Quakers Member Spotlight, January 2020 – Michael King

by | Dec 27, 2019 | Member Spotlights

He may not have the fastest legs in the club but I’ll wager that he has the largest lungs.  If you’ve ever heard singing coming from the home straight of the parkrun, even when you were at the other end of the park, you’ll know what I mean.

  1. How did you get into running and why?

When I was 29 (this is some time ago) and I hadn’t touched anything active since leaving school, I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. I lost a great deal of weight before I found out and started with insulin injections. The advice I got was to keep fit; to do cardio-vascular exercise. I’d never run, but it seemed like the most convenient and flexible thing to do.

  1. What kept you going when you first started running?

Not much! I was terribly hap-hazard and inconsistent. In 1997, I saw the 10k in Darlington and set myself the goal of taking part in it in 1998, seen as it went past the end of the road. I ‘got through’ that. In fact I got inspired enough to enter the Great North Run in 2001 – the first of 19, so far. Lots of people suggested I join a running club. When the Quakers were based at Hummersknott School I would see the steadies running past my window twice a week. Everyone looked so competent and I felt too shy to go along. So I used to shuffle solo round the streets of Darlington. In the end I was dragged along to the club about nine years ago and I’ve never looked back.

  1. How much training do you typically do each week?

‘Typically’ Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday morning and alternate Monday nights at Up & Running’s SRG. But work and other commitments are eating into what’s typical just now.

  1. Be honest, do you enjoy training?


  1. Do you do any other sports or fitness activities?


  1. Do you manage to fit in any other hobbies?

My biggest hobby (obsession) is my band, Puce Wallpaper, in which I sing and play bass. Some members of the club have been ‘lucky’ enough to see us. We do weddings parties and pub gigs, we practice for fun and record the odd thing, which we publish on Spotify, YouTube, Amazon Music and iTunes.

  1. Tell us about some of the races that you’ve done in the past

It’s 19 GNRs to date and about a dozen Darlo 10ks (because August is often holiday time). Other than that, I like to pick off the occasional 10k. I think my favourite course is the Yorkshire Coast 10k in Scarborough – when the weather is nice.

  1. What’s your current running goal?

To keep putting one foot in front of the other. To finish a 10k in under 59 minutes.

  1. What are your longer-term running goals?

Just to keep going and to keep-on enjoying the company and friendship of other runners.

  1. What is your favourite race/distance/terrain?

I’m a bit of a parkrun obsessive, and have got up to 295 now (Eds. Note – 302 by the time I passed on Michael’s spotlight for the newsletter) . Most of those have been at South Park, but I have a soft spot for the Shildon and Tees Barrage runs which got me started before South Park launched.

  1. What are your proudest running achievements?

It’s the consecutive run of 19 Great North Runs. It’s built up to be an annual pilgrimage. I may have to stop one day, but not yet.

  1. Anything in your running experience you regret?

Not joining the club when I was first encouraged to.

  1. How many pairs of trainers/ running shoes do you have and do you have a favourite pair?

I usually have an active pair and a recently retired pair which I keep in the hall in case of bad weather. No trail shoes – absolute amateur! I’ve become fond of Brooks Launch – third pair in a row.

  1. What’s your idea of running heaven?

A coastal run, in the sunshine, but not too humid and probably just a bit more exotic than Scarborough, but that will do.

  1. What’s your idea of running hell?

Cross country!

  1. What is the best piece of running advice you’ve ever been given?

Stretch before and after running and be quite deliberate about targeting all the bits you’re going to put under effort. Of course, I’m very bad and tend to ignore it.

  1. Any advice to newcomers to running?

Join a club, talk to other runners, realise there’s a place for all sizes, speeds, and creeds of runner and the only achievement that really matters is taking the first step out of the door. 

  1. What keeps you going when the going gets tough in a hard race?

Just the dogged determination not to give up.

  1. How do you relax/reward yourself after a race?

Rock and Roll and beer. Bass playing is great therapy – for me. Bass playing through headphones is better therapy for everyone else.

  1. If you could run anywhere in the world, where would it be?

No particular ambitions. I love it when I am able to take my kit with me and there is an opportunity to get out. I was in San Francisco earlier this year, but the timings meant that I didn’t get an opportunity to run. If I go back there, I would like to run along the waterfront, there were plenty of people doing it and it did look like fun.