As the one year anniversary of my return to London rolls around and having recently turned 35, here is some stuff I learned about life:-


1. Enter races that you haven’t trained enough for, run with people that are faster than you and embark on adventures that put you outside your comfort zone. You will have fun and unless your legs fall off there is no good reason why you shouldn’t. Stop worrying and get out there and do stuff while you’re still young and have all your teeth.

2. Don’t do anything for money or fame or critical acclaim. Do it all for yourself in 50 years’ time, so you’ll have cool stories to tell your grandchildren when you look back at your fabled life.

3. Be brave and take risks. If you fall madly love with a tall dark handsome stranger and he asks you to move to the wilderness with him, do it. It might suck immeasurably, but it will be worth it. You will come home stronger.

4. Take this strength and apply it to positive things, like cycling to France, or building flat-packed furniture, or loving yourself, or running naked through the zoo.

5. Tell your friends and family you love them, frequently and with sincerity, in case you get hit by a car tomorrow.

6. If your boyfriend takes his phone to the toilet with him, he’s probably cheating on you. Or he has IBS.

7. If a friend or a loved one puts your down, criticises you, belittles you or tries to change you, be sympathetic and kind to them. They are probably miserable. Then block their phone number and walk away.

8. Approach eating, running, climbing, singing, dancing, love and sex with enthusiasm and you will never fail.

9. Wear your hair grips with the wriggly side up so your hair won’t get bent.

10. Never give up, but don’t be afraid to let go.

Until receiving a press release earlier this week extolling the virtues of the Runbell, a little brass bell you place upon your finger to urge pedestrians out of the way during your daily jaunt, I thought I was open-minded.

Pavement rage

As a freelance journalist who specialises in running and fitness, my inbox is inundated with all manner of curious new releases. From the latest nitric acid laced nutritional supplement promising a derrière like Kim Kardashian, to sixty-second six packs chiseled by laser beams bounced off Mars, the health and fitness industry knows no bounds. But surely using a tiny gong to push peasants off the pavements and into the gutter has not been de rigueur since the Edwardian era?

Assuming it was a hoax, I took to Twitter to giggle with my runner friends about the concept of dinging your way to a pedestrian-free pavement. Runbell has no less than 192 backers on its Kickstarter page willing to part with money for the realisation of a finger bell. God knows who they are; I have yet to meet a single runner who isn’t capable of stopping. Unlike cars or bicycles, human legs are equipped with an instinctive braking mechanism.

I thought no more about the miniature finger klaxon, until Runbell’s creator responded to my comedy Tweet. ‘Yelling is not polite, surprising people is not polite, warning them is polite, what’s wrong with a bell?’ he questioned me.

Then the US cavalry joined in and I started receiving Tweets from runners across the pond. Even the gear editor at Runner’s World US joined in the online debate and suggested punching pavement hogs in the head similar to Machuka’s sudden blow to Haille Gebressalie at the Junior World Championships in 1992.

I assumed all runners would agree, but much to my surprise, not everyone shared his sense of humour and Tweets for and against the Runbell came flooding in. It turns out there are people in the world who do actually believe a tiny gong is a perfectly civilised way to conduct oneself in public. One gentleman even accused me of implying something more sinister (of which I am still not quite sure).

There are so many reasons why utilising a miniature bell to get people to move out of your way is a really, really bad idea. If you tried to ding a fellow pedestrian off the pavement where I live, you’d swiftly meet with misadventure. I’d probably give a bell-ringing runner a swift right hook too if he tried to manoeuvre past me on his merry way, and I’m a pacifist.

I’m an avid runner and sometimes a nice pedestrian-free pathway appeals. But on those days I head for the hills, run around the park or find a nice quiet street on which to stretch my legs. The rest of the time I simply stop, slow down, or run around the offending human. You’d have to have a major superiority complex if you thought you were more deserving of road space than everyone else.

The only area of London one would struggle to find a single patch of running space is zone zero, and no runner in their right mind would circumnavigate Piccadilly Circus during the day anyway. Although frankly if anyone were self-righteous enough to assume their sporting endeavour took precedence and required a clear pavement, they probably deserve to be mowed down by a herd of aimless tourists.

