Mark Armstrong: What's keeping me accountable in 2022

Action from the Easton Valentine's 10k run. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

The Valentine's 10K and the Sportlink Grand Prix Series start again on Sunday. - Credit: Archant

Accountability is a concept that looks very different to everyone. 

When it comes to running, some people don’t need it. They’ve got such inner discipline and determination that nothing is going to get in the way of them reaching their goals. It’s admirable but it’s not common and that’s why such a small percentage of people become elite athletes. 

Most runners, like myself, need a reason to keep pushing. To keep putting the miles in when it would be far easier not to. To stay disciplined when the motivation isn’t quite there. 

I’ve always got something that I’m working towards with my running and in many other areas of my life, to be honest. Will I ever get there? Who knows, but the journey of trying makes it worth it. 

There are of course still days that I could do without fitting a run in. Running is never on the ‘must do’ list for my day.  

Helping to ensure my kids are where they need to be, certainly is. Seemingly no matter how prepared we think we are in the mornings, there’s always something in the last five minutes you’re due to leave the house that will crop up (‘WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES?!’). 

Helping manage the content of the sport/Norwich City sections of the Eastern Daily Press, Norwich Evening News and the Pink Un+ app also takes up a lot of headspace.  

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These are just a couple of things in the daily grind that incrementally chip away from your internal battery each day.  

But I try to distinguish between whether I’m mentally or physically tired because there is a difference. 

If it’s the former then there really isn’t an excuse not to fit that run in if your goal means that much to you. 

I still need a level of accountability though and you have to try and work out how that translates for you. 

Personally, I find having Neil overseeing my training enough for me to get some of my runs done when perhaps I don’t want to. 

I had such an instance on Tuesday earlier this week. 

I started the day earmarking fitting a run in during a lunch break and gradually it got put back further and further into the day. 

If I hadn’t got Neil's plan and the accountability it provides then I wouldn’t have gone. 

I would have justified it to myself that I had worked a full day and I just wanted to have my dinner and see my kids after they had got home after school/nursery. 

But I went – I got the session in... and I felt so much better for it. 

I was even rewarded with a beautiful dusky skyline that gave a golden glow to everything as I was doing the session planned. It was awesome. 

With January over and with enthusiasm perhaps starting to wane about how 2022 is going to be your year, then it’s worth thinking about what’s going to keep you accountable. 

It could be investing in a coach, joining a running club, training with a friend at a certain time each week. 

Try a few different things to see what works. There’s value in accountability but you have to work out how to achieve that with your running. 

Sportlink GP 2022

Good luck to anyone racing in the Valentine’s 10K this weekend – the first event of the 2022 Grand Prix Series. 

It really is so good to see the series back and provides Norfolk’s running community with a number of goals to build their training around. 

I’ve got happy memories of the race – I remember surprising myself in 2018 by running just over 43 minutes – a time that I was absolutely delighted with. 

I won’t be running it this year but I’m looking forward to racing in a number of other events being put on. 

I will be there though cheering on my ever-faster wife...