Running column: Marathons, half marathons, 10Ks - is it all proving a bit too much for Mark Armstrong?

Mark Armstrong on a training run - he's smiling because it's near the end. Picture: Alison Armstrong

Mark Armstrong on a training run - he's smiling because it's near the end. Picture: Alison Armstrong - Credit: Archant

'Are you running home now? You're keen!'

The look on the parkrun marshal's face said it all.

I wasn't keen, I wasn't keen at all in fact.

I'd already run 10km before completing the Hatfield Forest parkrun in Essex. I now had another 10km to run back to my dad's and had to do it in under an hour to be back in time for my niece's fourth birthday party.

Keen? Not so much. Mad? Maybe.


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It wasn't the warmest of welcomes back into the land of the long run, but I've got to admit, I've kind of missed it.

I'm still not sure my body is ready for it, the outside of my knee was grumbling for the last few miles at the weekend, which is probably an IT band issue. And this is all because my hamstring is still pretty tight from when I pulled it at a speed session last month.

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I'm not sure I'm built for all this.

MORE: How important is cross-training for runners?One thing is becoming clearer and clearer – if I'm going to get to the start line of the Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham next month I'm going to have to manage my body very carefully.

Stretching, foam rolling, ice baths – if only it was all about just putting your trainers on and running – I'd like that.

But you've almost got to earn you spot on the start line – getting there is half the battle and to be honest I've got my doubts whether I'm going to make it this time. It won't be for the wont of trying though.

I probably underestimated how much I was asking my body to do after completing (just) the Edinburgh Marathon earlier this year.

Throw in training for Run Norwich and I think I'm getting to the stage where my body needs a bit of time to recuperate.

Neil warned me that it would probably be best to just focus on Royal Parks half marathon (in October) before throwing myself into my training for a marathon in spring next year.

There was one small problem with that…I'm impatient. Very impatient.

So I'm hoping to manage myself through the next few months before giving my body a proper break over the winter. I've promised my knees as much – is it weird that I sometimes talk to them? You would too if you'd had half the problems I've had.

The schedule is too much for me really – I know it is. But I'm at a stage in my life where I'm grateful to be able to try and do these sorts of things.

MORE: Has Mark Armstrong finally learned his lesson on pacing?After losing loved ones in the past couple of years it's made me realise, you never know when it's all going to be taken away from you. None of us does.

So I'm operating on the basis that it's the things you don't do that you regret rather than the things you do.

That's not to say I'm going to be stupid – if a niggle turns into a full blown injury then obviously I will have to pull out.

But part of the long run routine is learning what's painful and what's uncomfortable. Uncomfortable I can deal with, pain is entirely different.

So I've managed to get through another couple of midweek runs this week without any major issues but the big test of my IT band/hamstring will be the next long run on Saturday.

Sixteen miles are pencilled in for early Saturday morning before my daughter stirs and asks my wife 'has Daddy gone running…again?'

Would I rather leisurely wake up and have a long, slow breakfast with my family? Yes, but this feels like something I need to do. I don't want Edinburgh to be my only marathon experience this year and I know I can do a better job in Nottingham if my body lets me get there.

I might have to have a few chats with more than just my knees to achieve that though…

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