Wallabies rugby union star Drew Mitchell to compete in New York marathon

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HE’S a championship-winning Wallabies star who played at the highest level for more than a decade so the last thing you expect is Drew Mitchell to struggle with his fitness.

But it turns out the rugby union great is exactly like the rest of us when it comes to finding the motivation needed to get off the couch and get moving.

“To be completely honest, I’m just not the kind of guy who loves training and who gets up off the couch and just does it,” he says.

“And when I first stopped playing rugby, it was my first time training in a public gym, my first time not having all me teammates around me, the first time I didn’t have coaches screaming at me for taking too many rest breaks.

“So for me to be motivated, I need to commit to something publicly, so I’m held accountable, and then I can start training toward a goal.”

Goals don’t get much bigger than Drew’s target for 2018; to complete the New York Marathon in November. It’s a gruelling 42.2km run that tracks through all of NYC’s five boroughs. And long-distance running is not a weapon in Drew’s otherwise comprehensive sporting arsenal.

“People might think that because you’re a footy player, you must be fit. But I’m all short bursts, power and speed stuff — endurance is not what I’m made for,” he says.

“But I have a long time to train for it, and it will mean I’m committed to staying in shape and staying healthy, just to make sure I can at least walk across that finish line.”

Drew will be fitting his marathon prep around his commitments as a member of the FOX Sports rugby union commentary team, a position he says is making the post-football transition easier — even if his old teammates are still getting used to his new role in the media.

“Being involved with FOX means I don’t have to go cold turkey on footy. It was my life for 15 years, and now to be around on game day and get that feeling of the atmosphere, the nervous energy, it actually helps me wean off rugby,” he says.

“I still get to be around the boys, but some of them are watching what they say around me. They think I might be recording everything.”

EMBRACE GOOD PAIN

ASK Drew what helps him push through the pain of those long training runs that go into preparing for your first marathon, and his answer is a little surprising; even more pain.

“I read a lot of self-development stuff, and one thing has really rung true. You get two types of pain; the pain of self-discipline or the pain of regret. And you need to choose wisely,” he says.

“So the times when it’s easy to watch another episode on Netflix, rather than get up and going to do something, well I prefer the pain of having self-discipline than the regret I’ll feel if I can’t finish the marathon.”

MIND GAMES

SO much has been said about how hard it can be to transition from the intense glare of professional sports to a normal life, and it’s something that had worried Drew, too.

And so he took the hugely courageous step of seeking professional help in the lead up to his retirement, meeting with a psychologist to talk through any potential trouble spots he’d encounter. He found the process so beneficial that he continues it to this day.

“The way I look at is that, from the moment we’re born, we have people teaching us just about everything, whether it’s to walk, study or play sport. But we don’t have a coach for life,” he says.

“So I go and see a psych quite regularly now. It began when I was making that transition, I was going from living in France to Australia, from rugby to whatever was next, and I thought I had every potential to hit a bit of a pothole and go within myself.

“I thought I’d pre-emptively go and speak to someone about helping identify those obstacles and deal with them before I got to them.

“I don’t see it as weakness. It’s actually quite the opposite.”

WIN YOUR MORNING

GROWING up in a military family, Drew says the importance of sticking to a morning routine was drilled into him from a young age. Even today, he begins each morning by making his bed and so chalking up his achievement of the day before he has even left his bedroom.

“I’ve been introduced to a book called The Miracle Morning,” he says.

“And it’s about setting your alarm an hour earlier than you might normally get up, and using that time to sit in silence, leave your phone off, do some exercise or write in a journal.

“It’s all little things like that to give yourself a little bit of time before you start your day.

“But I always make my bed as well. My father was in the military, and that was always something I had to do as a young kid. He was big on starting the day by achieving something.”

GOING JAPANESE

WHILE many of his team mates have moved to Japan to finish off their illustrious rugby careers Drew instead has adopted Japanese cuisine as his go too for his waistline.

“I love Japanese food — it is so healthy and fresh. My go to is tuna sushami but I do make sure that I go easy on the rice,” he said.

THE FAST FIVE

What’s your best motivation tip?

Set a goal, commit to it publicly, then start chipping away at it.

What’s your favourite healthy food?

It’s sushi for me. But I try to g a bit easy on the rice when I can.

What’s your favourite unhealthy food?

Pizza. It’s too hard to go past.

What’s your poison?

A single malt whiskey or champagne — I’ve spent too long in France.

Why should people get fit and healthy?

It’s the most important thing we’ve got. To get the most out of life you need to be healthy and fit.

FOX SPORTS will show every game of the Wallabies’ June Test series against Ireland LIVE, ad-break free during play and in HD.

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