As a runner, I like to tow the racing line, but on these gritty city streets it’s not illegal to go totally wild and weave, or you know, stop and walk. I secretly savour traffic lights, as they provide the perfect opportunity to rest and take a selfie.

But what really gets my goat about the concept of clanging a bell to demand the crowds part like the red sea is the absence of human interaction. Are we really so self-absorbed with our smart phones, running gadgets and athletic prowess that we can’t smile, make eye contact and say, ‘excuse me’ while gently maneuvering our way along the high street? I love running, but I’m a human first and a runner second.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

When it comes to technology, runners are divided. Rhalou starts the debate.

As anyone with a Twitter account will attest, runners can be a bit like train spotters; we tend to be rather passionate about our sport of choice. While passion is arguably the ultimate secret weapon for any sporting endeavor, when it comes to running accessories, it can leave the field divided.

Some runners insist on hitting the road armed to the teeth with the latest technology to accurately map their route. While others, like me, prefer to run naked and free (in a gadget sense). But which is best?


The gadget corner: this not a Garmin advert

There are valid arguments for both naked and gadget running, but one thing is for sure. Every runner is vehement that their method is the best. In my bid to give the debate a fair airing, I posed the question to Twitter and was inundated with replies.

‘I always carry my Garmin, and use it for cycling as well.’ Says @AndyWaterman. ‘I like to know my heart rate – it stops me going too hard on easy days and tells me if I’m trying hard enough when I do more intense stuff. And when I go to new places, I can plan routes in advance and follow them really easily: I was in Spain recently and did some amazing solo trail runs – one had 900m of elevation in 11km! I would never have tried that without the security of knowing where I was and where I was going.’

@Rundembear agrees. ‘The one gadget I pretty much never go running without is my Garmin. It serves so many different functions for me. The training regimen I follow specifies almost all of my runs by time and effort, rather than by distance. Once I push the start button I just let the watch tell me what to stop and when to start up again. Which means that I can work on running all out, try not to look at the watch at all, and not worry that I will get the timing wrong.’

@accentis is dead set against naked running. ‘I just can’t run naked. I’ve tried. It’s naughty. I don’t feel liberated at all. Naked running is not for me. I NEED my Garmin to run.’

‘I’ve been known to cancel a run if my watch isn’t charged!’ says @Redazril. ‘I never run without it. Partly because I’ve set yearly goals and every run logged adds to that goal, and secondly I like to know how far I’ve run and how fast I’m running. The amount of information available with GPS watches is incredible. I honestly don’t think I’d enjoy running as much if I didn’t have a GPS watch.’

@josiearden is passionate about her technology. ‘I’m rubbish at pacing so it keeps me on the straight and narrow by always telling me what speed I’m running. Also it’s a watch. It doesn’t weigh you down, you don’t have to stop, remove it from your arm and press buttons before you can read it. It also IS an actual watch.’

‘I think my Garmin-love pretty much reflects my personality,’ says @SweatyCityGirl. ‘I’m a bit of a control freak, I like structure and I like numbers. A lot of my enjoyment of running comes from hitting goals and seeing measurable progression in my training.’

@Griffalo1977 credits gadgets with improving his running. ‘Being able to map, pace and understand my running transformed my times and training sessions. My PB for the marathon has improved by 38 minutes in just three years. If you want to improve then a GPS watch is a must.’

Running naked appeals to @MilkE73, but he’s still addicted to his watch. ‘I do like the idea of running totally pure – given I like to carry as little as possible – but I’m too scared to go out without my Garmin. How would I know how fast or slow I’m going?! I’d probably end up running too fast; and how would I know when it’s time to go home?’

The naked corner: Hippies do it better

My Twitter friends made some good points. But as a free-spirited runner, I prefer to run naked without the added stress of a GPS or heart rate monitor putting me under unnecessary pressure. This hasn’t always been the case though; my quest for nudity is largely down to my recent running renaissance.

Like many runners, upon first discovering the joys of running, I quickly stepped up from a 5K to a marathon in under a year. As I started to progress, speed became the central focus, and the best way to get faster is to get with the digital programme. But as I got faster and trained harder, I became entirely disillusioned with the spirit of running and stopped enjoying myself.

