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Running column: Mark Armstrong on how his four-year-old daughter, Lara, is making him a better runner

PUBLISHED: 06:00 14 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:25 14 September 2018

Running columnist Mark Armstrong with daughter, Lara, after the Trowse 10K last year. Picture: Alison Armstrong

Running columnist Mark Armstrong with daughter, Lara, after the Trowse 10K last year. Picture: Alison Armstrong

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Running columnist Mark Armstrong discusses how his daughter, Lara, is helping to make him a better runner

‘Where did the time go?’

It’s a question that’s been asked a lot in the Armstrong household this week with my four-year-old daughter, Lara, starting school.

As she skipped along the pavement towards her new classroom with the kind of boundless, carefree, enthusiasm that unfortunately leaves most of us as the years tick by, I could feel a lump in my throat the size of a golf ball.

I just about managed to hold it together… I didn’t want to be an embarrassment on her first day. There’s still plenty of time for that.

Nearly five years have certainly zipped by but I make a conscious effort to ensure that I appreciate these precious moments.

She’s still at the stage where the smallest things blow her little mind and life through her eyes is the kind of innocent existence we could all do with a bit of at times.

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Whilst school will open up her curious little brain to even more of the world, I don’t think seeing a moth in our bathroom is going to prompt the same wonderment as it has up to now…

‘What’s this got to do with running?’ I hear you ask.

Part of the reason I run is for Lara.

I want to see as much of her life as I possibly can to experience more of these big moments. The ones where you wish other loved ones you’ve lost could still be around to see them.

I wouldn’t have given it a second thought if I hadn’t lost my mum to cancer nearly three years ago.

But with that sense of mortality forced upon me, I’ve tried to live my life in as healthy way as possible and running is a key part of that (enjoying a large chicken kebab and chips a couple of times a month probably detracts from that a little).

Since taking up running I haven’t always got the balance between training/family right but Lara knows that part of being her dad is me being ‘a runner’. Not in the Mo Farah athlete sense, but in that I try and lead a healthy lifestyle and do my best to better myself whenever I take on something.

I know it’s something she enjoys and aspires to herself as whenever my wife, Alison or I, are involved in a running race she’s desperate to get her own kit on, even if it is only to cheer us on from the side.

She’s already had a hint of the running bug taking part in her first junior parkrun recently and she will be taking on the kids’ kilometre at Bournemouth in a few weeks time. I’ve told her she’s got a time of 11 minutes to beat from when she did it at Edinburgh when she was three…I’m kidding.

MORE: Check out our race calendar here

As long as it makes her happy she can do it in whatever time she likes. Perhaps I should try and live my running life by the same rules.

When I’m training for any race I can develop a tunnel vision where you see everything that life is throwing at you in a way where you ask: ‘how’s this going to affect my running?’

But there’s more to running than just time and numbers. As I gently ease my way back into some sort of routine from the calf problem I’ve had recently I really enjoyed 11 miles back at my dad’s at the weekend running along the River Stort with Alison.

When you distil your life into a number of moments you remember times aren’t really all that important, it’s the experiences that you really cherish. What am I going to remember more? That training run where I hit every split correctly, or when I was up early to get the miles in and all I could smell was the wafts of bacon coming off the moored up boats.

‘Where did the time go?’

I plan to keep track of it a lot more when it comes to running.

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