The Long Run: Phil Knox's Journey from Phoenix Park to Loch Ness

November 16, 2023

Paddy Ryan: Phil, could you share what initially sparked your interest in running?

Phil Knox: Sure, Paddy. It's a story of personal transformation. Around 15 years ago, after my 2nd year in college, I faced a reality check about my health. I was overweight and struggling with self-esteem issues. I realised I needed a solid, tangible goal to turn things around. That's when the Frank Duffy 10-mile race in Phoenix Park caught my attention. It seemed like the perfect challenge to channel my energy and focus.

Paddy: That's quite a commitment. How did you approach your training?

Phil: My training was a journey of its own, Paddy. I started with basic treadmill workouts at the gym in UCD, trying to build my stamina. But the transition from a treadmill to an actual race was a tough. The race itself was grueling. It taught me the importance of preparing not just physically, but mentally for such races, and making sure I had enough training done. This experience was both humbling and showed me just how positive the running community could be, shaping my approach to running in the years that followed.

Paddy: What brought you back to running after your initial race experience?

Phil: Running was always stop start, it was a period of personal upheaval in 2010 that drew me back. The end of a significant relationship left me searching for something to fill the void, something to redirect my focus and energy. That's when I reconnected with my friend Niall, and we started running together. This period marked a renaissance in my running journey, leading to numerous half and full marathons over several years. Running became a therapeutic outlet, offering both physical exertion and emotional release.

Paddy: How did your time in China influence your running?

Phil: Living in China was a cultural and environmental shift that added a unique dimension to my running. The landscape and climate were different, and adapting to these changes was both challenging and exhilarating. Participating in the Hong Kong Marathon was a highlight, offering not just a physical challenge but also an immersive cultural experience. It was a testament to the universal language of running and how it transcends geographical boundaries.

Paddy: What motivates you to continue running?

Phil: Running, for me, is more than physical exercise; it's a journey of self-discovery and improvement. The nostalgia of past achievements, combined with the curiosity to see how far I can push my limits, keeps me laced up. Planning for marathons, especially in places I've never been, adds an element of adventure and exploration to the sport.

Paddy: Can you share more about your race selection process?

Phil: Choosing a race is a strategic decision. I begin with local events to gauge my fitness level, gradually increasing the challenge. My focus has always been on consistent participation rather than sporadic involvement in exotic locations. It's about building a sustainable and rewarding running practice.

Paddy: What's your approach to nutrition and health?

Phil: Nutrition is the cornerstone of my training regimen. A balanced diet, enriched with protein supplements, provides the necessary fuel and recovery aids. It's crucial to be attuned to your body's signals and respect its needs, whether that means pushing forward or taking a step back to recover.

Paddy: Tell us about your life outside of running.

Phil: I originally hail from Kilkenny but now find myself in the vibrant city of Aberdeen. My job at the local university is rewarding, and I balance my professional life with a passion for cinema and a diverse taste in music. Barcelona holds a special place in my heart, a city of vibrant culture and unforgettable experiences.

Paddy: Finally, which race has been your favorite?

Phil: The Loch Ness Marathon stands out. It's not just the physical run; it's the journey through Scotland's mesmerizing landscapes. The race is both a physical challenge and a spiritual experience, encapsulating the essence of why I run.

Paddy: Thank you, Phil, for sharing your inspiring journey with us.

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