Oakley's David Gillick Trains In So Cal
Irishman David Gillick, an international track and field athlete, specializing in the 400 meters, took a break from training and stopped by Oakley in May. Gillick and a group of top British 400 meter athletes, coached by Nick Dakin, were in Irvine for a few weeks of warm weather training. They usually train in Loughborough, in the English midlands, where Gillick relocated from Ireland in 2006.
Gillick grew up surrounded by a family that loved sports. He knew that he could “give athletics a go” after winning the European Indoor Championship in 2005. His feeling proved true when several results followed, including winning the European Indoor Championship again in 2007, and winning the Irish National Championship in 2006 and 2007. He set the Irish Indoor record of 45.52 seconds in the 2007 final, which was within the Olympic ‘A’ qualifying standard for the 2008 Games. On July 4, 2009, Gillick won at the Meeting de Madrid, which is part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour. His time of 44.77 set a new Irish outdoor record.
Gillick is currently training for the European Championships in Barcelona in August, the World Championships in Korea in August 2011, and, of course, the London Olympics in 2012. At some point in his career, Gillick plans to work with young elite athletes, saying, “When I was 18, I didn’t have anyone telling me where I could go with athletics. I’d like to tell them what they can do.” He’s definitely showing what one can do. Here is what we learned on his visit.
Why did you come to Southern California to train?
This time of year the weather at home is on average between 13-15 degrees Celsius. We train in the same place and in the same bad weather. Coming to LA is to break from the norm. Get some sun on your back. It changes the monotony of what we do. In a way it’s a holiday, but it’s not a holiday. We come out here with a coach. We all live together. We all train together, day in and day out. We focus more on the quality aspect of our training than the quantity. Today I ran two runs that were 300 meters. There are long recoveries, but each run has to be top quality. That’s what you can do when the weather is good.
What obstacles have you faced?
Most recently, in early March, I had the World Indoor Championships in Doha. I went into the championships as a favorite to win a medal and fortunately went through the rounds, but was disqualified in the final. (Gillick was disqualified after clashing with American Bershawn Jackson, with 200 meters to go.) That cut me deep. The week after that I was still lying in bed and I couldn’t get the thought of getting disqualified out of my head and missing out on my world medal. But these are things that sometimes you can’t control and you have to just look after what David Gillick can control. And when certain things happen, I suppose they happen for a reason. You have to accept that. You have to move on. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I’m blessed to have a talent. I’m blessed to be young enough to continue for another few years and chase my ultimate goal.
How did you decide to pursue a career in Track and Field?
I’m originally from Dublin, Ireland. When I finished university, I wanted to give athletics a good solid go. I wanted to get to the age of 30 or 31 and say, “Yeah I gave athletics a good shot.” I looked into various coaches and various groups around the world and felt that this group, coached by Nick Dakin at Loughoborogh University, was a good opportunity for me to knuckle in with like-minded people, people with the same aspirations and goals as me. And those goals are making world and Game finals. I moved there in ‘06. The age range now is talented ages 18 to 31. Everyone is very talented. It is an elite group. That’s why Nick [Dakin] has taken these people into the group because they have talent and a good future ahead of them. You want that mixture of young people coming up. So they’re pushing me, like I’m 26. I want guys coming up on my shoulder and forcing me to push on. That’s what it is all about. Everyone’s aspiring to get to London at this point.
How do you stay inspired and refreshed?
The fear of failure or the fear that I didn’t give it 100% inspires me. Since I came into athletics a little later, age 19 or 20, I am more aware that I have a shelf life. I like a lot of quotes from people like Muhammad Ali and Vince Lombardi. I like the idea that the day-to-day wins the medal.
Describe a typical training week?
We have two training sessions Monday through Thursday and one session on both Friday and Saturday. Generally, we run in the morning and do conditioning work in the afternoon—ab work, core work, pilates, and reformer work. Tuesday is our biggest running session of the week, where you are puking afterwards. That’s a hurting day. Friday is gym work. On Saturday morning, we run non-stop in the “mook” for about two hours in what we call a “fartlek” session. I’m wrecked for the rest of the weekend. It ruins the weekend. I’m usually back on the sofa in front of the TV on Saturday afternoon.
What advice do you have to other athletes or aspiring athletes?
Keep things as simple as possible. Don’t complicate things. You have to work hard. Don’t be afraid to dream. Believe.