Running column: Has Mark Armstrong finally learned his lesson on pacing after Run Norwich 2017?

Running columnist Mark Armstrong coming towards the end of his Run Norwich race. Picture: Alison Arm

Running columnist Mark Armstrong coming towards the end of his Run Norwich race. Picture: Alison Armstrong - Credit: Archant

After spending rather too much time pondering whether to race at Run Norwich I eventually made the decision to run…and I'm so glad I did!

Competitors in Run Norwich 2017 in the city centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Competitors in Run Norwich 2017 in the city centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

A slight hamstring strain had put my participation in some doubt in the days leading up to the event but I decided to run on the basis that if it started to hurt me during the race then I would pull out.

I think the little niggle actually worked to my advantage as I paced the race so much better than if I had been fully fit.

The pressure was off – I knew it wasn't going to be a PB – so I decided to just enjoy and run to feel. My GPS watch was left at home so I had little idea of my pace and I just used a watch to see where I was at each km marker.

It was liberating… and I eventually finished in a time of 48:55 – not that fast, but not that slow either by my standards. I even managed a smile at my wife and daughter as I passed them at round the nine kilometre point on Castle Meadow.

Competitors in Run Norwich 2017 in the city centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Competitors in Run Norwich 2017 in the city centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

It was actually only about 30 seconds slower than last year when I really went for a PB and failed in the sweltering heat.


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This year I jogged the first seven kilometres at a steady pace before speeding it up for the last three kilometres keeping in mind that I had to be careful of my hamstring.

It was a refreshing change actually passing a few runners as I made my way to the finish line. Normally I'm the kind of runner that others start to worry about as I grimly try to hang on after going out too fast…but what runner hasn't done that?

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The problem is I've done it on more than one occasion.

I had no option but to rein it in this time and it felt great – lesson learned in terms of pacing? Let's hope so.

Perfect pace makes for the perfect race is Neil's mantra and maybe, just maybe, that's starting to get through.

The most important thing was that I didn't aggravate my hamstring and I've been able to complete a few more runs this week without any problems. I still ache in several different places but, as I've mentioned before, I'm someone who has to manage all my ailments in order to run. Speaking to several runners I don't think I'm alone in that.

It's full steam ahead towards the Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham next month now.

The longest run I've done in recent months is eight miles but according to my plan from Neil I'm going to have to do almost double that this weekend. The marathon training I undertook earlier this year should give me enough of a headstart to be able to ramp up the mileage straight away.

I'm excited and fearful in equal measure.

Excited for the feeling of fulfilment you get from completing a long run, and fearful in case I deplete several miles from home. It's never nice trudging back home desperate for the run to end, even if there are a few cows to look at as I amble by. I'm sure a few of them are mocking me sometimes by standing in my way…

Seriously though I know I've still got a lot to do and learn before Nottingham and only around seven weeks to do it.

Fuelling is still an element of a long run that I've got to get to grips with. I absolutely detest gels, particularly after my experience in Edinburgh, so I've got to look at other options. How to keep properly hydrated is also high on the agenda and to that end my wife has just bought me a Camelback, which will get its first outing this weekend.

But it's the weekend runs that are actually the most enjoyable as I've actually got a bit of time to do them.

I find midweek runs extremely difficult and normally results in me having to get up at some god-awful time in the morning to fit them in before work.

I'm just hoping that it can all come together by the time I hit the start line on September 24.

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