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Running column: Am I really injured? Or is it all in my mind?

PUBLISHED: 06:00 31 August 2018

Is it a case of mind over matter for running columnist Mark Armstrong. Picture: Alison Armstrong Photography

Is it a case of mind over matter for running columnist Mark Armstrong. Picture: Alison Armstrong Photography

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Run Anglia editor Mark Armstrong is engaged in the mental battle for a niggling injury that won’t go away

I’m learning that getting your body right can only take you so far as a runner.

Getting the mind right is just as important, if not more so.

This has really been brought home to me over the past 10 days.

I was a couple of miles into a scheduled long run when my calf started feeling a little tight.

I’ve had this before and it normally eases off, except this time it didn’t. As I tried to go on it felt as if someone had taken grip of my calf and they were squeezing tighter and tighter with every step I took.

There was only one thing for it… I was going to have to stop.

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

I waved my running buddy and wife, Alison, on as she has got her own training plans to fulfil and I trudged the two miles home feeling thoroughly miserable.

I gave myself a small pat on the back for stopping but as I sat with ice strapped round my leg I began to contemplate how long this would keep me out for.

With a family camping trip planned I decided to give it a few days rest and then see how it went but as the time passed it really wasn’t feeling any different. The fact I was carrying round my four-year-old daughter Lara on my shoulders for most of the week probably didn’t help the recovery process…

I knew I would have to get it checked out to see if there was anything sinister going on.

Chas Allen at Walk to Run helped allay my fears that I had torn the muscle and after some careful manipulation the pressure was gradually alleviated.

I almost skipped out of Sportlink mindful of the exercises I had been given to strengthen my ankle, which was apparently the reason I was getting calf issues…it’s a complicated old business.

But with the spasm seemingly unweaved (at least for the moment) it got me thinking how much was my problem in the mind.

Obviously Chas had worked on a few pressure points but he had also put my mind at ease that I had not done anything serious.

Running has become such a central part of my life that I worry what I would do if I had a substantial period on the sidelines… perhaps then I really would have to watch my diet!

MORE: Why it’s important to have more than one reason to run

I’m determined to keep running but when you’re chasing improvement like I am then it’s a tricky balance to get right.

When push comes to shove I want running in my life even if perhaps I’m not in a position to chase the times I’m after currently.

I spoke to Chas about how the calf problem had interrupted my training for the Great East Run in a couple of weeks’ time.

But given that I’ve been running around three or four times a week for over a couple of years now I can probably get away with a short period off without it having too much impact on my performance. We shall see and there’s still a couple of weeks left for this fragile runner to do something else (see I must get out of this negative mindset!)

If I tell myself that I’m underprepared and doubt whether I can run a half decent time then the chances are that I probably won’t.

You can have as much rehab from injury as you like but if your mind isn’t in the right place then you can forget about achieving your full potential.

If I try to be positive and start trusting my body a bit more, whilst obviously doing the training I need to get better, then perhaps there’s time for another decent race this year.

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