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Home » Winning in Life Beyond the Finish Line with Darren Brown! Ep111

Winning in Life Beyond the Finish Line with Darren Brown! Ep111

#111 – Darren Brown, Head of Marketing at OOFOS, takes us on a journey from the track to the heart of home, revealing how family and fatherhood have shaped his world. Listen as he candidly discusses his transition from a competitive runner to a coach. Darren reflects on the camaraderie that transformed his life, from his collegiate days as an All-American athlete to coaching his wife.

Darren also introduces us to OOFOS groundbreaking foam technology, a leap in innovation for both athletic performance and everyday wellness. Join us for an episode that celebrates the intersections of innovation, community, and determination, proving that every stride counts towards a larger, shared goal. 

Topics Covered:

  • Hear Darren’s incredible story about his journey into competitive racing and lessons learned along the way
  • Listen to his story about transitioning from an All-American athlete to coach, marketing executive, and family man
  • Learn how Darren developed friendships that extend beyond the track
  • Discover how OOFOS groundbreaking foam technology can transform your recovery

Today’s Guest

Darren Brown

Darren Brown is the Head of Marketing at OOFOS

Darren Brown is the Head of Marketing at OOFOS, the global leader in Active Recovery footwear. Darren is responsible for leading the holistic global brand and marketing strategy – from grassroots experiential events to executing larger reach media campaigns – in order to build awareness and drive demand for the high growth disruptor brand. 

Darren joined OOFOS in 2016, and has 15 years of experience in the run, outdoor and fitness industries. His previous roles include Marketing Manager at ElliptiGO and Program Director at the Knoxville Track Club and TeamROGUE Elite Development Program. 

Darren earned both an MBA and MS Sport Management from the University of Tennessee, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from The University of Texas, where he was a three-time All-American on the XC/Track & Field team. In his free time, Darren enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters, as well as volunteering in his church and community.

Follow OOFOS:


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Listen to Inspire to Run Podcast:

Richard Conner: [00:00:00] Hey, my friend, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Darren Brown, who is the head of marketing at the global leader in active recovery footwear. You’ll not only hear his amazing journey from runner to coach, but you’ll hear his life lessons along the way, including friendship, family, and fatherhood. Hope you enjoy.

Intro/Outro: Welcome to inspire to run podcast. Here, you will find inspiration, whether you’re looking to take control of your health and fitness, or you are a seasoned runner looking for community and some extra motivation, you will hear inspiring stories from amazing runners, along with helpful tips from fitness experts.

Now, here’s your host Richard Conner.

Richard Conner: Hi, my friend. Welcome to Inspire to Run podcast. Today we have the pleasure of sitting down with Darren Brown. Darren is the head of marketing at OOFOS, the global leader in active recovery footwear. Darren is responsible for leading the holistic global brand and marketing [00:01:00] strategy. Darren joined OOFOS in 2016 and has 15 years of experience in the run, outdoor and fitness industries.

Darren earned both an MBA and master’s in sports management from the university of Tennessee, as well as a bachelor’s degree in economics from the university of Texas, where he was in three time, all American on the cross country track and field team in his free time. Darren enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters, as well as volunteering at his church and community.

Welcome to the show, Darren.

Darren Brown: Hey, thanks for having me, Richard. Appreciate it.

Richard Conner: Yeah, it’s exciting to have you here. You know, I’ve had the pleasure of bringing brands on the show to talk about their journeys as well as the products and services that they offer to help our running community. So it really is a privilege and honor for me to have you here and hear not only about OOFOS, but also your own personal journey, which is incredible.

So [00:02:00] super excited to hear about that as well as talk about OOFOS.

Darren Brown: Yeah, no, I’m, I’m excited to be here and to, and to share some of that. I mean, I think the first thing I can, I can share with you is as you’re reading my bio, uh, I’m happy to, to announce there’s a little update to it. Uh, I’m not only the, the father of, of three daughters, but my wife and I are expecting our, our first boy here in 2024.

So, , 2024 will be full of. All sorts of new adventures for me and we couldn’t be more thrilled, but I’m excited to be sharing that news. We just broke it to our family and friends over the holidays and I’m still kind of surreal to say, but we’re incredibly excited.

Richard Conner: Well, that’s very wonderful. Congratulations. And just what a wonderful way to start the year. So, that’s really awesome.

Darren Brown: Yeah, we don’t know what we don’t know. So we’re embracing what we’re in store for with uh, you know, not only the The cluttered chaos of four, um, but just adding a boy to the mix. And, uh, we’re, we’re, we’re thrilled. We’ve got such, I’m so lucky and blessed by my family and, uh, my wife. And so, um, [00:03:00] we’re just, we’re excited to step into this new adventure and journey for us.

Richard Conner: That’s incredible. Congratulations again. And, you know, I can’t, I can say that I’ve heard personally that after three, it’s kind of all the same, but I don’t know, maybe four will bring, you know, new adventures for you. So congrats.

Darren Brown: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, we, uh, you know, I think leading into a lot of the way I’ve approached training and coaching and competition in the past, um, you know, there’s a level of embracing the process that, um, we’re accepting at this point is that, uh, we’ll find our way through it. I mean, I honestly, look, I remember when I had my first and they hand you your daughter and say, okay, you’re ready to go home and you go, wait, this is my, I get to take this now, but, uh, there’s no more training.

