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Running column: Mark Armstrong isn't allowing rejection from the big races to get him down

Mark Armstrong and wife, Alison, in the early stages of the Edinburgh Marathon. Picture: Edinburgh Marathon

Mark Armstrong and wife, Alison, in the early stages of the Edinburgh Marathon. Picture: Edinburgh Marathon

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Running columnist Mark Armstrong discusses why rejection from a big race event doesn't have to be the end

Primarily I run for all the health benefits you get physically and mentally from what is, arguably, sport in its rawest form.

It keeps a bit of weight off whilst helping you maintain a clear head when 21st century living seems to try and do the exact opposite.

But one of the other main reasons I run is to race – I love it.

I’m not racing against anyone, just myself – I’m my own biggest ally and opponent when it comes to running. In fact you can probably broaden that out to other facets of my life.

Getting races in your diary helps maintain that sense of motivation when everything seems to want you to fire up Netflix and hammer through six episodes of How I Met Your Mother...

MORE: Plan your race year here with our 2018 calendar

Other runners clearly feel the same way – it’s why we register our interest months in advance of big events. I can’t be the only one that feverishly refreshes his email every five minutes when the results of a big race ballot are due out.

I’ve not had much luck recently. After being rejected for a place by the Great North Run, a couple of days later Royal Parks also informed me that I won’t be lining up there this year.

I’m aware that I could chase a charity place but I think it’s important to choose carefully which event you’re going to raise money for. I’ve got one eye on a charity place for the London Marathon next year and I don’t feel like you can continually keep going to your friends and/or family asking for their financial support.

It’s disappointing to miss out on the Great North and Royal Parks but there are plenty of other events around the UK and further afield where you can get that ‘big race experience’. Name a city and you can almost guarantee they will have an event scheduled. Having run in Edinburgh and Nottingham last year I can highly recommend both but there are many others that have thousands of places and regularly sell out.

So rather than get too downhearted about missing out on two big races my wife, Alison (Ally), and I started looking for another race.

Ally admits it feels quite odd planning her running comeback when she’s eight months pregnant but it’s the only way you have half a chance of doing the events you want to given that most sell out so quickly.

After a bit of deliberation we’ve decided on doing the Bournemouth Half Marathon in October and we can’t wait. It’s a race we’ve done before but this time we are going to make it a family affair – the Armstrong clan will be descending on the south coast. We’ve signed up my daughter, Lara, and niece, Monique, for the kids’ kilometre and Lara is already excited at adding to her little medal collection (although she’s probably more excited at the prospect of getting a purple drinks bottle).

MORE: Mark Armstrong is keeping his motivation ahead of the Cambridge Half Marathon

The autumn diary is therefore taking shape as, alongside Run Norwich in August, I’ve also signed up for the Great East Run in Ipswich the month after. I’ll be looking for another strong run here and run Bournemouth with my wife as she gets her running mojo back after our second baby.

There’s spring to take care of first though and I’m really looking forward to the Valentine’s 10K on Sunday, organised by the Norfolk Gazelles. Fourteen miles were negotiated last weekend without too many issues and I’ll be using the race as a bit of an effort session in preparation for Cambridge, which is just a few weeks away now.

I won’t be chasing a PB on Sunday – just a strong run to set up my half marathon, which all my training has been geared towards. Avoiding injury will be the main priority (when isn’t it for me?) but I’m really looking forward to competing in my first race of the Sportlink Running & Fitness Grand Prix series this year.

Hopefully see you there.

Love running? Don’t forget to join the Run Anglia group on Facebook here.

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