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Running column: Mark Armstrong is trying to stay disciplined to emerge from slump

Emma Jacobs has clearly got her running mojo after the Dereham 5K. Picture: Mark Hewlett Photography

Emma Jacobs has clearly got her running mojo after the Dereham 5K. Picture: Mark Hewlett Photography

© 2013 Mark Hewlett

'You will never always be motivated, so you must learn to be disciplined'.

Mark Armstrong with another unflattering finishing photo at the Dereham 5K. Picture: Mark Hewlett PhotographyMark Armstrong with another unflattering finishing photo at the Dereham 5K. Picture: Mark Hewlett Photography

This currently sums up my attitude to running perfectly.

I've been happy for a few weeks to take a step back from training but I also know this won't last forever.

Recently I've liked the idea of running rather more than the act of doing it.

I'll fantasise about doing four or five miles in my head, normally whilst I'm sat at my desk at work, but the reality is that when I'm out there actually running it feels rather like hard work.

Mark Armstrong's daughter, Lara, with her finisher's medal at Dereham. Picture: Alison ArmstrongMark Armstrong's daughter, Lara, with her finisher's medal at Dereham. Picture: Alison Armstrong

But I'm out there… and that's the most important thing as I try to maintain some sense of routine for when the motivation returns.

I need to keep a decent base level of fitness to ensure when the next training block starts, which needs to be in the next couple of weeks, that I'm ready to go.

The Dereham 5K was a timely reminder of how much I love to race but that enjoyment will soon ebb away if I'm not improving.

I've been slowly feeling my way back into training due to the illness in the wake of Run Norwich so I knew that thoughts of dipping below the 20-minute mark on Sunday were unrealistic.

I decided to run the race without my watch pacing me in the hope that I would base my speed on how I was feeling rather than try to keep up with the splits I was setting in the run-up to the Lord Mayor's 5K.

I still somehow managed to set off too quickly, which won't surprise any regular reader of this column.

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I steadily got slower each mile, which really isn't the most comfortable way to run a race, but I really enjoyed it in that 'oh my goodness my lungs are on fire' kind of way that only someone that pushes their physical boundaries knows.

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I really didn't have a clue what my time was when I crossed the finish line so I was pleasantly surprised to see it come through as 20:39.

I've lost less than a minute in the space of six weeks which, given the lack of consistency to my training in that period, I can make my peace with.

It's also enough to make me realise that if I don't get back on the horse soon then that gap to 20 minutes will lengthen and I'm not having that. I worked too hard to reach that standard to let it go easily.

Anyway, at least I managed to get my breath back in time to have a chat with the winners - Sean Watson and Faith Viney.

Sean's battle with Callum Bowen-Jones for the win sounded box office and it's great to see a couple of young runners dipping under the 16-minute mark with the clear prospect of them both getting quicker.

When I saw Faith lining up on the start line I thought it would be fairly likely that I would be interviewing her in half hour's time as she demonstrated again what a cracking runner she is.

She revealed her training had been interrupted slightly after starting a new job as a doctor but you really wouldn't have known it.

Hopefully, going forward, she can find some middle ground between the demands of her new job and the talent she has for running.

I've got to say the highlight of the day was watching my daughter Lara complete the Fun Run with my wife, Alison. It's so good that Dereham Runners managed to put this on as well and the more clubs can do to make these events a family day out the better.

Lara was very proud of her medal at the end… and she really earned that mint choc chip ice cream that had been promised to her if she did her best!

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