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Running column: Play the conditions, not the occasion, at Run Norwich 2018

Mark Armstrong on the home straight of the Valentine 10K. Picture: Alison Armstrong

Mark Armstrong on the home straight of the Valentine 10K. Picture: Alison Armstrong

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Running columnist Mark Armstrong wants a PB at Run Norwich 2018 but knows it might not be possible

Hot enough for you?

It’s worth bearing in mind at this time how much we were all looking forward to the summer in January.

It feels a long time since I was wearing two pairs of gloves to stop my hands going numb during training runs.

Being a redhead means I have to be very careful at this time of year. Some of my wittier friends have asked that I mark myself ‘safe’ on Facebook during this heatwave…

The weather hasn’t really affected my training too much – I just go out even later in the evening, if I’ve got the energy, when it has cooled slightly.

With just over a week to Run Norwich the hot weather is likely to come into even sharper focus this week and anyone that ignores the conditions on the day does so at their own peril.

I remember the first Run Norwich event that I took part in, in 2016, when the temperature got up to around 26 degrees. I was a very inexperienced runner at the time and I didn’t take into account just how hot it was.

MORE: How’s your training been going?

It was when I expected every run I did to be a new personal best, which I’ve since learned to be unrealistic and incredibly naïve.

I got about halfway round before the heat really started to get to me and the last two kilometres were utter purgatory.

I made one of those deals during that run that I had absolutely no intention of honouring when you tell your body that you’re never going to run again. It’s a case of whatever gets you through sometimes.

But I got through it and learned a lesson in the process. If you’re running in extreme conditions then run to feel, not to your watch.

When I know I’ve put in the training I always want to do my absolute best but you have to accept that certain conditions make your body work that much harder and will take a bit away from your time.

I know that I’m in the kind of form that could net a new PB at Run Norwich.

I hope that doesn’t come across as arrogant, training has just gone quite well recently and I feel capable of going under the 43:10 I ran earlier this year at the Valentine’s 10K.

But I’m not going to go for it at all costs. It’s likely to be extremely hot next Sunday and it will come down to managing those conditions.

MORE: Age catches up on every runner - it’s just how you manage it, says Neil Featherby

The Run Norwich route is challenging in places, especially towards the latter stages, so it’s worth keeping a bit in reserve for the last few kilometres.

If I see I’ve failed to keep the pace I know that I’m capable of then it will likely be because of the weather, not because I’ve let myself down.

It’s also worth bearing in mind how much water your body is used to taking on during training runs.

There are two water stations during the race but I personally like to take my own so that I can have it whenever I want.

I know to some, especially runners towards the front of the field, that may seem silly but my body has been conditioned to expect water every 10 to 15 minutes during runs. I don’t want to have to wait for a water station to keep my hydration levels where they need to be… so I won’t.

But the most important thing to remember? Just enjoy it. The chance to run around our fine city, traffic free, only happens once a year so savour it, whether you PB or not.

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