Running column: Mark Armstrong on the lessons learned from being an injured runner

Mark Armstrong is plotting his comeback after sustaining an injury earlier this year. Picture: Susse

Mark Armstrong is plotting his comeback after sustaining an injury earlier this year. Picture: Sussex Sport Photography - Credit: Sussex Sport

Run Anglia editor Mark Armstrong discusses the lessons he's learned whilst being injured

Not being able to run hasn't been as bad as I thought so far.

I'm desperate to get back out there but it's made me realise that I like to run… I don't necessarily need to.

I spent 30-odd years without running in my life so I think I'll just about survive a few months on the sidelines.

It has given me a chance to focus on other areas of my life, which sometimes fall by the wayside in the midst of a training programme.

With this in mind, I'm borrowing a regular feature we use as part of our Norwich City coverage after each match…

I'm going full on Pink Un… here are seven things I've learned…

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Ask yourself, why?

My encounter with a conker was an unlucky accident but I've pondered whether I sustained more damage as a result of being tired from the Bure Valley 10 race I ran in the day before. Had I been fresher would I have been able to stabilise myself better? Who knows, but in future I'm always going to schedule a day's rest following a race before gently ease back into it over the next few days.

Poor me

Behaving like you've lost a pound and found a penny doesn't do anyone any favours. It's very easy to feel sorry for yourself when you've sustained an injury, watching so many other people pounding the streets can lead to bitterness that you're unable to do the same. But it's also important to realise the effect it has on the people closest to you. However long you're sidelined for, it's going to feel a whole lot longer if you're a miserable so-and-so.


Quite apart from the physical challenges ahead, it is arguably the mental ones that are more difficult to overcome. However, once I accepted that I wasn't going to be able to run for a while, I felt a pressure lift a little. Running has become part of who I am as a person, but it shouldn't define me - hopefully I can be a little more rounded than that…maybe!

Don't look too far ahead

As soon as I learned the relative severity of my injury I got shot of all the race places I could. Until I'm in a position to genuinely set some kind of physical running target then it can only lead to disappointment. I've managed to get rid of a place at Tarpley and deferred my Greater Manchester Marathon place and felt a weight lift after having done so.

You are what you eat…

I've always thought that running kept the weight off and of course it can help. If you burn off more calories than you consume then you lose weight… simple. However, as I was wary of piling on a few pounds during my time away, I had a chat with Chas Allen about listening to my appestat (the signal which tells you when you're hungry), resolving to only eat when I felt the need to. It has taught me that I do quite of lot of routine eating. I've broken that habit and the result is that I've actually lost weight over the last couple of months despite not running.

Support others

Cheering on other runners comes a closer second than I was expecting to competing. There's something I quite like about telling my wife to 'push, push' in the home straight without expending any extra effort myself. It seemed to work anyway - she's enjoyed two new personal bests whilst I've been injured at 10K and half marathon distances.

Get the right advice

I'm so happy the moonboot is off but it would be folly to assume you can get back to 'normal' straightaway.

Learning the difference between a good type of pain, which is getting your body back to where it was, and the bad type, that's only setting the injury back, is a skill that I'm learning and willing to pay for in terms of specialist advice.

Okay, I've bored enough people with my time on the sidelines so far. Therefore, for the next few weeks at least I'm going to be doing a few different things in my column. Keep your eyes peeled…