Running column: The rock and foam roll life of runners can’t be beaten, says Mark Armstrong

Mark Armstrong is targeting the half marathon at Cambridge in March. Picture: Supplied

Mark Armstrong is targeting the half marathon at Cambridge in March. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

Don't be afraid of your foam roller - it can help keep you out on the road, says Mark Armstrong

I can't watch anything on the television without foam rolling some part of my body – it's becoming a problem.

Anyone that regularly foam rolls will testify to how addictive it becomes once you get past that initial feeling where you feel like you're being tortured.

Once some of those knots start to loosen in your legs, or wherever, the pleasure/pain threshold veers slightly to the former. It feels great and is a great way to try and release a bit of tension in your legs when you can't afford the money and/or time to get a sports massage.

I'm becoming even more attached to my foam roller thanks to the fact the longer runs have started again. Coupled with a few speed sessions in the week it has left me feeling a little stiff and achy to say the least.

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Straddling the line between getting some decent, intensive training in whilst staying injury-free is one that is very tricky to negotiate.

It's when you have to be sensible and listen to your body - you need to try and spot the warning signs before letting an niggling injury become chronic.

MORE: Simon Wright reveals why he took up runningThe plantar fasciitis issue that I picked up towards the end of last year has reared its ugly head again and it's important I keep it in the 'manageable' category before Cambridge in just over four weeks' time.

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This hopefully explains why I can't watch Hollyoaks without getting the foam roller out and partially blocking my wife's view of the television.

I had a bit of tendonitis in my Achilles last year which appears to have subsided but manifested itself in the sole of my foot.

Only a decent proportion of rest, along with building up my calf muscles, will finally get to the root of the problem but for now I want to get through as much training as I can whilst ensuring the problem doesn't get progressively worse over the next few weeks.

It's all about the spring races Cambridge and then Colchester at the end of March.

With a second child on the way in early April I will naturally dial back the training over the summer.

But the next few weeks before baby number two makes an appearance will be what makes the difference and the long run last weekend was one of those where I felt grateful to have discovered this awesome sport.

MORE: What to do if you're suffering from knee painMy dad was up for the day and as I needed to get a long run in I suggested he came with me on his bike.

As a keen rider (I'm yet to convince him to ditch the bike) it was something he seemed happy to take up.

It was great having someone effectively pacing me – telling me exactly how fast/slow I was running every few minutes.

Out of the 11 miles I ran eight of them at a steady pace before stepping it up for the last three miles.

It felt like it had been a while since I had run a few easier miles and just gave me the chance to take in my surroundings and appreciate being out and about with my dad.

But not every run can be a good one – you learn to take the rough with the smooth with the idea being sometimes that the rougher it gets in your training the smoother your races are going to be.

I still have the odd run where I question the sanity of exerting a considerable effort to undertake an unnecessary journey merely to end up exactly where I started.

But then you have a run like Saturday where you feel like everything is coming together.

The best thing about it was still having a bacon sandwich with a cup of tea afterwards…even if I did have to foam roll again in the evening.

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