Despite never really running before I chose to sign up for the Great North Run this September and so in February I began running three or four times a week to build up my mileage to complete the half marathon in seven months time.

Unexpectedly it has become one of the strongest cultural experiences of my year. Following a strict training plan forces you to go outside on days you'd rather be elsewhere, and the time spent running is time dedicated to reflecting on your day, ordering your thoughts.

Then there's the people you meet and scenes you experience.