I’m a Runner

THE AC­TOR AND TV CHEF, 38, ON MED­I­TA­TION, BE­ING NAKED AND POWER POR­RIDGE

Runner's World (UK) - - Contents -

Ac­tor and TV chef Leon Ock­enden P114

I LIKED THE IDEA OF DO­ING SPORT AT SCHOOL,

but I was ter­ri­ble at it. It was made clear to me that my time might be bet­ter spent else­where. I HELPED IN OUR FAM­ILY BAKERY from the time I was 14 and then I worked in the kitchen at a posh Lon­don ho­tel. Back then I worked all the time, so I never had any time to ex­er­cise. It was only later, when I went to drama school, that I dis­cov­ered run­ning. GROW­ING UP IN A BAKERY,

I’ve al­ways loved cook­ing. That’s led me to a cook­ing slot on [ITV pro­gramme]

This­morn­ing. And that’s why run­ning is bril­liant – you can eat loads and know you can run it off. BE­ING ABLE TO RUN

has given me a new con­fi­dence. When I was in the TV se­ries Water­looroad, I played a PE teacher. The direc­tor was re­ally im­pressed that I could run about like a real PE teacher would.

Leon sup­ports Wellchild, the na­tional char­ity for sick chil­dren. To find out how you can sup­port it by tak­ing part in events, visit wellchild. org. uk MY BIG­GEST INCENTIVE

to run more came eight years ago, when I ap­peared naked on stage in the West End. I was in a play called

and be­cause I was ea­ger to look in good shape while wear­ing noth­ing, I ran loads. Plagueov­ereng­land RUN­NING HAS AL­WAYS

been a form of ac­tive med­i­ta­tion for me. If I need to learn lines I go over them, go for a run and when I re­turn they have ce­mented them­selves into my brain. I LOVE RUN­NING

along the hilly coast when I’m back in my na­tive Corn­wall. My reg­u­lar five-mile cir­cuit where I live, in Lon­don, is out to Alexan­dra Palace or up to Hamp­stead Heath. THE FIRST OR­GAN­ISED RACE

I did was a 10K in Lon­don’s Vic­to­ria Park. I trained hard with an act­ing friend who I shared a flat with at the time. I HAVE JOINED A RUN­NING CLUB, which has hugely im­proved my run­ning. I love the so­cial side, but also do­ing speed ses­sions or the type of in­ten­sive train­ing I would never do on my own. I RE­CENTLY HAD MY RUN­NING FORM as­sessed. I was ad­vised to work on my ham­strings and glutes be­cause I was re­ly­ing too much on my quads. TWO HOURS BE­FORE A MORN­ING RUN I make my­self a killer por­ridge with cashew nuts, for added pro­tein. And af­ter a long Sun­day run, a tra­di­tional roast with fan­tas­tic York­shire pud­dings keeps me mo­ti­vated on a cold day. ALL I SEEM TO WEAR TH­ESE DAYS IS RUN­NING GEAR,

mainly in lurid, lu­mi­nous colours. It means I only have to put on a shirt and my wife, Vanessa, thinks I look amaz­ing. I DO FIND RUN­NING AROUND THE STREETS

a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence de­pend­ing on where I do it. In Manch­ester I give a nod and smile when I pass a fel­low runner, who’ll of­ten do the same back. But when I do it in Lon­don I’m ig­nored. I’m just the crazy guy grin­ning at them!

‘Run­ning has al­ways been a form of ac­tive med­i­ta­tion for me.’

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