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Running column: Wymondham AC runner is inspiring Mark Armstrong to achieve that sub 20-minute 5K

Juliette Watkinson on the home straight at the Holt 10K. Picture: Mark Armstrong

Juliette Watkinson on the home straight at the Holt 10K. Picture: Mark Armstrong

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Running columnist Mark Armstrong is feeling inspired by Holt 10K winner Juliette Watkinson

Juliette Watkinson speaks to Mark Armstrong after winning the Holt 10K. Picture: SuppliedJuliette Watkinson speaks to Mark Armstrong after winning the Holt 10K. Picture: Supplied

Juliette Watkinson had just won the Holt 10K on Sunday when I was looking to have a quick chat with her.

After running a very impressive time of 40:37 one of her two daughters clearly wanted to tell her mummy all about what she had been doing for the past 40-odd minutes.

She just about managed to usher them back to their dad for a couple of minutes whilst I interviewed her.

She apologised for the delay (when there was really no need to) before I was able to grab a few words about her latest success.

It brought home to me how inspirational someone like Juliette is in the way she juggles bringing up two young children whilst holding down a demanding job (she is a paramedic).

This is something I can empathise with but she does all this whilst posting the kind of times mere mortals like me can only dream of.

The Sportlink Grand Prix series in particular is full of runners who have to balance their everyday lives with their passion for running and Juliette is no different.

It can be difficult and often comes down to how hard you want to chase that goal. I saw a post on social media last week saying how you won't get very far if you only run on the days you feel like it. It's so true.

I know Juliette puts a lot of her success down to the advice offered by Wymondham AC and it is clear when you look at the front end of a lot of races that the structure running clubs provide brings about speed and progress for most runners.

But in the end it comes down to each individual person. What do you want to get out of your running? Do you want to go as fast as you can go over different distances? Or do you just want to enjoy being outside turning the legs over at whatever pace you feel like?

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There's nothing wrong with either approach and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

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Personally I want to go as fast I can go whilst I'm able to. I'm 37 in a few weeks time and I want to see how much progress I can make before old father time starts to catch up with me.

I'll have to discover a different relationship with running then but I can say with some confidence that I will want it in my life in some form.

For the moment I want to see how quickly these old legs will take me. Balancing the training required for that with everything else is one of life's challenges but seeing people like Juliette smashing personal bests gives me the belief that I can achieve my goals, currently breaking the 20-minute mark for a 5K.

Neil Featherby regularly tells me what I'm capable of but knows my training has to be set within the parameters and demands of having a young family and being the kind of dad I want to be.

The day I choose a run over a day out at the beach with my children is the day I need to have a serious think about my priorities, particularly if a cream scone is on offer at Dunes Café in Winterton. I'd rather do the run in the evening when the kids are in bed, regretting the scone I'd eaten earlier…

The beauty of the running scene is also that you can include your family. I took my wife, Alison, and children along with me on Sunday with the promise of cake on offer.

What Juliette won't have seen before she went over the finish line is moments earlier my one-year-old, Logan, who has just learned to walk, making a break across the home straight a couple of times.

I don't think he got in anyone's way but apologise if he did…

To be honest I was just impressed that Juliette's daughter hadn't tried to steal a banana off her after she had finished.

My daughter Lara would have…and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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