Running column: Patience in pursuit of his goals will hopefully bear fruit for Mark Armstrong

Patience is a virtue for Mark Armstrong as he comes back from injury. Picture: Alison Armstrong Phot

Patience is a virtue for Mark Armstrong as he comes back from injury. Picture: Alison Armstrong Photography - Credit: Archant

A big part of being a runner is learning to be patient.

It's rubbish…but necessary.

After setting myself the task of going under 20 minutes for 5K this summer I've had to take a few steps back recently due to a foot injury.

There was part of me that so desperately wanted to use the 20:25 I achieved at parkrun last month as a springboard for achieving my Holy Grail at the Lord Mayor's 5K this Saturday.

My coach, Neil Featherby, floated the idea of taking part in the race a couple of months back and it excited me.

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It made me nervous in equal measure – the thought of being dragged off the course for not going through the halfway point in under 10 minutes is the kind of humiliation I could do without…

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group hereDespite a little trepidation, I had quietly made it a goal of mine but as soon as I sustained the injury to my foot a few days after setting my new personal best I was always going to struggle to make it.

I'm not ready and I'm gutted about it.

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I'm still in relatively decent shape for me…but I'm not running at a level that would see me dip under 20 minutes, or perhaps even make the 10-minute halfway cut-off point.

The truth is I don't know if I'm ready to get back into the kind of short, intensive sessions that make the difference in getting your times down.

The only way to find out is to ease back in gently, as frustrating as that is. Neil is constantly reminding me to take it easy in my recovery as I need to make sure my body can cope with a more aggressive training program again.

As much as I don't like it always, slow and steady often wins the fitness race.

Something wasn't right otherwise I wouldn't have sustained the injury to the top of my foot in the first place. It would be naïve to think I can go back into a similar training program after a couple of weeks of lighter training and expect a different result.

I made that mistake last year when, annoyed with my time from my first marathon in Edinburgh, I tried to get back into full training too soon after and ended up straining my hamstring.

In hindsight I wasn't ready to run a marathon how I wanted to in the first place and tried to make up for it by running a second one later in the year.

MORE: Alicia Lacey breaks course record at scorching Harling 10KI got through the Robin Hood Marathon but I had to manage several niggles carefully and I know I can run one quicker.

The best block of training came at the start of this year in preparing for the Colchester Half Marathon when I was able to do quite a lot of conditioning work to compliment the running.

With this in mind I've been trying over the past week or so to do a lot more of these exercises that stood me in good stead.

When you're struggling to make time for running then I find it's the conditioning work that's the first thing to go because, given the choice, I would rather run than do a bit of strength work – wouldn't anyone?.

But this supplementary training can make a huge difference and I need to get back to the stage where it's second nature to strengthen or stretch whenever I get a spare moment.

So the sub 20-minute 5K goal is still there, but I can't chase it as hard as I have been.

It's going to have to wait a few weeks but I'm still hoping I can achieve it before I start getting in training for the couple of half marathons I've got planned for later in the year.

But only if I'm ready…

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