I have always maintained that runners are special. Ask anyone who lives with a runner and you will risk being subjected to a lengthy, heartfelt and even frustrated sermon about how special they really are. They disappear at all sort of unseemly hours and then come back home utterly exhausted but strangely elated. The only conclusion for a sane ( non-runner) is that the runner in their life must be ‘special’. The rest of the pleasure of cohabiting with a runner is clouded in mystery and probably makes most sense left that way.

This ‘specialness’ can be expressed in many aspects of life, be it related to diet, insistence on a rigid weekly routine or the decorating of entire rooms with medals and race bibs. You know it happens!!! That said, there is one annual ‘negotiation’ that probably equals no other. Every year the prospect of the family holiday looms large and then bursts into the family conscience. Both sides of the running divide start to think how this should or could be handled.

The non running partners, a number that often includes children, speculate on whether Mom or Dad will take a whole bag of running gear with them on the annual family vacation. This is an additional bag to the one with either beach gear, evening wear or other good stuff in it. This side of the family will also consider how much of the vacation might be structured around ‘getting a run in’ whether the intended destination is Rome, Paris, Nashville or the Sahara Desert. These deliberations might cause the occasional spirited debate around the dinner table as the running side of the family enters into delicate negotiations intended to balance their obsession with the needs of the family.

As for the runner, there really is very little to debate or discuss. Training cannot be disturbed just because familial obligations must be observed in order to maintain a civil marriage or family life. That said, this apparently straightforward and ‘obvious’ point of view tends to come unstuck when the opinions of the non-runners are, for whatever reason, taken into account. They just do not get it. The need to run seems to be lost on them. After all, they see the runner in their life do it all year round which raises the question for them: why not take a rest?

A rest? WHAT HERESY IS THIS? Surely only a non-runner could contemplate such an incomprehensible idea let alone actually dare to say it, but say it they do. This delicate subject thus forces its way onto the agenda and detailed discussions ensue as a precursor to getting some sort of treaty signed before the vacation. Of course, some families have two runners in them. These combos, often husband and wife, make the idea of no running on vacation totally beyond consideration. The hapless kids in these hopeless situations are stuck with the problem so, I guess, there is no choice but to suck it up and deal with it.

Even the single runner wrestles with the dilemma of ‘to run or not to run, that is the question’ when venturing further afield from local and comforting roads. Clearly some vacations lend themselves to running as the break from work might be destined to land the runner in a place where running is even more exciting and mind soothing than normal. Others, like my 2017 trip to the Cotswolds in England present more interesting problems. My home town is hilly and I do not need hill training right now. My fragile knees are just beginning to carry me again. Thus, the dilemma of whether to take my ‘gear’ even presents itself to me. Great beer, ancient hostelries, fabulous high calorie food and endless bonhomie with old friends all range themselves against the obvious pleasure of enjoying Merry Old England. Thus, the question arises of whether I pack running gear or just say ‘to hell with it’ and relax awhile. I am not Mo Farah, I am not trying to get into Team GB, so maybe a rest might be a good idea. I have two knees that concur, even though I might sneak one change of gear into my bag. We shall see.

In conclusion, the prospect of a complete break from running might be very therapeutic. Families might be rediscovered and good times had. While it is tempting to think life revolves around running it is quite sobering to realize it might not. Any coach worth their salt will tell you a rest is good. Some I know stop running for a three week period every year. This could, cunningly, be made to coincide with the family vacation. So. Think about it. Why not take a rest. Enjoy your vacation and chill. You might find out that it makes complete sense.

Mark Darley
aka Britrunner

The Comeback Trail…

February marks an annual event for NWBRRC that everyone does their best to attend. The Annual Beach Run sees the club transport its usual sweaty, tired limbed presence from the Starbucks on Coral Ridge to the Cove Parking lot in Deerfield Beach. A variety of runs are planned up to and around 10 miles. When the various rapid perambulations are complete, we all convene for a bagel and coffee with, of course, all the usual road stories and badinage for which we are famous.

Last year I ran out for 5 miles at a very easy pace to make sure I could escort a friend. On the way back I picked up my usual pace but noticed at the finish that I was feeling more sore than usual despite the relatively sedate nature of the warm-up miles. One of the club coaches reminded me that as the years pass, and a few have sneaked their way past me for certain, we need to take greater care. To cut a long story short, my year stuttered from then up to the first week of December. It was at this point that I had to shut everything down and take at least three months off from running.

