Darren Weissman is one of more than 200 runners who will run two Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathons on Nov. 17.
Darren Weissman will be the first to admit he’s not a hard-core runner, but that hasn’t stopped this basketball-dribbling fiend from setting a few unique running records. The 31-year-old Miami resident, who is known as “Dr. Dribble,” has dribbled his way to the finish line of numerous marathons and half marathons this year, including a world-record 4:39:12 effort at the Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon in February.
The personal trainer and basketball-skills teacher helps players from grade school all the way up to the NBA improve their ball-handling skills. He never intended to go after a running record but when a friend dared him, he couldn’t resist.
“Don’t ever tell me I can’t do something, because I’ll do it,” says Weissman, who owns a 1:30 half-marathon PR without basketballs and has run a 1:39:27 half marathon while dribbling. “The basketballs don’t really slow me down,” he says. “They’re like an extension of my arms at this point. I’ve been dribbling basketballs around since I was a kid.”
On Nov. 17, he’ll be among an ambitious group of about 200 people running the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio ½ Marathon in the morning, then boarding a plane to McCarran International Airport and running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas ½ Marathon that evening on the Las Vegas Strip. He’ll pack his basketballs in his carry-on bag, of course.
Among his recent races, he finished the Oct. 13 Chicago Marathon in 5:45:41, the Oct. 27 Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles 1/2 Marathon in 2:07:30, Nov. 3 New York City Marathon in 4:42:54 and the Nov. 10 Fort Lauderdale 13.1 half marathon in 2:38:13.
Surprisingly, Weissman doesn’t run very much for someone who runs half marathons and marathons. A typical training includes running 2 miles to Newton’s Method gym, where he works out and trains clients for 3- to 5 hours every day, then he runs home.
“Yeah, I keep my mileage low,” he says. “There are some times where I hardly run at all, but other weeks I’ll run a couple of miles here and a couple of miles there. If I have a half marathon three weeks in a row, I don’t feel like I have to do a lot of running. For me, it’s just about staying healthy. I don’t like to over-train and do 10 miles three times per week.”
Instead, he’s continually doing strength, balance and stability work in the gym. He does a lot of circuit training, kettleball workouts, kickboxing, battle ropes, yoga and gravity suspension training using only his body weight as resistance.
“I really think people who run a lot should also do a lot of strength training,” he says. “But people who do a lot of strength training should also do a lot of running to balance yourself out and prevent injuries.”
Hard-core runners might think his non-traditional training is foolhardy, but it works for him. In fact, even before he started dribbling basketballs in races, he entered a full marathon on a week’s notice and despite not having gone through a traditional training plan, he ran a 3:57:53 at the 2012 Miami Marathon.
“My friends said I was nuts because I hadn’t run more than 3 miles in my entire life, and that was 12 years before the race,” he says. “But I knew if I was working out 3-4 hours a day every single day I could run a marathon. And when I ran a 3:58, I pissed off a lot of runners. They said I was a freak, that I missed my calling in life, and that if I trained, I could have been a professional runner. I have plenty of miles left on my legs.”
After he found out he broke a world record after his initial dribbling marathon, he submitted the paperwork (and the $700 application fee) to Guinness World Records. Since then, he’s focused on raising money for a charity called Our Kids, which helps children who have been abused or molested or abandoned. In the New York City Marathon, he raised money for The Chicago Diabetes Project.
Weissman, who was born in New York City, has been dribbling basketballs all over the place since he was a kid. He’d dribble his way over to a friend’s house or while walking to the park. After playing high school basketball in Miami, he turned his unique talent into a business that now includes clients who measure under 4 feet tall to over 7 feet tall.
He just never thought he’d wind up using his dribbling skills to become a marathoner.
“In life, you’ve got to separate yourself from the competition and be known for something,” he says. “Everyone remembers the guy dribbling two basketballs.”