I’ve far more experience as a cook than as a runner – having been inspired by my father’s cooking as a young child. My father taught himself to cook off the back of little recipes on the side of cans of tomatoes and tuna, and as a single parent household I was helping out with the cooking from the age of 8 years old. Having grown up with that, and being an avid fan of “Ready Steady Cook” as a student, I’m a big fan of chucking stuff together and seeing what works rather than slavishly following recipes.
My approach to nutrition is very similar to my father’s – natural, unrefined, fresh food that’s relatively simple and quick to prepare. But my biggest inspiration to how I cook today was listening to Michel Roux Junior talk about his excitement in the fruit and vegetable aisle of a supermarket. Culturally we tend to focus on “the meat”, of which there are a dozen or so core options, whereas there are literally thousands of different flavours and textures to explore from the natural world.
My inspiration to start running:
My inspiration to become a runner came from watching the re-release of ‘Chariots of Fire’ for the first time on the big screen, ahead of the London 2012 Olympics. I was in my late thirties and hadn’t really exercised since school. I’d dabbled with going to the gym before work, going for the occasional run in the evening, but it had never amounted to much more than feeling a bit sick and exhausted.
I wanted to discover the elation, exhilaration and fulfilment captured in the epic beach scene, set to my own Vangelis soundtrack. Whilst I’m by no means religious, I also felt a connection with Eric Liddell’s words “I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.” I’d been given this body, the only one I’ll ever have, and it was my duty to see what was really possible.
My journey to ‘becoming’ a runner:
Whilst cooking is something that I’ve always done pretty much every day, running used to simply be something that I tried to do now and again. However – whilst I don’t think I’d define myself as a “cook”, I would define myself these days as ‘being’ a runner (amongst other things). How did that happen?
The problem with the human body, and a problem that gets harder every day we age, is that it’s innately conservative. It seems to take every possible opportunity to resist change. We live our lives within these change-resistant creatures of habit. Popular psychology tells us it takes at least 21 days to create a new habit, with scientific study from Philippa Lally at UCL suggesting it actually takes just over 2 months. That’s quite an ask, if you don’t really enjoy running to begin with! Run commuting turned out first of all to be the perfect way into making running habitual, and then actually enjoyable – something I look forward to doing.