A local Ilkeston man who turned his unhealthy lifestyle around thanks to running is now supporting others with a Jog Derbyshire group.
Darren Hayes, 48, who is a volunteer leader at On the Border Trail Runs, was a heavy drinker and self confessed party animal when he began his running journey to raise money for charity eight years ago.
The group has recently become part of Jog Derbyshire, a network of social, friendly jogging groups across the county.
Darren said: “Some friends of mine asked if I’d run a half marathon to raise money because one of their daughters was very poorly at the time. I said to myself this is all I’m doing then the trainers are going in the bin.
“But as I got into the training I was coming home, getting my kit on and going out the door without thinking.”
Darren’s lifestyle meant he spent very little time outside and this change made a big difference to his health, helping him to lose weight, stop his migraines and improve his sleep.
He said: “All I saw was the inside of the pub or nightclub and I think it was just getting outside in the fresh air. I pretty much stopped drinking. I started feeling better, my health got better.
“So I thought this must be doing me some good and just carried on.”
After joining a running club, Darren got a taste for trail running when he took part in an event up in the Lake District. When lockdown hit he was keen to start a local group focusing on this type of terrain.
He said: “Where I live there are trails on my doorstep and they were getting busier and busier. I was struggling myself to get out. I wanted to get off the beaten track where it was quieter and I thought it would be better to get a few people together and go out as a group.
“The weather was great at the time and it just took off from there. We stuck to the rule of six and people were enjoying getting out onto the trails.”
On the Border Trail Runs is suitable for all abilities and meets once a week – typically on a Friday at 6pm but days and routes differ depending on what people want.
Sessions are free and routes cover between 4 – 6 miles covering a mix of canal paths, farm tracks, bridle paths, footpaths, and woods.
Darren said: “If you’re interested in getting off the roads, doing something different, come and have a go. It’s open to all abilities. Speed is the last thing on my mind. I’m not bothered how slow people are. I’m not bothered how fast people are. The main aim of th
e group is to get people outside and enjoying themselves and especially where we live, enjoying what’s on our doorstep.”
Lucy Bartles, Project Lead at Jog Derbyshire said: “We’re delighted to welcome Darren and On the Border Trail Runs to the Jog Derbyshire network. It’s a really exciting way for people to get a safe, friendly introduction to trail running and we’re sure it will benefit the physical and mental health of lots of people in the local community.”