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Running column: Marathon training has consisted of long runs, a children’s party and a spacehopper race for Mark Armstrong

Mark Armstrong on a training run in Long Stratton. Picture: Alison Armstrong Photography

Mark Armstrong on a training run in Long Stratton. Picture: Alison Armstrong Photography

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‘Are you all right? You don’t look very well…’

This was the question that met me as I stumbled through the door after completing a 14-mile training run at the weekend – my longest run of this training block so far.

Yes, the road to the Greater Manchester Marathon is well underway.

I managed to allay my wife, Alison’s, fears that I was about to keel over pretty quickly by swallowing a banana in record time.

The truth is I felt fine… although I didn’t have any time to celebrate the fact I had made it through another long run injury free.

A lot of the advice after a long run is to plan them in so you haven’t got a lot to do for the rest of the day, perhaps a bit of light stretching, but certainly nothing too strenuous.

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group here

Well, I had my daughter, Lara’s, fifth birthday party to get ready for with close to 30 children running riot round a village hall.

I wouldn’t have it any other way, although some of the party games I took part in weren’t particularly helpful… and I lost a spacehopper race against Alison…

I realise this isn’t ideal from a recovery point of view but, unless you’re an elite athlete, running has to fit into your life…not the other way round.

I spent a lot of time towards the end of last year when I was sidelined with calf problems thinking/worrying about how I would get the training in necessary to get to the start line.

A new routine had to be established but one that was flexible given I also have a now nine-month old son, Logan, who has an aversion to sleeping through the night.

But it’s so far, so good. For the past month I’ve managed to get four runs in a week although there was a slight scare after the parkrun on New Year’s Day when I thought my calf had gone again.

I’d got some good training in over the Christmas period but in the last kilometre at parkrun I could just feel my calf starting to tighten and I was like a bear with a sore head for a few hours afterwards.

I slumped into a spiral of negativity whereby I started to wonder how on earth I’m going to get through a marathon training block if I can’t get through 5K without the calf problem rearing its head.

MORE: How children can make you a better runner

It prompted a change in Neil Featherby’s approach to my training programme and I’m now purely focusing on just getting the miles in for the next few weeks.

The speed sessions have been on hold for the moment just to give my legs a chance to adapt. This is where I’m glad to have a coach’s expertise in dealing with these kinds of issues.

Before my first marathon in Edinburgh a couple of years ago I didn’t have Neil coaching me and I know that in the same situation I would have ploughed on with my training and exacerbated the problem.

I’ve still got my doubts whether I can get to the start line as everything isn’t quite in my control. I think I’ll be able to get the training in somehow but how good that training will be will depend a lot on the energy levels I can maintain.

In the meantime, I’ll try and keep the spacehopper races in check although it does mean that Alison is going to have bragging rights for now.

There’s always next year…

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