Inspiring striding - Dave Smale

Posted by Peter Goldring on

We have so much love for our happystride community ❤️ You guys are so inspiring and we want to get to know you a little better...and we know others would like to as well.

SO we bring you to....the next post in our blog series ..."Inspiring striding"!!! We have the brilliant Dave Smale join us!🖊

We are sooo pleased to have Dave as our guest! Dave has been running just over 20 years and has a half marathon pb of 1.08 and a marathon pb of 2.24!

So if you want to know Dave's top 5 running tips, more about his greatest running achievements and what his favourite trainers are then read on!

Thanks so much Dave for joining in with our blog ❤️

How long have you been running for and how did you originally get into it?

I’ve been running just over 20 years.  I started running when I was at primary school, doing things like Borough Sports and ‘Fun Runs’.  However, I really started getting into competitive running at secondary school (Southend High for Boys). My brother was part of a hugely successful running squad both at school and club and it certainly inspired me to get involved.  The opportunities that running offered socially and competitively were a big pull!  Through my school and club, I was able to travel around most of the UK, as well as compete for my school in the World Schools Championships in France.  Through Southend Athletics I’d go on to meet my future wife too - I owe a lot to the sport! 

Where is your favourite place to run?

Without a doubt, Southend seafront is my absolute favourite.  On a sunny, windless morning, there is nowhere better in my opinion.  You don’t have to cross any roads.  it’s gloriously flat.  And there’s a constant flow of people to smile and say ‘Good morning' to.

Tell us a bit about your running experience? PBs, etc?

I’d probably need to break my running ‘career’ into two parts. The first part was very much spent doing cross-country and track. Track is where my love for running really came: I absolutely loved racing and training on track. More than any other sport, I think there is something so raw about middle distance track running.  It’s fast, it’s gutsy, it’s tactical and it hurts!  When you get an 800m/1500m right, it feels absolutely incredible. I had a lot of individual success on the track, which is something I look back on with great fondness. I managed to win the counties (Essex) in every track discipline from 200m up to 3000m during my youth.  Time-wise, I’m most proud of my 800m PB of 1:52.

Then, when I left Loughborough University and started working in 2013, I didn’t run very much until COVID struck as I lost motivation and struggled a little with fitting in the training that I thought I needed to do in order to stay competitive. And it was here in 2020 that i’d say the second part of my running ‘career’ started. I was so unfit and in the worst physical shape of my life.  But, as there was nothing much else to do with the pandemic, I started running again, but this time on the road.  It was a fresh start tacking distances I hadn’t focused on before.  I ran a 39 minute 10k in a race in 2020 and decided that I was going to try and get back into it again.  Since then, I have run five half-marathons and three marathons and I am loving it.  I have loved the fresh challenge and the new distances.  My current PBs are 1:08 for the half, and 2:24 for the marathon.  I find the marathon so romantic and so pure.  It is both brutal and beautiful.  For me, growing up and running competitively, it was all about winning and beating the people around you.  The marathon feels different, it feels more as if ‘we’re all in this together’.  There’s so much comradery involved and I absolutely love it. 

What are your top 5 running tips?

One - Run for yourself and be proud of it!  Know that it's making you a better person physically, socially and mentally so be proud of that.

Two - Train your body to run the race pace you desire.  If you want to run a 3 hour marathon, train and condition your body so much that you can run 6:52 miling without needed a watch - make it natural.

Three - Treat yourself.   If you want a beer, have a beer.  If you want a Dominos, get a Dominos.  Also, treat yourself to fresh running trainers and apparel often - you deserve it! 

Four - Have patience.  Improvement takes time, time that you have to put in and make for yourself.   

Five - Consistency!  If you want to improve, you have to run often and run smart.

What’s your greatest running achievement? 

