Mark Armstrong: When would you feel comfortable racing again?

Mark Armstrong on a training run

Mark Armstrong on a training run. Picture: Alison Armstrong Photography - Credit: Alison Armstrong Photography

‘You’re running a marathon in October!’ 

Crikey... am I? 

Those were my thoughts after getting an email from the Manchester Marathon earlier this week. 

Bearing in mind I signed up for this the day after I hit the wall at the marathon in April 2019 you can perhaps understand why it had slipped my mind. 

A conker, a broken ankle and an ongoing pandemic later and it’s not exactly been at the forefront of my mind. 

The cynic in me still says that the thought of running in a mass participation event given the second wave of coronavirus is unthinkable. 

Of course, we all hope the situation is a lot different in just over nine months’ time as the country tries to roll out the Covid vaccine as quickly as possible. 

Most Read

But I think it’s fair to say that the majority of the running community will be a long way down the list of people in line for it, and quite rightly so. 

Most of us are fit, healthy people (Christmas notwithstanding), who you would hope can make a full recovery from the disease although I’d far rather not take my chances by sticking to the regulations as much as possible. 

The new more transmissable variant has moved the goalposts for me whereby I’m not sure I feel comfortable rubbing shoulders with thousands of other people on a start line. 

Perhaps I will feel different if we manage to get on top of the disease but it’s difficult to get in that mindset when you’re being told currently that every time you leave your home you’re heightening the risk of contracting Covid. 

On a much more superficial level, the fact that the Manchester date also clashes with when Run Norwich has been rearranged (Sunday, October 10) is perhaps typical of how the last few months have unfolded. 

With us effectively locked down until mid-February at the earliest, I still struggle to see how events can be put on until the majority of the population has been vaccinated. 

That might have happened by October but as anyone who has run a marathon will attest, running 26.2 miles is a commitment that you have to base a significant part of your life around. 

Whether I could commit to putting in the training months in advance when there is even a slight doubt it will go ahead is unlikely. I have a huge amount of respect for anyone this year who kept their training going for the London Marathon in particular when they left it so late to rearrange. 

Thankfully that decision can at least be put off for a while because I’m very much running for the physical and mental benefits of it at the moment. It’s also a handy way of avoiding fetching snacks and drinks for my children... 

I managed to get a couple of sessions in over the weekend when home-schooling is thankfully off the agenda for an all-too brief couple of days. 

But I’ve got to be honest the motivation to get out is predicated on the fact it just makes me feel so much better afterwards. You never regret a run, that’s how the old saying goes.  

As for racing... well I know there are a few races I’ve regretted and I don’t want to make the same mistake before it is safe to do so.