We have so much love for our happystride community ❤️ You guys are so inspiring and we want to get to know you guys a little better... and we know others would like to as well.
SO we bring you to.... our brand new blog series ... "Inspiring striding"!!!
We are so chuffed that John Harris agreed to be our first guest - you may have seen us repost his pics on our Instagram as he is a big happystride fan and hugely supportive of our brand, having recently completed a monster challenge kitted head to toe in happystride, which you can read about below. But more than that, having met him IN REAL LIFE at the National Running Show in Birmingham this year, he's a genuinely GREAT guy and we couldn't believe it when we learned he has only been running 4 years!
But without giving anything else away... thank you for joining us John and over to you!
How long have you been running for and how did you originally get into it?
I've only been running 'properly' for about 4 years. I've always played the stop start sports of the world, hockey, cricket etc, but then my wife joined our local running club, and I almost immediately got FOMO...so I joined too! And it spiralled from there really. I did a marathon, then almost fell accidentally into my first Ultra, entirely the fault of my friend Hannah, and then I was hooked. To date, I've ran 9 Marathons and 9 Ultramarathons.
What’s your greatest running achievement?
I recently completed the 250Km Ultra X Sri Lanka race, which unfortunately, I started with an injury, and finished with a few more! But, battling for 5 days, in near 400C heat, with up to 100% humidity... is without doubt my greatest running achievement...so far. I cannot describe how good getting that finishing medal felt. The lows were really low, but by the beard of Zeus the highs are much higher! I loved every single second.
What are your top 3 running tips?
I can only answer this now, because I've learned the hard way!
1 - Hydrate well. There is absolutely no point in working your socks off for months before a race, and failing because of something you could have done better. Control the controllable.
2 - Look up. This is particularly pertinent in trail running, but in all running, don't forget to LOOK UP! Running can be tough at the best of times, so you may as well appreciate what you're running through, across, up or down!
3 - Wear bright clothes. Why wouldn't you? My wife came to watch an Ultra, and asked some runners ahead of me if they had seen me out on the course. She mentioned that I was dressed like a packet of Opal Fruits, and sure enough, they were able to offer an update on my whereabouts! Bright is right!
What’s your favourite running shoe and why?
What a question! For speed, it has to be the Vaporfly's, or whatever bonkers carbon nonsense Nike bring out next. I think they are a step ahead of the other brands when it comes to the carbon technology, most likely because they got there first. (And their budget is enormous!) For Long Slow runs I rely on Asics Gel Nimbus 24. They're light, and it's like you're running on pillows. For the trails, I'm actually a little indifferent. I've tried a multitude of shoes, and never fallen in love with a pair yet. I like a 9 or 10mm drop, even on the trails. On Cloud Ultra are good, but a little on the heavy side. Maybe happystride should make a pair?!
What does your running schedule typically look like and how do you fit it into your life?
I try and run 5 times a week, and fit in at least 1, sometimes 2 strength sessions. I travel a lot with my job, so I've got to be quite flexible about when I can train, but thankfully I quite enjoy a 4 or 5am start, so I'm often done before work. I prefer to train early because of the 'what if'. What if something happens at work, or a social offer turns up. I'd then be annoyed at myself for missing a session. So, I like to get up, get it done, and bask in my smug glory for the rest of the day! The travel also means I am lucky enough to run in a lot of different places, so my 'Look Up' advice from earlier, I have to remember to take my own.
What’s your dream race?
These are not easy questions! Wow, ok, there's a couple. One I'd love to do is the Mongol 100, a 100-mile race across a frozen lake in Mongolia, where it would regularly get to -20! It looks absolutely breath-taking. The other is Ultra X Mexico. Load of vert, views that look like a painting, and to run with the Tarahumara is something that dreams are made of. And of course, Spine Race (this may be in the pipeline already 😉)
Who are your running inspirations and why?
Can I have 3? I'm having 3!
First up, Carla Molinaro. She's a ridiculously talented athlete, I love her attitude, and her Instagram is amusingly honest. When things go wrong, she fronts up, and I love that. She's a good friend and very inspiring.
Second up, my mate John Stocker. I was at his Backyard in 2021, and will be there again in 2022. He's about the kindest, most humble bloke I've ever met, and arguably one of the best endurance athletes on the planet. As John says, One More Lap.
Save the best till last, my wife. She's had years of health problems, heartbreak and frustration. But with iron clad stoicism, she gets up and gets on with it, every single day. What's more inspiring than that?
Honourable mention to my good pal Lee Mahon. Never have I seen a man enjoy a solo self-supported 100 miler more than he!
What’s your favourite happystride pattern and why?
Golly. My first ever pair were Get Spotted Saucy, and I love them, but I think my favourite has to be my newest, Wiggle & Wave. They're just beautifully bonkers, and a lot of fun! I'll also be wearing them for my next big challenge. Like I said earlier, bright is right, and as with the mantra of "If it's not on Strava, it didn't happen"... "If you don't look ridiculous, what's the point in doing it?" Quote: John Harris 2022!
If you could design the next pair of happystride shorts, what pattern would you choose and why?
Wow! It's has to be pink themed, obviously. Something striking, and most importantly, a bit weird. I think a pink paisley matching shorts and top would be simply magnificent. You could call it 'Pretty in Paisley'... unless I've trademarked it first.
What’s your next running challenge?
Now this is a biggy. On July 28-31 this year. I'm running the 359Km from London to Liverpool, in one hit. I'm doing this to raise money and awareness for Endometriosis UK, which is the debilitating disease my wife has suffered from for 10 years. It was 354Km, but we've found a Park Run at Cannock Chase on the way and decided to add that in! I'm very lucky to have a very supportive group of family and friends who will crew the run, and we would love if people fancied joining for a few miles. Here is a link to the event website: London to Liverpool (webnode.co.uk) where you can sign up and learn about the 'why'. And it would be remiss of me not to include the fundraising link, if anyone is able to spare a few pennies to help with much needed research into this horrible illness, thank you from the bottom of my heart. John Harris is fundraising for Endometriosis UK (justgiving.com)
Huge thanks to John for getting involved with the first post in our blog series 'Inspiring Striding" - some really inspiring stuff in there - he has certainly taken on some super, super challenges, with the biggest still to come.
Stay tuned for another post coming soon.
Pete & Sam x