, And you figure it out together. And that’s, that’s part of teamwork. It’s part of a teamwork, a unique teamwork that my wife and I have actually had for quite a while as, , we were both, you know, high performing athletes, my wife, incredibly successful in her own career, um, [00:04:00] in, in the sport of track and field, , and cross country in college.

Um, but then that that shifted in dynamics as I went from being an athlete myself to actually coaching the back end of her career. , and so we we’ve been in these unique situations where we’ve got to work through them together. Um, and I think that’s led to just us having such an incredible marriage that, um, is the foundation of our life here in Boston.

Richard Conner: Oh, that’s really wonderful. I love that. And, you know, now that you’re bringing up kind of a little bit about your running journey, as well as being a coach, let’s, you know, dive in and hear a little bit more about that. Tell us a little bit about your running journey and, and then that transition that you just talked about.

Darren Brown: Yeah, sure. , you know, my, my running journey, I grew up an athlete, but I, I wouldn’t necessarily say I grew up a runner. , I grew up an athlete. I, I actually, um, I joke that, , I, I was living in California younger, um, when I was about 10, 11 years old. And I, and it was when I was first getting exposed to youth track and field, like a summer track program.

And I joined the summer track program and, , you know, I [00:05:00] came from, from a lineage of. Runners. My father was a very talented, successful runner. , and so, um, he was the, the marathon masters world record holder for about 25 years, ran, , two 14 as a 41 year old. , so just part of the Florida track club in the early days with guys like Jack Batchelor and Marty LaCourie, just part of the legacy and history of running in this country.

So as I got into the sport. At an early age, you know, I think a lot of people were expecting, , that I’d move into the middle distances and distances, and I’d start running 1500s and all this sort of stuff. And the reality was I, I wanted to do the long jump and run the 400. And, uh, you know, so that’s what I was doing and the coaches were letting me do it, but there was always this emphasis and push of like, Hey, why don’t you, like, why don’t we just try something longer?

Why don’t we try something longer? And so, , sure enough. One weekend came about and they moved me into the 1500 and, , I think I broke like an age group state record or something like that. I think I ran like 5’10 , at 10 years old. And, , everybody’s like, Oh, he’s [00:06:00] going to run the 1500. This is going to be great.

And I said, No, no, no, no. I’m a, I’m a long jumper and a 400 meter runner. Mind you, I was finishing last in every long jump I was participating in, but I just wanted to do it. Like I liked playing in the sand, like that’s where I was in life. Right. , and so, you know, after some back and forth, I ended up actually deciding.

This sport isn’t for me at all because I’m not good at what I want to do. And what I don’t want to do is what I’m really good at. And that’s what everybody else wants me to do. So I went back to soccer and basketball and baseball and all the other team sports, , that I was participating in. I actually walked away from the sport for quite a while with, with my parents, full support, everybody else’s full support around me.

It just, for me, it wasn’t the time. And I played soccer for the majority of my life. , expected was, was speaking to colleges and thought I would go to the next level to play soccer, , not to run track. I wasn’t actually even running track, , and I got back into the sport in high school because I got injured playing soccer and it was part of my rehab program.

My rehab program was to get back into a state of fitness, a level of fitness and [00:07:00] a strengthening. And, , so I joined cross country in the fall, , went okay. I wouldn’t say I was a standout athlete, uh, right off the bat, but there was progress, some pretty rapid progress. And in, in my first year of full track and field going into my, my junior year of high school, I went from not breaking five minutes in the mile to running 4.

17, and there was, there was quite a bit of, of progress. And so, , it was started, I started to think about it and started to identify with it, you know, that wasn’t actually as bad as it was when I was 10. Like, I don’t dislike it quite as much as when I was 10. And I think this is actually where I started to fall in love with the process of it.

Like, I could see the improvement daily. I didn’t necessarily need Just the ultimate goal of the race. Like I was really enjoying the process of just working on getting better and better and better. , and, and I was lucky to have some really good teammates, some really talented individuals at my high school who were running times way faster than I was.

So I, I always had people to chase. I had people to work towards. , [00:08:00] and I really started to regain. Kind of an interest. I wouldn’t call it a love, but an interest for track and field. And going into my senior year, I made a conscious decision that, hey, if I wanted to do a sport, any sport at the next level, this was actually starting to look like the most advantageous path.

, and so I put my heart and soul into focusing on getting better. Throughout the summer, went into the next cross country season, , ended up finishing as one of the top cross country runners in the state of the state of Texas. At the time, we had moved to Texas for my high school years. , one of the top runners in the state, , in cross country and then went on to run for 11 outdoors that year for the mile and 1 51 for the 800 and had a very nationally competitive time.

, that that Got me some interest and offers to go compete at the college level. So, , I, I went, uh, originally to a small school in Rhode Island called Providence College, small liberal arts school with a very rich history of, , successful running. There’s, there’s a coach there, Ray Tracy. , they call him the guru.

, he’s coached about as [00:09:00] many, , Olympians in the middle distances and distances as any coach in the NCAA. Um, it was also my dad’s alma mater and, and there was a kind of a built in sense of support. , but I could get there and I thought it’d be a great place for me. , I can tell you as a boy from Texas at that point, an 18 year old from Texas, , that gets transplanted to Rhode Island.

