TRANSCRIPT Ali Wyllie – Run The Sights – Fitness Soul Podcast #18



 Interviewer: Awesome. OK. So you are a really hard person to meet with. You are so busy.


Ali Wyllie: Says you.


Interviewer: Oh, well. Yeah. But we’ve been planning to do this for some time now.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, quite a while. Sorry.


Interviewer: No, no. No, you are involved in so many things and you’re involved in – this is your thing, isn’t it? The main thing or running sights


Ali Wyllie: So that’s my kind of project business, Run the Sights. I just kind of got there from – I’ve been led there from different things. So it’s a kind of combination of my main passion, which is running and co-founding a dog running club and Cani-Sports Edinburgh. So that was over five years ago.


Interviewer: So what was first? So you do cani-cross and you do running sights and then you run on your own.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, yeah.


Interviewer: So what’s the main important thing for you?


Ali Wyllie: Just to get out and run and share it with people. I suppose that’s where the – starting the business and starting – Cani-Sports Edinburgh came into play. So I suppose I started running when I was in 12, literally running through the fields to feed horses. That was why I started running.


Interviewer: Running through the fields.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: OK.


Ali Wyllie: From there, I then ended up doing a bit of cross-country running at school and totally unbeknownst to me and unbeknownst to the department, I could run and I managed to win them a couple of the cross-countries at school. Then just looking back, I just really enjoyed running. So I kept up.


Interviewer: This is when we met first time, isn’t it? You winning all the time.  It’s the same story. Like last time I met with Owen and he won the Fox Lake Tour and then it was you who won it as well. So you’re the second person and we’re in the same park. We’re …


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, true, true. Yeah. No, that was a great series, the FoxTrail Winter Running Series. I’ve been doing them from the start and to be honest with you, I had some good runs. It all depends on who turns up in the day. There’s some great talent out there. I imagine there’s going to be more talent next year. So the pressure is on.


I just love trails. So it’s hard work and I give it my all out there. So sometimes I’m very lucky though.


Interviewer: So what’s the difference between running trails and running on the tarmac?


Ali Wyllie: For me, it’s a mental thing and an enjoyment thing. But for me, I just like to – my running is where I go. So I go often to the country. I go often to the hills and I really enjoy that whereas the road, you’re normally in a city or on a road and traffic passing you by. So for me, it’s a mental thing. But also I suppose I like to bounce around – over tree roots, over rocks. I like technical terrain and so I’m not thinking about it in my head. That’s my meditation. My head is concentrating on my foot fall and I don’t feel the pain in my legs. I’m literally bouncing. It’s like a child bouncing and playing.


Interviewer: Do you train a lot?


Ali Wyllie: Not as much as I should and probably not as much as people think. I don’t even see it as training. I just go for a run.


Interviewer: So you’re just going for a run. There is no plan. There was never a plan or you just …


Ali Wyllie: No.


Interviewer: There’s no …


Ali Wyllie: No, no, no. There should be. I know I’m actually really embarrassed to say that.


Interviewer: So there’s so much room to improve.


Ali Wyllie: And I’ve got a few little targets. So I need to – yesterday was the start of my training plan actually for next year’s Highland Fling.


Interviewer: Is it the first – this is the first training you ever do. I suppose when you ran the cross-country at school and stuff, you did it. You had some plan or the coach was telling you what to do.


Ali Wyllie: No. I just did it myself. So I just kind of – in its simplest format, running is putting one foot in front of the other and I’ve had work done on my form with Improve My Running with Matt Holland, which is really, really helpful and it has helped me stay injury-free.


Interviewer: He’s the guy I need to see as well.


Ali Wyllie: Oh, he’s brilliant.


Interviewer: Yeah. You told me about him before. So I think I got in touch with him. But it’s just some other thing.


Ali Wyllie: Trying to tie him down as well.


Interviewer: And myself and him in the same time. It’s kind of hard.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah. So I think once – for me, if I try and stick with the training plan, it doesn’t always work and I have to enjoy it. If I take things too seriously, I stop enjoying it and then I wonder why I’m doing it. So I am going to try and do some sort of training plan for next year’s Highland Fling and I’m worried that it’s going to end up taking it too seriously. So hopefully, I will still …


Interviewer: Can you meet somewhere in the middle?


Ali Wyllie: I think so.


Interviewer: Having a plan but also just enjoying things.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah. I think that’s important. I don’t want to get to the latest stages in my life and wonder what I could have been capable of. So I want to try and push myself.


Interviewer: I can see that running with a plan, you can really over-train yourself very quickly.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: Has it happened before or it’s …


Ali Wyllie: For me, I don’t think I’ve necessarily over-trained. I think I’ve got myself very tired. I’ve had shingles before. But I think that’s more from living a very full life and doing endurance training. If I didn’t have much help in my life and I just ran, it could have been OK, but trying to fit probably …


Interviewer: Everything, yeah.


