I’m a runner: Michael Palin

Michael Palin: I'm a runner

From the June Issue of Runner's World 2011


 

In 1978, I had to look tanned and fit to play the ex-leper in Life of Brian, so I ran up and down the beaches in Tunisia where we were shooting the film. I got back to London and I thought, I must try to make running a regular thing – and I have kept it up ever since.

There was a time when I used to run wherever I was in the world, but I’ve got a little bit lazier recently. I tend to go for the hotel treadmill instead. That said, I did run around an entire island [Bird Island in the Seychelles archipelago] before breakfast – although it was just a few miles.

I only do two runs of around five or six miles each week. I tend to go after a morning spent writing, and also before I eat anything.

Two of my children run far longer distances than I do. My son Will, who’s 40, and my daughter Rachel, who’s 36, are very keen. They blame it on me. They go ‘urban running’ along the Thames. But I’m not so fussed about urban running myself.

The idea for my movie The Missionary [1982] came to me while I was out running, and it was completely different from what I had set out with. After I’d finished, I let the concept unscramble in my mind.

I don’t know whether being a runner makes you funnier or not. My wife certainly laughs when she sees me running.

I come back from my runs with more energy. Whenever I’ve gone out with hangovers, or when I’ve had a cold coming on, I always finish feeling better.

I live close to Hampstead Heath in north London, which is perfect for running. It has hills, woods and ponds; a little bit of countryside in the city. I’d rather run there than on a treadmill.

The last five minutes of
 my usual run takes me up Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath, from which I get a great view across London. I love seeing the city spread out before me.

I don’t track my runs at all. I just know instinctively if I’ve had a good one or not. If it’s a beautiful sunny day, I run a little bit longer.

I’ve been running for 32 years now. The idea of stopping at any point is just inconceivable to me.

My most important piece of running gear? Probably my front-door keys.

I wouldn’t mind dying while 
I was running. I think it would be quite a good way to go – as long as it was sudden.