Uh, when winter hits. There’s this white stuff that starts falling from the sky that I was not used to and after a period of time It wasn’t just the snow, but I think there was a broader cultural thing at Providence. That wasn’t what I was looking for It’s a very small team It’s it’s all centered around kind of the middle distances and distances and they’re incredibly successful in that space I was missing the broader team picture Though myself again, I think this is where going back to part of what what I really enjoyed was the process and working together and the success of winning together.

, and I had so much of that at a large high school in Texas. And so I transferred back to the University of Texas, um, [00:10:00] going into my third year and they have recruited me out of high school. So I knew the coach a bunch of guys I raced against in high school had gone there at this point. They were building a really strong program.

, and then that year I decided to transfer back. , a young athlete that I had raced in high school named Leo Manzano, , ended up, uh, going to the University of Texas. He was a miler who would go on in 2012 to win the Olympic silver medal. , and ended up being a fantastic person for me to hitch my wagon to all through college to just help.

Help sharpen me, help get me better. That’s what I was looking for, the challenge, not only the challenge personally, but, , we, as a team, I don’t think we finished lower than probably third in the NCAA any time I was there because we had incredible sprinters, jumpers, throwers. My roommate in college was a guy named Trey Hardy, who’s a two time world champion in the decathlon, uh, Olympic silver medalist in the decathlon.

I mean, I was living, we were the odd couple. I was 130 pounds soaking wet and he was 6’5 230 pounds, , of pure power. , but. Just had this awesome dynamic that that I really think I thrived [00:11:00] in, , going to school at Texas. And so, , we had a lot of success. , was able to earn a few all American honors there in some relays as well as individually in the 1500.

, and, and coming out of school, , I really had an opportunity to continue to compete, , internationally, uh, and on, on the global stage. And so I wanted to take that chance. I mean, you don’t get those Very often. And so I spent, , a few years traveling, competing, , , won a few races that, that I’m proud of and, , but more so really made some strong connections with people who are still very, very close friends, , people whose weddings I’ve been in, , who I’ve never lived within like 300 miles of because, uh, they trained and raced from other States, but, but their bonds that we made traveling the world together and going to these races, and we may have been competitors standing on the line next to each other, but.

, we, we created a bond in between those moments as friends and brothers and sisters. And so it was just a really cool period of time that I’m, I’m, I’m hopeful that as my kids grow up, whether it’s in, in the sport or in the arts or whatever it is they want to do, they get [00:12:00] a similar experience to that.

Cause I truly think it’s, it’s unique. , and, and I think it was formative. So, , the most formative moment probably being meeting my wife during that period, which is, uh, you know, she, we, we met. traveling and racing. , she is a, uh, she was the high school national record holder in a mile for a decade plus, , was recently broken by some of these incredibly fast kids these days that are running, , so such fast times.

And it makes me feel incredibly slow. , it puts all things in perspective. , but we met, , and we grew a friendship that turned into a relationship that eventually turned into a marriage, but she was an NCAA champion as well at the University of Tennessee in the mile, , indoors in her senior season.

And so, uh, at some point in time, I made the choice that I wanted to continue my education, moved to Knoxville, , went back into the MBA program at the University of Tennessee. She was there training full time after having graduated. Uh, we got married and, , you know, we were both kind of seeking our own paths.

in this profession. , and, and [00:13:00] one of the things we realized is we were both investing energy into ourselves going in opposite direction a lot of the time. , I, I had just come back from a pretty serious injury where I had, I had broken my ankle and, and kind of a freak fall. And, , that was taking a lot of extra time, a lot of extra rehab and PT.

And while, while I was enjoying the process, there was this new element to my life with, with my wife and my relationship that, , You know, we had some long talks about and, and, , what it eventually led to was me leaving the sport, , and in time actually coming to coach, uh, her career. And, , it was a really kind of, uh, nerve wracking moment to, to step into that when you’re in a young marriage and a relationship and adding that level of, of dynamic.

, but I became not only her coach, but her day to day training partner and, you know, her confidant and her husband at home. And so we, we had to isolate some of those moments as best we could. , but I can also tell you, I don’t know that I’ve ever had as much fun in the sport. I’ve never been as nervous in the sport, you know, watching her lineup versus myself getting on the line.

, [00:14:00] but also being able to celebrate wins together. It was like, it was like a mini team. I didn’t have the college team capacity anymore, but I had, we had this mini, , and it was, it was such a great experience and it was a continuation for me of really being able to dive in and focus on the process, except for the first time.

The process wasn’t about me. It was about her. , and so just really helping her achieve her goals and her dreams. , Was inspiring to me, you know, making world teams, , you know, being on world record relays and breaking world records with, with some of the other New Balance girls. , she ran for New Balance for 10 years.

, they were such a great, great company to her. And, and, , she got to compete on, on some relays with Jenny and Emma, , and some of the other, , kind of absolutely world class elite global medalists, , women that they had in their stable. , It was just an awesome opportunity that I got the privilege to be a part of that, even though I wasn’t the one stepping onto the track.

And so, , that was a really cool experience that, , really lit a flame, I think in, in both of us where I knew that, well, I didn’t know that coaching was going to be necessarily my [00:15:00] career division, , it was something that I always wanted to have as a part of my life. And so whether we were in Knoxville or Southern California, or by the time we moved up to Boston, like we, we have always invested in whether it’s small run groups or run clubs.

