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Running column: With the pressure off Mark Armstrong is starting to think about a marathon year

Mark Armstrong on the Norfolk Coastal Path at Waxham. Picture: Mark Armstrong

Mark Armstrong on the Norfolk Coastal Path at Waxham. Picture: Mark Armstrong

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Running columnist Mark Armstrong is dialling back the mileage as he starts to think about a marathon next year

A calm acceptance has come over me since suffering a calf injury recently.

I’m over the frustrated/bitter phase, thinking I’m not going to achieve what I wanted to in the second half of this year.

I’ve always been a very target-based runner. Pick an event, pick a realistic time I’m going for, and gear everything towards that.

After pursuing a sub 20-minute 5K time (which is still a huge goal of mine) the second half of this year was going to be all about the Great East Run in Ipswich.

Ideally I wanted to run faster than I did at the Colchester Half Marathon this year when I set a new personal best of 1-39.

The calf issue has forced a rethink on this and I know I won’t be setting any PBs in a couple of weeks’ time. That’s not being negative, or sub-consciously taking the pressure off myself, I just haven’t been able to get the training in that I wanted to.

I could run a half-decent (for me) 5K or 10K now (calf problem notwithstanding) but I haven’t run the mileage needed to develop the endurance you require at distances more than that.

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group here

I’m okay with that – I’ve set new PBs at 5K, 10K, 10 miles and half in 2018. Of course, I would like to have built on the first half of the year but my personal circumstances have naturally changed with the arrival of my son, Logan, in March. My family’s needs for my time are greater than my running at the moment and that was always going to happen.

It’s why I decided against booking another marathon this year as I had wanted to originally (that could have been another £40-£50 on another race I don’t get to run in!).

There was no chance of me getting the work/life/training balance right to prepare correctly for 26.2 miles. I’m not sure I’ve got it right for training for half that!

It won’t be like that forever and that’s why a lot of my training now is going to be geared towards setting up a marathon in spring next year (please be London…).

It’s time I got to the bottom of all the injuries/niggles this year and set about a training and conditioning programme that overcomes them.

I’ve undertaken a lot of speed work over the summer and I feel like I’ve been operating in ‘the red zone’ for quite a while.

It’s time to dial it back, enjoy a few easier runs and look at some exercises that are going to remove the injury handbrake on my training.

MORE: Is it mind over matter for running columnist Mark Armstrong?

With that in mind during a camping trip to Waxham last weekend I took to the Norfolk Coastal Path to get a few gentle miles in at a pace that didn’t aggravate the calf injury.

Taking time out of the equation is the only way to run there as you don’t want to be constantly looking at your watch and missing out on some of the gorgeous views we’re so lucky to have in this county.

It’s slightly out of my comfort zone but I’ve got to learn to enjoy getting a few easier miles in – you can’t constantly beast yourself.

I’m not completely writing off this year but setting up a successful start to 2019 is the main priority.

Quite what form that takes will be in the hands of Mr Featherby but he has already floated the idea of a few cross country runs and I must admit that excites me.

After an absolutely baking hot summer when it hasn’t always been that pleasurable to run in, I’m looking forward to the colder months and getting covered in mud with hundreds of other runners.

You can remind me of that sentence when I’m moaning about how cold my hands are in January…

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