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Running column: No nearer his goal but Mark Armstrong is just thankful to be out on the road

Mark Armstrong out on a training run. Picture: Alison Armstrong

Mark Armstrong out on a training run. Picture: Alison Armstrong

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The training hasn’t gone to plan for Mark Armstrong but he is still out on the road

The training has not gone according to plan recently.

I was closing in on my target of a sub 20-minute 5K after my last parkrun and felt that with a few more weeks of consistent training that I would be able to get there.

What is it they say about the best laid plans?

Well, the training plan went awry when I started to feel a bit of discomfort on top of my right foot, near my toes.

I brushed it off to start with as one that I would just ice and keep an eye on.

However, after one steady run it was clear that this wasn’t going to go away without a bit of rest. It was painful to put my full weight on it and I thought ‘here we go again’. My worry was that it could be the start of a stress fracture in one of my metatarsals and my mind just started racing.

How long will I be out for?

What if I can’t run again for several months?

Am I going to lose all my fitness during that time?

How on earth am I going to fill a weekly running column?

It was the kind of irrational thinking that I’m prone to when something that I love doing could be taken away.

I tried to stay calm and the fact that I had a few days away as part of a family break at Center Parcs last week worked in my favour as my daughter Lara would have had been having a serious word if I was using any energy for anything other than taking her swimming or tenpin bowling…(most of which was spent praying she didn’t drop a ball on her, or anyone’s, feet).

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It meant that I didn’t have the chance to feel sorry for myself although in the back of my mind I was thinking when I would be able to test the foot out again.

I gave it 10 days before creeping out the front door and thankfully it appears to have settled down although I am going to have to see how it is when I re-start the intensive sessions. The injury did mean that I missed the Humpty Dumpty 10K, which I was disappointed about but there’s always next year.

I feel like I’ve lost quite a bit of pace but hopefully the speed will come back pretty quickly.

The worry is still there that I don’t quite know why it happened. Did I push it just a little too much in the training? Did I not break in my new trainers well enough? Am I just made of glass?

But I’ve given myself a little pat on the back for actually backing off when I had the chance.

The foot injury had the potential to become chronic but by having the discipline to stay off the road I have hopefully avoided an extended spell on the sidelines.

In the past I would have ploughed on regardless – I turned 36 last week, maybe I’m starting to act like an adult…

I’m still absolutely determined to go under 20 minutes for 5K and I know that I’m not far away.

But it’s more important to me that I stay healthy and able to run than achieve a time and end up with my trainers gathering dust for several months.

With Run Norwich a little over a month away I don’t want to put my participation in that at risk. I almost missed it last year due to a hamstring strain and I was a grumpy so-and-so in the lead-up to it as a result!

If I gradually increase my workload again hopefully those injury niggles will stay away.

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