Five Questions with Darren Smith

Darren Smith

Darren started running in his late 30s in an attempt to tidy up his lifestyle. He thought it might be a good way to push back against any imminent changes his body had in mind for his forties describing it as a “cheap midlife crisis.”However, he quickly became captivated with all aspects of running and enjoyed route planning, podcasts, bloggers and YouTube videos as much as running. In fact, that’s how I was introduced to Darren. After I wrote my post about why I blog, Darren got in touch to tell me why he reads my blog! I was sincerely flattered. We got chatting via email, and I thought Darren’s story was really relatable. Like so many other runners I know, he was hooked after his first Parkrun and since then, he’s taken part in many races including his very first half marathon in September in the New Forest. So I asked him to participate in my Five Questions series and he very kindly agreed. Here are his answers to five questions about running…

What new habit have you adopted in the last 3 years has most improved your running?

A new habit that I have adopted has been to keep a Race History Log. The criteria for the log is ‘Timed Event, Entry Fee or Medal’ and this has helped me track my times and progress for the various distances and serves as a motivational tool to build on the number of events attended year on year. I include Parkruns on the list as although not considered widely as a race amongst the running community, I run them as fast as I can on the day and try and beat my own times.

When you are at your absolute lowest point in a race, what do you do or say to yourself to convince yourself to keep going? 

 I have two incredible daughters (Jemima 10 & Cecily 9) and I picture myself in a scenario where I am telling them to ‘not give up’. This instantly makes me stronger as I want to be a good role model for them and how can I encourage them to keep going if I give up myself

The scenario doesn’t have to be sport related, it can be anything from completing a difficult piece of homework, practising an instrument, or competing in a dance or gymnastics competition. If I live by the values I want to pass on as a parent, I can find that extra push to keep going as I don’t want to let them down.

Darren Smith

Tell me about an unusual thing that you do before, during or after a run? 

I have recently started having cold baths after longer runs/races to assist with recovery. The cold therapy reduces inflammation and muscle soreness faster than individual ice packs or freezing sprays in my opinion.

 What is your most memorable running failure and what did you learn from it? 

 My biggest running fail was when I ended up face down in a ditch of stinging nettles, after getting lost on what was meant to be a quick run after work.

I had promised my wife that I would be back to help with putting the children to bed, so after getting lost in a farmer’s field I saw the opportunity to cut a corner and claw back some time. Unfortunately, the short cut included a leap across a ditch which I completely misjudged and ended up with 100+ nettle stings and a bruised ego.

What purchase under £100 has most impacted your running life?

 All the equipment I have purchased for running costs under £100, which hopefully proves how accessible running is as a hobby.

The items that have had the most impact are;

  • The Kalenji Running Light (£30), perfect for winter evening runs to prevent turning your ankle on tree stumps or pot holes. It is so powerful that I can still run through alleyways and unlit areas in the dark safely.
  • The Quad Lock Run Kit (£45) –  I am a big fan of listening to podcasts when running as well as taking pictures so this bit of kit is perfect for why I take my phone on runs.
  • Running Commentary Podcast (Free) – I cannot recommend this podcast enough. After you get used to the weirdness of heavy breathing in your ears, you will discover two of the nicest and funniest gentlemen ready to keep you company when you are out training on your own. It really does make you feel that you have popped out for a run with two old friends. Download and subscribe, you won’t be disappointed.

When he’s not running, Darren is the General Manager Putteridge Bury, a stunning conference and events venue on the Hertforshire and Bedfordshire border. Built in 1911, the building is owned by the University of Bedfordshire and is set in 30 acres of beautiful parkland. Pretty stunning place for a run, don’t you think? You can follow Darren on Twitter @Putteridge_GM

Putteridge Bury


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