A Very Important Date
A few weeks ago I was interviewed for the Marathon Talk podcast, and the one thing that really made me giggle during recording was the idea that I might be one of the most influential figures in British running. I'd just been describing my early experiences of running at school – coming 29th out of a class of 30 boys in the 100 metres, with a fabulous sub-20 – which nearly caused the PE teacher to drop his cigarette.
It was even more of a shock therefore, to read the email that arrived in my mailbox last Tuesday. I've been invited to afternoon tea (pinkies at the ready) at the Houses of Parliament to discuss how to encourage more people to run. Specifically, the goal is to encourage running within the workplace, as part of a national campaign being led by Run Group.
I'm not under any illusions. The event will be attended by politicians from all parties, senior business leaders, media moguls, well-known runners and other sporting glitterati – all of whom will have their own ideas and agendas. I'll be just another delegate in a busy room, albeit perhaps the only one trying to see how many vol-au-vents I can fit in my mouth without choking.
We've been invited to pledge our commitments to get more people running, more often. And this is why I've published this article. The fact is, I'm not an influential figure in British running, but I do represent an influential group. You lot.
Given the parliamentary involvement, there's a certain temptation to march in and demand free trainers for all; government-funded bubble bath in every workplace; and a shedload of leftover cake in a big doggy bag. I will definitely do that last one.
Because FE is entirely free, I have to keep my costs low. In fact, I'm in the habit of assuming that I have a budget of exactly £0. And it works well, not least because it's a pretty accurate estimate. I've found that the best way to make something happen is to break it up into lots of very small chunks, and let 70,000 runners loose on it. The effect is not dissimilar to a cloud of locusts, or the cake shop after parkrun.
So I'm turning this one over to you.
Judging by the amount of website traffic we get during business hours, I imagine that we're already generating a fair bit of awareness in the workplace. Of course, you might be doing plenty of running around just trying to find a job in the first place; or self-employed with no-one else to encourage; or working your socks off looking after your family. It's all effort. It's all stuff that helps keep the world spinning, which I assume is the point.
The one thing we all have in common is an understanding that running is a great way to stay healthy. It's cheap, accessible, and there's no better feeling. So please take a minute to think about how running could have a bigger impact on the place where you work, or the work that you do, and how Fetcheveryone could help make that happen. Putting aside the potential contribution from the jet set, we have a significant opportunity to make something good. And I'm willing to work for it.