Mark Armstrong: The cold truth behind my training recently

Mark Armstrong Hatfield Forest training run

Mark Armstrong on a training run - Credit: Mark Armstrong

Has anyone else had this monster cold for what seems like a month? 

It really doesn’t do much for your running, that’s for sure. 

Like most people in these times, as soon as you feel a bit off colour then it’s time to book a PCR Covid test. 

Thankfully, these have all come back negative but after getting some consistency to my running in October it has been very stop-start over the last few weeks.  

It just about sums up 2021 – some good training, some bad, injuries, too many missed runs... None of this is conducive to making huge progress on my running. It has been a frustrating year. 

I am planning on running the St Neots Half Marathon, which takes place this Sunday but it’s slightly up in the air. After initially feeling better at the start of this week my poor son, Logan, has once again gone down with a heavy cold, which will undoubtedly work its way through the family! 

If I feel under weather before Sunday then I won't bother... it’s never worth running that kind of distance with any sort of effort if you’re ill. 

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If I do make the start line then I’m slightly apprehensive about it. I’ve had so much interruption to my training that I haven’t got a good grasp on what my current fitness is. 

That’s the beauty of putting a good 12-16 week training plan together. You then have a very good idea of what your 5K/10K/half marathon paces are. That’s so helpful as a basis for your runs and I haven’t had that.  

When the time is right, I need to get a couple of benchmark runs in to see where I am.  

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They’re probably not going to be pretty but that’s why I’m so keen to run St Neots on Sunday.  

I managed to get some decent easy mileage in my legs last month but life has been getting in the way recently and that determination to ‘get out there and do it anyway’, has been lacking. 

The fact Norwich City have appointed a new manager should hopefully mean there is a slightly better work/life balance than there has been for the last couple of weeks. 

I had a decent run earlier this week – seven miles with a couple of two-mile blocks where I pushed the pace a little. It felt great... but then I started to feel a little ‘off’ (just as Logan was naturally feeling better). 

I have this theory. It has absolutely no scientific evidence behind it so take it with a large pinch of salt. 

When I have a really good training run... one where you think you’re ready to conquer all your PBs... that’s when I go down with illness. 

My thinking is that the immune system is absolutely firing to keep you functioning and this can translate into a better athletic performance. 

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve smashed a run session only to go down with a stinker of a cold a few days later. 

You’re unlikely to find this in any medical journal... and I’m happy to hear from anyone of a medical disposition to tell me that it’s absolute nonsense. 

Perhaps rational thinking has gone out of the window in 2021 – certainly if we take the lead from our politicians, anyway. 

Ultimately, I finally feel like I have got a handle on the hamstring/knee issues that have blighted much of this year and that’s the most important thing. 

It’s always worth bearing in mind that some running is better than no running. It’s very difficult to maintain a sense of perspective when you’re hungry to improve but it’s only with patience and consistency that genuine progress can be made. 

Whatever the current level of fitness, it’s good to be in a position to race again.

We’ve all come so far in a year so if you're racing this weekend then appreciate it and most importantly, enjoy it.

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