Mark Armstrong: Anyone else getting FOMO during marathon season?

Mark Armstrong cuts a relieved figure as he crosses the Greater Manchester Marathon finish line Pict

Mark Armstrong cuts a relieved figure as he crosses the Greater Manchester Marathon finish line in 2019. - Credit: Archant

I was glued to the Manchester Marathon feed on Facebook on Sunday looking for people I know to cross the finish line. 

I was walking round a farm, being chased by some train-rattling peacocks for some of it, but my wife, Alison and I, managed to get just about enough 4G to watch a good amount. I was multi-tasking in keeping one eye on the marathon and another on my son, Logan, who was ready to challenge the peacocks for farm supremacy. 

You see the full gambit of human emotions on a marathon finish line – from joy, ecstasy and exhilaration to frustration, disappointment and pain. 

You could feel it all – the weeks and months of hard work being put into 26.2 miles around Manchester. 

It’s been over three years since I ran in a mass participation marathon but it certainly brought it all back.  

How those last couple of miles can feel so far.  

How lonely it is on the course when it’s gone wrong.  

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How awesome you feel once you’ve had the chance to properly digest what you’ve achieved. 

Marathons aren’t to be taken lightly and watching that feed reminded me of what some people are putting their bodies through. 

One friend of mine was physically carted off after crossing the finish line and only a message half hour or so later put fears at ease that he was okay. 

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But from the footage I saw it appeared Manchester did a superb job of making every runner that crossed that finish line feel special – from those chasing a sub 2:30 to others that crossed the line in over eight hours. Everyone deserves their marathon finish line moment. 

Whilst everybody on the start line has a different time they would like to finish in mind, we all go through the same thought processes during those 42 kilometres.  

You’re all marching towards that finish line and in some strange way, you’re bonded to all the other runners out there. 

What has been apparent from speaking to my running friends is that the cloud of Covid really has hung over so many in their preparations, particularly those that are racing marathons over the next couple of months. 

I remember being jumpy around my daughter when she came home from nursery with a sniffle all those years ago. 

That seems nothing in comparison to the ‘maranoia’ of the last couple of months that so many are experiencing.  

For those that caught Covid and recovered, it obviously left a dilemma – is it really safe to race hard over that distance in those circumstances? 

However great your preparations are, there is always an element of jeopardy in how your body is going to react to those last six or so miles. Throw in the Covid factor and I’m not sure how I would have reacted. 

I can’t say it hasn’t whetted my appetite to take on another marathon though. It’s been at the back of my mind for some time. 

It is without doubt the distance that I’m weakest at but that just makes me want to do it more. 

All in good time, of course – I’ve at least got to get my weekly mileage back to the distance a marathon is before I can comfortably say I’m over my injury ailments! 

Everything is progressing as it should on the injury front although I must confess there is a bit of mental work to do. 

Due to the fact I broke down on a few occasions at the start of the year I’m very wary of it happening again and sensitive to any kind of sensation I feel around my calf.  

Only by doing the strength work outside of running and managing my mileage is that confidence in my body going to come back. 

It’s case of staying patient and continuing to show up. It’s nice not having any set defined goals at the moment – this won’t last forever, of course – it's not how I’m wired. 

But enjoying the process of getting back to doing something I love that keeps me so mentally and physically healthy is a journey worth savouring. 

Remembering Hannah 

I was so sad to learn about Wymondham AC member Hannah Purvis passing away earlier this week. 

I didn’t know Hannah personally but Alison has told me what a popular member of WAC she was. 

Colney Lane parkrun will be dedicated to her on Saturday, April 16 for a remembrance run. Hannah loved to wear bright leggings so anyone attending is encouraged to wear bright colours. 

I’m sure I speak for the whole Run Anglia community in passing on my condolences to her friends and family.