On the track, I think my biggest achievement was to get a silver medal in the English Schools 1500m.  On the road, I’m most proud of my marathon time.  It’s been really tough working as a teacher and training up to 100 mile weeks but I am relieved that I executed the race I trained for. I often refer to the marathon as a chess match - there’s so many moves and counter moves that can be made throughout the 26.2 miles, and if just one move goes wrong then the whole race can be compromised. So, this year to enjoy the race so much and run with a smile for the majority of it was a big achievement for me.  

What does your running schedule typically look like and how do you fit it into your life? 

I run everyday.  Last year (2022) I ran 345 days.  This year, I haven’t missed a day yet.  But, as a Primary School teacher, I am pretty limited on the time I am able to run so this is something that has taken a huge effort (particularly in the marathon build up).  During the week, due to staff meetings, tutoring, marking and wanting to spend time with my beautiful wife, I try to run in the morning.  This means I have to set the alarm for 5AM - usually 4 out of 5 days in the week with one or two runs in the evening.  These are usually easy runs but for one of them I try to make it a race-specific session. I started running to school (10-13 miles) and running home once a week (10-13 miles) during my marathon build.  This helped me to hit 100 mile weeks in the latest block.  At the weekend, I will normally do one big race-specific session and one long steady run.  It takes a monumental mental effort to get out of bed so early, but it makes achieving your goals all the more special.  

What’s your favourite running trainer and why?

Everyday easy shoe - I absolutely love the Nike Invincible 3s because it’s like running on clouds.

Race shoe - Nike Vaporfly 3 -  you can’t argue with the original super shoe!  

Value for money - Nike Tempo Next% - this is an amazing shoe if you want a bit of punch and not spoil your racers.

What’s your dream race?

Honestly, the London Marathon is the dream.  I think the majority of runners, regardless of ability, see the London Marathon as the pinnacle of running. Now having done it three times, I want to do it every year.  If I had to choose one I’d like to do in the future, the New York Marathon would be pretty amazing. 

What do you eat for breakfast before a race and why?

On race day, I wake up, I eat Quakers Golden Syrup Porridge, a banana and a Maurten Solid 225.  All three of these I find very easy on the stomach, which for me is the most important thing.  It’s definitely worth playing about with though in training. However, never try anything new on race day itself.  

How do you like to celebrate a PB? 

PB or not, I always keep a can of BrewDog (Hazy Jane) in my bag ready for when I reach the finish line.  Then I love to spend time with my wife, family and support crew.  I also enjoy eating my bodyweight in pizza and sweets. 

Who are your running inspirations and why?

Professionally, Kenenisa Bekele is my favourite runner of all time. When I used to watch him on the track growing up, I used to just admire how easy he looked. My favourite race of his was his 10’000m final in Athens 2004; his last lap was hilarious.  Also, seeing the same faces around Southend is a huge inspiration.  Genuinely, everyone who gets out there and runs with a smile inspires me to do the same!  Further to this, seeing huge groups of runners on a Sunday morning along the seafront is such an incredible sight.  Everyone smiling, laughing and enjoying getting fit - to me, that’s more inspirational than a world-record-run. 

What’s your favourite happystride pattern and why?

The 'Sprinkle-of-Joy’ is a great looking pattern as it's pretty simple and it also has a great name with the sprinkling of joy.  For me, the pattern defines my running philosophy: Keep it simple and enjoy every second of it. Also, going back to my love of sweets, they remind me of little sweets whilst I’m running. 

If you could design the next pair of happystride shorts, what pattern would you choose and why?

With a surname like Smale and being a teacher, I always get, 'I thought your name was Mr Snail’ from the kids I’m lucky enough to teach. So, I reckon a few little funky, cartoon racing snails would be pretty cool - 'Snails/Smales Pace’.  Snail’s Pace again supports my view that running is all about the individual.  No-one else’s pace matters: you’ll get to the finish when you get to the finish and you should be blooming proud however fast or slow you’ve done it! 

Wow, thank you so much Dave for joining us and answering our questions! Stay tuned for our next 'inspiring striding' blog in our series where we will have another inspiring guest!


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