Mark Armstrong: FOMO and the Wroxham 5K

Mark Armstrong Hatfield Forest training run

Mark Armstrong is having to be content with easy runs at the moment. - Credit: Alison Armstrong

I would have loved for this column to have been a race report of how my Wroxham 5K went. 

A kilometre-by-kilometre breakdown of the many thoughts that went through my head on my way to a glorious personal best. 

Sorry to disappoint... 

I wasn’t on the start line at Wroxham. In fact whilst William Cork and Emily Ruane were winning the respective men’s and women’s events, I was desperately trying to get my kids to bed in time to ensure I didn’t miss any of the England game. It was the biggest victory of the night that I succeeded... 

I mentioned in last week’s column how frustrating the last couple of months have been with a hamstring/knee problem but with a lot of strength work I feel like I’m coming through the other side. 

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So much so that it got to Wednesday and the devil on my shoulder was saying ‘maybe you should just run it for fun... Your knee will be fine.’ 

I was sorely tempted – the race number had been staring at me on the kitchen table all week and let’s face it a lot of Norfolk runners have been almost fantasising about the Wroxham 5K during lockdown when we had to get our kicks out of virtual races. 

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But I know that I can’t trust myself to run within my capabilities especially as I don’t really know what they are at the moment given the reduction in intensity to my training recently. 

I spoke to Alison, who went on to post a rather impressive time of 20:20, and we went through the pros and cons. It wasn’t even a contest. If I want to get back to running consistently then I couldn’t even seriously consider running. 

What good would come of it? Best case would be that I run around 20-21 minutes and I don’t get injured. Worst case? I injure myself again as I’m nowhere near the point where I should be contemplating a sustained race effort like that. 

Whilst the Wroxham 5K was the only thing any Norfolk runner was talking about in the early part of this week, everyone moves on once it’s done and starts preparing for the next one. 

So that's what I’m doing – although what form the next one takes is up for debate. 

For the moment I need to get back to running regularly and get myself in a position where I can get under Neil’s wing again for some quality, structured training. I’ll bet he can’t wait! 

I’d love to be able to get to a few Field of Pain sessions at Freethorpe over the next couple of months and be confident enough in my body to withstand those sessions. 

I’ve got a legacy place at the Manchester Marathon – a place that I booked in haste in 2019 after feeling I let myself down when I raced there before. Broken metatarsals, a pandemic and a knee/hamstring injury later and the option is still there. 

I’m not going to be in a position to nail a marathon in the way I want to one day but we will see where I am with my mileage in a month’s time. 

There’s plenty of time before that though and I need to start scaling that training mountain again – the one that I have tumbled back down recently. 

It’s the part of the process that I have sorely missed - the focus it provides outside of other life stresses and I would certainly welcome it back. 

I can’t sign off this column without mentioning the awesome performance of Joe Skipper last weekend as he took victory at Ironman UK in Bolton. 

On what is a hilly course he knocked out a 2:41 marathon after his bike and swim to take victory. I’m absolutely in awe of his capabilities and his YouTube videos are one of my favourite things to watch. I would thoroughly recommend if you’re looking for a bit of inspiration – the man is a machine!