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Running column: Don’t let London Marathon rejection get you down...just pick another one

Mark Armstrong takes part in his last big race of the year this weekend in the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Picture: Robin Hood Marathon

Mark Armstrong takes part in his last big race of the year this weekend in the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Picture: Robin Hood Marathon

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I’ve felt sorry for postmen around the country this week.

Mark Armstrong is taking part in the the Royal Parks Half Marathon this weekend, but not dressed as a squirrel. Picture: PA Mark Armstrong is taking part in the the Royal Parks Half Marathon this weekend, but not dressed as a squirrel. Picture: PA

For the last few days they must have got fed up with runners chasing them down for the all important letter that determines whether or not they have got a ballot place for the 2018 London Marathon.

I’m one of the unlucky ones unfortunately - that’s three rejections in as many years for me now.

London is the pinnacle for many club runners. I’ve only been there as a supporter for my wife, Alison, in 2016 and it really is an awe-inspiring event.

It’s definitely on my running bucket list and I will chase a charity place in the future.

Mark Armstrong is taking part in the the Royal Parks Half Marathon this weekend. Picture: PA Mark Armstrong is taking part in the the Royal Parks Half Marathon this weekend. Picture: PA

MORE: Mini cheddars and a new PB - the story of Mark’s marathon in Nottingham

But for those that want to run a marathon, and got that infamous ‘we’re sorry’ front to their London Marathon literature, remember there are plenty of other opportunities to run 26.2 miles…for fun.

There are some fantastic events around, admittedly on a reduced scale to London, but there is ample opportunity out there to challenge yourself in a big city marathon and raise a bit of money in the process, if that’s what you want to do.

I can speak from personal experience about how good both Edinburgh and Nottingham are but there are dozens of top events in the UK calendar to choose from. Ally ran in Brighton earlier this year where the crowd support was superb and you would hope the organisers have learned their lesson to offer more water to runners for 2018. Manchester and Liverpool are also widely recognised as excellent, well-run events.

But I wouldn’t have any qualms about going back to Edinburgh again one day for another marathon. It looks like they want to see me again as well given they have used a picture of myself and Ally at the finish line on their promotion material for next year’s event! As regular readers will know, that smile on my face doesn’t tell the whole story…

But I’m not ready to seriously think about marathons again yet. I’ve got a few other races to tick off before then, starting with the Royal Parks Half Marathon on Sunday.

With more than 16,000 people taking part I think this will have a London Marathon-type atmosphere around it.

By rights this should have been the race I prioritised above all others after Edinburgh. It’s a real privilege to get a ballot place but of course I had unfinished business with the marathon distance after Edinburgh and I feel like I put a few things right in Nottingham.

However, training for that has come at a cost to Sunday.

Months of long runs are starting to take their toll: I’m tired, physically and mentally.

That won’t stop me from enjoying the race this weekend though.

The sensible runner would say just go and take in all the sights the route has to offer: run it nice and easy and appreciate running round the capital.

But there’s a voice in my head that has been getting louder each day this week…a voice that doesn’t want me to run at an easy pace.

It’s been ingrained into me from a young age that whatever you do, you ALWAYS do your best. And doing my best doesn’t involve running Sunday easily.

I’ve got to be careful. It will be two weeks on Sunday that I completed a marathon and I’ve learned that you don’t know the true toll that’s taken on you until you start training for another event.

MORE: How important is cross-training to runners?

I’ve spent the last two months training to run at a specific marathon pace and I don’t really know what my half marathon pace is at the moment and there’s not enough time before Sunday to find out.

After a chat with Neil he reined me in. This is my last big race of 2017 and it’s time to relieve myself of any time pressure and enjoy running in a huge event.

My legs (and knees in particular) will certainly thank me for it as thoughts slowly start to turn to my 2018 schedule.

Just 13.1 miles to go before it’s time for a proper rest...I’ve earned it, haven’t I?

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