When I look back at my running journey, the races I recall most fondly were spent high-fiving kids and dancing to the crowds without casting a single glance at my watch. At my peak, my glorious sub-2 half marathon PB moment was 1 hour and 59 minutes of misery with projectile vomit at the end. After inevitably injuring myself, I realised something had to change.

Post injury, as part of my reintroduction back into my favourite sport, I eBayed all my watches and spent six months skipping happily around the park at my own pace. As a naked runner, I tend to run as fast as the person I’m with, or as slow as the wind. I have absolutely no way of officially gauging how fast I run, and I don’t give a rat’s arse.

As I prepare to embark on racing after taking time out, invariably pacing has reared its speedy head. Determined to do it the right way this time, instead of buying a watch, I studied Chi-Running and invested in a pair of minimalist running shoes. This may sound like hippy hogwash, but Chi-Running has taught me how to self-regulate. I can work out roughly how far or how fast I’m going if I listen to the most important technology there is on offer, my own body. But ultimately, what’s the most important part of running anyway, clocking a good time or having a good time? I know which one I prefer.

Gadget fanatic @rundembear perhaps puts it best of all. ‘If it is the right gadget for you, it really can help support your training goals and assist you in becoming a better runner. But the gadget can also get in your way. Make sure that the technology is working for you, and that you are not working for the technology.’

Gadget or naked running, which do you prefer? Send us a tweet @findarace

I wrote this piece for visit the original here!


There’s been a lot of talk on Twitter lately about Page 3. I’ve seen various posts by (articulate and very lovely) women, many of whom are good friends of mine, campaigning for the removal of Page 3 from The Sun newspaper, on the grounds that it objectifies women. They’ve made some very good points, and I can see why many people find the ‘national institution’ of nubile naked girl boobies on show in our newspapers to be offensive and outdated. But despite being a feminist, I disagree.

I agree that the way women are portrayed in the media is flawed. But inspired by Stephen Gough, the naked rambler who spent the best part of the past eight years in solitary confinement because he likes to swing in the wind, rather than banish naked breasts from the press altogether, I’d like to propose an alternate universe to Page 3. Get your kit off and put the kettle on, this may take a while…

Ultraboy has given you permission to view my naked bum, but only in comic form

I’m a university educated 33-year-old woman from East Anglia living with my partner in Scotland in a monogamous heterosexual relationship, and I love looking at pictures of naked tits. And vaginas, and penises, and bottoms. I just love naked people. I love being naked, I like looking at people who are naked, and I like the idea of being naked. I think everyone should spend more time with their kit off appreciating the fascinating human form in all its gorgeous glory.

I enjoy looking at naked bodies of all shapes and sizes, because it turns me on. But I also like looking at naked bodies because I’m fascinated by human beings. I like big people, little people, athletic people, hairy people, tattooed people, anatomically precise people, and every different variety of naked people on the planet. Not because I’m a sexual predator. The naked person I like looking at best of all is my lovely boyfriend Ultraboy (sigh). I don’t get off on viewing bare flesh because I want to hump everyone in sight. I have those needs well attended to at home. I’m a voyeur because I’m interested in human beings, the world, and what lies beneath all that Lycra.

I’ve always been this way. Perhaps it’s something to do with my liberal upbringing. As long as I can remember, I’ve been taking my clothes off and encouraging everyone else to do the same. As a child, you could always locate me by the trail of garments I’d hastily removed in my bid to achieve a more freeing state of attire.

Aged 16, I realised I could cash-in on my nudist attitude and started life modelling. Between the ages of 16 and 20, I modelled nude for all the local art colleges in Cambridge, and made an absolute killing. Probably because I was the only person under 30 willing to get my kit off. I imagine 16-year-old naked flesh was a novelty for the artists.

There are probably thousands of naked paintings, drawings, photographs and even the odd bronze statue of my naked arse floating around the world. It was never in any way sexual. It was all about art. It made me feel sexy, but I didn’t lie about with my legs splayed. I mostly lounged artistically, pretending to be from the Renaissance period, and occasionally tried to emulate a cherub.

