Running column: Mark Armstrong is taking a step back to go forward ahead of a marathon next year

Mark Armstrong out on a training run. Picture: Alison Armstrong

Mark Armstrong out on a training run. Picture: Alison Armstrong


Running columnist Mark Armstrong is searching for a new training regime as he juggles life and running

The trainers have stayed exactly where I threw them after the Bournemouth Half Marathon nearly a couple of weeks ago.

It’s been just what I needed.

My calf had got to the stage where, if I didn’t let it recover, it was a problem that could become chronic but the break has allowed me to recharge mentally as well as physically.

A combination of my daughter, Lara, starting school, and some questionable sleep patterns from my six-month old son, Logan, alongside a busy race schedule had left me feeling a little burnt out.

Midweek runs, in particular, had become a chore. The hectic nature of getting home just after 6pm and negotiating the ‘witching hour’ with two tired children didn’t exactly boost the energy levels for an evening run.

The running routine, which involved a lot of training once the children were in bed, has clearly run its course and I’ve got to figure out a new one.

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A new one that doesn’t make me constantly feel I’m not getting the balance between my home life and running completely wrong.

I wouldn’t swap my situation for the world (I’d like to get more sleep though) but since Logan’s arrival, in particular, training hasn’t been a priority, nor should it be.

So for the past 10 days I’ve really enjoyed not having the constant worry about how I’m going to fit that run in.

I’ve been content to do a bit of conditioning work and stretching in front of the television once the kids are in bed.

However, I got my first pang this week when my wife, Alison, knocked out a quick 5K in training and I was envious of that feeling you get after you have a decent run.

My calf has loosened significantly and I feel ready to gently ease myself back into a new training regime.

I’m not sure what that looks like yet but that’s got to be the main goal before the end of the year – to come up with a consistent routine that I can maintain going into training for a marathon in spring next year.

I will have lost some fitness but not as much as you think. When I bemoaned how inactive I had been to Alison she did remind me that it’s less than two weeks since I ran at half marathon at Bournemouth. You simply can’t do that if you haven’t got a half decent base to work from.

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I know I need to do more conditioning work to make sure this calf problem doesn’t come back and that will also involve being sensible for a few weeks with my runs.

Once I’m confident that I’ve got that under control (and no other issues rear up!) I’m really keen to get back into some of the group sessions Neil organises weekly.

You can definitely get that extra 10 percent out of yourself when you’re training in a group as I’m sure any club runner will testify.

But I also want some of those solitary longer runs, normally at a weekend, when I get to completely space out. That sense of tired, inner calm that’s achieved at the end of a long run is what keeps me coming back to running (and the fact I have a weekly running column…).

If I can find a new routine to my training, and get back to enjoying it, then the races and (hopefully) achieving new personal bests will look after themselves.

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