Jack Huntley is a self-described ‘aimless and nomadic millennial’, passionate about running, cycling and healthy living; particularly long distances, ‘the bumpier the better’. He’s a mountain runner and adventurer, he’s cycled from the UK to Portugal, he loves long-distance running and has been an exercise-advocate since his early teens.
Here, Jack shares his thoughts on why he loves exercise, his tips for getting started, his best running and cycling experiences and what motives him.
Hi Jack, thanks for joining us. First things first, tell us about yourself.
Hello Vivi Nation! I’m Jack. My twenties have been entirely devoted to travelling as much as possible, prioritising healthy adventures over a healthy bank account, and making sure my passport is adequately battered. I’m 29 now, and pretty optimistic that my 30’s will be just as active and directionless as my nomadic twenties. I’ll settle down at 40. Maybe.
When did you find your love of exercise and sport?
Since I was a kid, I’ve played loads of sport. I’ve always loved basketball, running, and cycling. I just can’t remember a time when I wasn’t regularly sweating profusely.
Why do you love to exercise so much? What are the main benefits to you?
I’ve had some injuries in recent years, and I guess the benefits of exercise are pretty obvious for me personally when I can’t do it. I get restless, frustrated, and less motivated. Less happy basically! Exercise keeps me physically healthy, which is important, but when I can’t run around in some form or another I become a different person. The mental benefits are at least as important as the physical ones for me.
What would you say is the number one best thing about running/cycling, and the most challenging thing?
The best thing is the simplicity of it, especially with running. You can run anywhere, at any time. It will always be there as a bit of therapy, in a city or in the middle of nowhere. It’s pretty difficult for me to have a “bad” run unless I get injured. On the other side of the coin, the most challenging thing is dealing with injuries. The simplicity and accessibility of running means that I come to rely on it as a routine release. So when I can’t physically do that, usually as a result of my glass back, it’s pretty annoying!
Do you have any tips for anyone looking to get started, but not sure where to begin?
Maybe not to overthink it. Just start. However short or infrequent or seemingly insignificant. When you’re creating a brand new habit, it’s more of a mental challenge than a physical one, more about the brain than your legs. Every time you decide to run or cycle or walk, and actually do it, is a successful mental rep in building that habit. The legs will come later.
What motivates and inspires you? Or what keeps you going when it gets tough?
The challenge mostly. I rarely run or cycle in races, but when I’m tired and it’s difficult and I’m on a never-ending incline of pure pain, I enjoy the fact that I can choose to carry on, unless my legs fall off or I pass out. It will be a choice to stop, which I suppose is a kind of freedom that becomes addictive. Or, alternatively, I just stop and find some caffeine. Caffeine always works.
As a regular runner, fitness enthusiast and long-distance cyclist, what has been your best fitness experience?
I have two. First, I did a cycling tour with my brother from England to the bottom of Portugal a few years back. It’s the longest tour I’ve ever done and was absolutely fantastic (we followed a lot of the Eurovelo 1 route). The hospitality of the people, beautiful places, and the shared leg-pain still make me smile. The second experience was running (crawling as quick as possible) up and down Snowdon earlier this year. A day running in the mountains is pretty tough to beat.
Cheers Jack. Look forward to hearing from you again soon!