Why do I relate this tale? Basically, I forced myself out of bed early for the first time in three months to join my club mates at the beach run to be faced with the very real prospect that I was standing at the threshold of the ‘Comeback’. Since curtailing my runs I had added 15 pounds, become very unfit and was still in possession of two rather fragile knees. How was I going to start on the road back to enjoying a glorious morning run, hopefully along the beach sometime, when faced with all the mojo sapping factors?

How indeed? Certainly, the encouragement of one of the club coaches ringing in my ears helped. I left the Beach Run thinking I had to get out on the road again. I even felt a little of the ‘mojo’ filling my previously empty chest.

The Comeback is something at least three of our members are facing. We will approach it in different ways, but I as the eldest of the three by far needed to adopt a plan. This plan would include a whole-body approach including diet changes, attitude changes, gym work and even a little running. It is this latter part that needed to change most. I have done the other things in various measures but I have always trained n the hard roads. I hated the ‘Dreadmill’ as I call it. Running in the gym was anathema to me. Melissa Schwartz finally got through to me. Her constant berating of my love of road running exclusively struck a chord in my dense brain. I needed ‘vary my surfaces’ and even run in the gym if these knees were ever to carry me around a race course again.

I certainly have missed running, I have looked longingly at runners easing along the roads close to my house. I have been envious. I know now that if I am ever to enjoy the thrill of a race or the emotional and physical challenge of a longer run again I will have to be smart. Smart means listening to running colleagues. It means eating better (less fish and chips and beer apparently) and it means using the tools available to us to preserve fragile joints. I will even risk looking a little odd in well cushioned shoes if it means I can run again.

The moral of this tale is this: If we are to come back and stay back, then we must train smart, eat smart and look after our whole body. Considering the shape I am in at present I will look forward to the changes I hope to effect. This month I have focused on me more than usual, but when I realized the scale of the comeback effort needed to rejoin my friends I thought it made sense to write about it. With the guidance of Melissa and others in the club I will relate over the coming months how 2017 will, I hope, be an altogether better running year than the last one. I wish you all the same. Be smart, be happy and be sensible and if you are on the comeback trail, have a plan and use the knowledge of coaches and experienced running friends. I failed to do this and nearly lost one of my greatest loves – running!!!! So…

Get a plan and use it. You know that makes sense, don’t you!!

Mark Darley aka Britrunner

Garmin Free

Few things divide running opinion as much as technology used on the road. I declare my beliefs from the outset. I do not, and never will, understand why people run with music piped into their ears, even less so in a race!!!! Having never been bored or in need of diversion for one yard of the thousands of miles I have run, it is an utter mystery why runners pollute the serenity and meditative qualities of running with music. I love music. I listen to it often. Never when I run. A run is time when I think, debate or structure thoughts free of influence from an increasingly noisy world. It is meditation in motion for me.

There is one piece of technology I have always used, namely the Garmin or GPS watch. Interestingly, I when look back I recall using a simple Timex ‘Ironman’ wristwatch strapped diminutively to my arm. It did little more than tell the time. Imagine that!!!! I often ask: How did I ever cope without knowing my splits and pace? How did I complete runs with absolutely no awareness of such esoteric details as calories burned, ambient temperature, humidity or cadence? How indeed?

Interestingly, the minutiae springing readily from the generously priced and larger device now adorning my arm still re- mains something of a mystery while running. Why? Because the ravages of advancing age mean that one’s ability to actually SEE this cascade of vital information recede with the passing years. Presbymyopia is my new running companion.

Runners oft times are caught furtively squinting at their watches vainly stealing brief glimpses of precious, nay life changing and critical numbers, conveniently and luminously tattooed to their wrists. I am no exception, but I ask fellow runners to read my watch for me to salve my need for information. Do they wonder if I can actually read? No matter. My craving surmounts any level of embarrassment that might result When, I ask therefore, will Garmin produce the Senior Runners GPS device? We have needs. The market should deliver. There are many of us. We are waiting!!!

A situation recently befell me at a post run breakfast. I had not run that day as I am, sadly, nursing a knee ligament and cartilage injury. This Saturday morning, I joined two friends. Conversation ensued. The joy of a race completed was shared amid humorous excuses as to why they merely strolled and did not race. This made sense to me. At least, it did, until I was exposed to a horrifying admission, read on.

Initially I noted nothing unusual. Then. Quite unexpectedly. One of us, with a fleeting hand gesture, beckoned the others to draw close. Our heads convened semi secretly around the full circumference of the Diner table we occupied in a vain attempt to ensure that NO ONE in the bustling restaurant would notice we might be learning something truly awful, embarrassing and above all shameful. They all stared, it seemed – maybe straining to hear the prospective horror.