Ali Wyllie: … into one person’s lifestyle can get quite full-on. But similarly, I don’t care much for TV. I can miss TV. I can – I don’t like going shopping. So for me, my peace and quiet and how I relax at the end of the day is going for a nice trail run. So I think I don’t see that as a chore.


Interviewer: So coming back to the form, the running form, what’s your land? Do you still – you are really good and you can still improve, isn’t it?


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: So what Matt – is it Matt?


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: So what Matt found in your technique.


Ali Wyllie: I was planning to increase my cadence. I needed my – I was over-striding. So my feet placement was ahead of my body, which is a constant …


Interviewer: So kind of hitting the heel.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah. It was a constant breaking motion on my body. I was – instead of using my arms forward and backward, I was swinging my shoulders and my arms were – I’ve got quite long arms. My arms get in the way. They’re like chicken wings. So I needed to use my arms more efficiently. I needed to …


Interviewer: Was it moving more through your shoulders and pushing the elbows back?


Ali Wyllie: Yeah. So bringing my arms up to my body instead of letting them dangle like loose limbs and being – holding them properly and not necessarily driving them because that could get quite tiring. But using the [0:07:15] [Indiscernible] effect. That then helped shorten my stride, helping my feet below my body, so I wasn’t breaking. Then once I have that, I would try to increase the cadence. I would try and have a circulating motion with my legs.


I’m bringing the heels up higher. So my legs were rotating. So it was a smooth rhythmic motion instead of a jarring break.


Interviewer: So what’s your cadence now? I’m trying to get my cadence up as well.


Ali Wyllie: I don’t know.


Interviewer: You don’t know. You don’t measure it. Do you use any watch?


Ali Wyllie: So I don’t have one on just now. I ran here. Again, you will cringe at this. I quite like to run what I called naked without my watch. So if I have to do a set distance, if I need – so my training, I will do set distances. Then I wear my watch. I like to know my pace. But I never upload it to anything. I don’t do Strava. I don’t keep a record of all my times because for me, I would obsess over it. So I quite like to listen to my body a bit more and I quite like to not have to obsess over the figures.


Interviewer: It seems to me that the amazing ability of listening to your body and knowing what is good for you and it’s – and then being able to run far enough to get some effect of it or not. You know what I mean? For me, I’m uploading this everywhere and then this keeps me motivated. I can see how I’m improving over the time.


Ali Wyllie: I think it would motivate me. But I would worry. I would become obsessed with it.


Interviewer: You’re kind of obsessed already. It doesn’t really matter, does it?


Ali Wyllie: But I would become obsessed …


Interviewer: I need to check one thing.


Ali Wyllie: OK. He’s back.


Interviewer: OK, I’m back. I’m back.


Ali Wyllie: I think I would become obsessed with the figures instead of just obsessed with the running. So now I would rather spend all the time running and hitting the trails instead of the computers and Strava and competition and things like that. Afterwards, then beating myself up that I was too slow or I didn’t go far enough or I would be very cruel to myself, I think, if I was to look at figures.


So instead, I can live in ignorance and blissfully unaware and …


Interviewer: But it’s probably because you – running is all your life and you’ve got this experience. Like for people like – like for me, I start just doing the endurance things the last two years. Then I don’t really know how much is enough and then I don’t feel it yet.


Ali Wyllie: Well, one thing I would say – and this is something I – something I find frustrating with myself and maybe I need to take a leaf out of your book. Yes, I’ve been running a long time. But I’ve never seen an amazing improvement in myself. Well, I had a 45-minute PB between my first and second Highland Fling, which is a few things I can put it down to. But in general, I don’t see an awful lot of improvement. All people around me, I see them improving left, right and center. It’s brilliant. Whereas I kind of started quite well as a youngster and I’ve just plateaued and do consistently OK. So I can’t complain.


Interviewer: Could you explain the Highland thing for us? I know what’s that but some of these guys might not know.


Ali Wyllie: So the Highland Fling is Scotland’s biggest ultra-marathon. It’s 53 miles along the West Highland Way, starting at Milngavie and finishing at Tyndrum and it has actually just been this weekend. So the 2017 Highland Fling …


Interviewer: And you’ve been volunteering there.


Ali Wyllie: I marshaled that one. I decided probably about a month ago to best not race because I hadn’t done the distance and training. So the first year I think I got – the first time I did it, I got 10 hours, 2 minutes and 45 seconds. I was – but I wanted sub-11. So I should have been happy. But then I was so close to sub-10. I was so disappointed. Then last year, bizarrely with the last training but more focused on form and more focused on nutrition, I managed 9 hours and 18 minutes. So I was delighted.


So next year, I want under nine hours.


Interviewer: Do definitely the plan.


