Interview with Dave McGillivray


One-on-Won Interviewee Dave McGillivray will manage the 119th Boston Marathon and then run the race tonight after everyone else has finished!

DaveM_FinishIt is January 2015 and the start of another new year, a time when everyone is thinking about goals and setting New Year’s resolutions. These most often include something along the lines of exercising more, getting back to the gym, watching what I eat, having a better diet…I think that you all likely know the drill. Well, whether you are thinking about getting off the couch and trying the Couch to 5K or contemplating going from a sprint to an intermediate, long or ultra distance triathlon this year, or hoping to be able to walk 2 miles, there are questions that come up in your mind. You also may want to look to someone who has done these things before for some advice and inspiration. I asked Dave McGillivray a few questions for my first One on Won interview of 2015 because I think that he is a great inspiration and role model of someone who has done many triathlons and marathons. Dave is also coming off a noteworthy 2014 in terms of fitness. Last year he returned to Kona, Hawaii after 25 years to race another grueling triathlon. Within the last year he overcame medical issues requiring surgery for coronary artery disease and subsequent rehabilitation up to and including a fractured rib weeks before the Ironman triathlon. It was not easy by any means, and Dave did so while juggling his busy work schedule with DMSE Sports

Dave McGillivray is also an accomplished athlete with quite a resume, which you can view on his website at DMSE Sports. In addition, he is a race director, most notably for the BAA Boston Marathon since the 1980s. Dave is a philanthropist and has raised and continues to raise millions for various worthy causes. He is a motivational speaker, and one of his key messages is to “always set goals, not limits”. In 1978 Dave ran 3,542 miles across the United States to benefit the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and he has been organizing events and donating his time and expertise ever since. Countless people have benefitted from his spirit of giving and sharing.

I hope that the information here will help to motivate you in some way to take that next step to accomplish your goals for 2015. If you have not set any goals, then maybe you could set a goal — no matter how big or small, as long as it is yours, and you want to take steps towards achieving it, then it is a good thing. Be proud. Stand tall. And Pay it Forward. Your positive actions can help to motivate someone else.

Now, let’s hear from Dave McGillivray about getting back into training after being out of it for some time, and how training for the Kona Ironman Triathlon helped to save his life.


Getting Back Into Training for Races

  • How would you recommend that people, who are starting back at Triathlons or marathons, after an extended period, start again?

I like to set realistic goals and to have something to aim for, a target which acts like a magnet. This then becomes the incentive to be committed, to “get out of bed” and to do the work.   Once I commit to myself and know that this is what I truly want to do, then I tell those near and dear to me and then I truly become committed.


  • Is this different from what you would recommend for people who are doing these races for the first time?

Not really other than the fear of the unknown and knowing what is a realistic goal and what is too much to expect. It is important to be patient with it all and just “chip away”, one day at a time.


  • Do you approach your training differently when you are returning to racing after recovering from an injury?

Sort of, yes. With an injury, you have to be real careful you don’t come back too soon and that you ease into the process.   It can take a long time and a lot of miles to become injured the first time, but it can take just steps to re-injury yourself if you don’t take it slow.


Training as a Means to Saving Your Life

  • You said that the training for the Kona Triathlon saved your life – can you please elaborate on that? How do you feel that occurred? Did you feel it at the time or more so after the fact, or was it an equal measure of both?

Getting to the start line in Kona was more so the goal than even getting to the finish line. Having done the race 8 times before, I knew what it would take to “earn the right” to answer the starting gun. It’s more about the process than the result sometimes. I knew I had to eat, sleep, rest and train a certain way to properly prepare myself for Hawaii and in doing so the residual results would be that I would become healthier and it worked.


Food for Training & Racing

  • It sounds like you would make sure to bring your own food to the race and kept the food the same as what you were eating during training – Is that the case?

One should always find out what a race is providing and then try to train using similar products. It’s impossible to carry with you enough of your own food and drink on an event that is going to take 12+ hours. So, that is what I did while training for Hawaii and I think it paid off for me. I never once bonked or truly got fatigued.


  • How did your eating habits change with your training? What did you eat less of and what did you eat more of? Generally?

Generally, I stayed away from anything “bad” for you and only ate what is “good” for you. A pretty simple formula!  


  • How much food did you bring for both training and the race and how did you carry it? It is difficult to have the proper food when you are traveling & even more so when on the race course. What tips do you have for those new to racing or even for those more experienced people?

Don’t have a lot of tips. Everyone has to experiment for themselves as to what works for them. I would never give advice on what to eat and what not to. We are all different. That is what “training” and “preparation” is all about…to experiment on a daily basis and come up with that exact program that works best for you.


What’s Adrenaline Got to Do With It?

  • How much does adrenaline help you to the finish line on race day? Can you describe your feelings of adrenaline during a race?

I don’t think adrenaline had anything to do with it.   For me, I believe either you are fit or you are not fit. You did the work or you didn’t. Anytime I put on a race number, my goal is to finish what I started and I have never dropped out of a race that I have been officially entered in.   I won’t start if I don’t think I can finish.


After the Crowds are Gone

  • How did it feel after the race? Mentally? Physically?

Felt great in all ways – physically, mentally and emotionally. When you go as slow as I did, it’s tough to do any real damage!


  • What can someone expect after a first Triathlon? A first race?

Well, if they do well, they want more. If they don’t do well, they want revenge. In other words, they usually get hooked and it then becomes a life changing experience and then a lifestyle.


  • What about 2 days or a week after the Triathlon when the crowds are gone and it is back to training on the roads?

The intensity of the training definitely plummeted which is okay as I needed to refocus on family and business. But, I certainly have maintained a healthy training regimen since then and am anxious to start pushing harder as the 2015 season draws nearer.


Support and Training for Racing

  • Is it important to have a support group with you?

I went alone and discovered that it was a mistake. A support group would have made a significant difference.


  • What should your ideal support network look like and whom should it consist of as far as a team?

Mine is mainly family and friends…period…I don’t need a whole heck of a lot after that.


  • What about training in general? Do you like to train on your own or with others?

99% of the time I train on my own, mainly because of my crazy work schedule.


  • What about training with clubs or teams of people? What do you think of that?

I think it is great if you can work it all out…I just can’t at this stage of my life.


  • There are some programs, Teams in Training, that give training, support and education in exchange for raising funds. Do you have any thoughts about those groups?

God bless them all.


Other Advice from Dave

  • What other advice would you give to people who are considering doing a triathlon — whether it is a sprint triathlon, half ironman, or an ironman? For example, how would you suggest such people start their training?

Again, you just have to have realistic expectations.

Only you know where you are currently and what you are capable of doing.

That is not to say not to have lofty goals, but just set it all up for success not failure.

  • It’s your game, so it is your rules!



Dave is One Who’s Won.


Thanks for our One on Won – Dr. Mary Ann


❤️ in Wellness,
Dr. Mary Ann

If you know if anyone that would be a good candidate for the One~on~Won with Dr. Mary Ann please contact her at or complete the contact form on this website. Thank you!

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