Running column: Making the best out of a bad situation is crucial for runners at all levels, says Mark Armstrong

Mark Armstrong at the end of the Greater Manchester Marathon - a tough experience indeed. Picture: G

Mark Armstrong at the end of the Greater Manchester Marathon - a tough experience indeed. Picture: Greater Manchester Marathon - Credit: Archant

Run Anglia editor Mark Armstrong on why you shouldn't let that tough race experience scar your future events

Just end… please, just end.

Speaking to a lot of runners on the Sportlink GP Series circuit I know these thoughts are not uncommon when you're in the closing stages of a race.

It appears even elite athletes think similarly.

When Dani Nimmock was named in the GB squad to take part in the IAU 50K World Championships I knew how much it meant to her. To represent your country at anything is the type of honour that only a very small percentage get to experience.


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But it also presented a problem for her… and it's one that most runners will be able to identify with.

She was injured - a training run which saw her trip on a stone set in motion a severe bout of tendonitis in her foot, which she couldn't put any weight on.

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This was eight weeks out from the event - nobody wants or can afford the time to have an injury but when you're training to run 50K, further than she has ever run before, then it becomes a huge issue.

Despite religiously doing the rehab work required, Dani knew she wasn't going to be able to get the miles in her legs she wanted to perform to her optimum in Romania.

What do you do? Pull out? Plough on?

Dani obviously chose the latter, thinking that she had to take the GB vest she had been offered because she didn't know if, or when, it would come around again.

She knew what she was signing up to… a pretty grim end to the race, and so it proved.

One of the most depressing things I've experienced as a runner is during a marathon when you're 23 miles in and you've only got three to go…crikey that can feel like a long way.

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group hereI would think that Dani has rarely been in that sort of situation before… completely depleted, almost imploring the finish line to embrace you.

But I wonder how much she got out of those last few miles.

Feeling that uncomfortable towards the end of the race will have given her a new sense of perspective in terms of race pain and could serve her well in future races.

In whatever marathon she chooses next year I would be surprised if in those closing miles she doesn't think something along the lines of: "Okay I feel rubbish… but I don't feel as bad as I did in Brasov!"

Hopefully it will have added another layer of mental fortitude for when the going gets really tough in her next race.

That could be priceless when she's coming into the last 10K of her next marathon.

Given a decent training block I would bet good money Dani would knock a good 15 minutes off her time of 3-30:22. But when she looks back on her career one day she will remember pulling on that GB vest, not what time she finished in. Those last few miles were a price worth paying to say she ran for her country - what a buzz that would be.

She did her best in the circumstances, and that's a lesson that all runners can take into their next race. Things go wrong in the run-up to a race and quite often on the day itself.

You just have to deal with it in the best way you can - problem solving is a huge part of being a successful runner. Panic, particularly in a race that's 10 miles upwards, and you're in trouble.

The best runners take something from every race, good or bad, and I'm fascinated to see if Dani's first ultra experience will ultimately make her a better all-round runner.

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