Ali Wyllie: Yes.


Interviewer: And you definitely need to start running with the watch and paying a little more attention.


Ali Wyllie: You’re right.


Interviewer: Not that I’m saying …


Ali Wyllie: You’re right. No, you’re right. I do. I need to now up my game a bit I think. So yeah. I want to see some improvements within myself now and get off the plateau that I’m on.


Interviewer: You definitely said [0:11:59] [Indiscernible] my background is I’ve done so many sports and I was doing different things all the time. So the strength training was always there. Do you do the strength training?


Ali Wyllie: I do. I was doing quite a bit and I need to up it again. So I normally do three mornings a week. So I would like to do a wee bit more and I do also want to introduce one evening of yoga because my – I’m getting older. I had back trouble a few weeks ago and I need to keep that suppleness now.


Interviewer: I’m actually impressed because you are the first runner who is a good runner and then who does something.


Ali Wyllie: OK.


Interviewer: Everyone is like, no, I’m just running. We will see how it goes, how long I can run. It seems that you’ve put a little bit better ideas. With strength training, you’re going to run a little bit longer.


Ali Wyllie: I think the strength training was one of the secrets between my 45-minute PB with the Highland Fling. So when I went from 10 hours, 2 minutes to 9 hours, 18 minutes, I think a lot of that was down to strength. So I was doing the difference between the two. Like I say, it was running form, better nutrition and I was doing strength training for the second – for the nine hours.


Interviewer: So what kind of strength training would you recommend? What did you do before?

Ali Wyllie: Every morning, I do – well, most mornings, I try and do kind of 20 minutes of plank, squats, a bit of upper body stuff. The stretching, various kind of stomach exercises, lunges, walking lunges, dips.


Interviewer: Any weights or just body weight.


Ali Wyllie: Normally just body weight. I do have a kettlebell. But I feel I lack the expertise to use it. I’m speaking to a kettlebell expert.


Interviewer: You know where to find me.


Ali Wyllie: I know. I know. I would be there every evening if it wasn’t so far away from home. It’s really difficult.


Interviewer: But you can do this at home as well. The beauty of the kettle bell is you can use it anywhere and you don’t necessarily – if you are motivated enough – you know, I’m running the classes there but it’s just to motivate people and finding that it’s easier for them to push themselves a little bit farther. But all my training I do on my own because I can find motivation in myself. So I think you would be fine.


Ali Wyllie: Well, Grant did a session. He works with you. He did a session for us for the Cani-Sports Edinburgh Group and that taught me a few tricks. So I went and bought my kettle bell and it’s a great door stop. But actually I was thinking today I’m going to put it into – I’m going to kind of write down a few exercises for the morning for going forward for my training. It will include a couple of kettle bell things.


Interviewer: OK. So we’ve got the strength training sorted. Then nutrition-wise. What do you eat when you run nine hours?


Ali Wyllie: OK. So I’m potentially abnormal in that …


Interviewer: I think we already established that.


Ali Wyllie: Right. So about a year and a half ago, I went vegan. So what I eat probably isn’t necessarily standard to what other folks would.


Interviewer: Does it work for you?


Ali Wyllie: It works really well for me.


Interviewer: Perfect.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, it works for me. So let’s take my 9-hour, 18-minute fling time and my [0:15:25] [Indiscernible]. I did a kind of soy, avocado and banana milkshake. So I would whisk that up and I would have bottles of that at the points. Any salty crisps that I could take in that were also vegan-friendly. Lots of bananas, lots of nuts, dried fruit. What else would I take? Gels at work that I could take. During a race, my stomach – I struggle to stomach much food.


Training, I can eat anything. But during a race, I really struggle with my stomach. So although gels are disgusting, I do kind of rely on them because they can go in and they can go down quite easily.


Interviewer: Yeah, I’m trying to find my way of doing this.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: Last year, I did gels, but it’s just horrible.


Ali Wyllie: They’re disgusting. Your teeth feel horrible and they’re not great. But I think they work for me for a race. Out with the race and before and after, a lot like peanut butter sandwiches, lots of pasta, chia seed things, lots of like – I eat lots of nuts and fruits and veg and just anything I can get my hands on.


Interviewer: So had you found any improvement on vegan diet or dips in your performance or everything has stayed the same basically?


Ali Wyllie: So again, I saw a big improvement. But I don’t know if the difference was due to working on my form, working on strength and the diet. So those were the three key things that I changed between 2015 Highland Fling and 2016 Highland Fling when I saw the 45-minute improvement.


Interviewer: Yeah.


Ali Wyllie: I trained less, ate vegan, worked on strength and worked on form. That seemed to – yeah.