I even modelled for my own art college, albeit at night so my fellow students didn’t have to see my vagina. Although a boy I had a crush on did once walk in unexpectedly when I was standing starkers on a table modelling for a night class (the classic ‘naked in school’ nightmare come to life). I went bright red from my nose down to my toes, but he painted such a beautiful picture of me, that I soon forgot to feel embarrassed and went home feeling slightly smug.

I’ve got a lot to thank my naked ass for. When I went to university, I paid for most of my studies by life modelling for the local art school. I basically got to sleep naked on a bed for a few hours a week for twice the wage I’d earn anywhere else. Sometimes I went straight to work having not been to bed at all, and slept off my hangover in front of strangers for cash. (Lord knows how those pictures came out).

Naked people: brilliant

It was never about ego. At 5 foot 3 with a naturally curvy frame, I’m not without my hang-ups. I’d love to tone up a bit and lose a few inches. I’m also a natural redhead, so I’m as white as milk and glow in the dark. But take a short, freckled, awkward girl out of her clothes and drape her on a chaise longue, and I suddenly feel like a goddess. It’s one of the few occasions in life when I am completely at peace. I was built for nudity. I suspect I was a rich Grecian layabout in a previous life.

In my late twenties my thirst for nudity led me to an even more questionable career, editing adult magazines for a living. Not Razzle (I’m not sure if it has any words to edit) but Penthouse Forum magazine. Think literary filth. (Alistair Campbell used to write for them). Again, this wasn’t through a sense of perversion, but absolute fascination. I was genuinely interested in pornography, erotica and naked flesh. I confess, I also thought it was a little bit hilariously funny. I have a really dark sense of humour inherited from my eccentric family and I find humour in the perverse and the macabre, which does on occasion get me into a bit of trouble. But if you can’t laugh your arse off at everything, what’s the bloody point?

And laugh my arse off I did. During my Penthouse Forum days I visited porn shoots, interrogated adult babies, crept into the odd dominatrix dungeon and even interviewed Buck Angel, the infamous female-to-male transsexual porn star with a huge ginger mangina (the sweetest man I’ve ever met).

These days I’ve toned it down a bit and prefer to write about running and fitness, while saving my nudity for the back garden (aside from the odd rambler, there is no one in the Scottish wilderness to see what I get up to). But while I spend more time with my clothes on these days (it is a bit cold up here) my move into fitness journalism was no mistake. There’s something decidedly sexy about people in tight Lycra, and the healthy, happy attitude of runners and fitness fanatics definitely lends itself well to my naked hippy mindset. I like being around people who are pleased with their own bodies. It makes me feel good.

Anyhoo before I start penning my memoirs, there is a point to my pro-nudist ramblings. I really don’t think we should do away with Page 3. Admittedly their captions need work; it’s a bit off to insinuate the pretty naked girl of the day would never get a chance to be a physicist if she applied herself. But otherwise, I would like to campaign for the complete opposite. I’d like to see MORE Page 3. But I’d also like to see Pages 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Why must we hide our vaginas away all the time? Are they really so threatening? Will you get lost up there, swallowed whole by the great lady garden devil woman in the sky? And what’s the big deal about tits? Is the subconscious fear of being eternally dependent on your mother’s breast milk so all-consuming that you must continue to both venerate and condemn those milky bags of flesh for time immemorial? In my alternate universe, in celebration of the female form, let’s give every damn page of every newspaper a naked woman, vagina and all! Let’s fill the world with bare naked ladies of all shapes and sizes and accept that we are all nude under our clothes. Boobs and bums are not scary, or intimidating, or otherworldly. We all have them, and they’re brilliant.

But let’s not stop there. To even out the playing field I want to see naked men too. Lots of them. I want juicy buttocks, bare naked abs, exposed chests and even a bit of cock please. Hell, let’s swing some balls out too (starting with Alcide the hunky werewolf from True Blood). Why not? It’s only fair. We’re all so bloody repressed. If everyone was naked a bit more of the time, then perhaps we’d all be a bit less obsessive about it and get on with the important things in life, like reading good books and running marathons.

Nudity is wonderful. Naked people are beautiful and sexy and interesting and should be celebrated, not clothed, hidden away and sneered at. Stephen Gough the naked rambler, I salute you! I’m off to dance naked in the field with the chickens (again. Yes that naked bum at the top of this blog really does belong to me).