And at one point I put myself through college at Tennessee, starting my own run programs in Knoxville to coach adults to run, whether it’s their first 5k, their, Their fastest marathon, anything in between. , and that’s how I put myself through school. Uh, and we just, we thoroughly loved walking people through that process and helping them understand that, you know, the stress of, of thinking about on day one, whether you can achieve the goal that’s, you know, 90 days out, isn’t worth it, like enjoy the moment of that day.

Enjoy the workout of that day. Enjoy the fact that you can do that workout. . And go enjoy that process along the way because the rest of it will take care of itself. And even if it doesn’t, even if you get sick in the week leading up, the race weather is, you know, terrible on race day and you don’t hit the goal [00:16:00] time you wanted to.

Guess what? In the grand scheme of life, it actually doesn’t matter all that much. And it definitely doesn’t matter more than everything you learned in the 89 days prior. Like everything you learned in those 89 days prior will do way more for you than that one day of racing because you can do another day of racing.

But you won’t get that 89 days back to learn what you could have learned, to improve the way you could have improved, to enjoy the way you could have enjoyed. And so, , we really brought that as part of not only my, my coaching mantra with her, but our coaching mantra with, with some of the other people we met in the community.

Richard Conner: I love that. I love that. Just an incredible story, an incredible journey. And I love, you know, how you keep going back to enjoying the process and how you described it because, you know, we sometimes hear hear that right. Enjoy the process. It’s not just about the destination. And but the way you talked about it makes a lot of sense, and I think it’s gonna be really valuable for our listeners because, you know, days you there’s some days you don’t want to show up for your workout or you show up and you’re like, Oh, I’m [00:17:00] not really feeling this or, you know, there’s so much you’re you’re probably in your head a lot, or at least I am right when it comes to news.

You know, your workouts, your nutrition, your recovery. So, but, but for you, like that’s the exciting part, right? It’s to do all of those things and learn and grow. So I love the way you said that. And congratulations, not only in the success, you know, uh, in running, but also in your personal life and your relationship and kind of building that life where you’re able to, , support your wife and her goals, but also your own goals in terms of, uh, coaching.

So just, um, Congratulations all around really wonderful story there.

Darren Brown: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. I mean, I honestly, I, every day I truly believe you have a chance to set your table. , and, and that starts a lot with the mindset of whether you have to do things or whether you get to do things. , and, and I, I, I like to look at life as I have opportunities. , I don’t have, , I have responsibilities, but you know, I’ve got opportunities to be invited into those [00:18:00] responsibilities.

And, , what a blessing it is to have those. Uh, and so even when it’s not what you hoped or expected it would be, I mean, this morning was a great example. I, you know, I still, this, this process is part of my lifestyle. , and so I still like to get up. I still like to work out. I still like to do, you know, it’s not always running these days.

I mean, I, I, I dabbled in triathlons for a couple of years before the pandemic, just cause I was looking for something, a new stimulus. , but you know, some days I’ll still get up and go, man, I’m really sore cause I’m a little bit older now. And that workout was pretty tough. And I just feel like getting in the pool and, and flushing it out and swimming a bit, you know?

So this morning I got up and I was hoping I could get in, you know, eight to 10 before work this morning. , and, and my youngest daughter. PJ, , just had a rough night of sleeping. , we had some change of weather, she seemed a little snotty, just didn’t seem herself last night, and woke up in a grumpy mood.

And it was pretty clear I wasn’t going to get the workout I had hoped or planned, uh, to get in, but it, but it was worth it for me to spend the morning. With TJ making sure she, [00:19:00] she was doing all right and she got off on the right foot because I get to do that because I’ve been blessed to have her as my daughter.

My wife was able to go out and get a run in because she’ll be with the kids all day while I’m here. And you know what, I got, I got into the office and I had about 30 minutes before my first meeting. Did you know what? I’m just gonna head into the gym that’s here at our office. I’m gonna get three miles.

And I’m gonna be really happy with those three miles. Because I’m gonna feel like, as a complete person for the morning, you know what? I got to check as many boxes as I hope to check. I got to be a good dad. I got to be a good husband. I got to get my workout in. And I’m here being responsible at work. And so, you know, instead of looking at it like, Oh man, I didn’t get those five extra miles in.

I’m looking at it from the standpoint of what I got this morning. And I think if we approach our day to day and we approach our lives with that, that manner, it not only helps our training and helps us have a healthier balance, , of our training and our life and our mental wellness, but, , it can help us , not in everyday life.

, just to, to, to, to deal with the things that [00:20:00] disrupt, , the expectation. , and that, and that’s a lot of what life is, is dealing with the disruptions.

Richard Conner: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And, and I love what you said, you know, kind of looking at the bright side of things right here are the things that I was able to do and having a holistic view of that because it’s not just your running plan or only work or only the other aspects. It’s all of it together.

That makes up who you are. And being able to have a balanced approach to all of it is, is really important. So I appreciate you sharing that. And I love the story about your daughter and, and you, you know, spending that time, , with her.

Darren Brown: very much. Yeah, it’s, you know, there’s no greater responsibility I’ve had in life than raising my kids. And so, uh, clearly we’re, we’re testing our limits with number four on the way, but clearly we were embracing it, , as much as we can. And yeah, it is. It’s about looking at the things that you do get the chance. I will have. Another day that I can run eight to 10 miles.

