Hinterland: Chris Evans MP
This article is from the March issue of Total Politics
When I was first elected, a former MP told me that the most important thing a parliamentarian can do is to find space and time to think. At the time, I found that statement strange. However, having been here for 18 months and having my entire life mapped out for me by my diary, I realise how wise that statement was. I am invited to so many seminars, roundtable discussions and committees that it’s difficult actually to think through the issues in hand.
The introduction into our daily lives of iPhones, iPads and social networking sites makes it impossible ever to be more than a fingertip away from the latest news bulletin or the temptation to check emails.
So, my regular morning run has become my number one form of relaxation. I am alone with my thoughts, and if I have a problem that’s been playing on my mind I usually come up with the solution while out running.
The wonderful thing about running is that you can do it anywhere, and it costs next to nothing. Wherever I go, I pack a pair of trainers so that not only do I never miss a day, but I also have the opportunity to explore my surroundings. When I was first elected and arrived in London fresh from the south Wales valleys, going out for a run helped me explore my new surroundings and find my bearings.
I’m often asked how I manage to fit running into my parliamentary schedule. My answer is simple: whatever time my first meeting of the day is, I set my alarm that little bit earlier.
It’s a strange feeling, running past a deserted Westminster Bridge at 6am, knowing that in little over an hour it will be filled with the hustle and bustle of people on their way to work.
As much as I enjoy running around the Royal Parks or along the Embankment, there is still not better place to run than back home in Wales. In Islwyn, we’re lucky that we have Cwmcarn Scenic Forest Drive, which provides a challenging but enjoyable running route. Even if you’re not a runner, it is still worth a visit, with beautiful views that rival anywhere in the country.
While I do not profess to be an athlete of any note, for years I kept my love of running quiet. However, this November I took the plunge and entered a seven-mile run in aid of the Royal British Legion in my constituency, along with my parliamentary assistant, Dave. After finishing the course in under an hour, I had wished I’d done something like that sooner.
Bolstered by the confidence that run gave me, I intend to enter a few more half-marathons in the hope that eventually I can have a go at the London Marathon. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my daily running, and that’s my message to anyone else thinking of having go – enjoy it!
Chris Evans is the Labour and Co-operative MP for Islwyn