Mike MJ Harris

2023 Retro


2023 was generally pretty steady with a few bumps along the way. Took on a road marathon for the first time in six years and generally looked after myself after a bad back in 2022. Got into a more sustainable way of working in my second year at FLOWN.

Year in numbers

2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
Books Read 20 30 31 50 39 34 18 10
KM Run 1,830 455 1,082 1,796 2,472 1,642 1,083 1,145
KM Swam 105 138 124 67 50 116 125 123
Yoga Sessions 119 75 62 97 72 48 30 60
Blog Posts 3 2 7 8 8 14 7 5
KM Cycled 395 166 3,385 498 0 0 0 0

Story in the Stats

Yoga and running took center stage this year. After last years bad back one of my 2022 resolutions was to continue to physically look after myself. During the day that meant more movement and not getting stuck at the desk. When time allowed yoga kept everything nicely oiled and strong. When dips in attendance did occur I got back into the swing quicker than usual - nudged by the memory of sore backs and some tightness and aches that arrived if I didn't practice. To help keep things fresh I switched to a new studio, BLOK, keep and tried out some new classes such as calisthenics.

When I started the year in good health I decided to take on another road marathon - my first since 2017. I'd filled in the in between years with trail running - generally taking it much more chilled. This year though I wanted to statement run to test myself - the last few years have seen pandemics, me turning 40 and lots of pain with a back in 2022. Hammering away round a road marathon felt like a nice vanity goal. All the yoga meant I was strong enough to to put in really good mileage over the year with some super charged sessions at the track with Run Dusty and Track East. I'd originally signed up to a spring marathon but life got in the way so I stormed round the streets of Valencia in December hitting my target of running sub 3h.

Elsewhere swimming and cycling took a back seat with the focus on that running goal and keeping flexible. On the swim front completed the same 5k event in Formentera as last year. In the past I've usually fitted in swimming with going to an office - this year has been mainly remote and has been harder to fit in as a result.

Books and art and stuff

Much fewer books read this year although the number slightly skewed by the size of some of the novels that I tackled. The book/travel combo this year was Marseilles and the epic 'Count of Monte Cristo'. A fabulous fast book although lost some of it's edge near the end. Also travelled to Paris and read Banine's Parisian Days - which was pretty good although not as good as her previous novel 'A Day in the Caucus' which was up there for my favourite of the year. Laura Cumming's Thunderclap (she also featured in last year's faves) and Deborah Levy's Swimming Home round out the top books of the year.

Calanques in Marseilles
Calanques national park outside Marseilles.

On the art front got to visit Cezanne's studio and hike around Saint Victoire - nicely syncing with the Cezanne exhibition at the Tate. On the same trip to saw the Van Gogh museum in Arles and an immersive exhibition of Paul Klee and Marc Chagall in Paris.

Another immersive - David Hockney at the Lightbox in London - was my highlight for the year . As well as the full wall experience of his art there was also some history, photos and throughout his voice narrating. His art is fantastic in a big space but this direct input by the artist into the exhibition added that extra bit of delight that was missing from the Paris shows. I saw the Hockney twice - once on a busy Saturday with kids everywhere and a second visit on a very quiet evening. Completely different experiences and the show held it's own in both situations. Fantastic to be part of a lively crowd enjoying the art as a shared experience but also a delight for a more meditative evening contemplating a life of art.

Resolutions - past

One key resolution was to travel by train for trips less than 1000km. I managed this until the end of the year when I flew out to Basel. Earlier in the year had managed a trip skiing and to the South of France via train. The train trip took longer but was a different way of traveling and, combined with remote work allowed me a few days in Paris with friends, an amazing day in Geneva for my birthday, into the mountains to ski, then back down to Marseilles for ten days. Cost was approximately the same as flying and was much more enjoyable.

Summer saw a big trip through the UK - seeing some family and friends but also dropping in at some beautiful heritage sites. One of the highlights was cycling round Kent and ending up at Sissinghurst. Stunning gardens even if it was late in the year - one to revisit in the spring.


In December a trip to Basel had originally been planned as a train trip but in the busy end of the year time got tight so flying came into it's own. A few days with a very close friend and my god children felt worth the flight especially as had limited flying for the rest of the year.

Resolutions - future

Keep up the yoga. Won't tackle a marathon this year but want to keep the running ticking along. Will try and stick to the flying rule this year. The main new(ish) resolution is to invest some more time in calisthenics classes and to devote more time to my free standing handstand. Handstands was a resolution in 2018 and is generally in the back of my mind. I've slowly improved with snatches of practice in the gym or post swimming but want to devote more time to it this year - especially as there are proper sessions at BLOK.

Outside the main areas I talk about in these retros potentially have some big life changes this year so will see how that impacts things. Lots of uncertainty so keeping end of year targets fluid - anticipate all of the stats to be a bit lower than this year but will still rely on all those activities for some structure and familiarity.


Steady year - some bumps along the way but the good habits, running, yoga, reading, helped keep me on top of any uncertainty. Highlights include a fantastic run in Valencia and the train trip across Europe in the Spring. Work has gone well - all be it with the usual ups and downs of an early stage startup. More of the same next year with an open mind to tackle some expected disruptions and uncertainty.