ML-1: The Long Road to Shields

Name: Michael Lowdon Age: 21 Height:6’0 Weight: 13st 8lbs
Running Ability: Beginner. Sporadic runner with the view of long term fitness.

Parkruns will prove a key test of Michael's fitness

Parkruns will prove a key test of Michael’s fitness

I’ll not beat around the bush, running has never really been my forte. Sprinting for the bus left me sweating and panting, and 5-a-side had me on my knees in minutes. My running ability can be summed up with the Greggs Cancer Run and Sport Relief Mile medal tucked away in my loft, both pre-dating my GSCEs. Not a good sign.

Needless to say, it was time to finally get my fitness into check, get that wheezing monkey off my back and discover some kind of jogging habit. Likewise to what Simon mentioned, I knew for any running routine to take shape, I needed something to aim for and push myself towards. Year after year, I’ve told myself that the Great North Run would be that target. Only to keep finding myself curled up on the sofa, hungover, watching thousands of fresh faced runners complete the world’s best half marathon. I realised it was time to bite the bullet, apply for a place and finally get myself into gear.

There’s something harrowing yet strangely exciting when you receive a successful application email to a race. It hit home that I have to actually get off my arse and clock some miles.

While putting together The Tynesider, I was lucky enough to speak to some great North Eastern running talents, past and present. From Steve Cram to Ross Murray to Mark Allison, I had a wealth of running knowledge and stories at my fingertips. But it was one interview in particular that really stood out. For what was only supposed to be a quick call to help complete the magazine, I spent an hour on the phone in awe of Tony Pheonix-Morrison (better known as Tony The Fridge). His life has revolved around running from an early age and the challenges he’s accomplished in recent years are enough to inspire the laziest of Geordies.

Armed with new trainers and the Nike+ running app on my phone, I started to hit the streets of Newcastle at night. There’s something enticing about running in the dark, guided by street lamps and the nocturnal atmosphere. In my final year of uni, I found these runs not only helped improve my fitness in a busy schedule, but also helped take my mind of work and relive stress. Now working full time, I’m often getting home and crashing out for the night. But since getting into running, I’ve found that if I plan a run before going to sleep, my productivity goes through the roof. Slowly but surely, the treadmill became inviting. I wasn’t spending more time compiling a running playlist than actually out running. One step at a time, I suppose you could say.

The incline at the Rowlands Gill Parkrun proved a stark reminder of Michael's fitness

The incline at the Rowlands Gill Parkrun proved a stark reminder of Michael’s fitness

At the moment, I see a Parkrun (three miles) without stopping as a success. And a success I look to build upon. I aim to use Parkruns as a test of my fitness, aiding technique and pacing. Hopefully, with plenty of reasonable and achievable training targets, I’ll reach South Shields within two hours. So, come September 8th I’d be happy to wake up in one piece, preferably not in the RVI with Simon delivering my notes.


Michael is running for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and is looking to raise £200 in the lead up to his first Great North Run. To help him reach his target, click here.


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