And over the, I probably would have taken a pretty easy day this weekend, one [00:21:00] of the days anyways. So, okay. I got it on Friday. , it’s flexibility, it’s fluidity. I will not get another chance to be there for my daughter. And so, , you know, there’s a balance in that and life is completely unbalanced at times.

So the more you can mentally, , you know, craft the balance for yourself, I think the better off you’ll be.

Richard Conner: Absolutely. Absolutely. So Darren, you know, I know you, you have such rich experience and you’ve learned a lot through this, through this process, through your running journey. What would you say was your biggest obstacle in your running journey and how’d you overcome it?

Darren Brown: Yeah, I think, you know, I had different obstacles at different stages as I kind of talked through my history with the sport. It was not like an all in ready to go from the beginning type of thing. I mean, I think there was a, there was a learned love that had to come. And, , you know, I, I, I would argue and say that I probably wasn’t, , as good of an athlete as, as even maybe my talent would have allowed me to be, or, , as, as even my wife [00:22:00] was, , in part because it wasn’t all about the result to me.

, I do think that there is an element when you’re competing at the very top of the sport that the result has to matter. , and it can’t be all consuming, , but it does have to matter and it probably has to matter a little bit more than it did to me. Don’t get me wrong. I liked winning. , you know, I didn’t necessarily like losing, but I could be very, very content if I knew I gave it my all and I knew that my preparation leading up was responsible and reflected, you know, a level of intentionality that, , You know what was near perfect.

You know, there’s always flaws in it. It’s never perfect. , but I think, you know, for me, as I overcame kind of finding out what I wanted from the sport, um, that took a couple of swings, right? Early on, it took a swing of saying, like, can I embrace something in this sport that. You know, I, I’m naturally built for and have, have the talent for and, and have kind of a God given gene for, , or, or do I want to long jump and finish last every weekend and play in the sand, right?

, to, to a state of [00:23:00] like, well, I, I’m not just in this for myself. That’s not actually what’s giving me happiness in this. I, I personally enjoy the process, but I also want to be surrounded by other people who are going through the process. And I had, I had to learn that. I mean, I. You know, I say this all the time.

I’m, I’m not going to change the, the way the collegiate system and, and, uh, not just athletically, but academically is set up. But as a 17, 18 year old, I was in no way, shape or form ready to make an informed decision about where I wanted to go to school, where I wanted to compete, what I wanted to do. Like, honestly, when I look at some, some countries that have gap years and even here in the Northeast, a lot of kids take gap years and do prep years at prep schools.

I’m like, I honestly think that’s a really smart idea. . I learned more about kind of where I wanted to go in life and how I wanted to surround myself. The more I experienced things and as a 17 year old, quite honestly, you just haven’t experienced that much. , and so, you know, I had to work through that going to Providence College and then realizing there’s, that wasn’t the setting for me coming back to Texas.

, and [00:24:00] then, you know, as I left Texas, one of the things that Was really, really, , lost to me was that team infrastructure as I moved beyond my collegiate years of track and field. , you know, the professional world of track and field is not glitz and glamour. It is, it is grind and pound. It’s just, you know, it’s, it’s a lot of solitude.

It’s a lot of, you know, you make your own time and it’s never been an issue for me to get up and get the work in. I just don’t enjoy isolation. Um, I’m very social, socially minded. I enjoy being with other people. I enjoy going through the process with other people. And so, um, when I got out of school at Texas in the few years before I met my wife, Sarah, and before I moved to Knoxville to go back to grad school, um, I, I had actually built a business plan.

That, um, I, I brought to a local running shop, um, to, to two individuals, uh, Ruth England and Steve Sisson, they ran a, a shop called Rogue Running, um, Rogue Running wasn’t originally a running store, it was a, it was a community, uh, training program, uh, that they had [00:25:00] started, and, and I had gotten to know Steve and Ruth, and I said, hey, I said, Um, you know, I, I think there’s a really good opportunity for us to leverage some of the talent and the, and the, the wealth of, of knowledge and, and the running space coming out of ut and coming out of some of these other programs in and around the conference, in the region, um, and, and centralize them here in Austin.

It’d be really cool to start a post collegial Olympic development group. And, and oh, by the way, like, I’m happy to put my education to use, going and looking for grants, going and writing, you know, the nonprofits, , and really going out and seeking the funding and doing the fundraising and everything else.

And, . That was honestly my first taste of like the business side of things, which I also really, uh, developed a palette for, which is how I ended up here at OOFOS eventually. , but it was, it was a joy of mine because it gave me something to go along with my own personal pursuit. And so within those first two years, , after I graduated, I had recruited 10 plus athletes, male and female, down to the Austin area.

We had a fully funded, supported group, , training to a variety of disciplines from, , the, the half mile from the 800 all the way up to the marathon. , we, we put [00:26:00] people on national teams. , one of our, our team members was actually Welsh and holds the, the Welsh mile record. , you know, and, and we just had a lot of success as a group.

And to me, that was way more, um, was to be part of that process, to be part of that team where we were doing great things together, we were challenging each other daily. , so much so that, that one of my teammates there who was a rival in college from Arkansas, he was a rival in high school at a, at a. He moved to Austin.

, he was a marathon or I was a miler, but we worked out together a lot. He became one of my closest friends. He now works here at OOFOS with me. , when he retired from the sport after finishing top 10 at Boston, his last year running professionally, uh, gave me a call and said, You know, Hey, OOFOS have any openings.

And I said, actually we do, and it’s where you live. And, , he he’s been an awesome, , not only employee, but teammate here and friend to have. And so, , it’s been really, really cool to see how some of those things have paid off far beyond the athletic realm. , but I’d say that was, that was one of those biggest moments for me to overcome.

, and then, and then to, [00:27:00] to leave that again when I moved to Knoxville because I had met my now wife and we knew we were walking towards marriage together and, and that was something that was going to be required. She was in grad school. , and so, so to leave that again, I mean, those, those were two really pivotal moments.

I’d say the first one , allowed me to maintain a love and a passion for the sport beyond college. , but I think translated into success, not only personally, but, but hopefully helped and supported some others in their success. , and then to, to knowingly leave that, uh, because I had found a deep connection with my now wife and to say, okay.

This is going to be, uh, you know, this is a risk for me when it comes to the sport, but really that was a pivotal moment that started my transition out of the sport, but it led me into something so much cooler in my opinion, where I got to move into a coaching realm and a support realm in a completely new way where I wasn’t out of the sport.

I hadn’t been removed. I had just my facility within the sport had changed. And that was, that was another really cool moment.

Richard Conner: Love it. Love it. So really love your [00:28:00] story. And you mentioned OOFOS a few times here. So, you know, let’s hear a little bit about, you know, the company kind of what it what it stands for and your transition into.

. , as you mentioned the beginning, the global leader in recovery footwear and you know, a lot of people will say, what’s recovery footwear? Is that like after you have surgery? Is that like, well, what is that? And, and the reality is it’s based on, , the premise of, um, a unique foam technology that we have.

Darren Brown: So, , our, our founders here at OOFOS, , are kind of industry veterans and legends in the performance footwear space. They worked for the big brands out there, the Nike Adidas and Reeboks of the world for decades, , in the areas of design and development. And so, , as part of the development process.

They had all retired, , by and large from, , the industry. We’re doing a little bit of consulting on the side. , and via some relationships that they’ve had for a really long time, , in Asia, , there was a chemical engineer who came to them with a foam technology and said, Hey, we’ve got this foam technology.

[00:29:00] And quite honestly, it’s incredibly unique. , we’ve spent the past 30, 40 years trying to make people run faster, jump higher, you know, throw further. , And this is not the technology that will do that, but there’s some really cool, unique features of this that I think could have application for helping do the opposite.

It helps absorb impact and produce load, dampen a force. And so as opposed to rebounding fast and propelling you and pushing you, it actually catches you and it catches you in an advanced deceleration way. So almost like. You know, slowly pressing on the break versus slamming on the break, right? One gives you whiplash.

The other one allows you to stop at the red light without hitting the person in front of you. , and so You know, they took this, this technology and they kind of, they worked with it and the first thing they tried is the chemist’s mom had severe neuropathy in her feet and so they made this just very rudimentary sandal type that she could wear around the house and they gave it to her and she had worn all the other kind of soft and cushioned foams that are out there on the marketplace and nothing had worked.

Nothing [00:30:00] was making her feel better and they put this on her feet and she immediately started to feel better. She immediately started to get release from the pain and from the stiffness that she was feeling. And she said, it felt as if I was walking on, you know, barefoot on a natural soft surface. So on grass, on hard compact sand.

And so as they continued to study the foam, they studied the properties. , one of the things they realized was that it was a lot like walking on a natural surface. If you think about natural surfaces, their impact absorbing, right? You, you drop a golf ball on the concrete, it bounces right back up into your hand.

You drop it into grass. It sits in it. It’s hits and sits, right? It just kind of sits there. It doesn’t bounce back to you because that impact has been absorbed. The force has been dissipated. , and it was a soft landing, right? You don’t get a loud ping. You get a little, you get a thud, right? , and so.

They said, wow, this is incredible because, , you know, there’s this whole concept of stress and rest that takes place in athletics and having come from the performance footwear side, they knew all too well that one of the first things runners like to do when they finish a run is take off their shoes.

You know, one of them [00:31:00] ran competitively in college and a little bit beyond and he’s like, we love to get out of our shoes. We love to either be barefoot and go, you know, walk on the grass and let our toes splay and get mobility back in our feet because we can provide a product that allows people to do that, but take it with them.

Right. They don’t have to be, they don’t have to finish the run at a field in 75 degree temperatures so they can take their shoes off and walk barefoot on the grass to help their feet spread out, to reduce the load and the stress on the body, to help the muscles continue to work in a much more gentle manner that stimulates blood flow, but doesn’t actually exacerbate some of the damage that gets done during running that then leads to improvement.

So stimulating that recovery process to begin, but then also allowing you to carry it with you into the rest of your day, because the reality is we work out. At extreme, maybe an hour and a half, two hours a day if you’re training for a marathon, right? But but most people work out 30 to 45 minutes a day and then you’ve got another 23 hours That you have the opportunity to improve and take care of your body [00:32:00] And so while we call it recovery footwear, it’s it’s by and large a daily wellness tool, right?

It’s something that’ll just help put your body in a better state.

So as they started to bring this technology to life through, um, iterations of design that would actually optimize the phone properties, right? If you think about walking through sand, it can be sluggish, right? It can bog you down. And so one of the things they didn’t want to do is they didn’t want this to be an energy drain.

