I’m a runner: Paul A. Young

Photo by Tom Miles

I simply hated sport when I was growing up. I did it but I never got any enjoyment from it.

It’s only in the last year that I’ve started getting fit. I now swim 1km most days and run a few times a week. It was a revelation when I realised I could run because I’d never even tried it before and assumed it was something I couldn’t do.

I‘m not a morning person so I don’t get up for an early jog. I like to go for a run at the end of a busy day, while it’s still light outside. I will do anything from 5-15km.

I’m very good at sticking with a task and listening to my body instead of a GPS watch. I would hate to have a voice from a device telling me I’ve just run 1km.

I often run without music and enjoy engaging with the world around me. As I do lots of the same routes I see familiar faces. I like exchanging the odd word. Running makes you more sociable.

It’s my knees that suffer most on longer runs. I’ve been a chef all my life so I’ve spent hours standing up in kitchens. My knees ache on runs over 90 minutes.

Chefs seem to like to run when they can get out of work at a reasonable time. Gordon Ramsay and Michel Roux Jr are very keen runners, too. I think because the kitchen can be a highly pressured place, with other people always demanding your time, a run on your own is a real escape.

I’m the opposite to the dedicated runner. I don’t feel guilty about not running. I focus on my running when I’m doing it, but I fit my running around my business and life, rather than the other way round.

I did the Royal Parks Half Marathon after becoming vice president of the Sick Children’s Trust charity. I felt in my role I should get more involved in hands-on fundraising and awareness. It was my first ever organised race and my aim was to break two hours. [He finished in 1:56:26.]

Running has kept my weight in check, but I still eat too much. It’s a hazard of my job because you taste what you make. But what I do eat is very healthy, fresh produce that give me lots of natural energy.

I don’t look like a natural runner. I look pretty rubbish in my running gear – having a big ginger beard doesn’t help and I’m not whippet-thin. But I only started running at 41 and my body hasn’t let me down yet.

The right chocolate is runner-friendly. I’ve created one called Sweet Virtue, which is made from 100 per cent Ecuadorian cocoa and is packed with energy-boosting nutrients, including ginseng. I often have a small square before and after a long run.

My favourite...

Music: When I do listen to music, I put my iPod on shuffle and choose a genre rather than a particular artist. I like high-tempo disco, 1980s or 1990s stuff, and just run to whatever comes on.

Trainers: I’d never bought running shoes, so I went to a store and had my gait analysed. I hadn’t built up any strength, so I knew I needed the right footwear or I’d get injured. I run in a pair of Brooks.

Routes: I live in Covent Garden in London, so I enjoy a big loop that takes me through St James’s Park, Hyde Park and Regent’s Park. Even on a busy sunny day you can find some space to run.


Paul is vice president of the Sick Children’s Trust, which provides free, high-quality accommodation and emotional and practical support for families with seriously ill children in hospital. The charity runs 10 ‘homes from homes’ at leading children’s hospitals across the UK.