Mark Armstrong: The motivation is back but will it stay?

Mark Armstrong on his way to victory at one of the 800m races put on as part of the Joe Skipper Trac

The fittest Mark has ever felt... but can he now get back to it? Picture: Baz Hipwell - Credit: Archant

Anyone else had a bit of a reality check this week on their current fitness levels? 

As mentioned last week, I’ve used the announcement of our road map out of lockdown as motivation for the races I’ve got booked (after taking a while to figure out what races I had actually registered for and when they had been rearranged!). 

My coach Neil Featherby has been letting me tick over this year with running this year falling right down the list of priorities for the first couple of months. 

However, I’ve now shunted it up the list bearing in mind my stint as a home-schooler is about to come to an end... my daughter, Lara, should be as relieved as I am that I’m no longer her maths teacher. 

Having spoken to Neil that I’m fully on board for the next block of training in the hope of achieving a sub 40-minute 10K, I needed to do a benchmark run to ascertain just how far I’ve got to go. 

He wanted me to do a 4K time trial because he said with a smile that he couldn’t trust me to pace a 5K correctly at such an early stage in a training block. I feigned offence... I also knew he was right! 

The run went okay... nothing more, nothing less. All of the kilometres were under four-minute pace but my goodness was I glad to stop after 4K. I could just about have probably squeezed out a sub 20-minute 5K but it feels like I’m nowhere near going under 40 minutes for 10K. 

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I don’t need to be yet. That’s why I’ve got a training plan and why I feel lucky to call upon Neil’s expertise to get me there. We’ve got just under eight weeks now so some good quality training in the meantime should bring down that ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ pace a little.  

I’ve lost fitness since the end of last year but what did I expect when all of my runs have been in the ‘easy’ end of the spectrum and each time my wife, Alison, comes back from work she brings me home coffee and cake... 

I know this is part of the cycle I go through... ‘you are where you are,’ Neil always says to me by which he means there’s no point mourning the loss of the fitness you had, just get on with recapturing it and moving even further forward. 

So I’ve felt motivated this week and, with that, it’s easier to be disciplined. I’ve wanted to get out for every single training run and I’ve moved on to smoothies instead of cakes at the moment (don’t tell the sugar police). 

I know over the course of the next couple of months the motivation will naturally come and go but it’s the discipline part that needs to remain consistent. 

The lighter mornings and evenings certainly make it a little easier and let’s face it what else are we going to do whilst we’ve all still got to stay local until March 29...  it’s usually the highlight of my day. 

So wherever you are with your training try not to yearn for what you had.  

Hopefully there is going to be a lot of opportunity soon to get it back and we’re all going to have a lot of fun doing it... if anyone can class doing mile efforts with very little rest in between as fun...