“I first fell in love with running when I was at school. I wasn’t much of a schoolboy athlete but in year 11 I started doing cross country and found it gave me a real sense of self confidence. It changed my image of myself.
At university I was in the Army Reserve, so I was quite fit. But when I went to work for the union I stopped exercising. That’s why I joke now that I’ve got the knees of a 25-year-old because for 15 years I didn’t use them at all. They’re in pristine condition. At the same time, I kick myself for those lost 15 years when I wasn’t running.
When I went into parliament I started to run again but it wasn’t until I was preparing for last year’s election that I really stepped it up a gear. I thought I needed to do something to keep me balanced throughout the day, keep fit and drop a bit of weight. In my crazy hectic lifestyle where I can be in five cities in five days, the easiest form of exercise is to grab your sneakers, shorts and t-shirt and go for a run.
I set myself the goal of running 1500km last year and finished on 2100km. I lost 11kg over the year. This year I’ve set the target at 2000km and I’ve run 750km so far.
I find the hardest thing is putting on your running gear. Once you’ve got your gear on, you’ve got to go. It’s most difficult on days when the weather is appalling or I have to do a radio interview at 6.30 in the morning. With my staff it’s become like a mini civil war. But they get the message now. Meetings get cancelled because I go for a run.
It’s now become less of a fitness regimen and more a form of mental relaxation. When you’ve got three kids and you travel as much as I do, I don’t have time for things like golf but I can get away with an hour run. It’s your own time, your own space, which we all need.
For me, a run is a cure for anything, from a hangover to a bad poll. There are no bad days when you run.”