They wanted to be an energy giver. They wanted it to be something that helped reenergize you, helped you recharge and recover. And so, , a lot of intentional design went into the shape, the look, , as well as the feel, right? The, the feel comes back to the foam. And so, , just kind of a fun side story. A lot of people are like, what does it mean?

How did you get to folks? And, , really it came from the audible response in the early days of people feeling and testing the product for the first time, they would stick their foot into it and stand up and they go, Ooh. And so we started, we started actually creating like an invitation and the call to action began with, Hey, feel the, [00:33:00] and so people would test it by feeling the, and that was, because the phone was eliciting this audible response.

It was a very emotive kind of naming convention that came into the brand. And so. We became OOFOS as, as a business and a brand because, , really what we’re inviting and calling people into is an opportunity to feel the U, this very, , unique differentiated foam, , that will help them not only recover, but live out the brand’s mission, which our mission is simply to make people feel better.

It’s not to be, , the preeminent recovery footwear brand in the world on. Millions and millions of people know it’s, it’s to make people feel better through our product services and experiences. And so that’s what our company, , lives towards each day. , and I say lives towards, cause we walk the walk, we talk the talk, you know, we, we want to, , help people live better lives, whether that’s because of recovery footwear, because of an interaction they had, because of an experience we provided.

And in general, and so, , we’re really, I’m really pleased. We actually, this past year, we won one of the best places to work in [00:34:00] Boston. , that is an employee, , voted and, and surveyed, , award, , for the business. And so to us as kind of the leadership team here, we, we really, , We celebrated that for a moment because it means that we’re not only living our mission externally, but we’re living our mission internally by making each other feel better, making it a place that people want to show up to work and, , want to collaborate together and have a lot of fun.

So, , yeah, so that’s, that’s us. And, and, and honestly, we started in the running industry primarily because. Look, runners get impact. Like, we pound, we talk about pounding the pavement. We talk about, you know, lacing them up and pounding the pavement. Like, we get impact. And as an impact absorbing foam, it was the most natural place for us to start.

, the great thing about our product is it’s so ubiquitous. And Active Recovery has so many use cases. , as we talked about, it’s more of a daily wellness enhancer than it is just a recovery tool. And so, , some of our core customers are nurses. Teachers, chefs, people who are on their feet all day long on hard, unnatural surfaces.

, where this is a welcomed invitation to, , get [00:35:00] the sensation of being barefoot on a beach. , even when you’re up in front of a classroom of third graders, right? Helping you feel fresher longer throughout the day. And, and, you know, a lot of those people are doing early morning runs, runs after work.

And so how do we help them keep their bodies fresh for whenever it is they’re going to take on, you know, that task that they’re looking forward to.

Richard Conner: I love that. I love that. Well, congratulations on your award. And, uh, as a fellow marketer, I really love where the name came from. Kind of the impetus for that. So that’s pretty incredible. And as a runner as well, I certainly appreciate the technology and the design, the thought that you put into this product and how you’re helping not only runners, but other folks.

Um, so just, I’m just really excited about, you know, your company, your brand, your products, and how you’re helping the running community and others.

Darren Brown: Thank you. Yeah. And I mean, that’s that’s our challenge, right? Our challenge going forward is not only to find ways to continue to fulfill and live out that mission of making people feel better, but to make to make the [00:36:00] access point more inclusive of anybody who may need. I can remember where we started with kind of sandals and slides because sports slides is what people would get into when they came out of their athletic shoes.

But the reality is when you when you talk about like a teacher or a nurse or a chef, they can’t wear sandals or slides into their occupation. And so that really stimulated our move into close to a footwear, you know, we’re based in Boston and I feel blessed to be based in Boston because we probably wouldn’t have taken the step into More seasonal product and even boots and, and, you know, uh, water resistance, materials, , et cetera, that really allows you to bring this into any point in your life that you may need, you know, a little bit of stress relief, a little bit of deloading, a little bit of decompression, , and, and we can be a suitable option and tool in that moment.

Richard Conner: Awesome. Awesome. Darren, thank you so much for sharing this and thank you for sharing the background and the company and what you offer and how you’re helping, um, runners and others. So tell me a little bit about like what’s next for you, um, and [00:37:00] your Running journey. You mentioned that you’re not running as much.

Um, but you know, what’s next for you and what’s next for OOFOS?

Darren Brown: Yeah. So, uh, for me personally, . You know, well, we got a pregnancy number four that, uh, you know, I, I will be supporting my wife through and, , you know, as she, as she stays out, she stays active in all of her pregnancies. And so it’s an opportunity for us to enjoy, , that together as it looks a little bit different.

, but I also, uh, you know, I. registered yesterday for an event I do every year. It’s actually an extension of our cause here at OOFOS, which is the Pan Mass Challenge. The Pan Mass Challenge is a 200 mile bike ride across Massachusetts, across two days. It doesn’t technically go all the way across Massachusetts.

So, , for some wild and crazy reason at the end of last year’s ride, uh, myself, a bunch of, uh, my teammates here at OOFOS decided we were going to do what’s called day zero, which means we’re actually going to start unsupported on the border of New York and Massachusetts. And we’re going to do a day ride before the start of the race, which starts in [00:38:00] central mass from.

