P.O.V Running diaries - ep.05 Damian

We're excited to feature Damian Walker, a talented athlete originally from Cape Town who recently made Melbourne his new home! In this interview, Damian takes us on a journey from his footballing background to his newfound passion for pounding the pavement. Get ready for an inspiring conversation as Damian shares his experiences, motivations, and what it's like to be a runner in Australia.

Melbourne, Australia - April 2024

Q: Introduce yourself!

I'm Damian Walker, a 25-year-old UX designer and runner originally from Cape Town, South Africa. In 2019, I met my partner, who's Australian but was working remotely. In 2022, we decided it was time to take the next step together. Australia, particularly Melbourne, seemed like a perfect fit for our future plans, so I made the leap and moved here for a fresh start and some exciting adventures!

Q: How is running in Melbourne compared to CPT??

Melbourne and Cape Town are like two different worlds for runners. Melbourne's weather is crazy! You might start your run in sunshine and end up dodging rain showers. It's a true four-seasons-in-one-day experience, which can be challenging but also keeps things interesting. Luckily, the city has an amazing network of trails, parks, and riverside paths, so you can pretty much always find a good spot to run no matter the weather.Cape Town, on the other hand, is a runner's paradise. The Mediterranean climate means warm, sunny days are the norm, perfect weather for hitting the trails. And Cape Town doesn't disappoint! From the iconic Table Mountain to the beautiful vineyards of Stellenbosch, the surrounding areas offer a ton of variety for trail runners. If you love stunning scenery and diverse routes, Cape Town is hard to beat.

Q: Did you connect in the past few months with the local running community?

Absolutely, I've met runners in both cities, and the communities are quite different. Melbourne's running scene is incredibly diverse. You'll find people from all walks of life out there pounding the pavement, which creates a real sense of vibrancy and inclusivity.

Q: What sparked your running journey?

As an athlete, staying in shape and avoiding injuries are top priorities for me. That's why, when the lockdowns hit in 2020, running became more than just physical exercise. It was a lifesaver for my mental health too. Hitting the pavement became a therapeutic escape, a way to blow off steam, boost my mood, and stay mentally tough. It was like a magic bullet, keeping me balanced in both body and mind during a crazy time.

Q: What part of the running journey do you enjoy the most?

Running does it for me! Just lacing up my shoes and getting ready for a run puts a smile on my face. Then, when I'm actually hitting the pavement, all those endorphins kick in, and it just feels fantastic. Plus, finishing a run gives you this amazing sense of accomplishment – like you can conquer anything! So yeah, running isn't just exercise for me, it's a full-on happy experience.

Q: What is your running routine like?

My typical week looks something like this: Wednesdays are for tempo runs, pushing the pace a bit. Fridays are all about easy runs, a nice way to recover. Then, weekends are for longer distances! Saturdays are for conquering a long run, and Sundays I hit the pavement for some interval training to mix things up.

Q: Did Running teach you valuable lessons?

Running's a mental and physical lifesaver for me. In 2021, a knee injury sidelined me for months. Rehab was tough, but even tougher was the mental block. Running slow got me moving again, cleared my head, and built resilience. Coming back in 2022, I was fitter and mentally sharper, scoring 6 tries in 4 games! Now, running's year-round for me – it's not just about the body, it's about the mind too.

Q: What is your next challenge you aspire to??

Running a marathon has been a dream ever since I fell in love with running back in South Africa. As a competitive athlete, I know it'll push me physically, but I also see it as a mental challenge that will benefit me way beyond rugby.

Q: When it comes to running gear, what are your essentials? What qualities are you looking for?

For running gear, comfort is king! I want something that feels super lightweight and soft, nothing that gets all sticky when I'm sweating it out.

Q: Are you "team cotton shirt" or "team poly shirt" when it comes to your daily runs?

Team poly shirt - I feel when it comes to movement and agility Poly moves well with the body, and it helps when it comes to sweats.   

Q: When you think about Atlas Collectif, what are the three things that come into your mind??

The first 3 things that come to mind are community, performance-driven, and most importantly well-being.

Thank you for the chat!

Give Damian a follow to follow his journey to his next marathon!

IG: @_damianwalker98_