Laura Bailey's other passion: running

I've always loved running. I've been doing it ever since I was a schoolgirl.

My life was dictated by my athletics when I was a child. I ran the 800m and cross-country for club and county. As an adult, I really enjoying running for pure pleasure. All the pressure is off: if I want to walk, I walk; if I want to sprint, I sprint.

I'm more time-challenged these days, and there are no rules in my life. Recently, on holiday in Cornwall, I ran every day. It was great to explore the fields and cliffs. In London, I try to run once or twice a week, for three to five miles.

I climbed Kilimanjaro in February, and in the build-up to that I tried to run up a few more hills than usual. But in the end I don't think it was about fitness - it was about mental endurance and coping with the altitude. It felt amazing afterwards, but maybe not so amazing at the time!

I've never run a marathon. I've been tempted, but obviously not tempted enough. I had a bad back through my two pregnancies and I was advised against running a marathon in the future, but I still haven't ruled it out altogether.

My everyday life with the kids is very active. I bike everywhere and do a bit of Pilates, but I'm not an exercise fanatic.

I try to choose foods that make me as healthy and energetic as possible. I'm a strict vegetarian but I eat everything else, and I like a glass of wine. I'm certainly not preachy or perfect!

I've been lucky in that I've never had a serious injury that has stopped me running.

The best thing about running is the space and meditation in nature it allows. The runner leaves everything behind, for better or worse. To me, exercise is not a chore, it's a treat, especially now that I have children. Running in the park gives me useful thinking time - and non-BlackBerry time. I don't take that for granted any more.

I've always run alone. Running isn't a sociable thing for me.

I take more care when I'm running at night, but I'm more of a morning runner anyway.

I've always wanted running gadgets to measure how far and fast I've gone, but it's a miracle if I've even remembered to charge my iPod. I do it the old-fashioned way instead - by miles and how tired I am.

I love listening to music while I run, but I'm unbelievably indiscriminate. I just put the iPod on shuffle. Often it won't even be my iPod, I'll have borrowed my boyfriend's.

My running kit is Adidas by Stella [McCartney]. It's chic but practical; I love it. I've always worn Asics trainers. They're great for running.

I've always travelled for work, and it's comforting on my first day in a strange place to go out for a run and explore. I like not knowing where I'm going: just me and my trainers.

I've been running in some annoyingly glamorous locations, such as beaches in the Seychelles and the Maldives. But I don't run for the glamour! I don't mind running in the wind and rain.

I'd really like to do some more running in Africa. I'm travelling to Burkina Faso in November, and I'll definitely pack my trainers. After all, many of today's great distance runners come from Africa.

At school I was obsessed with Steve Cram, Steve Ovett and Seb Coe. I also worshipped Daley Thompson, who I later got to know through us both working for Barnado's. I love him, so sometimes it's good to meet your heroes.

If you want to get into running, take all the pressure off yourself. Just go for a short jog around the block. Build up really slowly, and make it fun, whether that means buying yourself a nice pair of trainers or putting some new music on your iPod.

I'm really against the idea of exercise as guilt. If running's really not your thing, find something else. Having said that, I have friends who could never understand why I ran, who suddenly took it up themselves in their 30s. So running really can be for everyone.

• Laura Bailey is supporting Velvet tissue's Campaign for Trees. For every tree used, Velvet grows three more. Vote now at to nominate an area near you to receive some trees through the charity Trees for Cities.

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