Mark Armstrong: How I’m trying to rediscover my running mojo during lockdown

Mark Armstrong on a training run in Long Stratton. Picture: Alison Armstrong Photography

Mark Armstrong on a training run in Long Stratton. Picture: Alison Armstrong Photography - Credit: Archant

I think Neil Featherby took my column as a bit of an SOS call last week.

Whilst Neil has been providing columns alongside mine since 2017 and has been a huge part in establishing Run Anglia, it was a little after the latter’s inception that he took me under his coaching wing.

It’s taken my running to a level that I didn’t think I was capable of and made me realise that with more hard work and dedication that there is a lot more left in the tank.

However, he understands that sometimes that I need to go slightly off radar with my running given the other demands on my time with having a young family, in particular.

I’ve realised how I need to carefully pick the periods in my life when I can realistically get a good block of training in...following what I consider an intensive programme for the Manchester Marathon not long after my son Logan had been born in March 2018 was not my finest idea.

However, I’ve been feeling recovered from my conker mishap last October for around six weeks now. My legs were getting stronger and I felt almost ready to hand my training over to Neil again with the aim to get to the start line of the Lord Mayor’s 5K.

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook hereWho knows what may happen but an educated guess is that this race is likely to be postponed at the very least.

It left me feeling lost – I had spent a fair part of my recovery thinking that race would be a decent goal to set but that now looks to be taken away.

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Rather than just being pleased to run again following injury I was asking myself ‘what’s the point in going for a run?’

Motivation had been lost and when Neil rang he gently gave me the kick up the backside I needed.

Whilst I was hiding behind excuses not to go, arguing that I was struggling to make time, he countered with: “Well, you’ve just spent 20 minutes on the phone with me, you could have got a run in during that time.”

I didn’t have an adequate comeback and was under gentle instructions to start getting my running mojo back. It started with a few 10-minute runs each day this week and in the last couple of days I’ve been running for 20 minutes. The main goal? To ensure I finish each run wanting to do more.

It’s working and I’ve run every day this week. That familiarity of running is very welcome in these strange unprecedented times.

I now put my running gear on shortly after a cup of tea in the morning (all right three cups of tea)... it sets the intention, I know at some point in the day that I’ll be out running.

But still I needed a goal and that’s been provided by a mini competition between a group of friends. Each of us has to set a benchmark 5K run by this weekend near to where we all live and then whoever improves the most through April gets a free breakfast...

I can already feel the competitive edge coming back, and Neil has already warned me that I’d better win it.

I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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