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Running column: Mark Armstrong learns a lesson about straying too far from the racing line at Snetterton 10K

PUBLISHED: 06:23 19 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:45 24 January 2018

Mark Armstrong with his finisher's medal at the Snetterton 10K. Picture: Supplied

Mark Armstrong with his finisher's medal at the Snetterton 10K. Picture: Supplied

Archant

As I was waiting for the start of the Snetterton 10K on Sunday I had the chance to clap in the runners taking part in the 5K race.

Mark Armstrong at the Snetterton 10K on Sunday. Picture: Supplied Mark Armstrong at the Snetterton 10K on Sunday. Picture: Supplied

Watching the strain etched across most of their faces wasn’t the most ideal preparation.

Sometimes I forget about how much the end of a race hurts – I love and hate that feeling of suffering in equal measure.

But I knew this was a big opportunity for a personal best on what is a very flat course. There was no real wind to speak of and there was a slight chill in the air – perfect for someone like me that gets extraordinarily hot when running.

My dad, who had come along to support, asked me what time I was looking for and I played it down that I was merely looking to go under 50 minutes.

Mark Armstrong at the Snetterton 10K on Sunday. Picture: Supplied Mark Armstrong at the Snetterton 10K on Sunday. Picture: Supplied

Preparation hadn’t been ideal – I’d spent most of the previous day bouncing around trampolines for my daughter Lara’s fourth birthday party – Mo Farah’s got nothing on me.

But I knew this presented a decent chance to post a new PB despite my modest goal to my dad.

I didn’t really know what sort of shape I was in. I’d done quite a few interval sessions where I had hit the times that I wanted but only over short distances with periods of recovery.

MORE: The running bug is about the best thing you can catch

This was my first real effort over 10K since Trowse last year.

Mark's daughter, Lara, right, and niece, Monique, enjoy their chips at Snetterton. Picture: Supplied Mark's daughter, Lara, right, and niece, Monique, enjoy their chips at Snetterton. Picture: Supplied

After getting round that event, including the ‘Trowse mountain’, in 45:03 I knew this was beatable on a course like Snetterton, which is as flat as you’re going to get without taking to an athletics track.

I started off just over four-minute kilometre pace – too quickly if I’m honest – but I managed to steady things over the next few kilometres and felt fairly comfortable going at a pace that I knew would be under 45 minutes.

The only real wobble I had was when I got a surge of adrenaline as I passed my family at one stage and went far too quickly.

As their cries of encouragement died down I realised I still had around 4km to go and I was starting to feel it.

But I wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass me by. I took on some water and it revitalised me enough to get to the last kilometre where I can normally always find something.

The home straight was blissfully slightly downhill and I gave it every last drop of effort that I had to come in just under 44 minutes (43:47).

I’m proud of that time with where I am in my training. I haven’t dedicated my training to this race – this was just a bonus along the way to Cambridge at the start of March.

MORE: Read about Mark’s new year goals

As I’ve discussed in previous columns there are improvements I can make in my lifestyle to improve my running but then again I’ve got a life to lead as well. It’s not all about running…unfortunately!

I’m normally not too bothered about uploading my race to Strava but I really wanted to see what my splits were over the course of the race.

To my surprise I actually completed 10K in 42:48 – I had obviously strayed too far from the racing line on a few occasions and run a few hundred metres more than I needed to.

But it got me thinking when people ask what my PB is, do I tell them the 10K time I did or the race time?

I think I’d feel like I was only cheating myself if I said the shorter time – it’s my fault that I couldn’t keep my race line disciplined enough to complete the 10K course set.

But I need to put the 10Ks to one side for now and start getting some longer runs in before the half marathon at Cambridge.

If I can put up with a bit of suffering in training then it might make the race easier…that’s the plan anyway.

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