Mike MJ Harris

2019 Retro


How was my 2019? Life is way more complex and wonderful than a set of five metrics but in tracking a few things I get a pretty good idea how my year has gone.

Year in numbers

Activity 2019 2018 2017 2016
Books Read 39 34 18 10
KM Run 2,472 1,642 1,083 1,145
KM Swam 50 116 125 123
Yoga Sessions 72 48 30 60
Blog Posts 8 14 7 5

Pretty good year overall - roughly same number of books read, loads more running and yoga but less swimming and fewer blog posts. More isn't always a good thing - that amount of jogging seems a bit obsessive - was it a healthy amount or was I running away from problems? Here's how I interpreted the numbers (with the advantage of knowing how life wrapped itself amongst these stats tempered by the fuzzy goggles of self awareness).

Running more doesn't necessarily mean a good year of running

This year I ran 50% more than the previous year which was in itself a record year. The main reason was signing up to my first ever ultra (106km round the Isle of Wight) with a couple of friends. Training consisted of lots of low intensity sessions which I fitted in by mainly running a few more legs of the commute. The benefit of this was that my social life wasn't particularly impacted.

The ultra went really well and have loved the trail running community. Big thanks to my parents who still run themselves and come and support me at events. Ran two more 50k ultras as well as using the London marathon as part of my training and racing in the Hackney half with techrunners. Over the summer I reduced my commitment with Techrunners - being the main person responsible for organising the weekly runs is quite tough over a long time and I needed a breather. Thanks to those who've helped out with making sure the runs still happen.

Next year I have a shorter commute so expect to do less running. Main aim is to run a London qualifying time at the Milton Keynes Marathon and then fit in a few trail runs.

Pic of running IOW with friends:
Pic of running IOW with friends


No Swim Trek holiday this year which translated into the least amount of swimming for a few years. Did manage to complete the Looe island swim in Cornwall - was a special event for me as it's where my Grandma lives and where we played in the sea as kids. Next year planning on the same one and looking at some other longer distance events.


After experimenting with yoga self practice a previous year I'm back in the swing of classes - mainly at Hot Pod Yoga in Hackney. Made sure I had time to do the yoga to balance the extra running.

This January I have a month off and am going to be completing my 200 hour yoga teacher training in Bali. Super excited as has been a goal of mine to do for a while now and luckily managed to organise time off between jobs to finally get to do it. Expect next years yoga numbers to be through the roof!

Book reading

Roughly the same number of books read as the previous year. Continued to ensure I read a balanced set of authors. This year number of books written by females was 26, males 12 and also (knowingly) read my first book by a non binary author. Highlights? So many but probably Kintu, Mrs Palfrey and the Claremont, Pulp, Beloved, Winter, Half a Yellow Sun and An American Lyric. Here's the full list of books I read this year.

Blogging and side projects

Fewer blog posts this year and a few minor side projects including adding features to this blog, finishing off the books project, setting up automated lighthouse analysis and tidying up and adding all the infrastructure config around my personal projects to GitHub.

The Art World

In last year's retro I outlined how working in the arts had a huge impact on me. This year has been even more pronounced as I've tried to make the most of the opportunities of working at the RA. I've visited a huge amount of exhibitions - the benefit of free entry (which an RA staff pass gives you) is that I don't feel obliged to stay in an exhibition I don't enjoy. For example looked around Van Gogh and Britain, didn't engage with it so decided to pop into Frank Bowling's exhibition instead. That was magnificent and one of my top exhibitions for the year. Others in that list would include the Antony Gormley at the RA and Lee Herring at Tate Liverpool.

If you're interested in pics both of exhibitions and behind the scenes checkout my View From The RA project.

Frank Bowling - Tate Britain:
Pic of running IOW with friends

The arts community has been fantastic - being supportive, friendly and welcoming whether at conferences, on twitter or at social events. Met lots of people who helped introduce me to or took me along to cultural events - thank you everyone! Did quite a few theatre trips and favourite play of the year (and maybe the best play I've ever seen?!) was Fairview at the Young Vic.

Two years in the arts has been brilliant: I've developed professionally (learnt lots about managing and tech) but also personally - both in being immersed in art and the confidence it's given me to learn more, read more and experience new things. On the flip side I've helped deliver a big project for the RA on time and within budget, helped keep the day to day going and also really enjoyed helping my team progress and develop.

Fortunately my new job at Wonderbly (creators of personalised children's books) will still be creatively based. Looking forward to having new influences and learning new things while still keep up the theatre and gallery trips!

Other stuff - TV, Movies, podcasts and other recommendations

With all the above there isn't much time for other things. Really enjoyed the three TV shows I watched this year: Fleabag, State of the Union and Have I Got News For You. Film wise enjoyed Pedro Almodovar's Pain and Glory and also the Elton John biopic. Each week I listen religiously to Saturday Review - it's been my arts companion for the last two years.


Have been very lucky that there have been no major life events this year, my health has been good as has that of those around me. Through a combination of hard work, privilege and luck am in a fairly settled state. It hasn't always been that way and am sure wont be in the future so am grateful for and enjoying the current situation. I do some mentoring and advice (mainly for people learning to code and career changing). For anyone looking for a mentor I'll have spare capacity from March onwards - feel free to drop me a message if you're interested to learn more about how that might work.


Overall an excellent year - there was a good balance between tech, exercise and art. There has been a lot of running but the amount feels healthy and hasn't dominated or negatively impacted other areas of my like. There's more than just these stats and am grateful for friends and family who I get to hang out with and share and discuss the more nitty gritty parts of life as well as have a good time! This balance has taken multiple years and lots of effort and will continue to be a work in progress as I, life and the world around change.

Appendix - Resolutions

Generally I try not to set hard number targets for resolutions - prefer to set broad goals and reassess as time goes by (usually during all those runs!). Targets for next year will resolve around entering certain running/swimming events, qualifying for London and completing my yoga teacher training. There are a few chunky books on my shelf I want to tackle so expect to read fewer books.

The big change and focus for the next year is starting a new job. Will miss the RA but very excited by the role at Wonderbly. There's an upfront mental cost when starting a new job so plan to not do any side projects or much blogging for the first part of the year until some of the new challenges become more routine. Interested to see how the new position and the change in routine will impact other parts of my life.