A former banker, Butter is now a full-time runner, making a living through sponsorships and speaking tours. He didn’t hate his old job, he says; he just prefers this one. “Don’t get me wrong. It has the days when you’re running in torrential rain, snow or hail with lorries whizzing past your head. That’s not very fun. But then there are days like today, when there’s blue sky and I’m running next to nice canals. It’s pretty good.”
Butter’s account of his long journey, Running the World, is published next week. Readers will find not only the bumps Butter encountered on the road, but the moments of serenity and insight he found along the way. Running in the Himalayas, he writes, was one of the most spiritual experiences of his life – nearly 10,000ft above sea level with nothing for company but bright white butterflies and the mountain forests.
That experience, he says, reminded him of the awesome good fortune of being alive, and it’s this line of thought that propels him through his toughest runs. “I’m very lucky,” he says. “I’ve run through the countries with the most horrible health indexes, so I think about the fact that I’m very privileged to be able to do it. I often smile to myself and think: ‘Wow, this is a good place to be.’ ”
This technique, he says, could serve any runner, from couch-to-5k amateurs to the most gnarled ultra-runners. Another technique that Butter shares is this: “Don’t think about what you’re doing. Easier said than done! But put an audiobook on. I’ve got through 20 in these last 30 days. You just put an audiobook in your ears, and all of a sudden, whether it’s an autobiography or a piece of fiction, you’re just transported into that world.” Music, he says, can get repetitive, but listening to the spoken word can allow you to use your time on the hoof to learn something new. Butter developed a particularly laudable habit in his trip round the world: listening to a news bulletin in the language of whichever country he was running through. “Whether it be French or Portuguese or something like that, I pick up bits of it through the news programmes.”