Mark Armstrong: When there's a better offer than training for a marathon

Mark Armstrong training run

Mark Armstrong on a training run... not whilst he was on holiday. - Credit: Mark Armstrong

We’ve just come back from a day out on the beach and there’s talk of using the hot tub that’s in the cottage for bit more chill out/family time. 

We’d been keen to take the plunge since we had arrived and there was suddenly a window for us to use it (and get some of the sand off from the beach...) 

I was in a bit of quandary though. This was when I thought I might have a chance to get a few miles in around some of the hills around North Yorkshire and with the Manchester Marathon edging ever closer I really had to start taking my training more seriously. 

‘Sorry guys, I’ve got to get a run in, you’ll have to go in without me.’ 

I didn’t say this.  

I sacked off the run and relaxed in the hot tub instead before having a couple of beers in the evening after the kids had gone to bed. I didn’t run and it was a decision I was perfectly comfortable with. 

It was also the moment that I realised that I had to forget about Manchester this year. I haven’t got that fire I need currently to nail the marathon training and run it how I want to. 

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I took a whole bag full of running gear on holiday and none of it was used. Did I feel guilty? Not at all.  

I could still probably get myself to a stage where I could get round the 26.2 miles but not to a standard that I want my next one to be at. I could also do myself some damage as well as a marathon really isn’t to be undertaken lightly. 

You need to be a bit selfish to train for one and have the understanding of your friends and family that they might not see as much of you as they would like when the training cranks up. 

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That’s a difficult concept for young children to understand – they just want you around all the time at their beck and call, particularly in the summer holidays (I’m sure I didn’t ‘snack’ as much as my two cheeky monkeys). 

Rather naively, I hadn’t factored in just how hard it would be to keep training structured at this time when both Lara and Logan are off from school and nursery. 

The odd four or five-mile run here and there have been the order of the day for both my wife, Alison and I. Anyone will tell you that you have to be able to commit to a lot further if you’re training for a marathon. 

I’ve got so much respect for all the people I follow who are committing to banking those miles even with all the pressures they might have going on in their lives. 

Running is the great stress reliever but there is a fine line to tread when you’re training for a big goal and it can become a stress causer. 

I’ve also had to deal with some injury issues which have really caught me out this year having had such a decent run since breaking my ankle towards the end of 2019. 

Even if the mind is able, my body isn’t, but I’m taking steps to ensure I can start running how I want to again. Easy running isn’t an issue but when I try and introduce some speedwork it is proving difficult.  

You never know I might be able to run at the London Marathon next year now they have put it off until October, which hasn’t proved the most popular decision, understandably. 

But that might work out well if I can rediscover my motivation and full fitness by then!