This morning I got up put my running shoes on set my Apple watch and hit the streets in the murky dawn light. But this morning it was different, as I ran around my neighbourhood the route I’d run hundreds of times I began thinking about a Book I’d just finished the night before. A H Reed’s autobiography. This book I'd found hidden in the back of a dusty shelf in a secondhand bookshop in Sydney a few weeks before. It wasn't until I started reading it back in New Zealand that realised how lucky I was to have found it.

Alf Reed and his wonderful life

A.H. (Alfred Hamish) Reed was born in 1875 and arrived in New Zealand from England with his family when he was 12. He worked in the gum fields in the North Island and in his spare time taught himself shorthand. He eventually started the publishing business A.H. & A.W. Reed with his nephew Clif in 1907, it still exists as one New Zealand’s most successful publishers under the name Raupo Publishing (NZ). He published his first book aged 60 and wrote over 72 published works, many books about his walking marathons around both islands. He wrote this autobiography aged 91, he was described as still brimful of energy and vitality. He was a mountain-climber and long distance walker, at times walking up to 15 miles a day.

He died at 100 years.

We don’t need to be told how to live our lives

Alf didn’t own expensive Nikes, he didn’t follow his progress with an Apple watch beeping its approval every km, he just walked. His fitness came from his lifestyle, he worked in his garden, he moved constantly. No sitting on the couch watching TV stuffing snacks into his gob.

It’s got so bad the only way we know to get fit is to go to the gym and be instructed by our personal trainers how to make our bodies work again. Ironically, in a time when there is so much information about diet and wellness we need to be told how to eat, how to live. People are writing blogs telling us how to live a fulfilling life causing us to stress over our ‘wellness quota’.

For me I’m almost there, like Alf I don’t drink alcohol or smoke, I don’t eat meat or sugar, I mainly eat raw food. “Exercise, and simple wholesome food, are, I think, two important factors in a healthy life,” Alf wrote. He’s right, it’s as simple as that.

By the time I’d finished my run I’d decided I needed to live like Alf, I will walk more and work hard in my garden, I will move more in my daily life. The running shoes have been put in the cupboard and the fancy beeping watch back in its box. I’m going for a walk, I may be some time.