David’s personal best.

Written by

Andrew Millar


June 5, 2011

I had an amusing conversation with some Facebook ‘friends’ the other day. We were swapping our thoughts on retired person’s text shorthand. Stuff like ‘PBWF’ (please bring walking frame), or ‘OMC’ (off medicated comment) or ‘SHOT’ (still has own teeth) or ‘RAOTFTTGU’ (rolling around on the floor trying to get up)…

OK, some were funnier than others. I know, I have retired parents and some things about getting old are not funny. Like the fact their friends are slowly falling off the twig. Their favourite shorthand comment would probably be ‘FOTW’… ‘Funeral Of The Week’. Every time we speak Dad has news of someone who has ‘gone over to the other side’. The always have names like Mildred or Bert. And they always lived next door to someone they knew up near Beaumont Common or were friends with someone we once met at Renmark.

But this weeks FOTW was a little closer to me than most. Dad told me that David, the guy who trained me to run 1/2 marathons about 20 years ago had passed away.

Back then, Dad had had a ‘turn’…(i love that that ‘catch all’ phrase for a nonspecific undiagnosable medical event…). His doctor sent him to get fit and introduced him to David who was managing a group of recovering heart attacks at the Uni Gym on Saturdays. I tagged along for a while and through these sessions became part of the running revolution that was sweeping the world. It was a joggers world back then.

And David ran these Saturday mornings for no reward or return. Just 15 guys assembled in the park in North Adelaide. Some with surgery scars from Adams Apple to belly button. Others like me, who had never had invasive chest surgery, were there to bring the average age down from the 60s.

David hosted a half an hour stretching with joke telling, followed by a half and hour jogging and joke telling, followed by half and hour volley ball with more joke telling. All with an oxygen bottle and defibrillator nearby in case the jokes became too much.

So it was mobility, fitness and recreation with punchlines.

David acted as a personal trainer to us all developing little programs for those who wanted to get a little more serious. And what I loved was his gradual approach to it all. Sneak up on goal was his mantra. Never more than 10% more each day, week or year. I never injured myself under his ‘watch’… all of this is in complete contrast to today’s methods that grind you into the ground at every session… I’ve never had so many strains, tears, splints and cramps as I’ve had at my current gym. (Or maybe I’m just getting older?)

But I liked his philosophy. Gently does it.

Unfortunately for David a brain tumour gradually crept up on him.Gently does it until the head aches become too much. And in the end, sadly it beat him across the finish line.

They say joggers live 10 years longer, but spend all that time jogging. All I can say was I have never enjoyed a run so much as with David and that group of ‘dicky tickers’.

Those runs were always a ‘personal best’.