Running column: Mark Armstrong is ready to enjoy the festive season... but not too much

Mark Armstrong in action at the Colchester Half Marathon. Picture: Sussex Sport Photography

Mark Armstrong in action at the Colchester Half Marathon. Picture: Sussex Sport Photography - Credit: Sussex Sport

Run Anglia editor Mark Armstrong is trying to keep his 2019 goals in mind as we enter the festive season

Too much of it and you neglect other aspects of your life but, without it, you can't get the results you want.

It's a balancing act, and it's very easy at this time of year for the scales to get a little tilted in either direction.

I love Christmas - it's my favourite time of the year, particularly now I get to see it through the eyes of my children.

But it can also be a challenging time of year in so many ways and running is no different.

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You can guarantee that temptation is going to be laid out in front of you on an almost daily basis as the big day looms.

Food, drink, parties – often a year's worth of socialising is condensed into one month and this can have an exhaustive effect on your training. I know it does on mine, if I let it.

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group hereWith this in mind I wanted to maintain a bit of focus with a busy few weeks coming up and I deliberately frightened myself.

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I counted how many weeks it is before the race I'm building 2019 around – the Greater Manchester Marathon.

With just over 16 weeks to go that means there are only 15 opportunities for me to get my long runs in, in reality that will be even less with a taper. Gulp... it's time to gain some self control and probably put the M&S food Christmas catalogue in the recycling.

I could easily let myself get swept up in the Christmas spirit and lead a very indulgent existence for a few weeks.

But I also know how much that could set me back when the decorations come down in January and you survey the wreckage of the past few weeks.

Unfortunately I'm at an age now where it takes a lot longer to work off those excesses.

As has been made so abundantly clear when I started this column 18 months ago, I'm no athlete and don't pretend to be.

I enjoy running but there are plenty of other things I like doing and it can't always be my priority when I have any spare time.

Life's too short to live like a monk and if I miss a run here and there over the Christmas period then I'm not going to beat myself up over it.

I'll try and get in as many miles whenever and wherever I can, but don't expect me to pass up the chance to have a beer with friends and family. It happens all too rarely as it is.

MORE: Every runner's needs must be respectedNeil Featherby, who coaches me, knows I need a degree of flexibility to any programs he sets and that if the opportunity presents itself to get a run in then I'll take it, although sometimes you have to make those opportunities for yourself.

That's why I will be getting the training in any which way I can at any time possible. If I'm awake at 4am (which is fairly likely as my son Logan has an aversion to sleep) then I'll have my kit ready to go.

If I'm looking after Logan then I'll do a buggy run just to keep the legs ticking over.

I'm going to enjoy Christmas, but I'll also keep in the back of my mind that I don't want to make my training a lot more uncomfortable than it needs to be in the new year.

Thanks BVH

I can't let this column go without saying thank you to Bure Valley Harriers for the present they sent to my office this week…

The Bure Valley Harriers 2019 calendar has pride of place on my desk at work.

Perhaps if I mistakenly miss them off any future Norfolk club directories or praise rival clubs then they'll send me a vest next time…

Joking aside, it was a nice touch, and I look forward to seeing them thrive next year.

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