Interviewer: That’s it.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: Perfect. So good luck. So you’re going to train for a whole year or …


Ali Wyllie: I think I’m going to with the ultimate aim to be a sub-nine, ideally sub-eight-forty-five Highland Fling. I’m putting it out there, which makes it really – I’m putting it out there. I normally my hold my cards quite close to my chest if I wanted to in time because I then feel foolish if I don’t get it.


Interviewer: It’s good to have a goal.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: And then a high goal which is – I would even say just go a little – go crazy on it.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: It’s good to have it. I’m trying to always have three goals.


Ali Wyllie: OK.


Interviewer: So for my Iron Man, which I do now, this is the second one and I want to be obviously faster than last time.


Ali Wyllie: Yes.


Interviewer: So it’s like I want to do under 12 hours.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: Then if I do this, I will be happy.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: But then there’s another goal which is a little bit higher and then there’s the one stupid one where I don’t …


Ali Wyllie: On a good day, you never know.


Interviewer: On a good day, yeah, maybe, maybe. So we’ve got like – I’ve got three goals. So if I manage to hit the first one, I’m already happy.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: But then I can have another one and another one, which is …


Ali Wyllie: I agree with that. I do have platinum, gold and silver for a race. That’s it. So you have your dream kind of pie in the sky. Wouldn’t it be great if I could get this time? Then the normal ones just finish.


Interviewer: I’m finding that it’s easier to get something in between when you go really high, when you’re kind of …


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: No chance. And suddenly you are doing something sub – maybe a little bit slower. But still really, really good.


Ali Wyllie: I think ultimately with these kinds of races, with Iron Man, with ultra marathons, finishing is an achievement.


Interviewer: Oh, yeah.


Ali Wyllie: It shouldn’t matter how long – everyone has got their own individual personal goals. You cannot say what is a good time, full stop. It’s down to the individual. So a certain time I would be delighted with. Someone else would be gutted to have. Then a time that I would be gutted to have, someone else would be delighted with. You’ve got to respect the individual on what they personally can achieve.


Interviewer: I had the conversation with my wife today about this. The first time in my life, I’m kind of 30. Quite old, 35. I was hoping all my life that I would be the best in something. I never said this to anyone. But I play handball and I thought I’m going to be – were champion basically. Then [0:19:43] [Indiscernible] and I train hard for this achievement and then I did kettle bells for a long time and I thought I’m going to – I got a shot on this and I would be great.


Then the endurance part, because I was always really [Indiscernible] them. I’m really finding pleasure or just training for them and just doing this. Then no, I go into the events and I know I have no chance whatsoever to be – I can be just better the next time. But I will never win. So it’s not in my hat and it’s so nice. It’s amazing.


Ali Wyllie: I think the endurance sport is so much about the journey because you’re out there training so much and the places I go to and train, I really, really love the journey. The race itself sometimes I run because I love to run. I don’t run to race. But I have to put the races in there because it’s a nice personal challenge. It’s a great atmosphere. It’s good fun. I like to challenge myself.


Interviewer: And just push you a little bit.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, yeah. But I think for this kind of sports, IronMan, ultra marathons again, long distance, anything else, it’s very much personal goals. So finishing it, you all went in, you are the best of you. If you give it the best you possibly can, then you can never be disappointed with that.


Interviewer: It’s obviously – you’ve got – you are much more experienced than I am. But it’s always during the race we’ve got something that I’m going to quit right now.


Ali Wyllie: Oh, yeah.


Interviewer: Do you have it?


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, all the time.


Interviewer: All the time. That’s it.


Ali Wyllie: I think – I’ve got a degree in psychology with sports science. So I use mantras. I use thought stopping. I use positive thinking. It is a battle of kind of the mind and negativity sometimes that creeps in when you’re struggling out there, when it’s maybe adverse weather. Your legs hurt. It’s not going well. It’s horrible to then do that kind of distance.


You go through such a battle and so many highs and lows when you’re running that distance. So it’s a battle with yourself.


Interviewer: So what’s your best tip for overcoming those things? For someone who is going for a run.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: And finding this.


Ali Wyllie: You need to love it. You need to know why you do it. You need to know how to love it. You can’t just go off and say I want to run and train. You’ve got to fall head over heels in love with running. So …


Interviewer: How to become your person who loves running.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: How do you do it? What’s your secret?


Ali Wyllie: You need to appreciate that you can run. So my mantra that I made up is I run because I can. So I can go and run. I run because I’m healthy. So I appreciate the fact that I have health good enough that allows me to go running. There are plenty of people stuck in hospitals or at home who don’t have the health to go out and run. I run because I’m able. So again I’m able-bodied. I can go out for a run.


Interviewer: That’s superb. Yeah.


Ali Wyllie: I’m free. So I’ve got the freedom in this country, in this society to just put my trainers on and go for a run.


Interviewer: I can see reading that T-shirt.


