running half marathon athlete Sundried activewear

Photo by Pete Bracegirdle

Michael is a runner who got into running as a way to cope with grief. He talks to Sundried about his racing highs and lows.

Have you always been into sport?

I first got into sport when I was 16 and trained as a kickboxer for 3 years. I always had an on/off relationship with running until 2017 when I took it up full-time as it were. My father passed away and running was one thing that helped me mentally to try and deal with the grief. I have been running ever since.

What’s been your favourite race to date and why?

Alloa half marathon 2019 in Scotland. It was my 2nd race of the season and I smashed my previous PB by over 2 minutes and recorded a time of 1:33:11. This race was my favourite not just because it was my fastest but due to how I felt during the run. Everything clicked and I felt comfortable and attacked the hill at mile 11 and even managed a nice sprint finish at the last 150 metres!

And your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement would have to be Edinburgh marathon 2018 which was my first marathon and still my PB. I raced it to raise money for Cancer Research in memory of my dad and I had run a lot of half marathons previously so needed a challenge. I felt so comfortable in this race and came in at 3 hours 31 minutes. I think my dad was helping me on this one as I haven't come within 15 minutes of this time since!

Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?

I was really proud to be allocated my running club's sole place at London marathon 2019. This marathon was really tough as I developed a calf problem at mile 5 and had to struggle for 21 miles and it has been the only race where I thought I would not be able to finish it. I did finish though in a time of 3 hours 53 minutes although it was the most mentally challenging race I have ever had. Edinburgh marathon 2019 was also tough where I fractured my fibula at mile 16 and ran the last 10 miles with a broken leg. I didn't realise it was broken but managed a time of 4 hours. I have to say London was tougher, but maybe that helped me cope mentally when Edinburgh came along. Who knows?

How do you overcome setbacks?

It's taken time but I have learned that setbacks give you opportunities elsewhere. For example, I have been off running for 6 weeks since Edinburgh and possibly another 8 weeks but have used this time to focus on strength training of my core and upper body. Runners often neglect this side of training (hands up, I did too) but hopefully I will see the benefits once I am back running. And I definitely will maintain the strength training as I am feeling stronger already.

What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

Take your time! I can be a little too impatient and am guilty of training too hard to progress. I have learnt that it is important to allow your body to adapt to your training slowly in order to avoid injury. Your cardiovascular system improves very quickly with training but ligaments and tendons take a little time to catch up. So I wish I took it a little slower to begin with!

What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?

Unfortunately the 2019 season is over for me due to injury. I had planned to debut in ultra marathon this year but have had to defer to 2020. So 2020 will be the year of ultra marathon for me, my first being the 46-mile John Lucas Memorial Ultra in July 2020. Hopefully I am lucky in the ballot for London marathon 2020 as I have unfinished business there! Half marathons are my staple so I will be running those as well. Again it will depend on my injury recovery and I won't be biting off more than I can chew this time!

Who do you take your inspiration from?

I don't really have a single person I take inspiration from. I am just inspired by anyone who gets up and gives it their best. I am not the fastest runner but I am super competitive with myself. This is why I love running because it doesn't discriminate against anyone. It is a true sport for everyone. Whether you are chasing a 10 minute mile or a 4 minute mile, we all have one thing in common and that is, we love to run!

What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

I think it's amazing how quality, technical sports kit can be made from recycled plastic bottles and coffee grounds! I haven't yet purchased any kit but I will be getting the Roteck 3.0 men's leggings as I train all year round and it has to be hot for me to part with my leggings! I also look forward to getting the Furgler 2.0 men's running shorts as I always wear shorts with leggings and these look the perfect partner to the Roteck 3.0 tights. The shorts look awesome and are packed with technical features such as sweat wicking, quick drying and a lined compression short. They look particularly useful for me as I need zip pockets!