Mark Armstrong: When it's time to get some expert advice

Mark Armstrong Hatfield Forest

Mark Armstrong gets some miles in. - Credit: Alison Armstrong

Most of my days start pretty similarly. 

My son, Logan, barrels into our room at around 5.30am demanding we ‘go downstairs... get milk’.  

My wife, Alison, and I take it in turns to get up with him and let him boss one of us about until he’s sat on a beanbag with said milk, watching Zog/Gruffalo/Highway Rat (basically anything Julia Donaldson related as that’s at the tolerable end of the scale in terms of children’s programmes before 6am). 

With Logan settled I start to assess how my legs are feeling. For the past six weeks or so I’ve been desperately trying to get to the bottom of tightness in my hamstring that’s caused a few knee issues. I’ve been waking up each morning looking for signs that it is getting better. 

It’s been pretty slow going but I’m on the right path now as I look to build up my glutes and quads as well as get my IT band to chill out, which is a bit uncomfortable, to put it mildly. 

It’s been frustrating but I’m over the stage where I’ve been mourning the fitness that I lost that took me so close to a sub 40-minute 10K at Snetterton. 

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group here

I just want to be able to run consistently again. I’ve come to lean on running as something that helps keep me balanced when the stresses and strains of everyday life, particularly at the moment, can grind you down. 

Most Read

I love having a time goal and that will come again, I’m sure. But I want to consistently be able to get outside and run without the worry that I’m making my hamstring/knee worse. 

I’m getting there. 

I did 10 miles at the weekend back at Hatfield Forest in Essex with Alison and it was the nicest runs I’ve had in a long time. It was pretty slow and a bit wet, but it didn’t matter, it was just amazing to be outside getting some miles in.  

Getting off the road felt great and was certainly a lot kinder on my knee. It’s something I need to bear in mind as I look to gently increase my mileage again and take the knee support off. The surfaces we run on make a huge difference on the impact on our bodies. 

There’s still work to do – I'm spending more than half an hour most nights doing strengthening exercises in front of the television. I need to get my head round the fact I’m going to have to continue doing this for the foreseeable future if I want to get back running to four or five times a week. At least Love Island is on now... 

It’s rubbish being injured but the sooner you get your head round there’s a problem, the sooner you can get back to running how you want to. Get some advice on it... Dr Google can only take you so far. If something is bothering you then get it looked at.  

Sometimes if we’ve upped our training we need to give our bodies time to adjust but if you’ve been nursing something for more than a few weeks then it’s worth getting it checked out to see if there’s anything that can be done to alleviate the problem. Ploughing on regardless and saying ‘I need to run eight miles today because it says so on my plan’ is definitely not the way to go. 

I’ve still got work to do in getting back and I still can’t confidently say when my next event will be but that’s not important now. 

That’s not to say I won’t be insanely envious of all the runners on the start line of the Wroxham 5K on Wednesday although I do wonder if numbers might be slightly hit if England are playing a Euro 2020 semi-final. 

Good luck to anyone that’s running though – it's the best 5K around. Enjoy it... then watch the England highlights later...