Mark Armstrong: The build-up to another marathon starts now

Mark Armstrong training run Aslacton

Mark Armstrong is starting to focus his training towards the Chicago Marathon - Credit: Alison Armstrong

I think we all had a moment during the various lockdowns over the last couple of years that you look back on and think: ‘I can’t believe I did that.’ 

Our everyday lives had been so impacted that many yearned for bit of excitement for when things ‘got back to normal again’. 

I can’t remember the exact date, but I’d had enough on this particular day – I'd probably run out of peanut butter (smooth, obviously) or something similarly horrific. 

But I remember late one evening checking out the Berlin and the Chicago Marathon websites. 

You probably see where this is going. 

So, without a lot of thought I threw in my name in the ballot for both. Each have been on my running bucket list but I had made my peace with the idea that I’d have to wait until both my kids were a bit older. 

In my cavalier state, this kind of logical thinking had gone out the window. Surely, I could rely on my wife, Alison, to inject a touch of realism... 

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“Well, I’d better get an entry in as well then...’ she countered as the fear of missing out became all too much for her to bear. 

It was once again pushed to the back of our minds for a few months after but whenever it became a topic of conversation, to point out all the problems of such a trip, it would end with ‘it’s okay, we probably won’t get in’. 

You probably see where this is going. 

Then came the email with the news that a fairly sizeable amount of money had been taken out of our accounts because... ‘Congratulations, you’re running the Chicago Marathon’. Almost mercifully, we didn’t get into Berlin. 

The initial excitement at getting into one of the marathon majors (I’ve since learned it is one that is possibly the easiest to get in to) turned into concern at how we were going to pull this off. 

‘It will probably be postponed,’ we thought so we let a few more months slip by. 

It hasn’t been postponed. 

And we’re now at the stage where Alison and I now need to give the event some serious thought to it. 

Flights, hotels, oh yeah, and training for a marathon! 

There are so many reasons not to do it but I’ve had enough of waiting for the ideal time to do these types of challenges and adventures.  

The truth is, there will never be an ideal time – there’s always an excuse not to do something. Arguably, the year of my 40th birthday and our 10th wedding anniversary is probably about as ideal as it gets. 

I’m not being naïve - it’s going to be incredibly hard – and that’s just getting there. Also, anyone that thinks I’m going to go over there and ‘run it for fun’ doesn’t know me very well.  

I’ll want to do my best and that involves a bit of sacrifice, not just individually, but by those around myself and Alison as well.  

I’ve run three official marathons up to now and all of them haven’t exactly gone to plan – but that’s also why I want to do it. 

I’m not a very distance runner as I’ve demonstrated so far. But I want to improve and that’s why I’m gently starting the training block now – 22 weeks out from the race. 

After all my injury problems over the last year, it will be good to park some of the speed work and get some miles into the legs. 

I’ve been chasing a good running base for so long now and by starting training for Chicago early it affords me the chance to be patient – to build my mileage as well as introduce other aspects to my training like the yoga I have started doing recently. 

I might fall flat on my face. It might be too much. But it also might be one of the best things I ever do. 

So, why wait? 

Dereham 10M

All being well I'll be at the Dereham 10M race on Sunday, May 15.

It is part of the Sportlink Grand Prix 2022 Series and will also double up as the Norfolk County Championships.

It's one that I'm really looking forward to as I get back into the swing of all this racing lark...

There are still places up for grabs - you can sign up here.