Running column: Mark Armstrong will let the training be his guide for next half marathon

Mark Armstrong on a training run. Picture: Alison Armstrong

Mark Armstrong on a training run. Picture: Alison Armstrong - Credit: Archant

I wish I knew then what I know now.

That was the theme of a post I put up on the Run Anglia Facebook group earlier this week and I was taken aback by the response.

I asked: 'What's the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?'

Some fantastic advice came back and it showed how a lot of runners are constantly learning and pass on that knowledge to others as they look to run faster, further or for fun.

My own training has suffered a bit of a knock this week as the Armstrong household has been struck down with the plague…or a common cold.

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Running and colds don't mix – another thing I've learned since I started running – so I've been sidelined for the last few days as the cold runs its course.

It hasn't stopped me from booking another race though.

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group hereI started getting an uneasy feeling when I realised that I've only got a couple of races booked before the end of the year and when Annie Leung was looking to transfer a place for the St Neots Half Marathon I snapped it up (thanks Annie!).

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After the disappointing performance at The Great East Run a few weeks ago I wanted to get another half marathon booked where I can put in a bit of an effort although the main goal for the rest of this year has got to be setting up a marathon next spring.

It will be a test of self-discipline and I will have to see how the training goes between now and November.

However, what I won't be doing is setting off at too quicker pace just because I was able to sustain that earlier this year.

I've got to let the training runs between now and then be my guide and not let my ego get in the way. I know how that pans out…me trudging across the finish line, bitter that I'm not as fit as I thought I was.

There's definitely a lot to be said about finishing strongly and the only way to do that is to get the pace right from the start.

I was running 7:30-minute miles for the half marathon distance earlier this year but that sort of pace feels like a pipe dream over 13.1 miles at the moment. On the wrong day, I'd struggle to do that over a couple of miles as it stands!

It's not nice losing fitness but sometimes it's necessary to enable your body to recover before embarking on more of an intensive training programme.

I'm still doing a lot of work on my calves as they are susceptible to going into spasm midway through a run, which really doesn't feel the best.

It means that I've eased off on the speed sessions as I try and get some time on my feet and some endurance into my legs.

I ran the four miles to parkrun at the weekend (pre-cold) and if I can steadily build up the mileage again over the next couple of weeks I might be able to get back into a proper programme before St Neots.

However, avoiding injury has got to be the number one goal and with that in mind I'm hoping to book for a bit of an MOT with Charles Allen soon and get to the bottom of a few other biomechanical issues that are causing niggles.

I'll let Chas and the team get their Hadrian's Wall Challenge out of the way first though!

On that note, I wanted to wish Neil, Chas and Jason Wright the best of luck north of the border this weekend as they look to run the 84 miles of Hadrian's Wall in 24 hours.

They are doing it for a couple of great causes in Hallswood Animal Sanctuary and Nelson's Journey and it would be great if they could go into it knowing they've hit their £2,000 target already.

Anyone that wishes to donate can at

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