Ali Wyllie: So I run because I can. I run because I’m healthy, able and free. So I keep reiterating that to myself. So I appreciate the running. I appreciate the beauty around me and that’s how I fall in love with it. So as opposed to thinking when is this over. My legs are sore. I then think, well, someone in hospital would love to feel the pain in their legs. I’m able to run.


So instead of it being a negative thing to me, I’m grateful that I’ve got pain in my legs because my legs are moving. Does that make sense?


Interviewer: Of course. It’s an amazing way of – I never heard a better explanation of it. People go thinking about goals and trying to go faster, but you’re going a completely different route. It’s more about loving running.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: Than anything else.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: I think a lot of people can use it. I think I would try to use it because it just puts your pain in this moment in very different perspective.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah. So each thing – like you might be out on the bike and you’re 30 miles down the coast and you’ve got a horrible headwind and the rain sets in. That has got to be miserable for you, right?


Interviewer: Yeah.


Ali Wyllie: But if you think, oh, this is horrible. Gosh, this is really, really bad and then you think, well, hang on a sec. There’s someone – again if we go back into the hospital scenario or someone in a refugee camp who is – who would love that freedom to have that rain and the wind in their face.


Interviewer: Yeah.


Ali Wyllie: It makes you actually appreciate it.


Interviewer: And use it.


Ali Wyllie: Yes.


Interviewer: That’s more than enough. That’s beautiful. OK. Coming back to your businesses.


Ali Wyllie: OK.


Interviewer: All your businesses. So you’ve got the Run the Sights. What do you do with Run the Sights?


Ali Wyllie: So Run the Sights does running tours. So it’s like a walking tour or a bus tour, but we run. We launched maybe two years ago.


Interviewer: And you’re doing a great job because it’s not only in Edinburgh, is it?


Ali Wyllie: Yeah. So it’s Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. So I scooped up two friends and runners who I really admire, Elaine Omand who does Dundee and Elspeth Luke, now Elspeth Barry who does Glasgow. Very amazing and inspirational people and runners. So I kind of scooped them up and we’ve kind of spread the running tour word. It’s growing worldwide. Running tours throughout the world are becoming huge. There are other organisations in Edinburgh. It’s really nice to see it spread out and just see people look to explore on the run instead of on a bus or instead of walking.


So it’s really nice for the – wellness is a big thing these days. So it’s really nice to see people keeping active while being a tourist.


Interviewer: Yeah, and it’s an amazing way. We’re always doing this with [0:25:20] [Indiscernible]. When we’re going somewhere to some other city, the first thing – we put the shoes on and we go for a run around the block.


Ali Wyllie: And explore. Yeah.


Interviewer: And explore. You see things which you would never see.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So we’re not fitness trainers. We’re all qualified run leaders. We’re obviously trained and we all have done a lot of research into areas. So we take people to places and explain a bit of history, the relevance, a bit of culture. So folks do actually learn stuff on the running tours. It’s not just a group run. So we go to various places, point things out, their pace of it. So a private tour or it’s a social group tour.


Interviewer: Are you setting up the pace before – you telling what you need to do or …


Ali Wyllie: At the moment, no. If it’s a private tour, it’s just down to the individual. There are no time restrictions and if it’s a group tour and it’s people who know each other, they know that they’re kind of restricted by each other or – and it’s a sociable thing. If they want to go at a certain pace, that’s the training run.


Interviewer: What if someone listening to it – oh, this is quite something. The website is Run the Sights?


Ali Wyllie: Yeah. Just


Interviewer: And you can find there the places.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: How to book in and everything is there.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, that’s right.


Interviewer: OK, right. Next to the next one. So [0:26:49] [Indiscernible] she’s coming to the club as well. But she’s really involved in running with dogs isn’t it? And you call it this Cani-Cross and it’s getting quite popular.


Ali Wyllie: Oh, it has become huge.


Interviewer: And you started it in Edinburgh.


Ali Wyllie: I co-founded Cani-Sports Edinburgh.


Interviewer: How many years ago?


Ali Wyllie: Oh, possibly five and a half years ago. So it started as a social group, myself and a friend . We had been doing Cani-Cross running with the dogs ourselves throughout Scotland.


Interviewer: I think this is like someone – oh, look at this guy. I think the bike – I think it’s kind of a stolen bike because he’s not wearing a helmet.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: Jesus.


Ali Wyllie: Anyway, Edinburgh is a safe place to be by the way.


Interviewer: Yeah, of course. I’ve never seen this before. OK. Back to the – it’s good that he never snatched our camera.


Ali Wyllie: I cannot run fast enough for that.


Interviewer: We’ve been thinking about this, that someone might do it. But this would be too fast for us. OK. Back to the Cani-Cross.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah. So it’s – it started off – really the history of Cani-Cross is a way for [Indiscernible] so sled dog runners to exercise their dogs in the summer months when there’s no snow. So people would attach themselves to the dogs and would run with them. So it’s not on road for various health reasons for the dogs and for the dog’s own comfort. So it’s on trails and nice terrain.


