Running column: Where’s my watch? Where’s my water bottle? Where are my trainers?! Time to get organised

Mark Armstrong gets to grips with his training programme. Picture: Alison Armstrong Photography

Mark Armstrong gets to grips with his training programme. Picture: Alison Armstrong Photography - Credit: Archant

Sometimes finding your GPS watch is hard enough...Mark Armstrong talks about how you need to get organised to be a runner

Upon taking up running nobody told me quite how organised you have to be.

It's become a joke in my house that whenever I get in from a training run I leave a trail of discarded kit.

The headphones, GPS watch, race belt all come off within seconds of entering the house – not in any particular order.

I then appear to dot them around the house to ensure it's as difficult as possible to find them the next time I want to go for a run.

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And this is just training! Getting your race kit ready the night before an event is another test of anyone's organisational ability.

You don't want to hunting round in your bedside draw at 5am looking for safety pins for your race number – I've been there and it's not fun.

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I'm trying to be better, I really am, but some weeks it's an achievement finding two running socks that match.

But the points made in Neil Featherby's column last week made me think how prepared you have to be to make sure you don't miss out on an event you want to run.

I only learned in his piece that the Broadland Half Marathon had sold out – that was an event I quite fancied doing but you snooze you lose I suppose.

Events are selling out so quickly that you need the administration skills of a town council planner to keep on top of when the registration opens.

I was grateful to someone on Facebook this week stating that entries were open for the North Norfolk Gazelles Valentines 10k run. I didn't mess about and I'm in.

But I take Neil's point that it is probably leading to a decline in standards with runners at the top end often unable to gain entries into these races.

They might not be able to say what sort of shape they are going to be in by the time an event comes round in several months' time and won't want to waste an entry fee for an event they don't run.

I would certainly be in favour of holding back some places for these runners to ensure they get the chance to participate – not too many though as I don't want to make it even more difficult for your average runner like me to get a place!

I like to see good runners have the chance to excel and it seems there are some good things happening around the cross country scene in Norfolk that could help put the county back on the national map.

I will never get to that level but that doesn't mean I don't aspire to it.

MORE: Read the story of Mark's second marathon in NottinghamHowever, I also love seeing people who have only just got into running have the chance to capture that sense of achievement you get when you absolutely nail a race…or even just complete it.

Running is an inclusive sport and it's important that as many people as possible have the chance to run in the events they want to.

I do think it's important to have starting pens with regard to your expected finishing time.

I don't want to be getting in the way of anyone looking for a PB and, by the same token, it's frustrating when you get unnecessarily held up behind a slower runner.

If that option is available then it's also important that you're really honest with yourself over your expected time.

Don't state you're a sub-40 minute 10k runner if that's unrealistic by the time the event comes round. You'll annoy other participants and it's also not nice to have runners constantly stream by you. There's also the danger you'll set off too fast to keep up and you'll pay for it later.

It's that time of year when you have to think seriously about what you're training for in 2018.

I need an event to tailor my training so my advice is that if you've one you're slightly tempted by then just book it to avoid disappointment.

My race calendar is already starting to fill up for spring and I can't wait.

Now, where's my trainers…

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