My love of running and setting goals

The spread of coronavirus has impacted the staging of sporting events at home and across the world.

Tuesday, 12th May 2020, 11:00 am

Club training sessions, events, competitions, club committee and face-to-face meetings, athlete camps, running groups and social runs have all fallen prey to the ongoing situation.

To ensure you still have your weekly sports fix, Mail Sport caught up with athlete Michael Burke who has a real passion for running.

The 41-year old took time to answer our Questions of Sport.


Michael Burke



What is your occupation?

Contracts Manager with Adman Civil Projects

What school did you attend?

St Patrick’s College Dungiven and University of Ulster Magee

Are you a member of a club?

I’ve been a member of Termoneeny Running Club since 2011 and have been the Vice Chairman since 2018

How long have you been running and why did you start running?

I started taking running seriously in 2011, however I did attempt a Marathon, the New York Marathon, in 2006.

Football and hurling was my first love but a serious head injury in 2001 and multiple shoulder injuries meant that my future on the green grass was always in doubt.

I did make a few returns but the injuries were persistent and unfortunately I had to quit all GAA sports. This was very disappointing, as I enjoyed success with my club Drum in the early 1990s.

In 2006 my late father Frank died with cancer. A group of my good friends and I decided we would run the New York Marathon in his memory which we did for Marie Curie Cancer.

This give me my first taste of running, and it was easily the hardest thing I had ever done.

With very little training, it took me a gruelling 4 hours and 50 minutes to complete. I promised myself that after running the New York Marathon, I would never run again.

In 2010 I got married to my wife Aisling and we moved to Gulladuff. I did a bit of running before I got married in 2010 to ensure the suit wasn’t too snug. It wasn’t until 2011, that I discovered my love for running.

I completed my first 10K race in May 2011 - the Maghera 10K and I crossed the finishing line in a time of 55 minutes.

That very same evening, I joined Termoneeny Running Club. Two Termoneeny stalwarts, Gerard Hasson and Kieran Henry approached me after the Maghera 10K and asked me to join their local running club and the rest as they say is history.

I agreed and then met up for Sunday morning group runs and I haven’t looked back since. As a result of joining Termoneeny Running Club, I have met a variety of people near and far, making lifelong friendships.

What is it about running you enjoy most?

I enjoy setting myself personal goals and training towards achieving them. What I enjoy most about running, is that you can fit it around your work and home life. I love running in the evenings with friends, especially after a difficult day in work. Running along the rural and hilly routes in Lavey, helps to clear the head.

What is your favourite distance?

I would say my favourite distance would be a Half Marathon

What has been your best achievement and why?

Before 2019, I was running and racing many events and didn’t follow a structured training regime. I was racing twice a week, most weeks.

At the start of 2019 I set myself personal running goals and tailored my training. The three goals I set myself were: a Sub 3.30 Marathon, a sub 40 minute 10K and sub 19 minute 5K. I altered the way I trained for the events and was delighted when I achieved all three goals in 2019. I couldn’t have achieved these goals without the support and encouragement from my wife Aisling and daughter Aoibhe.

What is the toughest part about running for you?

Trying to fit training around a busy work life schedule. In the dark winter months, it’s hard to stay motivated. During the winter I usually sign up for a spring Marathon to keep the mind focused and motivated over the winter months. The last long 6 miles of a Marathon, can be a roller coaster of emotions, mentally it can be extremely tough.

Have you had any injuries?

Since I started running the injuries seem to have disappeared. I did lose few months of training, back in 2016, when I collapsed at 24 Mile marker in the Derry City Marathon.

Due to running in 26 degrees heat, I pushed my body so hard, that my vital organs began to shut down. I spent almost a week in hospital and had to recuperate for several weeks at home!

Thankfully Sam Campbell (another member of TRC) was with me when I collapsed and kindly travelled with me in the ambulance to the Altnagelvin Hospital.

I gave all my family members, especially my elderly mother Maryann, a massive scare. My late mother wanted me to quit running and she was very anxious when I began training again.

How often do you train?

My set training days are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sunday mornings. In normal circumstances, I try to squeeze a Parkrun in most Saturday mornings.

What is your favourite season?

The summer time is my favourite season, as there is plenty of daylight to train in. Though I do prefer to race in cooler weather.

What is your favourite race?

My favoutite Marathon would have to be the Dublin Marathon.

My favourite Half Marathon is Belfast.

My favourite 10K is the Keep Er Lit Coalisland.

My favourite 5 Miler is the Edwin May Coleraine.

My favourite 5K is the Termoneeny.

What is your top tip for a beginner?

Set aside two nights week to train and try to stick to those nights.

Consistency is the key - the more you train, the easier it becomes.

Never give up, nothing beats the satisfaction you get after a training session or a race.

What is your favourite food?

My wife Aisling’s homemade Chicken Curry.

What are your favourite artists?

The Furey’s

If you could have dinner with any three sports people (living or dead) who would they be and why?

The top of my list would be, my late father Frank Burke. His love for GAA was electric. I miss the dinner debates we had over all the GAA matches.

Secondly it would be Tommy Hughes He is a world champion runner and neighbour. What he has achieved in running may never be equalled in this country.

Finally it would have to be local hero and one of my running buddies, Damian O’Boyle. I love listening to him reminiscing about his All Ireland Club Success in 1991 with Lavey.