Continuing with the Q & A with a Running Dad series, and we have Michael Close up next. Let's get personal!
1. Tell me a about yourself.
Well, I'm a 38 year old electoral administrator for North Tyneside Council in the glorious North East of England. I've been married for 7 years to my wonderful wife Stacey (she made me write that) and we have a son Lucas, who is 5 going on 16. As well as running I love to read, I write a blog (Flying by the seat of my runderwear if you want to check it out), I love to cook and I'm a bit of a Star Wars nerd who lives to build lego (luckily, Lucas loves this too). Also, like most people in Newcastle, I'm NUFC daft.
2. Why do you run?
Why do I run? I run for a number of reasons. Mostly I run for my mental health. I have struggled with anxiety and depression over the years and running helps me to cope by giving my the time out of my head that I need. I also run for the physical benefits- I want to stay healthy so that I can enjoy my family life - having a 5 year old is an active business and I don't want to be a dad who is too unfit to be able to fully enjoy life.
3. What are your PB’s?
My PB's at the moment are; 26.18 for 5k, 56.58 for 10k and 2.07.32 for the half marathon. These times are coming down all the time though as I get fitter.
4. What are you aiming for?
My aim this year is the marathon. I am running the Berlin Marathon in September of this year so my whole focus is on that.
5. What is your most important running achievement?
My most important running achievement is and always will be the first time I laced up and headed out the door. It came at a point in my life where I needed something to lift me and I've never looked back since.
6. Which race has been your favourite and why?
My favourite race has to be my first Great North Run in 2017. I ran for MIND which is a charity very close to my heart and being a local lad I'd grown up watching all these thousands of people raise all this money for charity and generally just look like they were having so much fun and I'd always wanted to experience that feeling for myself. It didn't disappoint - I cried at the start when they played Local Hero, I had a lump in my throat around the course because of the sheer volume and kindness of the support and I cried at the end when I saw my wife and son cheering me over the line. Nothing will ever come close to that!
7. What race do you regret and why?
A recent once actually. The Lincoln 10k. It was one of those days where everything that could go wrong did go wrong - took forever to park, runners tummy kicked in which meant I had no time to warm up and then my hamstring tightened very quickly so I struggled round the course. I was gutted as this was a race I'd targeted as a race with massive PB potential - not to be though. Medal and T Shirt were nice though which is always a bonus.
8. What race would you like to run and why?
I have 2 races I'd like to run. I'd love to run the London Marathon - like most people I can't help but be inspired by what I see every year on TV and much like the Great North Run I think it's one of them you HAVE to experience. The other is New York marathon. I've been to New York once before and fell in love with the city and its people and the opportunity to run through the 5 borough's would be a once in a lifetime dream come true!
9. Tell me about how you prepare for a race on the morning of the event.
My preparation on the morning of a race varies depending on the race. If it's a half marathon I will be up early to go for a very gentle mile jog just to wake my legs up. I'll then have a light breakfast - usually a bagel with peanut butter and a strong coffee. After that I get into my kit and make sure I'm properly hydrated etc. and then I head off. For a 10k I don't bother with the morning shakeout - I tend to wait until Lucas comes and jumps on me before I get up. Everything else is pretty much the same though.
10. Tell me about how you relax post-race.
Post race is all about family time. Usually Stacey and Lucas will be waiting for me at the finish line so we tend to get straight off so I can get showered and changed and then we go for food and just relax as a family.
11. What three pieces of advice would you give to fellow runners? (New and seasoned)
First...don't expect too much too soon. Running is hard work and takes dedication and training. You need to build up slowly to reap the rewards. Trust the process and you'll get where you need to be. Secondly, get the rihht pair of shoes for you. Everybody says this but it's true. When I started running I was in completely the wrong shoe for me and it showed. Once I had my hair analysed and got the right shoe, I felt so much better. Thirdly, Vaseline - lots and lots of Vaseline - especially if you're tackling a longer distance. Your nipples and thighs will thank you for it.
12. What is your preferred running route? Path, trail, fell etc?
Roads. I don't get much opportunity to run on anything else so have no real basis for comparison.
13. What is your favourite running brand and why?
Nike. I'm a complete Nike freak...pegasus 35's are the most comfortable shoe I've ever had and I going to invest in some Zoom Fly's for Berlin.
14. Who is your all-time sporting hero?
Kevin Keegan. What that man did as a player and a manager for my club and my city can not be praised enough. He should have a statue front and centre outside St James Park and hopefully- when Mike Ashley sells up - one day he will have.
15. Who is your all-time running hero?
The man, the myth and the legend...Eliud Kipchoge - not just for what he's achieved in running but for the way he conducts himself and lives his life - the most humble athlete I've ever seen.
16. Being part of the Running Dads community, what has this done to inspire and motivate you?
Finding Running Dad's and being part of the community has been great for me. It's great looking on social media and seeing the different posts and the variety of people who are getting involved. It really makes you want to get and run when you see others doing it. I also love #inspiringourchildren - dad's get a pretty rough time at times and this hashtag is nothing but good and inspiring...It shows we're a community who don't just love running, we obviously care a great deal about the future and encouraging our kids to lead healthy, active lives, which in this day and age is as important as it ever has been!
You can follow Michael here: