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Running column: Mark Armstrong explains how he's trying to make the start line with a clear conscience

Mark Armstrong in pain on the home straight of the Robin Hood Marathon in 2017. Picture: Robin Hood Marathon

Mark Armstrong in pain on the home straight of the Robin Hood Marathon in 2017. Picture: Robin Hood Marathon

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As we approach the business end of marathon training, there is just one question to answer... 'Am I doing enough?'

I wasn’t sure I would get to this stage of marathon training.

There are just a handful of long runs to go now before the big day in Manchester on April 7 and it’s only now that I’m allowing myself to think about the race.

Those in training for spring marathons are definitely getting towards the business end of their training.

I’ve got my last race at the Cambridge Half Marathon on Sunday before two long runs in March and the taper can begin for Manchester.

Any regular reader will know the problems I’ve had with injuries and I still have to tell myself before every run that the priority must be to get through the session without sustaining an injury.

But I’m going beyond that now… away from training I’ve gone into a kind of self preservation mode which has mostly involved taking a daily vitamin C supplement along with having the odd glass of wine instead of beer…

I’m aware a well-balanced diet should mean that I don’t have to take on these sorts of supplements (especially the wine) but psychologically it makes me feel like I’m doing everything I can to make the start line in the best possible shape.

If I’m like this six weeks away from the event what am I going to be like a few days before?

I’m just glad that I’ve got to this stage where at least some of the hard work is done.

In December, after numerous calf problems, I questioned how I was going to get through a training programme that would significantly improve my previous times.

I tried to take the pressure off myself and just get by from week to week with the help of my coach Neil Featherby.

But I still wasn’t sure that this sleep deprived version of myself (the work of my son, Logan) would have the willpower to get through this training block.

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I told Neil that I could realistically fit in three runs a week but, as is normal with him, he didn’t sugar-coat his response.

“If you want to see a significant improvement then you should try and aim for four,” he said.

Bearing in mind my wife, Alison, is also in training, for the London Marathon, I knew this wouldn’t be without its challenges, especially when there are also two young children to consider.

I resolved to get my runs done as early in the morning as I could, the plan being to creep out the front door, get my run done, and get back and showered before the troops have risen.

It worked for the first couple of weeks until both Lara and Logan started getting up at 5.30am…

But somehow I’ve got in a position where I feel in semi-decent shape and I’m homing in on my marathon pace.

The mind games are kicking in though now where I’m starting to ask myself ‘am I doing enough?’

The truth is you could always do more but you have to work within your own limitations, both inside and outside of running.

I’m doing the best that I can, and that has to be enough right now.

I’m aware that other people will be going through exactly the same thing as they approach their respective races, all so willing to label their performance a success or a failure.

My message would be to just make sure you can get on that start line with a clear conscience that you’ve done everything you could have to prepare.

If you can say that then the process has already been a success.

<BLOB> Good luck to anyone running the Ringland Half Marathon this weekend. I will be keeping a keen eye on proceedings from afar given my participation at Cambridge.

Norwich Road Runners really have done their best to prepare for what is essentially a new event and it promises to be an excellent race.

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