Meet the runners: Mark Vines

Gorky parkrun

LPO horn player Mark Vines (back row, in blue) took up running a year ago and is now joining Team LPO to compete in the Vitality British 10K London Run in aid of our Brightsparks schools concerts. Find out about his running journey to date and his hints and tips if you're thinking of getting your trainers on.

To find out more about the run and to donate, visit Team LPO's Virgin Money Giving page.

Why are you taking part in the 10K?

I took up running just over a year ago as I had a lot of weight to lose. One of the reasons for choosing running above any other sport (aside from my complete lack of hand-eye coordination) is the relative ease of combining it with the busy LPO schedule. There are quite a few runners in the orchestra, and it is a common sight to see them running in lunch breaks, on tour, and on the hills in the long interval at Glyndebourne. My first target was a 5k parkrun; having done that, 10k was the next logical step, and it is now my favourite distance to race. So when the opportunity came up to join an LPO team and run 10k around the streets of London, it just seemed that all these elements of my daily running had come together, so I jumped at the chance both to run in it and to help convince a few other musicians as well!

Have you had any experience of working on any of the LPO’s education programmes?

I frequently play in the LPO schools concerts, as well as getting involved in Foyle Future First performances which is the final step of the LPO education process. However, the most rewarding ones for me are the concerts in the Festival Hall for upwards of 2000 schoolchildren, who all go crazy when the orchestra comes on stage - it is a reaction that you simply can't get from any other age group, and it never fails to have an impact on me. This unbridled enthusiasm is something we must somehow harness and nurture; it is vital both for the cultural education of our children, and for the long term future of classical music performance. I don't know where the perception of classical music being stuffy and elitist comes from, but it's certainly never in evidence at these events.

How experienced a runner are you?

As I've said, I've been running for just over a year; but it has rapidly become a large and important part of my life. When I started I thought it was something I had to do, but now I do it because I enjoy it, and for the challenge of trying to get fitter and achieve new goals. I usually run about 5 times a week; I do Parkrun most weeks wherever and whenever the LPO schedule allows (recent venues include Southwark, Brighton and Gorky Park!). If I have a rare Saturday morning at home, I've started running it with my son. When at work, I can't keep up with the faster ones in the orchestra, but if I can still see their heels in the distance, and manage to finish while they're still sweating, then I'm happy!

Do you find that running has any particular advantages for you as a musician?

Life as an orchestral musician can be inherently unhealthy, with the long hours, travel and stress of the performances, along with late night eating, drinking and socialising after concerts, especially on tour. Running is a great way to counteract this, and I have found that my energy levels are higher, and I feel much more able to manage our heavy schedule without getting sick or run down. Hopefully in the long term it will enable me to prolong my career.

Do you have any tips for people who are considering taking up running?

Take it slow and steady - don't try to do too much too soon, as that can lead to injury or burnout. There is nothing more frustrating than being sidelined by an injury just when you're making fitness gains, as I discovered the hard way! There are great programs out there such as Couch to 5k and 5k to 10k, depending on your current fitness level. My main advice is, whatever process you choose, not to rush it - just like learning an instrument, patience is the key and you will reap the long term benefits.

Team LPO is taking part in the Vitality British 10K London Run on Sunday 10 July. To support the team, or find out more, visit their Virgin Money Giving page.