Interviewer: Is it like this [0:28:35] [Indiscernible] or not necessarily?


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, that’s where it originated from. Yeah, yeah. It hit the UK well over 10 years ago. There were big – lots of races down south. Then it came up to Scotland. There’s quite a few influential people who put a lot of work into Cani-Cross. Then myself and Viv started up Cani-Sports Edinburgh, started as a social group and after I think about two years, we developed it into a formal club and  was at the very first run at Dalkeith Country Park. Certainly for our club, it was way more popular than we ever anticipated.


So I think people realised that they could keep fit. They could exercise their dog. They could have a sociable time and it was all in a very safe environment. So for people who had maybe dogs with special needs, who are reactive, who are anxious, they were secure because all dogs were on the line. So with a specialist equipment that we use, dogs aren’t mingling and running everywhere. It’s not chaotic. Dogs are under the close control of their owners.


But the beauty of Cani-Cross is it’s a completely different sport to just running, so the dogs wear a harness. The person wears a belt and then you’re connected with a line, with a bungee in it and the dogs are actually taught to pull you. So it’s like you’re kind of wakeboarding behind a dog.


Interviewer: You’re a bit faster, isn’t it? Because you always – on the races in Fox Lake, you start like later. There’s always someone with the dog and this guy is going crazy fast.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah. Well, my strong dog Zach will take about three minutes off my 5K time.


Interviewer: 5K time.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: This must be so good for your speed like as well.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: As a training tool, isn’t it?


Ali Wyllie: Well, funny you should say that. The year I was doing a lot of Cani-Cross, I was also training for the Ultra and I was a bit concerned that my runs with doing Cani-Cross that were assisted by dog power wouldn’t facilitate or wouldn’t contribute to my training for the Ultra. But it really helped me in terms of I had to increase my cadence. I had to take shorter strides. Otherwise, I would be in agony. I learned to run with better form in conjunction with the – improve my running sessions I was having and actually contributed a lot to my training. Yeah.


Interviewer: This is like the form of training you normally do. Like in the pool for example, you can be on the bungee rope. The same sprinters do the same thing when someone pulls them on the bungee. So …


Ali Wyllie: So I guess it’s not resistance training because you’re going with it. So you’re getting pulled but you’re …


Interviewer: Yeah, yeah, but like over speeding, which then your normal speed becomes easy because you can run faster than that.


Ali Wyllie: I don’t know if there has ever been a scientific study behind it. But I would be interested because I do think Cani-Cross has helped my normal running, definitely.


Interviewer: So is any dog good for it or …


Ali Wyllie: As long as the dog is fit and healthy, is fully developed. So it’s not still – its bones need to be fully developed. So a small dog, you’re looking at about a year. Some bigger-boned dogs, maybe give it a year and a half. Some dogs take to it better than others, which is fine.


Interviewer: This one which would – wouldn’t be good.


Ali Wyllie: Oh, you would be surprised. There’s a Yorkie that passed earlier. We’ve got a Yorkie in the club, one of the ladies ones with the Yorkie and little [0:32:03] [Indiscernible] and he speeds along.


Interviewer: No way.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: You can get any pull …


Ali Wyllie: He will pull a little bit. Obviously with his strength and his weight, he’s not going to be as good as my 29 KGM German Pointer. But the key thing is he enjoys it. So for us, it’s a sociable club. Cani-Sports Edinburgh is a sociable club. It’s fun. It encourages people to run to their own ability and their dog’s own ability.


Interviewer: You guys are huge now. How many members have you got at this moment?


Ali Wyllie: So there are over 100 members. So I’ve got to give the committee credit. I was chair for two years and then I stood down last year just to let the club develop itself a little bit without me controlling it too much.


But I’m still involved in it. I’m just not part of the organising committee now. But the committee are going from strength to strength and there are well over 100 members.


Then on the Facebook group – here comes another bike.


Interviewer: It’s the same bike.


Ali Wyllie: I think it’s a different one.


Interviewer: But I think it’s the same. It’s …


Ali Wyllie: SM 10 WCV.


Interviewer: What do you do in a situation like that? We don’t have to record it.


Ali Wyllie: We can’t do much because the police aren’t allowed to give chase. If they crash due to police pursuit and die, it’s the police’s fault.


Interviewer: So we cannot shoot them. I would shoot them. If this were my bike, I would shoot them.


Ali Wyllie: We need to keep that in, that you would shoot them.


Interviewer: No, no, because I own a bike. I own the bike and I know a lot of people – a lot of bikes being stolen in Edinburgh and I’m a little bit pissed off because of that. Sorry, this is my friend because it’s like yeah, police cannot stop them but – and they just run around like that. Then obviously if they just follow them or something, there must be a better way of doing this.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, there must be.


