Mark Armstrong: Doesn't it feel great to over-think a race again?

Mark Armstrong training run

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

I can’t stand getting post. 

Very rarely is it anything that I particularly want to deal with and serves only as a reminder that I’m an adult... something I don’t like to admit too often. 

It drives my wife, Alison, mad that anything addressed to me will be piled up on the kitchen table becoming more and more of an inconvenience to everyone in the house. 

There are certain types of post I don’t mind getting, of course. Birthday cards are fine, any sort of cash rebate is even better, but something else trumps the lot... your race number coming through. 

That experience has been missing for far too long for obvious reasons recently. However, yesterday that sense of nervous excitement ahead of a race went up a notch when the number 152 emerged from an envelope ahead of the 10K race at Snetterton next Wednesday (naturally I will wait until the last possible moment in fill in the ‘important information’ on the back and find safety pins).  

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Alison was less enamoured with the fact she has been given the number 666... let’s just hope she has a demon of a race in the 5K. 

It’s an event I’ve been building up to for a couple of months under Neil Featherby’s coaching. 

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Having lost the running mojo at the start of the year my mindset changed when the roadmap out of lockdown was published and you could say with a degree of confidence the race would go ahead. 

I was clear from the start with Neil that I wanted to run under 40 minutes, a goal that still scares me bearing in mind that I still consider going under 20 minutes for 5K one of my finest running achievements. 

However, I know from experience that Neil can get me there and I’ve been ticking off the sessions since. 

I realise how fortunate I am to have the level of supervision I do with Neil giving me feedback on each session when I send over the Garmin/Strava data to him. 

The mind games have well and truly kicked in over the past couple of weeks though with some sessions feeling great and others not so. 

I know I’m capable of doing it but also that I’m going to have to get the pacing spot on to achieve it.  

I’m very race rusty so the threat of going off too fast is a very real one... however, Neil won’t speak to me after if I do! He’s been drumming in to me how important it is I get my pace right from the start. 

Those opening miles need to be disciplined because I don’t want the end of the race to be more painful than it needs to be. 

These are the kind of concerns that I want to be having though, things that aren’t really that important in the grand scheme of things. Life has been far too serious in the last 14 months, understandably so. 

It’s been far too long since I’ve over-thought a race before it’s even begun. 

Hopefully there can be plenty more of it before the year is out with Norwich Road Runners announcing a one-off Wroxham 5K even in July. I have a feeling that by the time anyone has read this it will be sold out. 

I will have my name down though, even if it is only to get some more interesting post...