Why long distance runners are no longer lonely... At least at Park House!

I wasted my money. This book didn't provide, for me at least, any answers.

It's a question I've pondered for much of the last forty years, since I first joined Reading Athletic Club: a wonderful environment for young people where I got to know friends from other schools across the County and which continues to flourish today...


Derek Peaple

That's me in the home straight of the 1980 Under 15 Boys Southern Cross Country Championships at Parliament Hill, the spiritual - and very muddy - home of the discipline in this country. And I'm about to have my lack of any finishing 'kick' brutally exposed by the athlete I remember as David Hoinville, that year's English Schools 800m champion from Highgate Harriers! I wonder where he is now?

At that time, I do remember being motivated by competition; I think, on reflection, I already enjoyed the edge I felt that it gave me in school, too. There was something about the significance of training that, even then, I think I at last subconsciously carried forward into the exam room. It bred confidence; being well-prepared to race meant that I also felt well prepared to perform to my best academically. The discipline carried over; the lessons of preparation for high performance applied. That's why I continue - they'd probably say ad nauseam -  to place such an emphasis on these sporting parallels in my messaging to our students today...


And that's also why the amazing Liz Hawkins, our inspirational Active Well Being Coordinator, pictured below with with the equally brilliant Year 9 Student Race for Life Organiser Tiegan, uses running in particular as part of her motivational support programmes, building confidence and a rounded sense of emotional health in our young people…

Tiegan and Liz 

Indeed, that commitment to uses physical activity to promote wellbeing, particularly to the most challenging of times in a young person’s school career was captured in a Guardian article a couple of years ago on coping with exam stress…


I really enjoyed sharing the thinking alongside my running heroine, Paula Radcliffe, at the All Party Parliamentary Commission at the House of Commons a couple of years ago…

Derek Peaple and Paula Radcliffe

Which neatly segues into marathon running!

When I rediscovered running again in my first years of headship, it certainly wasn't about wanting to win anything!

Derek Peaple

Taking part in the collective spirit of a series of London Marathons starting way back in 2001 was firstly about what I described at the time as 'Leading from the Back', raising funds for both the school and student-nominated charities. But training also offered a wonderful time for reflection and formulating new ideas; much of what currently shapes school practice was conceived in existential moments on long Sunday Morning runs in preparation for 'London'. Sorry!

I've blogged before about the the shifting cultural popularity of running, epitomised in this country at least by The London Marathon...


That blog of course culminates in reflections on the significance of our now annually established Charity Run and Fun Day. So does this one.

Charity Run
Charity Run
Charity Run
Charity Run
Photos courtesy Stuart March Photography (more available here) >>>

But last Sunday's event moved the concept of a community-focused festival of running  to yet another level and offered for me the best answer yet to the question of why we run. The clue is in the title. Fun! I don't think I've ever felt so uplifted by seeing so many people of so many different ages so obviously loving the shared experience of running together at the same time as well as raising money for such an important cause in Daisy's Dream...

Let's keep looking for answers.... Let's keep on running...