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Running column: A deal with the running gods that was worth making for Mark Armstrong

Mark Armstrong and wife, Alison, after completing the Bournemouth Half Marathon. Picture: Mark Armstrong

Mark Armstrong and wife, Alison, after completing the Bournemouth Half Marathon. Picture: Mark Armstrong

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Some couples go for a meal out, some couples might be lucky enough to enjoy a few days away somewhere together.

Alison Armstrong with daughter, Lara, and son, Logan, after the Bournemouth Half Marathon. Picture: Mark ArmstrongAlison Armstrong with daughter, Lara, and son, Logan, after the Bournemouth Half Marathon. Picture: Mark Armstrong

But when the subject of what my wife, Alison, and I were going to do on our wedding anniversary there was only one thing both of us really wanted to do…run.

So the Bournemouth Half Marathon was booked in to celebrate six years of marital bliss…

The race was booked midway through Ally’s pregnancy with our second child, Logan, primarily as a target for her as she builds towards the London Marathon next year (yes, she was one of the lucky ones that got a ballot place…I’m not bitter, much).

Ally is a much more natural long distance runner than I am. She has a lot easier running style and consequently doesn’t get anywhere near as many niggling injuries as I do.

To demonstrate this, a few days before the race I didn’t think I was going to be able to run with her.

My right calf was in knots and each passing day saw only a marginal improvement.

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

My body needs a break. A really intensive training block where I chased a sub-20 5K has taken its toll on a 36-year-old body that I don’t always look after very well.

So I made a deal with the running gods.

Let me get round this race with Ally and I will dial the training right back to a stage that would let my injuries heal and I can start conditioning my body for next year.

I had got other events planned but none were more important than running this one with Ally, who has supported all the running goals I’ve chased this year.

I’ve done my hard running in 2018 and I’ve come to realise that I was perhaps being a little greedy chasing another half marathon personal best before the end of the year. I haven’t got the kind of running conditioning I need to do that.

I’m happy to say it was a deal worth doing. I just about managed to hold on to Ally for the race and whilst I was in a fair amount of discomfort (not pain, importantly) towards the end, we got round in just over 1-56. Job done.

I’ve put in a lot of miles this year and it was great to feel like I was running within myself for most of the race. However, if I’m being completely honest, I still found the last couple of miles quite difficult and I was concerned that if Ally said she felt like putting on a bit of a spurt towards the end then I might not be able to keep up.

MORE: Injury... is a lot of it in the mind?

Luckily, she’s not wired like I am, and she was more than happy in the closing stages to keep it steady and strong in the knowledge there will be other races in the future where we can push ourselves a little more. She’s a lot more sensible than I am!

This was about getting another building block in place for Ally whilst I tried to ensure I didn’t let a niggling calf injury, become chronic.

Running has felt effortless at times this year but over the last couple of months it’s felt hard and not always enjoyable. I know my body and mind are telling me that it needs a chance to recuperate.

I’ve tried to ignore it, patch myself up, and I’ve just about got through a race I really wanted to do.

It’s time to listen now and do a lot more of the conditioning work that I’ve neglected during the second half of the year.

I love running but I haven’t got a body that can do it all the time to the level I want to.

It’s all the ‘stuff’ away from the road that makes the difference – resting, stretching, rolling.

At times it’s boring but if it makes the running more enjoyable then it’s well worth doing, isn’t it?

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