Mark Armstrong: When the running rhythm gets interrupted

Iona Lake Sportlink SMile

Iona Lake - arguably the favourite to win the Sportlink SMile event on Friday night at the Sportspark. - Credit: Baz Hipwell

Strength and conditioning – heard of it? 

Of course, you have... it doesn’t mean we do it though, does it? 

I think I can say with confidence that I’m in the majority of people that know it’s something we should be doing but when time is such an issue it often gets overlooked. 

It shouldn’t of course, particularly when you’re prone to the odd niggle as I am thanks in no small part that I played a ridiculous amount of football when I was growing up. Three, sometimes four, games a week was normal and it wouldn’t be allowed to happen now but I’ve no doubt it has contributed to some of the biomechanical imbalances I find myself saddled with now. 

Yet I still struggle to do the required work away from running because it takes a different type of discipline to follow through on strength and conditioning. 

I think it’s because you can just about get away with it if you’ve got a carefully managed schedule. It’s temporary though and slowly, but surely, those little imbalances add up to a problem. 

I’ve picked up a niggle as I referred to in last week’s column. I refuse to call it an injury but it has definitely curtailed my training over the past couple of weeks. 

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The threat of someone taking running away from me means of course that I have launched into a strength and conditioning programme with gusto. 

If I had adopted this attitude in the first place then perhaps, I wouldn’t be in this position... okay there’s no perhaps about it. 

But when you find yourself in a rhythm with your running it is very easy to let other aspects fall by the wayside.  

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I run because I love it so naturally, I want to do it as much as possible but I need to look after it more than I have been recently. 

I fear with this tight hamstring my body is giving me a warning that it needs a little break before I can think of going again. 

It’s a reminder that sometimes you need to do the things you don’t like to do in order to make the progress you want but hopefully it won’t interrupt things for too long. 

I can at least take inspiration from the final of the Sportlink SMile event that’s taking place on Friday evening. 

I remember talking to Neil about this idea for an event last year. It’s been a huge hit and I hope it’s something that can become an annual competition. 

I managed to watch the quarter-finals and it was clear then that there is some real talent in Norfolk. 

It takes a certain amount of bravery to step on to an athletics track in the same way it does to get into a boxing ring. 

There’s nowhere to hide if you’re struggling – it's there for everyone to see. Mike Tyson famously said that every boxer has a plan until they get punched in the mouth and from my limited experience it’s like that on the track. A couple of laps in and everything is screaming at you to stop and you have to carry on. How you deal with that adversity will ultimately determine your success. 

The 10 athletes competing tonight certainly know how to deal with it and I can’t wait. The last lap promises to be a real spectacle given the ladies are being given a 30-second head-start of the men with the winner taking home £500. 

My money is on City of Norwich AC star Iona Lake to take home the big cash prize but she will be pushed hard. 

There will be some real talent on display and let’s hope this can be the start of something special for Norfolk athletics.