Running column: To race or not to race? That is the big question ahead of Run Norwich

Run Norwich takes place on Sunday but columnist Mark Armstrong is unsure whether he will be on the s

Run Norwich takes place on Sunday but columnist Mark Armstrong is unsure whether he will be on the start line. Picture: Archant - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Can you help running columnist Mark Armstrong decide whether to race at Run Norwich?

Mark Armstrong is running the Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham later this month. Picture: Alison Ar

Mark Armstrong is running the Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham later this month. Picture: Alison Armstrong Photography - Credit: Archant

Should I or shouldn't I?

It's the question that's been dominating my thoughts all week – should I race in Run Norwich or not?

I sustained a hamstring injury during a sprint session recently and I've not been able to run properly for over a week now, which has been frustrating to put it mildly.

Any thoughts about running a personal best have been well and truly kyboshed and I've had an inner monologue all week over whether to take part in the race.


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I've even started to annoy myself.

As is normally the case with my injury woes, it's a problem entirely of my own making – a lack of patience undermining the progress I'd like to make.

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In hindsight I started running again too soon after breaking my toe a few weeks ago and whilst I haven't exacerbated that injury it appears my running gait has altered slightly, enough for me to tweak my hamstring.

I knew this could happen but did it anyway.

MORE: Getting your training right is a balancing actSo I did the thing most runners do when they have a slight injury problem – booked a physio appointment expecting a magic answer.

Charles Allen, who has helped me a lot in the past, is brilliant and at least allayed my fears that I hadn't done anything serious…yet. It's either a muscle spasm or a small tear that's the problem – without an MRI scan it's impossible to tell.

It needs rest…and running 10k isn't rest.

I've therefore got a decision to make and there's only one person that can make it.

If I do race then I will have to run at a pace that doesn't aggravate my hamstring.

To try and go faster would risk tearing the muscle more and jeopardise all the other events that I've got planned later this year, namely the Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham and Royal Parks.

MORE: It wasn't pretty but Mark Armstrong can call himself a marathonerIf I injure myself on Sunday then I can forget about doing those events in the kind of times that I want to – is it really worth it?

The responsible thing to do would be to pull out – I know this and Neil has told me as much.

But when you've got the opportunity to participate in an excellent event like Run Norwich, round the city you have made your home, it is very difficult to resist.

The crux of the issue is whether I can cast aside my ego for a race and merely enjoy a nice jog round the city centre.

I'm just not sure I can trust myself.

If I feel good after a couple of miles, I can't say for certain that I would be able to resist pushing a little bit harder. When you're in a race environment it's so difficult to keep yourself in check.

I know there will be hundreds of runners going through the same issues this weekend, even the runners at the top end of things.

I bumped into Michael Eccles at Sportlink in the week, someone that I fully expect to be challenging for honours on Sunday. Even he has got an Achilles problem that he has to manage going into races – all runners do, don't they?

Perhaps I should take Neil's advice and make my daughter's day in the process by running in a rabbit costume…

At least I won't be tempted to put the hammer down when I see someone I know run past me…

So I'm still not sure whether I will be on Gentleman's Walk come 9.30am on Sunday but if you see a big rabbit round you then you might have your answer…

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