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