First Person

‘I’ve turned into the midlife running man – and no one is more surprised than me’

Former Loaded editor James Brown was the king of chaos in the Nineties, addicted to drink and drugs, but this year he discovered how to slow down to a healthier pace and reflect on what really matters

Sunday 31 December 2023 06:00
<p>James Brown near the ponds in his local north London park </p>

James Brown near the ponds in his local north London park

At the end of the summer this year, I started street running. I hadn’t done it regularly for years, but after a course of Ozempic weight loss jabs, I’d shed enough pounds (nearly two stone) to run again without damaging my knees. What I didn’t expect was how brilliant a season autumn is to run in the local parks. And as we slipped into deep winter, you can still find me running around the ponds in my local most days.

I particularly like being by the water. Someone told me that just 20 minutes spent by open water is good for your mind, and I find it calming. It makes me think about my mum when I run past it. The last thing she ever said to me was “Go for a walk by the river”, as if it was a solution to something I’d just said, only I hadn’t. Maybe it was a solution to what was coming. The next day she took her own life.

Although this happened when I was 26 – over 30 years ago – the memory of those final words is still fresh. I’d be devastated if I ever forgot what they sounded like, and while I now think about our last conversation with a deeper acceptance, rather than raw pain, I feel it’s important for me to keep going, to stay alive.

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