By the time he’s broadcasting to 10 million people on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show, Vassos Alexander has often clocked up a run or ride. He’s an endurance sport and ultra running enthusiast who’s daringly committed himself to the Dragon’s Back Race across Wales in 2017.Here’s what he had to say to us on all things running…


[01] I did run with music, and I go through waves of running with it and without it. Now I am very much in the wave of not running with music and I’m not missing it at all. I did have a playlist of songs that mention running, and I also have a playlist of just happy songs, like Walking on Sunshine. At the moment I’m really enjoying the fact that there isn’t any music.

[02] Running outdoors, especially off-road, and curious as it may seem in bad weather, truly seems to heal the soul. Whenever I go for a run, I run for as long as I can. If I have two hours free I’ll fill those with running. I’ll usually run for as long as I have free time.

[03] Last week we were in a picture postcard village in the Peak District, and out of my front door and up a hill suddenly all of central England, under beautiful blue skies, unfolded before me. You’re out of breath, but you just love it… suddenly I fell completely head over heels in love with running again, as if for the first time. I have that when it comes to fell running, trail running and ultra running.Vassos Alexander

[04] I’m a little besotted with my running lists, so much so that I’ve made a note of every run I’ve ever done. I usually put a little comment by each one; this morning’s was “51 minutes, easy”. It’s ridiculous and I don’t look through it, but it’s something I do. I don’t measure my runs by distance. I just time them. I started doing it when I started my first ever marathon training log and I just kept going. It’s quite calming, soothing.

[05] I’m not an especially quick runner. Neither am I particularly elegant. And despite the fact that I like to think I’m enjoying myself, it turns out I don’t smile much when I run. So I’m slow, ungainly and grumpy. But I do pride myself on one thing, which is this: if the question is “Can you keep going?” my answer, every time and without fail, is a resounding yes.

[06] Ultra running is like buying expensive speakers, a runner said to me during the Race to the Stones. At low volume you can’t tell the difference. So if you want to find out about yourself, really see what you’re made of, you need it noisy. A short race is too quiet. But 100kms is loud.

[07] The best analogy about ultrarunning? Ultra marathons are like kids’ parties. There’s chocolate, cake, crisps, squash – and lots of silly running around. I have been well and truly bitten by the ultra-running bug, especially off-road. I don’t want to imagine a year without doing something cool like that. And it’s challenging yourself, which is wonderful. I have a 100-miler coming up, the South Downs Way 100, and I cannot wait.

[08] I did have a bells and whistles Garmin and I went through a period, just after I got hooked on running, when I got all the gear and I found myself wondering around outside trying to get away from buildings waiting for a satellite signal. And then I’d be out on a run and looking at the screen, and it would say, for example, 8-minute miles and so I’d speed up a bit, despite the fact that I might be running into a howling headwind or feeling ill. I remember beating myself up for not going quick enough, and it all became a little bit too stressful. I run best when I’m just running for the fun of it and for the sake of it. It’s not like I don’t like having aims and aspirations because that is part of running, but for my general jogging runs, and that’s the overwhelming majority of them, I’d much rather run for the sake of running, rather than having this watch constantly telling me that I’m not going fast enough. I love the pure simplicity of running – the fact that I can just get a pair of shoes on and go for half an hour, an hour, two hours, four hours whatever, and I don’t want it to be stressful.

RELATED: This year Vassos will be taking on the Dragon’s Back Race. Click here to read our writer’s account of the grueling race

[09] Maybe I’ll never get good at tapering. I always run too much – I’m not good at resting. I had been looking to run under 2:50 in a marathon in Kent. I had been training so well, and then on the Wednesday before a Saturday race I went on to the treadmill to do a steady 5km at 15kmh, just a 20-minute easy run, but I ended up putting the incline up to 3.5% and then keeping that pace up for a whole hour. It was great, a good workout, but then the next day and the day after my calves were aching, and so no wonder when I got to marathon day I blew up. Because my legs felt a bit epic, I went and ruined it all on a treadmill… and I ran on a treadmill so I wouldn’t get over-excited!

[10] The Strava thing is stressful, cycling to work and having to beat your time is fine and I’ve done that a lot, but it doesn’t make for a nice relaxing ride. You see the Strava cyclists and they are constantly racing me up Notting Hill. I’m not too shabby on a bike, I can overtake most London commuters but they don’t like being overtaken by someone in jeans on a clicking utility bike, and so they end up racing me. Sometimes I let them go if I’m feeling nice, but if I’m not or if they’ve done anything remotely to annoy me, like going through a red light, then I end up racing and I get to work in a pile of lactate and sweat and I haven’t really had an enjoyable cycle in.

Don’t Stop Me Now: 26.2 tales of a Runner’s Obsession, by Vassos Alexander is out now. £12.99, bloomsbury.com