. This meant I was committed to keeping a level of fitness throughout the course of the year and the race being the reward at the end. Once I decided to do a marathon, I thought I may as well pick the most well-known because depending on how my body responded to it, it may have been my last.

What were the easiest and hardest things about transitioning from rugby to long distance running?

The easiest was the ability to get myself to uncomfortable places and continue to push. The hardest was finding motivation transitioning from a team athlete to an individual. The long lonely training sessions are mentally tough.

How did you come to be an ambassador for the Australian Running Festival?

I have been working with Under Armour throughout my career from playing and into retirement and they are a partner of the event.  I don’t think of myself as a long-distance runner so it’s nice to be able to show people that if you challenge yourself, you can achieve it.

What do you like about this event?

That it caters for all level of runners; from Australia’s top elite athletes to kids running in their first Kids Dash, parents pushing prams and people like me just giving it a crack and staying fit and healthy.

What distance are you running? What time are you aiming for?

Half marathon.  I’m hoping to break the 2hr mark.

What's the hardest thing about long-distance running?

The voice in your head telling you to walk.

What's your advice (tips) for staying motivated during long runs?

Engage with the supporters and fellow runners. It will keep you distracted from the monotony of the running and the amazing atmosphere fills you with positivity to keep going.  At the New York Marathon you're encouraged to write your name in large letters on your shirt so supporters can cheer for you by name. That really helps when someone you don't know cheers for you by name.

When crappy thoughts start to cloud your run, how do you stay positive and focused on finishing?

I start talking to myself and motivating myself. Make the positivity drown out the negative voice.

When your body is feeling every step and you want to stop running, how do you keep moving?

Depends on what your goal is. There is no shame in a brisk walk until you're ready to go again. JUST DON'T QUIT