Interviewer: Just calm down. Let’s go back to the …


Ali Wyllie: Anyway. No, I think I was giving credit to the Cani-Sports Edinburgh Committee now, that they’re working very hard. They do an annual race. There’s cani-fit races in Scotland which is Cani-Cross races. There are Cani-Sports Scotland races. There’s the Sled Dog Association races. So as well as all the social runs. It’s a big community.


Interviewer: I was watching an amazing movie, a documentary about it. There’s a banshee festival. Was it banshee? There’s a themed festival we went a couple of months ago. I think it’s banshee. It’s called Banshee Mountain Festival.


Ali Wyllie: OK.


Interviewer: And we watched a documentary about the – it wasn’t Cani-Cross as such because they have different things. The guy has been running on the ski.


Ali Wyllie: Yes, they had ski jaw.


Interviewer: Ski jaw and then we have the other like kind of buggies and stuff.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: We have the championship somewhere.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah. Oh, yeah.


Interviewer: It was in the snow obviously. Yeah, it’s amazing. Is it something you do as well or have you ever done …


Ali Wyllie: I used to have a scooter for Zach which is my big dog, which is great fun. But I ended up having to sell that and I’ve done the bike jaw, which is when you’re on a mountain bike and so that’s great – I guess I just like the running aspect. So yes, you can go faster and it’s more exhilarating sometimes on the bike, on a scooter, but I like to run.


Interviewer: I’m always intrigued by – you know, the dog goes straight and the dog never goes to the woods just to discover – what do you do? Because it’s all right when the dog goes straight. But if the dog decided to chase a – some crazy animal.


Ali Wyllie: Oh, that happens.


Interviewer: OK.


Ali Wyllie: So if a squirrel runs out in front of my dogs, they will try and go for the squirrel. I guess – so like you train your dog to sit, to stay, to maybe give you high give, give you their paw. Like you train your dog. You train them for Cani-Cross so you – there are commands and techniques to make them slow down, to make them speed up, to turn left, to turn right. So you’re giving your dog the commands. A lot of the time, the dogs know when they’re in harness, they’re working.


So they’re so focused, tunnel vision on going ahead, that they’re not sniffing around.


Interviewer: So they’re just going straight ahead.


Ali Wyllie: But I guarantee I don’t know many dogs ever …


Interviewer: Talking about the dog.


Ali Wyllie: I don’t know many dogs that ever – a deer or a rabbit or a squirrel ran out in front of them, that they wouldn’t lunge for it or – so that would definitely put my dogs off. But that’s part of the fun I guess.


Interviewer: So your love for dogs has been always there or you developed that?


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, I had dogs as a child. Jasper is coming up for seven. She’s my Hungarian Vizsla and I did a lot of research. I tried to get the rescue dog but with the circumstances that I was in, all the rescue homes I went to wanted to give me a very old dog that I couldn’t do any activity with.


So I was kind of forced to go and handpicking what I wanted. So the research led me to a Hungarian Vizsla because they’re endurance dogs and they can keep going.


Interviewer: OK.


Ali Wyllie: So she does a lot of my Ultra training with me. She’s a very, very fit dog. She has got muscles upon muscles now and then Zach, my German pointer who is a rescue dog, who came along two years after Jasper, he’s a sprinter. So he’s the strong Cani-Cross dog.


Interviewer: OK. So you have two dogs for two different …


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, yeah.


Interviewer: Two great companions with you. Can you take them both?


Ali Wyllie: I can. Zach, I maybe shouldn’t say what his nickname is because it’s not very polite. So he can be – OK, Zach the Dick. He can be off-lead in as many places as Jasper can be. Jasper, I can turn my back on and she’s perfect. Zach has got a lot of personality shall we say.


Interviewer: And a big dick obviously for chasing others.


Ali Wyllie: Anyway.


Interviewer: Anyway.


Ali Wyllie: Anyway. So as long as – they can both come as long as I’m somewhere safe, that Zach could be off-lead or Zach is on his harness. So it’s …


Interviewer: You see, our amazing idea of people crossing in front of us and making this background, it’s not happening. Everyone is just going around.


Ali Wyllie: People are being very respectful except for the bikes.


Interviewer: If they go here, can I do it? Can I just throw the mic at them?


Ali Wyllie: Yeah.


Interviewer: Yeah. Or we can just – I can do the line kind of thing and just heads off.


Ali Wyllie: I like what you’re thinking.


Interviewer: Right. OK. Where have we been? We are – that’s good, that’s good. It’s 40 minutes. Good topic, which is amazing.


