Profession Financial Director
2nd in category Europeans, 2:04:50
Won 2011 Shropshire Triathlon overall, 1:58:28
Won 2011 Property Triathlon, Dorney Lake, 1:01:51
1,500m swim 23mins
40km bike 59mins
10km run 34mins
Darren has a demanding job as FD of a property business, works from both Cheltenham and London, and has a young family, so much of his training takes place at times only milkmen and hardcore clubbers regularly see.
He taps into Tri London’s midweek training sessions for cycling and swimming when he’s in the capital, and takes every Saturday off to chill out, recover and spend time with his wife and kids. His programme is put together by coach Terry Collins and includes plenty of core stability training work to minimise the impact of the recent disc injury in his lower back.
As he struggles to find the time, a long bike ride is noticeably absent from Darren’s plan, but it doesn’t seem to negatively affect his form on the bike.
Darren’s rise from triathlon participant to European medallist has been very fast indeed. He’s clearly a highly organised and motivated individual, and this is reflected in the way he’s approached training, achieving great results in a short space of time.
His midweek stint in London means his training can be quite intensive during the week, leaving weekends to catch up on family duties and recover.
He doesn’t do much, if any, junk mileage (he can’t afford to waste the time) and the fact that he’s so fast on the bike, in spite of 60-90min training sessions, will no doubt surprise those who are putting in much more mileage.
As Darren’s relatively inexperienced, he’s done well to surround himself with a good coach, and training partners at Tri London, from whom he’s learning a lot of key lessons and taking sound advice. He sees his coach up to three times per week, so is constantly able to get feedback on how he’s doing and ask questions as they arise.
As a man who could “easily drink eight pints in an evening” prior to his days of triathlon training, Darren has undergone a significant lifestyle change in the last two or three years. He doesn’t miss the boozing, though, and says that he now ends up driving most of the time when he and his wife go out socially.
His commitment to family at weekends stops triathlon taking over his life completely and provides a contrast to the ‘Sport Billy’ persona that he adopts during the week in London.
The ‘midweek hard training, weekend relaxing’ method Darren has adopted, as a result of work commitments, is the exact opposite of how many athletes approach their training.
It works for him, though, as he’s able to be very disciplined and selfish during the week, allowing him to cope with the early starts and late finishes. The contrast of how he lives his life now, to what he was doing a few years ago, is an inspiring story for anyone wanting to make major changes in their own life.
Darren has learnt a great deal from his physio about nutrition, after spending a lot of time with him rehabbing a torn calf muscle. “I now eat more high-quality protein and veg,” he says, moving away from the very high carbohydrate diets that a lot of athletes still believe to be optimal, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.
When racing, Darren uses Viper caffeine gels and has completely changed his pre-race nutrition routines, after occasionally suffering with sickness when he ate breakfast too close to the start.
In a great example of getting a lot of the small things right, Darren takes good care of his diet. The fact that he’s trial and erred several different pre-race meal plans to find the best one for him is more than some athletes achieve in their entire careers. And it’s in-keeping with his methodical approach to training and race prep.
A custom-made Snugg wetsuit keeps Darren warm in the swim and he rides a top-end Wyndy Milla bright pink carbon TT bike (you can’t miss him!) with SRAM Red, Strada deep-section wheels and Pro Missile bars.
He uses a Garmin 500 GPS when riding and a heart rate monitor for running. He’s still wearing a five-year-old pair of Saucony racing flats to run in, though Darren admits they’re probably past their best!
As you may expect from a man who leaves no stone unturned in preparation, Darren uses top-end equipment to make sure he’s at no disadvantage on race day.
The fact he wears such old running shoes is a little surprising but maybe they have some sentimental value or association with past performances that helps him on race day.
He values using a heart rate monitor when run training to measure his efforts. This is definitely a good idea because it helps him build up experience in judging pace and effort accurately.
DARREN’S TRAINING PLAN
During the race season, Darren follows this programme…
45min early-morning run with some speed element to it. Swim after work
75min early-morning run. Swim after work
Tri London bike session in morning. Longer swim set in the evening
Tri London bike session in morning. One-hour evening track session
45min morning swim. Lunchtime brick session for 75-90mins
Day off. Lie in and family time
Eight-mile fartlek in morning. One-hour evening turbo sessionIn addition to the above, Darren fits in six 15min core stability sessions a week
WEEKLY TRAINING TIME: 14hrs