Runner’s Profile – Meet Dave Hughes!

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 at the Robin Hood Marathon event in 2016

Introduce​ ​yourself!​

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?

Simplicity.​ ​Freedom.

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.

Dave in his teens, about 15/16 yrs old, when he ran for Aberdare Valley Athletics Club.

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!

If you are interested in being profiled in our regular Runner’s Profiles section, please get in touch with us through the contact form.