• 5 ways to rethink your work and downtime balance

an interview with british endurance athlete, speaker, author and fundraiser, nick butter

 

 

 

Nick Butter’s physical and mental strength knows no bounds. The British ultra runner has completed 196 marathons in 196 countries across the globe. Over 23 months, he covered an eye-watering 5,130 miles. Travelling through 3 countries a week, he confronted challenges like +59C heat and -25C cold, food poisoning and dog bites head-on. He even ran alongside 9 of our global presidents. 
 
 
Nick now resides in a campervan, travelling the world coaching, fundraising and delivering motivational keynotes and workshops in schools. Because of this shift to small-space living, he’s become a pro at work-life balance, finding comfort in making the most of what he already has. Something we may also be striving for as a result of the recent lockdown. 
 
 
We asked Nick 5 questions about his routines, rituals and pointers on how to set boundaries between work and downtime in our new world. 

 

 


 

 

QUESTION ONE: your work routine looks very different from the usual 9-5. can you tell us about a ‘normal’ working day for you? 

 

My usual working day starts with a 5.50am alarm. First I make a cup of green Mission tea. A friend of mine started the company to provide athletes with a nutritious drink that’s hot and energising, it gets you going in the morning. By that point, the dog is at the door ready for her run so I get myself together; I check the weather, make sure my GoPro is packed in my backpack, put on my watch, get dressed and go. 

 

 

I usually do about 10 miles in the morning between 6.30am and 8.30am but I get a longer run in during the afternoon or evening, without my dog this time. These runs can be anywhere between 15 - 30 miles, depending on my routine. Every 3 weeks, the cycle changes between a rest week, and endurance week and then a tempo week or spring week. This entails anything from hills to much lower mileage but a bit more intensity. That rotates and I increase every cycle by a few miles to grow my mileage ahead of the next journey. 

 

 

Although I don’t follow a 9 - 5 schedule, I do work between 10am - 3pm Sunday to Wednesday doing planning and logistics. One day I could be writing my book, the next talking to sponsors, or arranging routes and having team meetings. When I’m on a return year, I speak in various places, talking to school kids, doing interviews, podcasts, photoshoots, TV adverts. For the rest of the week though, so, Thursday - Sunday, it’s all about long-run days. 

 

 

 

 

QUESTION TWO: in the current climate, many of us are struggling to find space to work from home. as your home life has become van life, how do you set boundaries between work and downtime?

I have very clear working hours so I know when I should and shouldn’t be working. I try and approach it as if I’ve got a set allowance of holiday or time to change things. In terms of boundaries, the van is laid out in such a way that we have the bed at the back and the middle part as the study area and as the dining table. So we have a table that pulls out and we have all of our sockets and charging bits and pieces there. In only one or two steps we can get straight into the kitchen, so it’s a pretty simple way of living. I take it in turns with my girlfriend Nicki to work in the van or work from a cafe close by. We try and work independently most of the time.  

 

 

Nick with his girlfriend Nicki and dog Poppy

 

 

QUESTION THREE: is there anything you miss about having a permanent home?

 

I’d say anything I do miss is outweighed by all of the positives of the freedom of being in the van. There are some moments where we want things and we can’t have them because we don’t have the room. Things like surfboards and wetsuits - we’re just about to travel through Italy and there’s no surf so we don’t need to take them with us. But who knows, there may be a point where we wish we had them with us. 

  

 

  

 

QUESTION FOUR: we still can’t believe you ran a marathon in every country! that must have taken some recovery time. what’s your favourite way to unwind after a long run - do you have any rituals?

 

Unwinding is tricky after a long run as you’re still on a bit of an adrenaline buzz. I’m usually either quite productive or completely asleep. It really depends on my energy and how many miles I’ve managed. A long run for me constitutes 80, 80 + miles, sometimes 100. Then I’ll go straight to sleep. But after running a marathon, I get back, have a shower and get on with the day, there isn’t any real unwinding to be done. 

 

 

In terms of rituals, it’s all very practical stuff. I get my Garmin watch on charge, make sure my shoes are dry if they get wet, hang my clothes up and go through any other prep for the next day. That takes 10-15 minutes after I get back and that’s the run then finished in my mind. This enables me to get up the next day and do it again without any problem. 

 

 

 

 

QUESTION FIVE: lots of people have found a love of running during lockdown. What advice would you give someone looking to take their running to the next level? 

 

I give this very simple advice to lots of people - whether you are a newbie or otherwise if you set yourself a challenge to run every day for 30 days, for a minimum of a mile, it will steadily increase your capacity to run further. The act of getting your running gear on every day will become a habit, which is very good for your mind and also very good for everything else in your life; sleep, metabolism, relationships, thought processes, mindfulness. All these aspects of our lives come from having a routine; routine is key! 

  

 

 

 

FIVE QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS 

 

  1. Cat or dog? 
Dog
 
 
  1. Too hot or too cold? 
Definitely too hot
 
 
  1. The scariest situation you’ve been in? 
Being mugged at knife and gunpoint in the centre of Lagos market in Nigeria
 
 
  1. Favourite country to run a marathon in? 
Guatemala, running around the erupting volcano in Antigua
 
 
  1. Podcast or playlist? 
Podcast every time


Discover more about Nick’s van life and upcoming adventures via his Instagram or website.
 

