Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Workout Wednesday - Darren Johnson

Say hello to Darren.  I met Darren on Instagram and love his pictures of running, the Oklahoma plains and his beautiful boys!
You may have noticed that SO many of my Workout Wednesday guests come from Instagram.  This is one of the many reasons I love that social site.  It has helped me to meet some really cool people that, even if we never meet "IRL" we share a hello, a well wish, and moments of our day that would otherwise be unknown if it weren't for this photo sharing site.

Name:  Darren Johnson
Age: 38
Location:  OKC
Occupation:  GIS Analyst
Fun Stuff:  Photography, Running, and Family Time
Instagram: @darrenisreal

How long have you been running? 
Ever since 9th grade I believe, which is over 20 years.  There have been a few years in there where I did not run or do much of anything.  Saw the scale numbers getting bigger and knew I had to get back to it.  I remember trying to make the 9th grade soccer team and I didn’t make it.  At that point I had never not made a soccer team so I was sort of lost as to what to do.  I decided to give cross-country a try since it was going on the same time as soccer and of course, you can’t get cut from a cross-country team, right? 

What is your favorite part of going out for a run?
Today I just enjoy the solitude and time to myself.  Back in high school and college it was very competitive and, while I enjoyed running, I never took it all in as I do today.  Most of my runs now I leave the watch behind and just enjoy each run.  Conversation pace is what I enjoy nowadays. 

What is your typical mileage each week?  Do you goal yourself for mileage, time, days ran?
Right now I am in the buildup phase and increasing my weekly mileage by no more than 10%.  So, for this week my target is 22 miles.  If there is one thing 20 years of running  has finally taught me it’s that the body does not recover like it used to.  I have tried to do too much too soon and it always lead to injuries.  This 10% increase has been working well so far so we’ll see how it goes a year from now.  The ultimate goal is to train up for the entire year and run another marathon.

Do you run with or without music?
I prefer to run without music or anything except for a watch sometimes.  There are a couple days out of the year I am forced to run on a treadmill, then I will put the headphones on just to help keep me in a zone.  Treadmills are not a favorite piece of equipment of mine that man has invented.  And the not listening to music is mainly because that’s how I started running back in the day.  I find the wires bouncing around a distraction.

Have you suffered any injuries because of running?  How did you heal/overcome the injury?
Oh plenty of injuries, especially now with age.  Last year, in leading up to the marathon, I had bad plantar fasciitis in my left foot and some swelling in my right forefoot.  It got so bad that when rest did not help I finally saw a local doctor who specializes in running.  He checked my foot and MRI and formed up inserts for my shoe.  He even took my laces off my shoes and redid the pattern in a way that would relieve pressure in certain areas.  He told me I could start running the next day.  I was very skeptical and nervous, but it worked like a charm.  He also mentioned that I really needed to stretch my calves more and that they are basically the gateway to a lot of foot problems.  So before and after every run now I make sure to stretch them.
Back in college after cross-country season during the transition to the track I would always get shin splints.  Nothing really you can do about them.  The trainers used to tape them up, but it never really did much.   Today I have a little bit of discomfort in my hip flexor, but as long as I stretch properly (which I have not been doing) it will work itself out. 

Trail, track or road?
I prefer trail runs out in the woods but rarely get a chance to anymore.  Most of my runs are on the pavement.  There is a lake near us with an out and back trail of 14 miles and it’s pure bliss.  Lots of rolling hills through the trees and many times there are deer out and about.

Do you do local races, such as 5K, 10K, half or full marathons?
    Details on a specific race event that you want to share?
I do occasionally run a local race, mainly half and full marathons now though.  I do plan on doing more 5K and 10K’s leading up to this next marathon just to have some fun and get my son involved. 

Do you prefer to run alone or with a buddy(buddies)?
Generally my runs are solo but it is nice once in awhile to have some company.  Miss the days of college when we would head out on long runs and challenge each other on the track. 

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to staying motivated?
Most of the time it comes from being tired.  I find that when my body and mind are worn down it’s really hard to get motivated to get started.  And there is definitely a period after a marathon where it’s difficult to stay focused and look forward to running again.

How do you juggle your career, family life and running?
With a newborn baby it is very difficult.  The best way for me is to bring my lunch to work and run during my lunch hour, and on the weekends hope I can get a long run in. 

Do you do any other sort of exercise?  Weights, yoga, Pilates, etc.
I do like to ride my road bike in the warmer months of the year.  Gives me a chance to see the back roads and country views in Oklahoma.  I do like to play sports such as softball and basketball but as far as training goes the weight lifting and yoga I have yet to embrace.  I keep telling myself yoga would be perfect to help with my body as I get older, but finding the time is hard.

Favorite source of pre-run fuel?
Peanut Butter on wheat toast.  Nothing better.

What shoe do you run in and why?
For the longest time I was a Nike lover.  But a couple years ago I tried a pair of Brooks Ghost and then their Pure Cadence and I have been running in them every since.  I switch off the two pair now mainly using the Ghost for longer runs.

Do you follow a strict nutrition program?  If so, what?  
What is nutrition?  Just kidding, I have not learned to eat healthy or correctly and sooner or later it is going to catch up with me.  You’d think as many miles as I’ve put into this body I would learn to fuel it right.

Favorite treat?
This will show you how bad my nutritional program is, but I absolutely love Peanut Butter and Chocolate ice cream from Baskin Robins.  There any many imitations out there with peanut butter cups from other places, but Baskin Robins has it nailed.  I will go out of my way to get a scoop in a cake cone. 

Please provide a sample run workout that you do: 
My favorite workout after my buildup phase and transition to speed workouts is 400 repeats.  Simple but they are so effective.  I normally warm up with a 10 minute jog.  In between in each repeat I rest the same amount of time I run each quarter in.  Each week I increase the number of intervals by one and will normally make this my Wednesday workout.  My main focus is not so much speed but pace and make sure that each quarter is run at a pace just below my intended race pace. 

Thank you SO much, Darren, for sharing about your running and for sharing your amazing photography!  Make sure your check out Darren's website and his Instagram!


  1. Very cool pictures Darren!

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