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Running column: The post event blues are real for Mark Armstrong...and why is rest such a dirty word to runners?

Mark Armstrong in action at the Colchester Half Marathon. Picture: Sussex Sport Photography

Mark Armstrong in action at the Colchester Half Marathon. Picture: Sussex Sport Photography

Sussex Sport Photography.com 2018

If you don’t listen to your body then there are likely to be consequences, as Mark Armstrong is finding out

I’ve been greedy in more ways than one recently.

For a start, a large part of my paternity leave was spent eating cake with the justification that I needed the sugar to cope with the broken sleep that inevitably comes with a newborn.

But coupled with this, I’ve been struggling to let go of the training regime in the run-up to the Colchester Half Marathon last month.

The start of the year was all geared to running a half marathon and Neil Featherby’s programme ensured that I peaked at just the right time to knock more than nine minutes off my personal best.

The difficulty is I just can’t let it go.

I’m struggling to loosen my grip on the relatively intense training and the fitness I built up over the past few months (although if I don’t rein in the eating then it shouldn’t be too difficult!).

MORE: Adopt a positive mindset for marathon season, says Neil Featherby

I’ve been out running in some terrible weather this year, but the goal of setting a new half marathon PB got me through…just.

It feels odd taking it easier…and I don’t like it.

The truth is my body has been giving me all the signs that it needs a rest.

I’m no physio, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got the start of plantar fasciitis in my left foot whilst no amount of foam rolling appears to alleviate the tightness in my calves.

If you’re not intelligent enough to listen to the warnings your body is giving you then I’ve found out that it makes the decision for you.

Midway through a gentle three miles this week I strained my calf – it’s nothing too serious but running is off the agenda for a few days at least.

Rest is a dirty word to runners and it’s the last thing I want to do. I know people will tell me that it’s an ‘ideal time’ to cross train, which I know to be true.

But I don’t want to. I want to run – I don’t want to cycle or swim. I’ve got nothing against cyclists or swimmers but I don’t find either discipline anywhere near as satisfying as running.

It all feeds into the post-race blues that so many runners experience when a big event has gone.

MORE: Colchester Half Marathon review

Anyone who had the City of Norwich Half Marathon as their goal will know exactly what I’m talking about whilst I also have sympathy for anyone coming off the back of marathons at Brighton or London this weekend. The comedown after a race is part of being a runner I don’t particularly like as the next event can feel so far off.

In my case, the next big race on my calendar is Run Norwich, and as this isn’t until August, I feel a bit in no-man’s land with my training.

However, I won’t be able to do anything if I don’t give my legs a bit of rest before looking at a training programme for that race and another half marathon at the Great East Run in Ipswich in September.

The work for both these events starts now – but it’s difficult to get out of the mindset where only an intensive training programme feels like you are making any progress.

But if I don’t ease off then it will undermine these two events that I so want to do well in.

So the plan is to put my feet up for a few days (as much as you can with a baby that’s three weeks old), get some of that dreaded cross-training in and eat less cake…maybe.

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