07 February 2012

Catch Me If You Can

Written by Published in Issue 31 - Work It Out Read 4293 times

Never enough hours in the day? It’s amazing how time spent out running – or engaged in a favourite sport – can make those moments stretch, and your body, mind and budget too. 

My day had been humming like a finely tuned machine. I had just got all my work up to date, the 2012 dates and venue for our festival – Vintage – had been announced, tickets were on sale and all the launch interviews were complete. Taking a bit of a breather with my family, an email popped into my inbox with a call to action from the editor of my column at Sublime. Despite her prompts, for the life of me I couldn’t think what to write about.

So I did what I always do when I am in need of inspiration: I put on my running shoes and set off on a ten-miler. Within minutes, I entered that state of mind many runners eulogise about that is almost like an out-of-body experience, where problems are solved and clarity of thought is achieved. Ideas for content for Vintage; new products for HemingwayDesign; planning solutions for some of our regeneration projects – it all started to flow, and as usual my run became that valuable, creative time that is vital in the industry I know and love, but is often so hard to find.

I have used running throughout my life for so many ends. Here are some of them.

Coping in challenging circumstances
As those endorphins kick in, running definitely helps de-stress, and when things might be going wrong, the sense of achievement obtained from a distance run can be pretty satisfying. For me, being able to bounce back from the disappointments that life regularly throws up is one of the great benefits of sport. Learning this from running, I have encouraged my kids to play sport and to run. Some have followed my advice about the running bit, but all of them enjoy sport in some form, and have learned about fair play and how to lose.

Shaping up mind and body
Shaping up mind, yes. Shaping up body ... well, if you run regularly you can certainly eat substantially more and still not be a glutton! I discovered the many and various benefits of running as a teenager. A competitive cricketer and football-player who liked to party, enjoyed his food and had always been careful with money, the 16-mile Sunday run from Mum’s house to my girlfriend’s (now wife’s) parents’ house saved on petrol, worked off the Saturday-night excesses, gave me more stamina than my teammates and allowed me to indulge in my future father- and mother-in-law’s bountiful feasts. Even when a cruciate ligament snapped, I chose to become ‘bionic man’ and went through some punishing physio so I could be back pounding the streets within a few months.

Eureka moments
I’ve had plenty of those! One was while running the London Marathon – I answered my mobile and, in doing so, didn’t spot the sleeping-policeman traffic hump. I fell head over heels and cut myself pretty badly, and proceeded to bleed for the next 20 miles. Lesson learned: look where you’re going. Out running in northern European cities, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of placemaking, liveability and pedestrian- and cycle-friendly environments.

Life-changing experiences
Those runs to Gerardine’s family home taught me at a young age that getting about on foot or two wheels is not something that has been made obsolete by the car. When we moved to London in 1981, rather than forking out for a taxi – public transport finished woefully early – we would think nothing of walking the six miles to our flat from clubland, treating ourselves to a kebab at the halfway point in Kensal Rise. To this day, I know that a bike ride down the Grand Union Canal from our office to central London is by far the best option.

Innovative ways of living
Need some ideas for this one! Just putting on my running shoes ... Be back soon.

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