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Mark Armstrong: What a runner must try and do when their event is in doubt

Runners make their way along The Mall towards finish line during the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon. during the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon.

Runners make their way along The Mall towards finish line during the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon. during the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon.

PA Archive/PA Images

We all thought Norfolk Gazelles had a difficult decision to make over the staging of the Valentine’s 10K...

However, the decision they had to make about whether to go ahead in the midst of Storm Ciara pales into insignificance at what organisers of mass participation events have to contend with.

The coronavirus has already accounted for Tokyo and Rome marathons whilst Barcelona and Paris have postponed their races until later in the year.

The big question now is what other events, particularly in the UK, will follow suit?

I know so many local runners who are working towards Manchester and London, in particular, and that will be the same throughout the country.

It's a huge decision for organisers who must assess the risk in these events taking place given the contagious nature of the coronavirus, which can prove fatal for people with existing health issues.

With runners and supporters coming from all over the world for these events it goes without saying that careful consideration needs to be made.

All you can ask of these races is that competitors are kept updated and Manchester emailed this week emphasising they expect the event to go ahead as planned unless the government decide to impose a temporary ban on large scale events. If this were to be the case the event would be postponed until September or October later this year.

The latest from London organisers is that they are expecting the race to go ahead. We shall see.

Damned if they do, and damned if they don't... they really have my sympathy, as does anyone training for these events.

So many miles have been banked in preparation for half marathons and/or marathons and yet there's more work to be done under the coronavirus cloud.

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

Anyone training for Manchester has probably got one more long run to get in (I'm judging this on my wife, Alison) whilst London participants will be plotting at least another two or three... if they're preparing properly of course.

To do these runs when the events might not go ahead is the kind of challenge many won't have been expecting.

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Your Joe Average runner like myself can find it difficult to maintain the motivation needed over a long period and only the thought of making it to the actual start-line is what keeps us going.

But the other way to look at it is that your training is the only thing you can control at the moment. If you really make these next few weeks count then you're putting yourself in the best position to produce your best at whatever your next event is.

The temptation is there to think that you're doing all this hard work for nothing. But trust me, if you continue to get decent training in then you will get your reward somewhere along the line. I'm convinced my qualifying for the Lord Mayor's 5K last year was as a result of the endurance I built up during training for Manchester.

Hopefully your training will bear fruit for the event you had planned but, if it's not, then show you're resilient enough to smash another event.

Five things runners should keep doing

1. Wash your hands well regularly with soap - that appears to be the only defence we have against the coronavirus at this stage.

2. Continue to follow your training plan - whilst you might be fully focused on one event, those miles in your legs are going to benefit you for a long time to come.

3. Eat well - give your body the fuel it needs to recover properly and keep illness at bay.

4. Have a back-up plan - find an alternative event you could do or organise your own half marathon/marathon with friends.

5. Sleep well and recover - with the high mileage weeks at this time of year it's crucial to look after your body and give it the rest it needs. You've only got one body, listen to it.

Cross Country Championships

I can't let this week go without saying congratulations to all the Norfolk runners that took part at the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships last weekend. The ladies' senior team were the star turn, finishing in eighth place overall, but there were several outstanding performances across all age groups. A hugely promising base to build from for the county.


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