I’m a runner: Simon Evans

Photo by Ben Knight

At school I was hopeless at sport. I used to pant my way around the cross-country course and I was a real straggler.

I started running when I was 27. After my first two-mile run I suffered the burning lungs but also felt those endorphins kicking in. I remember feeling euphoric and, for the first time, ‘getting’ the appeal of running.

Running struck me as the quickest and simplest way to get fit. Soon I was running every day and becoming obsessive about it. Since then I’ve always run, although sometimes more intensely than others.

Only six months after doing my first ‘jog’ I was lining up to do the New York City Marathon, in 1993. The furthest I’d ever run was 12 miles, so I was very nervous. I expected some part of me to go ‘twang’ during the race, but I finished in 5:03.

I was so exhausted afterwards that it took the wind out of my sails for a while. I lost motivation to do another one. I would now like to do another race, but probably a half marathon rather than the full one, as I wouldn’t want the training to derail me.

I really enjoy doing Parkrun. It’s low-key so there’s no pressure. It’s really satisfying knocking big chunks off a PB. It gives me a great sense of achievement on Saturday mornings as I relax afterwards with a coffee.

Running makes me a much happier person. It’s hard to write good material if you aren’t feeling very happy, so that’s another bonus. Running also gives me a huge amount of energy, which helps when writing, performing or just getting through the day.

I love running down hills. I enjoy that feeling of having to make quick decisions of where to put my feet. I know there are all kinds of extreme sports you can do, but doing something hugely exciting for free really takes some beating.

Two years ago I did the Three Peaks Challenge. It’s climbing up and down Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon – the three highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales. I trained by doing hikes across the South Downs; they often turned into runs, which set me up perfectly for the challenge.

I want to still be running in my 60s, 70s and 80s. I’ve seen guys who do body building who, after about 40, look weird with all these muscles. But as runners get older they look great if they’re still lean and trim.

I’m not a big fan of running on the prom in Hove, where I live, because the wind can often be demoralising. I prefer running in busy streets and dodging people carrying their shopping; it’s a bit like getting around an assault course, and it adds drama.

My favourite…

Music: I like listening to the same albums so I know where I should be at certain points. I’m enjoying Boys and Girls in America by The Hold Steady, who sound a bit like early REM.

Route: One of the first places I ran was London’s Regent’s Park; it’s a great place to run. And when I’m in Edinburgh for the annual festival, I like running up Arthur’s Seat.

Advice: I read a quote: ‘Don’t run on the ground, run across the ground.’ I try to keep that in mind when I run, to stop feeling so exhausted and to maintain good form.


To find out about Simon’s tour dates, click here