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Run Anglia: Simon Wright reveals why he took up running

Simon Wright is out in all weathers, just as he was at Lowestoft parkrun recently. Picture: Lowestoft parkrun (Gary Pembroke)

Simon Wright is out in all weathers, just as he was at Lowestoft parkrun recently. Picture: Lowestoft parkrun (Gary Pembroke)

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Norwich Road Runner and former MP Simon Wright explains why he took up running

Simon Wright always tries to smile when he's running - just like he did at Run Norwich. Picture: The Gentleman Photographer/Raymond TaylorSimon Wright always tries to smile when he's running - just like he did at Run Norwich. Picture: The Gentleman Photographer/Raymond Taylor

How did you get into running?

At the time, it seemed like an easy hobby to get into when I needed something to occupy myself. I’d just lost my parliamentary seat in the 2015 general election and, as the role of an MP encompassed so much of my life, I was left with a real void. I pulled on a pair of running shoes to find out where they would take me. I’ve since learned that running is not an easy hobby, but it has become a really important part of my life!

What do you like most about running?

Simon Wright in action at the Marriotts Way 10K last year. Picture: James Bass PhotographySimon Wright in action at the Marriotts Way 10K last year. Picture: James Bass Photography

There are so many aspects that I like: the community; the competition; the purpose for a healthier lifestyle. What I like most of all is the freedom. There’s nothing to stop you. Any day-to-day troubles that trap your thoughts disappear when you get going. Some people reflect on life when they run; I tend to allow my mind to go blank, and that can be greatly liberating.

What’s been your favourite event you’ve taken part in and why?

The first Run Norwich event in 2015. It was my first race experience, and I loved everything about it. I particularly enjoyed the incredible atmosphere and support from the public, the inclusiveness with thousands of people taking part, and the opportunity to test my limits. Run Norwich helped to turn me from a complete novice into a race day addict.

What gadget/item of clothing could you not go without?

So many runners, including me, obsess over their shoes. My go-to pair are the Nike Pegasus; they feel right whether I’m racing, training on a track, or just going for an easy run around the block. They look great too!

What are your running goals for this year?

My main goal is to avoid injury. If I can achieve that, then I can focus on other goals: completing a 10k race in under 36 minutes; and achieving a sub-60 ten mile race. Maybe this year’s Run Norwich will be a good opportunity for one of those!

Do you ever find it hard to gain motivation to run? If so, why?

Yes, when the clocks go back and winter kicks in! I rarely regret going out though, and I almost always feel better at the end of a run whatever the conditions. A bigger problem for me is knowing when not to run. Rest is so important to allow the body to recover and strengthen, and I think many of us love running so much that we tend to overlook the need to not run from time to time.

What’s been your biggest achievement as a runner?

At the end of 2017, I was awarded the Norwich Road Runners’ Male Newcomer of the Year. This means much more to me than any particular race performance because it comes from experienced runners who’ve seen me in training every week over the last year.

What do you think about when you’re finding a run hard? Any mantras etc?

I smile! Many race photos are of me looking happy, and it’s not just for the benefit of the camera. Positive thinking is vital, and convincing yourself that you can do it when the run is feeling at its hardest is the key to a good performance. If I’m finding training runs hard, I try to think of it as a helpful opportunity to test my mental preparedness for the next race – and I smile :)

Who do you look up to, running wise? Why?

Norfolk’s running community is inspirational. People of all ages, all abilities, and all backgrounds pull on their running shoes and achieve extraordinary feats. I respect anyone who challenges themselves, who tests their limits and moves outside of their comfort zone – it could be as simple as finishing a parkrun for the first time, or it could be breaking a PB at the London Marathon. There’s inspiration to be found from so many running achievements, and there are so many that I look up to for their achievements in our community.

What would be your best piece of advice to other runners?

Join a running club. Since becoming a Norwich Road Runner, I’ve learned how I can improve from more experienced runners and coaches. Having runners of a similar standard (and a little better) encourages me to push on and develop. The social side of the club is also a great motivator to get out of the house when the rain is falling on dark winter nights!

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