Complete Western mass on the border to central mass just as a group, uh, unsupported ride. And then we’ll join up with the ride from there. The ride is, , a fundraiser that raises money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who we are an official partner of. , over the course of the past handful of years, OOFOS has donated almost $4 million, , to Dana-Farber for patient care and cancer research.

, that is a big focus for us. We donate a percentage of every sale. That’s made on upost. com to Dana Farber because, , we, we don’t believe that it’s a month, uh, that, that needs to be focused on. We believe it’s a full, full year thing that people need to be supported through. , and we came to that conclusion, um, because the cause really chose us, our first employee and former head of brand Duncan Finnegan.

, went through a very significant battle with metastatic breast cancer from 2015 to 2019. , I worked very closely with Duncan over a, a long period of time and, and just got to watch her passion and, and fight and drive as she went through that, that journey. And so in that time. , a bunch of us started riding the [00:39:00] Pan Mass Challenge, uh, and in time, , as Duncan passed in a way to honor her, we not only kept up with Project Pink, um, which is our donation cause to, uh, Dana Farber, but we, we have officially partnered with the Pan Mass Challenge as the official recovery footwear of the ride, we’ve continued to add more and more teammates to the ride each year, , Team Duncan, which is made up of doctors, Family, friends, and colleagues here at OOFOS, uh, is now 90 plus strong.

And I’m, I’m proud to report that last year was the first year as a team, the 90 of us raised over a million dollars during that ride, which we were really, really proud of. , we also were able to have one of our brand partners and brand investors, , former NFL quarterback, Alex Smith come out and ride with us.

Um, and it was such an awesome. Awesome opportunity to have him really dive in and experience like why we do this and what this company is about. Um, and as somebody who had recently invested in the brand after years of being a partner and purchasing product, um, it was a really cool moment that I think drew him closer.

to who we are. [00:40:00] So, , so while I’m not training for anything super hyper competitive, I am training for something that is very impactful, very near and dear to not only my heart, but a lot of our hearts here. And I’m really excited. I’m actually on the computer screen behind me. I’ve got a picture from the finish line last year with the team, the project pink team.

And, , it’s just, it’s such a great. Great bonding weekend. Our CEO has written it every year. Lou Panashone, , started it with Duncan back in 2015, his first ride. He’s writing his 10th year this year. , just he’s somebody who leads by example. And, and he’s the reason that more and more of us have gotten involved and really taken it upon ourselves to spearhead this effort and something bigger and bigger each year,

Richard Conner: That’s incredible. That’s incredible. Thank you for sharing that. And I will include information in the show notes. If our listeners can support that cause, um, I’ll include information in the show notes about that as well. So, um, just kind of as we wind down here, uh, what’s next for OOFOS.

Darren Brown: we will continue to surprise and delight. , you know, innovation never stops. , I think the one thing that’s [00:41:00] great about, uh, our product line is we have, we have. , probably the most complex, simple product line in existence because, , our technology is our technology. It’s so unique and differentiated.

Every single product that OOFOS makes starts with foam technology and our patented footbed design that optimizes that foam technology. So whether you’re in a sandal, a slide, a shoe, a boot, , you know, you’re going to get the same fit, feel and function out of all of them. , that’s, that’s both a blessing and a curse because our design team, it’s hard, it’s hard to continue to iterate and update.

, but I can tell you they’ve got some really cool things on the horizon that they’re working on. They’re really excited about and it’s all about widening that access point and just making active recovery more inclusive, not only as a concept, but as a product offering. , and so we think the more we can do that, the more we can help people lead better lives, you know, live, live a life that feels better, that allows them to do more, stay more mobile, whether it’s You know, the athlete who’s recovering quicker between their workouts or, you know, it’s the aging athlete who’s, you know, starting to feel the aches and pains, but wants to stay as mobile as [00:42:00] possible as late in the life.

And so, , you know, we’re there for him and we want to continue to be there for him. So we’ll continue to seek new endeavors. , we, we do have a fun. collaboration that will be coming out, uh, in January, we’re working with a performance brand in the golf space called foot joy. , so we, we have a collaborative product coming out with foot joy as their official recovery partner.

, so when you come off that, that 19th hole and you’re, you’re ready to slide into something that feels really good and allow you to potentially come back and play round two the next day. , you know, we’ll have an offering. And so we’ll continue to work with like minded people in the space. , always looking to collaborate and partner, but, , I’m excited about the work our team is doing internally to continue to push not only the category, , but our offering within the category forward.

Richard Conner: Awesome. Awesome. Thank you so much, Darren. I appreciate you coming on the show, uh, sharing your journey, but also sharing the journey and background of OOFOS. And I’ll put the information in the show notes again, to make it easy for our listeners to find you and OOFOS online. So [00:43:00] just with that, I just want to thank you again for coming on the show and best of luck with the, with the upcoming race as well with the new addition to your family.

Darren Brown: Thank you, Richard. Hey, thanks for making the space for us to talk about this. Really appreciate you having me on and, , best luck to you in the new year. Happy new year. I hope 2024 is a fantastic one for you. And, , thanks so much for also supporting the cause and putting that in the show notes. We appreciate it greatly.

Richard Conner: Thank you and have a great day.

Intro/Outro: That’s it for this episode of inspire to run podcast. We hope you are inspired to take control of your health and fitness and take it to the next level. Be sure to click the subscribe button to join our community. And also, please rate and review. Thanks for listening.