Neil Featherby: Meet the man who makes running suit his needs

Dave Thomas training on St James Hill on Mousehold Heath Picture: Dave Thomas

Dave Thomas training on St James Hill on Mousehold Heath Picture: Dave Thomas - Credit: Archant

Every Monday morning whilst out on my morning run, it is always a case of me wondering about who or what I should write about for my next column.

Dave Thomas with fiance Amy Jenkins Picture: Dave Thomas

Dave Thomas with fiance Amy Jenkins Picture: Dave Thomas - Credit: Archant

I always try to mix it up between current running stories and what it was like back in my day (needless to say my favourite) along with features about the many prominent people who help make our sport the brilliant activity it is.

So this week – and apt in the current climate – I thought, who better to speak to than a man who is not only a runner and member of Norwich Road Runners, but a person who is involved with the community through his role as a local councillor (Horsford and Felthorpe), a former county councillor (2013) and a recent candidate for Norwich North at the last General Election on behalf of the Liberal Democratic Party?

Dave Thomas epitomises just how important running is to people from so many differing walks of life, be it for just having a healthy status, ie, mind and body or, of course, wanting to be just that bit more competitive at times.

Whilst he runs for both reasons, he really is a decent runner, boasting times for 5K under 19 minutes and 10K under 40 minutes.

Running has always been a part of his life going back to his school days, but it is only during the last three years that he really started to apply himself to a more detailed and structured way of running after joining the Norwich Road Runners.

Going back to running for health reasons, though, Dave has suffered with periods of depression and running and the camaraderie involved has really helped him.

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“When the ‘black dog/dark clouds’ gather, running with friends and the club regularly has been a massive help for me and is part of my coping strategy these days,” he said.

With regards to his running aspirations and achievements to date, it was after watching the Lord Mayor’s 5K which fired his imagination and focused his attention to one day being part of this super race, which takes place in front of thousands of spectators in Norwich city centre whilst also having the added adrenaline buzz of knowing you are alongside lots of top class runners.

No one wants to be at the back, that’s for sure, so it really is all about being at your best on the night and of course setting the pace correctly whilst hanging in there to get through the cut-off point at 3k.

Having now competed in this event during the last two years, Dave has most certainly proved to himself that he is not only a more-than-capable runner, but I think it is fair to say a more-than-capable athlete too.

Nevertheless, and away from the competitive action of racing, it is the joy of non-pressure running which is still of prime importance to him.

“I tend to run between three and five times a week of no set distance, making up the route as I go,” he explained. “Norfolk is gorgeous to run around and the city has some great sights as well. Norwich Road Runners also have a once-a-week Mousehold session (not presently due, to Covid-19) which I thoroughly enjoy. However, at the end of the day it is the running for the sheer pleasure and for my own wellbeing which I really love.”

Dave is also part of the coaching set-up at Norwich Road Runners – he not only helps deliver some of the sessions, but is actively involved with any mental health issues within the club whilst being the club ambassador for #RunandChat for England Athletics. These are roles he really enjoys.

“It’s great watching someone achieve that PB they have been chasing, or perhaps just getting down to a target weight and of course just making new friends along the way,” he said. “However, and during this current climate, exercise has certainly become so very important to so many people and for all those who have only recently just taken it up, then I am sure they will all be very welcome at any one of our many clubs in the county if they want to take it further once this is all over.”

To really sum up what running and being part of a huge running community on a national scale means to Dave, I will leave the final words for this week’s column with him.

“The Norfolk Running community is amazing what with all our parkruns and great selection of running clubs for which I think it is fair to say we are somewhat spoilt for choice. However, what with my job and travelling, when away from home, I have also contacted clubs in Cardiff, Bristol and Manchester to name just three and they have all been absolutely marvellous too.”