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Running column: Mark Armstrong explains why the running bug is just about the best thing you can catch

PUBLISHED: 06:27 12 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:47 24 January 2018

Lara Armstrong completes the 'Kids Kilometre' at Edinburgh last year alongside parents Alison and Mark Armstrong. Picture: Edinburgh Marathon

Lara Armstrong completes the 'Kids Kilometre' at Edinburgh last year alongside parents Alison and Mark Armstrong. Picture: Edinburgh Marathon

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Running columnist Mark Armstrong hopes the running bug can continue spreading throughout his family and friends

As bugs go, the running one is about as good as it gets.

It only takes one person to start running and it almost inevitably spreads through your family and/or friendship group.

My wife, Ally, started training for the London Marathon before the end of 2015 and a lot of people close to her have since laced up their running trainers, including myself.

But perhaps the most pleasing part of running becoming part of our lives has been the enthusiasm my daughter, Lara, has also shown for the sport.

She’s been desperate to run with both Ally and I since she took part in the junior 1K run at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival last year.

Even at three years old you could tell what a sense of achievement she got from completing the race. The fact she got a medal made it even more special but that paled into insignificance when she realised she also got a running bottle and a finisher’s t-shirt as a reward. To say she was excited is an understatement.

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Said running bottle and t-shirt accompanied Lara and I on a training run over the Christmas period where she insisted she came with me.

She’s got a little bit to learn about pacing because as soon as we got out the door she started sprinting towards the end of our close. Around the halfway point around the block she hit the ‘wall’ but she just about made it round. Some would argue that she is a chip off the old block – I would never profess to be any authority on pacing!

Lara turns four today meaning she will now be able to officially take part in the junior parkruns that take place at numerous locations across the country, including Eaton Park and Gorleston in Norfolk.

We obviously won’t push it on her but, if she wants running to be part of her life as much as it is for her parents, we will naturally support this. The parkruns are a great way to establish whether she can maintain that enthusiasm for running.

Unfortunately, she won’t get her first taste this week as she will be supporting me as I run in my first race of the year at Snetterton.

The build-up hasn’t been exemplary – most of the week has been spent discussing with Lara what she wants her birthday cake to be (Trolls, if you’re interested after a late change of heart from Jake and the Never Land Pirates – she keeps my wife and I on our toes).

But I feel like I’ve got a good running base to work from compared to last year.

As I’m not training for a marathon at the moment I’ve been able to adopt a much more structured routine.

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My marathon training last year was all about getting the miles in my legs without aggravating the numerous niggles I picked up along the way.

Since I’ve dialled back the long runs I’ve noticed that a lot of these problems appear to have settled down…I realise that I’m tempting fate here.

But I’ve been able to push myself quite hard during a few effort sessions before Christmas and over the last week without feeling like I’m going to break down the moment I go any faster than ‘marathon pace’.

So I’m looking to give the 10K race at Snetterton a good effort and see where it takes me.

The Cambridge Half Marathon in March remains the main goal I’m working towards but naturally I want to do well in other races along the way.

Cambridge presents the main challenge due to the increased mileage but I must admit I think I’m settling upon 10K as my favourite distance. There’s just enough time to settle into the run and hold on to a decent pace rather than a 5K where, personally, it feels like 20-25 minutes of pure suffering.

But it’s that element of it that I so enjoy – whether Lara develops a love of pushing her physical limits like her old man remains to be seen.

I certainly hope so.

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