Our impending confessor looked both of us in the eye. To make a point, we assumed. Next, she took a slow, deep, calculated breath before speaking in a deliberately hushed tone. Her eyes dropped. She quietly uttered, ‘You know. Today was not at all fast, but I have to tell you, I did not wear a watch’.

We, the listeners, fell back. Aghast at what we had been exposed to. The restaurant may have let out gasps of disbelief. I could not tell. I was caught in a subtle shock zone. Quickly, no doubt, in an attempt to capitalize on the silence in which the victims of this battery a sacred runner’s tenet found themselves; she then added, with an apparent sense of relief,

‘I was running Garmin Free!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

That was it. The air raced out of the room. Garmin Free?

Now, nothing made sense. At all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mark Darley aka Britrunner



What is in your running wallet? It is that time of year again when all manner of promises are made to re- build bodies or reclaim former glories after a holiday season in which much festive cheer is consumed, both in liquid form and as comestibles. We will, naturally, run for fine wine. We are, after all, runners. In saying that, what notes of caution must I sound? Read on…


We can be fit, stay fit and enjoy looking fit. As runners, we like to indulge in our favorite past time as a means of attaining and maintaining our fitness. Our social media overflows with stories of how we ‘fought the flab’ and, in some cases, almost lost a whole person in the determined effort to drop

weight and get moving. While it is widely known that running alone does not lead to weight loss, adding a good diet to our running endeavors does indeed see unwanted weight fall away. Some of us struggle, your writer included, with the siren call of a great glass of wine or a beer or four with friends, but for the more disciplined among us fitness is the holy grail striven for. Of course, even if we cannot hone ourselves down to a sylph like equivalent of our high school selves, we can, at least, look forward to our annual physical. This is where the Doctor or nurse asks us while casting an incredulous look in our direction having completed our vitals, ‘are you feeling alright?’. We respond with a slight smirk on our faces by saying, ‘Oh, I’m a runner!’. Enough said!!!!


If you follow all the rules of training well such as maintaining a great diet, using the correct post run recovery supplements from Sergio Yibrin, refusing to imbibe alcohol, being a gym rat and doing EXACTLY what Melissa Hinton tells you to do, you will become fast. Fast is something many in our club aspire to and achieve, others merely dream of and a few more, me included, lament as something we had in the past. Being fast is much cherished by many, but our club holds it in the same esteem as getting out there and entering race after race, come weather of all degrees of heat and humidity. NWBRRC celebrates the fact its members can run and take part……..we are proud of the fast but equally proud of the persistent. Each Saturday I have the ‘Speed Inc’ or just Joe Gonzales….Fast is good, but not the only thing as many will tell.


This brings me nicely around to the best part of being a runner and being part of NWBRRC, it is simply the best damn running club in the land and the most fun by a country mile or is that a holiday mile? Why? The answer is simple. Everyone who participates has a ‘bloody good time’ as we English say. Even if we are injured we often turn out on a Saturday just to be with our road friends. We have training buddies, road wives and husbands and training competitors to push us to new levels of achievement. Naturally this leads to the maxim: What happens on the road, stays on the road only to see that whole concept trashed by my Saturday Facebook post. You can’t hide in this club. Well, you can if you talk to me nicely. When all is said, and done, we enjoy what we do. We laugh, sweat, cry, cheer on and proclaim our happiness individually and for each other in races.


Of course, the alternative to all those early mornings, disgruntled spouses, abandoned kids and confused pets that never understand why you do not take them for a walk, is to form a close relationship with a sofa, pull up the candies and fester. I mean, get fat!!!!! The choice is clear. If you do not get off your rapidly spreading derriere and join a running club you will not impress your doctor and you won’t have nearly as much fun either. Filling your face with chocolate might sound like fun but the fact that so many of us pitch up on the early hours of a Saturday morning to plod or speed our way around Coral Springs and Parkland proves that there really is an alternative. We are the living proof. We have found the alternative and it lies amid the often moisture soaked, wee hours of the morning in the company of a few soggy friends. Oh, how we love it.

So, there it is. No real need to talk of New Year’s Resolutions. We do not need them, unless it involves a running goal we will stick to. Rather, we can simply keep on doing what we do. The year ahead will be filled with stories, training efforts and racing rewards; but above all we will have a heck of a lot of fun doing it because we are NWBRRC. We like to say ‘every runner counts !!!!’ To me that makes a lot of sense. Good luck to all of us in 2017.

Mark Darley aka Britrunner