In this Runner’s Profile, I interview a good friend of mine, Dave Hughes. When I first met him, Dave was a lapsed runner, did very little in the way of exercise and had a penchant for chips and takeaways. As you’ll soon see, quite a lot has changed over the last few years! I am confident you’ll empathise with a lot of what he has to say.
Dave Hughes. I am not an athlete.
I’m glad we cleared that up straight away Dave! I beg to differ though!
When (and how) did you get into running?
I was a club runner as a teenager, competing at inter-county level on the track during the summer and XC (Cross Country) during the winter but did little running or any form of exercise in my twenties/thirties except for a solitary half marathon shortly before my 30th birthday. Having heard so much about parkrun from Tim I set myself the goal of running the Beeston parkrun in 2015. As time ran out I bought a pair of trainers, ran half a dozen training runs then made my parkrun debut on December 19th 2015. I hope to complete my 50th before the end of 2017.
That’s fantastic Dave! You’ve managed to fit a lot of parkrunning in since your debut in December 2015! All the best for completing 50 parkruns before 2017 is out!
Now on to one of my favourite topics, running shoes! What running shoes are you currently using?
Brooks Ravenna (which it turns out are the wrong size). These are semi-retired after running nearly 700km and I use them for boot camp fitness sessions and muddy parkruns. I’ve recently treated myself to a new pair which are New Balance 860v7
So, you had a history in track and cross country and are now a regular parkrunner. What is your favourite distance to run now and why?
15-20km. For me, this is still a challenging distance whilst being short enough to take on after work on a light evening giving plenty of time for reflection. Once I’ve made the commitment to get out and run I want to make the most of it.
I feel the same! I like to make the effort of getting outside worth it and much prefer a longer run to something too short which leaves me thinking, ‘Is that it?’
What is your favourite event and why?
Haven’t run many so my experience is limited. I enjoyed the Bolsover 10k; it had a real friendly atmosphere and it is a great course along the lanes of Derbyshire. The Robin Hood Half Marathon was great fun too with all the support out on the course. Of course, what got me back to running was parkrun. I enjoy the challenge of a timed run, I love the whole spectrum of the parkrun community, the sub-17 speedsters, the club athletes using it as a weekly time trial, and the PB’ers who ring the bell and smile broadly when they get a cheer whatever their time may be. I love the opportunity it gives to just rock up somewhere new and go for a run with a friendly bunch of like-minded individuals (I have been known to drive for up to 1hr to try out a new one).
Wow! Driving an hour for a 20(ish) minute run? That is some effort Dave! So, if you would drive an hour for a 5k parkrun, I’m interested how far afield you’d consider for some events you’d really like to take part in?
Cardiff Half Marathon. Just because I love Cardiff (and it’s flat). Perhaps a marathon one day, but given my propensity for injury I’m not sure this is ever likely.
What is your most memorable race/event and why?
They all have their merits and fond memories, even those that didn’t go to plan. I remember running through a thunderstorm - that was epic! It took several days for my shoes to dry out. Combining running with sightseeing around the Greenwich Observatory and the Cutty Sark in London was a great experience too.
I hope you’re talking about our run when we were down in London for the Running Awards earlier this year! So, you like running and sightseeing. What else do you love/like about running?
Short and to the point! And on the other side, what frustrates you about running?
Being injured, or more to the point coming back from injury. Your head remembers you can run this route in 40 minutes yet here you are struggling to get back in 50. In fact, most of the mental side of running is frustrating.
I find that the mental battle is the hardest one of all. I’ll be writing a blog article soon tackling this particular element of running.
What motivates you to run, Dave?
Combination of factors: A desire to be fitter/healthier and improve ‘well-being’. Exercise is a great de-stresser. Also peer pressure.
Not from me I hope?! Though I’m sure my never-ending enthusiasm for running must wear you down / inspire you to get out and run!
Do you have days/times when you just don’t want to run?
It can be a struggle to motivate myself when it is cold, dark and wet. I have tried running early in the morning, running at 5.30am is a great way to start the day.
I wish I got to bed early enough to make this an achievable, regular experience. Which begs the question, how do you fit running into your life?
Finding the time isn’t usually the problem, it’s finding the motivation, even though I know I’ll get some benefit from the run.
What do you think needs to happen to make running more accessible for people?
There are very few barriers to running but for some it might be that sense of being an outsider, of not being a runner. At our local town carnival recently there was all sorts of groups with information stalls set out but I didn’t notice our local parkrun or Athletics clubs. I know many clubs offer a Couch to 5k programme which needs to be shouted about.
A good point Dave. I know that Long Eaton Running Club were present within the carnival procession though!
You seem to be someone who thinks very deeply on topics. When you’re running, what is going on in your head?
Anything and everything. Thinking whilst running seems to take up as much energy as the running itself. Some days I try to focus on one aspect of my running, be it breathing, cadence, foot strike or running tall/relaxed. Other days my mind wanders and puts the world to rights. During races it is running through the maths of how the race is progressing, last 1km, half way point and so on.
Do you wear headphones whilst running or not? What is your reasoning for your response?
No. I like to be in-touch with my surroundings.
Who inspires you and why? (Running or otherwise)
Mo. Mo Farah is such a superb role model and an incredible athlete, you cannot fail to be inspired by him. Growing up I watched Roger Black on the track. As a teenager 400m was my distance I think because in the club we had outright sprinters and middle distance runners but there was a gap at 400m so to guarantee a race that became my distance.
Finding a niche is the name of the game Dave!
What other blogs/articles/books/media do you recommend to others and for what reasons?
I’m not well read. Given my history of injuries I follow a couple of physio bloggers; but I tend to read books about the origins of the universe or the human genome, it gives me something to mull over when I’m running.
I was right about you thinking deeply on topics! How about this one then. What are your ‘go-to’ running brands and why?
I’ve always favoured Ron Hill for running wear, ever since being a teenage club runner. Trainers, well I’m still working out what works for me.What is your funniest moment associated with running?
Whilst not funny at the time, I can look back and smile at being beaten in a half-marathon by quite a few people in fancy dress. There is no shame in being beaten by Superman, some shame in being beaten by a fairy. No, it wasn’t Mike! (Dave alludes here to Mike Wells, the famous tutu-wearing runstreaker. He was interviewed for this website and you can see the extensive interview, starting here.
Do you have a favourite quote you use when running?
One that is commonly used in running and cycling, ‘It never gets easier, you just get faster’ and that is so true, at least for now. Also, ‘If you see me collapse, pause my Garmin.’ I am obsessed with stats. I have in the past decided not to go for a run because my watch wasn’t charged!
What is your next running challenge and how are you approaching it?
Not telling. But my future goals are to run a sub-20 minute parkrun and I’m aiming to run the Ashby 20 miler in 2018.
We wish you all the best Dave! Thank you for answering my questions!
Dave is a fairly reserved, allegedly reluctant athlete, an amazing friend and one of the deepest thinkers I know. If you see him, do say hello, but if he’s running, I’d let him get on with it if I were you!
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