Running column: No event? No problem - it’s time for Mark Armstrong to put racing on the backburner

Mark Armstrong on the home straight at the Great East Run. Picture: Marathon Photos

Mark Armstrong on the home straight at the Great East Run. Picture: Marathon Photos - Credit: Archant

I can't get away from the fact it has been a frustrating time for me running wise.

Between dashes to meet princesses and the odd stolen 5K where I feel like I'm waiting for my calves to finally go 'ping', good quality training has been in short supply in the last couple of months.

Since taking up running regularly, I've always needed a race to get motivated, especially when the nights draw in and you have to start looking for your running gloves at the bottom of your kit draw.

But that's been taken out of the equation recently. I know that I want to run a marathon next year in spring and I'm hoping it will either be in London through a charity place or Manchester.

However, I can't think of that too much now. It feels far too daunting given I'm still not entirely confident my body is going to get through 5K without any problems rearing up.

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group hereWhenever I'm building up towards a race it dominates my thinking and provides a level of focus that is difficult to replicate when you haven't got an event on the immediate horizon.

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But instead of building towards an 'A race', my focus has got to be attaining full fitness before getting into a marathon training schedule.

It's very easy to drift along at the moment but if I don't get rid of a lot of these niggles now, namely the calf issues, then I'm never going to get through a marathon training program to the level I want to be at.

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So it's all about establishing a routine whilst adopting a conditioning program that is hopefully going to overcome a lot of the biomechanical issues I've developed through years of playing football when I was younger.

It's not easy – they're boring, repetitive, slightly uncomfortable exercises that you would rather not be doing whilst watching Hollyoaks (which I pretend I don't like to my wife, Alison).

But these exercises are hopefully going to restore some of the confidence I've lost in my legs recently. I need to get to a stage where I finish a run without feeling that my calves aren't on the verge of breaking down.

Once I've sorted that I can start putting in a few effort sessions under Neil Featherby's guidance with a view to building my endurance again next year.

I've got to take it all week by week because the thought of running the marathon distance is rather intimidating. Ten miles feels a very long way to run as it stands but if all goes to plan that will be regarded as something of a medium run in a couple of months' time.

For now, it's not about distance, that can wait until the new year. I just need to get my body in a position where it can cope with some decent quality training.

MORE: How children can make you a better runnerHowever, that doesn't mean I can completely take my eye off the slightly longer term. It's the time of year when you have to seriously start planning your races.

I've already booked up for the Freethorpe 10 next year but I haven't gone any further than that. I was planning on booking on to the Cambridge Half Marathon but missed the six-minute window during which the entire race sold out!

The new half marathon at Ringland was next on my list but I left it too long to book and missed out again with all 750 places available being snapped up within a day.

I'm all for this running boom but not when it means I miss out on races I want to do…!

I've been a bit more hesitant in my booking of races because I must have spent around £100 on races this year that I haven't run and I'm not willing to do it again. If it means having to do training runs in preparation for my main race next year then so be it.

I just need to get myself in a position to get to that start line in London or Manchester. From this point onwards, everything I do has to feed into that.

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