Mark Armstrong: On the comeback trail but it's no fairy tale story

Wymondham Atheletics Club 20k road race March 2022

Action from the Wymondham 20, which took place on Sunday. - Credit: Angela Sharpe Photography

If there is a window to go for a run then I’m out the door within 10 minutes. 

I'm busy, as most of us are, and I look for little pockets of time where I might be able to get a few miles in. 

I appear to have a talent to use every available minute if there is the prospect of getting a run in. 

All my running tech is in a box near the front door and I’ve got more kit than I know what to do with – I'm always ready to go for a run. 

Got half-hour before I pick the kids up from school? I can get a cheeky 5K in before that – maybe even a shower if I’m in decent nick... 

But I’m rusty... so when my physio gave me the green light to start running again I had to get myself organised again. 

It had been so long since I had been for a proper run that my watch had been left in a state whereby I plugged it in and nothing happened for about half-an-hour as the battery tried to remember what it’s like to be charged. I almost expected it to ask who I was when it finally buzzed into life. 

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Needless to say, my headphones were also dead but never mind, I thought, it would be nice to get outside for the first time in a while and take everything in without distraction. 

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I was wrong. It was possibly the most over-thought run I’ve ever been on...  

The context to this is that before I went to see a physio earlier this year I went on three runs, all of which had to be abandoned due to the onset of tightness in my calf. 

My physio had told me she was happy for me to start running again with a warning to take it slow and not to do any more than 5K at the moment. 

I was delighted. I had to run about 400m in breezy conditions during our appointment and I think I was wearing the expression of a dog hanging its head out of a car window. 

But I was nervous before this 5K – what if the calf tightened up yet again? 

We’re designed to take the safest option at all times – 'why not leave it another few days?’ 

Fortunately, my desperation to actually go for a run won out. I had thought about this for weeks – how it would be this euphoric moment and I pinpoint it as the date my running year turned around. 

In reality I was mentally checking in with my calf every other step. 

But I got to the end of the 5K and all was fine. Other parts of me felt a little sore, just as you would expect having had to choose non-impact forms of exercise to maintain any kind of fitness recently. 

The calf and my hips (perhaps the source of the problem) felt strong. I’ve since gone a few more runs where I have been able to relax a little more and actually enjoy it. I even did a four-miler on Wednesday. 

Running’s pretty good, isn’t it? 

Well, it is when things are going well – just as it seems to be for so many at the moment judging by the performances of so many locally. 

Not only were there a number of PBs at the Cambridge Half Marathon and Wymondham 20, the Norfolk team also performed with distinction at the Essex 20. Well done to all involved. 

My wife, Alison, was due to run the Cambridge Half and had targeted it as a PB race. Her training had gone well but then in the week before it she went down with a heavy cold. 

I watched her agonise for days but as it got closer to the event it was clear this was going to impact her race, if she ran. 

Deep down she knew what she had to do. Instead of potentially putting herself in a hole for weeks afterwards by running and completely depleting herself, she pulled out. 

A mature decision – one that I hope I’m capable of if that situation arises in the future. 

As the event calendar starts to fill up it’s important to remember that there’s always another race, just as she did.