When people are watching, I’m trying to make it very useful for people who – obviously you are really good in running and then we talk about a lot – different things about the running. Do you know how to make people start running? If someone wants to – I always ask this question. What’s the best way of starting running? I’m not talking about the endurance running like long distances. But something – someone had never done anything before and they want to start running. What’s the best way?


Ali Wyllie: You just got to start small. I think people are so intimidated by going out for five kilometers. Go out for five minutes and build up, build up. Go out for five minutes, even if you walk four minutes of that and run one minute. It’s just building up really slowly. I think a lot of people also make the – mistakenly think that – for instance to race, I find it easy. I run as – I’m in as much pain and anguish as the person who maybe comes last. I feel their pain as much as they feel my pain and they think it’s easier if you’re slightly faster. It’s not.


It doesn’t necessarily get any easier but your pain threshold and your levels of fitness just get pushed back a little bit. But to start off, you need to just start with really bite-sized pieces. Put your trainers on for five minutes and go out. Once you get into a habit, you need to make a habit and you need to make time and get rid of all the excuses. Don’t say, “I can’t because of this,” or “I can’t because of that.” That doesn’t wash.


There are two 5 o’clocks in the day. So go out in the morning.


Interviewer: That’s good. So basically habit is the most important.


Ali Wyllie: Definitely.


Interviewer: Then what to do when you start getting these excuses, when you’re saying, “I’m tired today. Maybe I go tomorrow”? Then next day and next day and then we stop after two weeks because …


Ali Wyllie: I guess it depends on your own individual goals. If someone is wanting to lose weight, then they need to be strict with themselves. If someone wants to get fit, you’ve got to want to do it yourself. If they’re going to make excuses, then they need to think, “Well, do I need to get a personal trainer? Do I need to go to classes?” What motivates an individual? Can they motivate themselves? If they can, then great. If they need to go to classes even with a friend, then that’s what they need to do. But they need to recognise the excuse and they need to stop it. But we said before they need to enjoy it.


Interviewer: Oh, yeah.


Ali Wyllie: If it’s too much of a task, maybe find something that they enjoy.


Interviewer: You start enjoying and then this – there will be always moment. I keep saying this that there are always moments – even like for me, I’ve got – 50 percent of my trainings, the first couple of minutes or just before going out, I’m thinking, “Oh, maybe not.”


Ali Wyllie: I’m the same.


Interviewer: You think this as well?


Ali Wyllie: Oh, definitely.


Interviewer: There we go.


Ali Wyllie: There are plenty of times I cannot be bothered to go for a run. I don’t want to go for a run. But if I’ve got a goal or …


Interviewer: What do you do in this moment? This must be some specific thing that you’re thinking, “Ah! I’ve got this. I will do it.”


Ali Wyllie: I have to take the dogs out. So that’s easy. That’s easy. If I don’t have to take the dogs out, I’ve got a golden rule which I think is quite common in the running community. That you go out for 10 minutes. If you still don’t want to run or you still don’t feel good, that’s fine. You can go home guilt-free. But guarantee once you’re out there, you’ve got your running trainers on, you’ve got your gear on, you’ve started running, the whole thought process of actually getting out there is over, I guarantee you will stay …


Interviewer: I will stay. I’m doing this all the time as well. Very similar pattern and then it’s always working because you’re thinking like, oh, I’m out now. I will just go …


Ali Wyllie: The hardest thing is getting started. If someone wants to start running, once they just go out for the first session and make it a habit, they’ve solved it. The hardest thing is getting started. So it’s like any new habit or any new positive thing to do. Just getting started.


Interviewer: No one would cross.


Ali Wyllie: I know.


Interviewer: Anyway, I know you’re kind of a busy person. I’m kind of busy because I’m about to start my session very, very quickly.


Ali Wyllie: Oh, yeah.


Interviewer: So I have to finish and it was really a pleasure. Thank you very much for making the time. I hope we will help at least one person.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, I hope so.


Interviewer: We will put one person out there running and then yeah – and everyone knows the name of your dog now.


Ali Wyllie: Sorry, Zach.


Interviewer: Oh, poor Zach. I need to get his picture. Can you send me his picture?


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, will do.


Interviewer: So what I do as always, I will put your websites on the page so people can get in touch with you. Is it the best way for the websites or …


Ali Wyllie: Yeah, yeah, the website, social media. It would be really cool to – at Cani-Sports Edinburgh, we shout out as well.


Interviewer: This is what we do as well.


Ali Wyllie: Yeah. That would be really cool. So Run the Sights, Cani-Sports Edinburgh, any kind of bits and bobs of running or if anyone has got any questions and – I’m more than happy to help.


Interviewer: Awesome, awesome.


Ali Wyllie: Thank you.


Interviewer: Thank you very much. It was a pleasure. See you later guys.


Ali Wyllie: Bye.


Interviewer: Thank you for listening. Bye-bye.


[End of transcript]

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