5 ways to rethink your work and downtime balance

an interview with british endurance athlete, speaker, author and fundraiser, nick butter

 

 

 

Nick Butter’s physical and mental strength knows no bounds. The British ultra runner has completed 196 marathons in 196 countries across the globe. Over 23 months, he covered an eye-watering 5,130 miles. Travelling through 3 countries a week, he confronted challenges like +59C heat and -25C cold, food poisoning and dog bites head-on. He even ran alongside 9 of our global presidents. 
 
 
Nick now resides in a campervan, travelling the world coaching, fundraising and delivering motivational keynotes and workshops in schools. Because of this shift to small-space living, he’s become a pro at work-life balance, finding comfort in making the most of what he already has. Something we may also be striving for as a result of the recent lockdown. 
 
 
We asked Nick 5 questions about his routines, rituals and pointers on how to set boundaries between work and downtime in our new world. 

 

 


 

 

QUESTION ONE: your work routine looks very different from the usual 9-5. can you tell us about a ‘normal’ working day for you? 

 

My usual working day starts with a 5.50am alarm. First I make a cup of green Mission tea. A friend of mine started the company to provide athletes with a nutritious drink that’s hot and energising, it gets you going in the morning. By that point, the dog is at the door ready for her run so I get myself together; I check the weather, make sure my GoPro is packed in my backpack, put on my watch, get dressed and go. 

 

 

I usually do about 10 miles in the morning between 6.30am and 8.30am but I get a longer run in during the afternoon or evening, without my dog this time. These runs can be anywhere between 15 - 30 miles, depending on my routine. Every 3 weeks, the cycle changes between a rest week, and endurance week and then a tempo week or spring week. This entails anything from hills to much lower mileage but a bit more intensity. That rotates and I increase every cycle by a few miles to grow my mileage ahead of the next journey. 

 

 

Although I don’t follow a 9 - 5 schedule, I do work between 10am - 3pm Sunday to Wednesday doing planning and logistics. One day I could be writing my book, the next talking to sponsors, or arranging routes and having team meetings. When I’m on a return year, I speak in various places, talking to school kids, doing interviews, podcasts, photoshoots, TV adverts. For the rest of the week though, so, Thursday - Sunday, it’s all about long-run days. 

 

 

 

 

QUESTION TWO: in the current climate, many of us are struggling to find space to work from home. as your home life has become van life, how do you set boundaries between work and downtime?

I have very clear working hours so I know when I should and shouldn’t be working. I try and approach it as if I’ve got a set allowance of holiday or time to change things. In terms of boundaries, the van is laid out in such a way that we have the bed at the back and the middle part as the study area and as the dining table. So we have a table that pulls out and we have all of our sockets and charging bits and pieces there. In only one or two steps we can get straight into the kitchen, so it’s a pretty simple way of living. I take it in turns with my girlfriend Nicki to work in the van or work from a cafe close by. We try and work independently most of the time.  

 

 

Nick with his girlfriend Nicki and dog Poppy

 

 

QUESTION THREE: is there anything you miss about having a permanent home?

 

I’d say anything I do miss is outweighed by all of the positives of the freedom of being in the van. There are some moments where we want things and we can’t have them because we don’t have the room. Things like surfboards and wetsuits - we’re just about to travel through Italy and there’s no surf so we don’t need to take them with us. But who knows, there may be a point where we wish we had them with us. 

  

 

  

 

QUESTION FOUR: we still can’t believe you ran a marathon in every country! that must have taken some recovery time. what’s your favourite way to unwind after a long run - do you have any rituals?

 

Unwinding is tricky after a long run as you’re still on a bit of an adrenaline buzz. I’m usually either quite productive or completely asleep. It really depends on my energy and how many miles I’ve managed. A long run for me constitutes 80, 80 + miles, sometimes 100. Then I’ll go straight to sleep. But after running a marathon, I get back, have a shower and get on with the day, there isn’t any real unwinding to be done. 

 

 

In terms of rituals, it’s all very practical stuff. I get my Garmin watch on charge, make sure my shoes are dry if they get wet, hang my clothes up and go through any other prep for the next day. That takes 10-15 minutes after I get back and that’s the run then finished in my mind. This enables me to get up the next day and do it again without any problem. 

 

 

 

 

QUESTION FIVE: lots of people have found a love of running during lockdown. What advice would you give someone looking to take their running to the next level? 

 

I give this very simple advice to lots of people - whether you are a newbie or otherwise if you set yourself a challenge to run every day for 30 days, for a minimum of a mile, it will steadily increase your capacity to run further. The act of getting your running gear on every day will become a habit, which is very good for your mind and also very good for everything else in your life; sleep, metabolism, relationships, thought processes, mindfulness. All these aspects of our lives come from having a routine; routine is key! 

  

 

 

 

FIVE QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS 

 

  1. Cat or dog? 
Dog
 
 
  1. Too hot or too cold? 
Definitely too hot
 
 
  1. The scariest situation you’ve been in? 
Being mugged at knife and gunpoint in the centre of Lagos market in Nigeria
 
 
  1. Favourite country to run a marathon in? 
Guatemala, running around the erupting volcano in Antigua
 
 
  1. Podcast or playlist? 
Podcast every time


Discover more about Nick’s van life and upcoming adventures via his Instagram or website.
 
  • Author avatar
    Caroline Murray