Running column: How parkrun held a mirror up to Mark Armstrong's commitment to running
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Run Anglia editor Mark Armstrong's latest parkrun experience
I adopt a love/hate relationship with parkrun.
It always seems like such a good idea in the days leading up to it but when you're a couple of kilometres into it and your lungs are on fire you wonder why you didn't just sit at home with a cup of tea watching Saturday Morning Kitchen.
But last weekend's parkrun in Bishop's Stortford was made even more tempting for my wife, Alison, and I as it presented the chance of a blessed few hours away from our sleep thief 18-month-old son, Logan (thanks dad).
It didn't go well, for me at least.
As I've mentioned in previous columns, my running has been without a great deal of direction since the Lord Mayor's 5K through my own choice.
Illness and, if I'm honest, a lack of motivation, have contributed to some of that hard-earned speed to have been lost.
However, my running brain, which appears to operate on, arguably, a slightly less intelligent level from the rest of my mind, won't accept that.
It still wants my legs to run at the same pace as they did a few months ago, which is fine… for a mile.
But every glance at the watch thereafter saw my average mile pace get slightly slower with every passing minute.
So as I started to ponder what recipes I had missed out on watching, which I've no intention of cooking, I also had that sinking feeling of being passed a lot in the final mile.
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To add to the ignominy of it all, a young lad, who couldn't have been more than 10, did me in the home straight.
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I had to laugh at myself in the aftermath when I claimed to Alison that the fact I've got my watch set to miles and not kilometres was partly to blame for my below par performance.
It could also be the fact that I haven't been putting in the hard yards in training but the jury is out…
What saved the morning fortunately (apart from getting coffee after, obviously) was that Alison had a great run and broke 23 minutes for the first time.
It's just reward for the consistent training and speed work that I badgered her to start doing and she is seeing the results.
So I've been taking my own advice and over the past week gently increased the intensity of my sessions.
This weekend I'm going to skip parkrun in favour of getting some miles in the legs ahead of the Bure Valley 10M race in a couple of weeks time.
However, it shouldn't go without saying that once again all over the country there will be volunteers giving up their Saturday mornings to provide motivation for people to get out for their weekend run. It's amazing… even if it does have the ability to make me feel bad about myself.
Of course, it also can go the other way as Alison found out this week.
Round Norfolk Relay
Good luck to all those runners taking part in the Round Norfolk Relay this weekend. It's got to be the most intriguing running event Norfolk puts on and I would dearly love to run a leg one year.
Everyone I've spoken to says about the camaraderie amongst club runners, bringing out the best in people… exactly what running should always be about. I hope everyone involved has a great run.