Why do we put ourselves through this running lark?

Runners react after completing the Virgin Money London Marathon, London. Picture: PA

Runners react after completing the Virgin Money London Marathon, London. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

I'm not sure I like running.

Sometimes I really don't like it at all.

Speaking to other runners this relationship with the sport is not entirely uncommon.

Running has been a part of my life since my mum passed away in 2015. When I'm struggling around the streets of Norwich or Long Stratton I can hear her say 'come on, Mark' in the same way she used to when she was freezing on the touchline watching me play football as a youngster.

I feel like it brings me closer to her and the solitude of running brings a clarity that has been difficult to find since her passing.


You may also want to watch:


So I started running soon after and, if I'm being brutally honest, I'm not that good at it.

I've always been able to knock out 5ks and 10ks without any problem if you include finishing them as an achievement (it is). However, the speed of them varied, to put it mildly.

Most Read

Yes, I've always struggled with pacing. Leaving a bit in the tank for later on in the race has always been alien to me as someone who wants to give it everything they've got immediately.

Any long distance runner will tell you, it doesn't really work like that. I found that out the hard way at Bournemouth in a half marathon towards the end of last year. I was pacing around 4.50 per kilometre for the first 10k feeling fantastic, taking in some beautiful views of the Dorset coastline.

I was well on for my target of going under one hour 50 minutes and then the 18th kilometre happened. I'm sure you will have heard about runners hitting the wall…this felt like hitting a cruise liner. I missed out on my target by a minute.

A big lesson was learned that day – I had to slow it down if I was going to maximise what I'm capable of.

So I decided to dedicate 2017 to distance running. The 5k and 10k times have slowed but that's something I've had to get over if I want to find out if I can conquer this endurance racing lark.

I should explain here that I suffer from knee problems and have to do strengthening exercises on my quads and glutes every night for me to be able to run relatively pain-free.

I think my wife Alison, also a runner (she's annoyingly faster than me), is getting fed up of my legs waving in front of the television each night when she's trying to watch Netflix.

But after receiving some rather unhelpful advice from my GP ('stop running') I went to see Stephanie, a physiotherapist at Sportlink.

The exercise programme she gave me has opened up the kinds of distances I didn't think were possible thanks to the questionable amount of cartilage in my knees.

They still feel a little sore after running but when you can no longer claim to be in your early 30s that's to be expected.

So I'm training for the Edinburgh marathon at the end of May and, after watching the London Marathon at the weekend, I'm scared. The expressions on a lot of runners' faces makes you wonder just why anyone would put themselves through that sort of pain. Then you remember that euphoric feeling and sense of achievement you get after any run.

I'm well into the throes of my training – 26 kilometres were completed last weekend and I'm planning on doing 30 on Saturday.

The levels of dread are matched only by how excited I feel about it. It will be the furthest I've ever run and there's something liberating about not chasing a time.

I'm looking forward to going through the full range of emotions you get on a long run.

I will question why I'm doing it and whether I even like running.

Then (hopefully) I'll get to the end and I'll remember why.

It's because I love it.

Are you thinking about getting into running? What events are you training for?

How are your runs going? Have you recently smashed your personal best?If you've got something you want to get off your chest then please let us know.

Neil Featherby, who represented Britain all over the world in marathons, will be writing a column each week to give you his expert view and impart any hints and tips that might help with your running goals.

We want to hear all about your running escapades so email me at mark.armstrong@archant.co.uk or follow @markarmy on Twitter.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter