When news anchor and marathon runner Mike McRoberts suffered a serious knee injury, he thought his running days were over, but he’s back on track and is now a committed trail runner.
How do you choose to move?
My exercise of choice is running. I had been training for the Tarawera Ultra but unfortunately, like a number of similar events, it was cancelled when the Omicron outbreak pushed the country into the red traffic light restrictions.
Ten years ago, I started running long distances, initially to help a blind friend of mine, Mike Lloyd, prepare for the New York Marathon. I ended up running with him that year, and we went on to run the New York Marathon a further three times. It’s the most amazing event – 50,000 competitors being cheered on by four or five million spectators.
As well as guiding Mike, I also started running marathons for myself. To date I’ve completed 15 marathons and a similar number of half marathons. A couple of years ago I suffered a fairly debilitating knee injury and thought my running days were over, but I’m thrilled to say I’m back into it. Although now I’ve changed my focus from marathons to trail running, which I absolutely love.
What other exercise do you enjoy?
When I injured my knee I knew I had to find some other way of staying active, so I started doing a lot of cycling and swimming. I’ve always found having events to train for hugely motivational and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to compete in ocean swims and some classic cycling events such as the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge and Le Race in Christchurch.
But one of the toughest physical challenges I’ve ever had was performing as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. The constant training and combination of mental and physical challenges made it particularly brutal, but it was so much fun!
How do you fit in exercise with work and family?
I’m lucky with the news that I normally don’t need to be in the office until the afternoon, which gives me plenty of time in the morning to run or do weight training. It’s really important to me to have that balance as my work is quite sedentary, so by staying active I feel healthy, fit and mentally alert.
My partner Heidi is relatively new to running, but we enjoyed training together for Tarawera and in fact set ourselves a little challenge at the start of this year – running every day for a month, which I’ve never done before. We’ve seen some dramatic improvements over that time and are still going strong. Can we do two months? Maybe even a year?
Were you an active child?
I have two brothers fairly close in age and we spent our entire childhood competing against each other or the neighbours. From backyard cricket to rugby, tennis, softball, cycling, basketball, soccer – we even set up our own mini-Olympics, competing for medals made out of milk bottle tops! We all played rugby to a fairly high level and did pretty well with athletics and softball in summer.
Both of my brothers remain active and have also fulfilled administration roles in various sporting clubs. I’m proud to say they’ve passed on that love of sport to their kids too and we have very active whānau.
What’s the main reason you think it’s important to stay active?
For me staying active is all about quality of life, now and in the future. Feeling fit and healthy physically and mentally is so important to me. I turned 56 in March and I’d love to think in 10 or 20 years’ time I can still be as active as I am now.
What fitness advice would you have for others?
I think it was the great Kiwi running coach Arthur Lydiard who once said “the hardest thing about training is pulling on the shorts” which is so true. So often, it’s the mental switch that you need to flick to begin your physical journey.
Make being active part of your daily routine. Whether it’s running, walking, cycling or whatever, if you can set aside a certain amount of time to be active, it will quickly become a habit. And don’t worry about the times you’re running or the distances, it’s all about consistency. Keep doing it and your times and distances will follow.