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Mark Armstrong: A nightmare training session and an idea for a tattoo

Mark Armstrong on a training run. Picture: Alison Armstrong

Mark Armstrong on a training run. Picture: Alison Armstrong

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Dominating a training session has been one of the ways I’ve got my running kicks in the last few months, aside from a few virtual races and a couple of track meetings.

A decent warm up, hit those target paces, and then that saunter back home on the cool down can feel like you’re floating.

Unfortunately, not every session ends up like this, as I experienced on Tuesday.

After talking to Neil we’ve decided to focus my training for the Blickling Half Marathon, which is scheduled to go ahead next month. I can’t wait.

I knew it was going to be a hard one – four one-mile efforts with two minutes recovery in between – the sort of session that can tell you a lot about where you are.

The first two reps went okay, I was more or less on the six-minute mile pace that Neil had earmarked. Then the third rep came, and midway through I thought someone had attached a harness to me and was pulling furiously on it. This wasn’t good and I still had another rep to come. The third rep was done in 6:30 and I knew this session wasn’t coming back to me.

I was so tempted to just call it a day right there but I resisted that urge.

I got it done, not well, but I completed the session.

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

I was telling myself all the way through that horrible fourth rep that a bad session was better than no session. Incidentally the last one was done in 6:40, not slow by any means, but not where I want to be, or should be, to be honest.

I started looking for reasons why this had gone so relatively poorly beyond the possibility that I’m just not as far advanced in my training to what I thought.

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I think I had set up the session to fail with a lack of fuelling during the day. I had to push the run back in the day due to work and then didn’t adjust what I ate as a result. I was pretty much running on empty by that third rep. A schoolboy error and ironic given that I had recently filmed a podcast with Nourish café owner, and nutritionist, Emma Risbey about the importance of fuelling your session.

I have written in the past how I have struggled with the nutritional side of running before and it’s still an aspect where there is a lot of room for improvement.

There was a certain irony to a conversation I then had with my daughter Lara, the next day. We were discussing My Little Pony (as you do) and the stamps they have on their hind legs. We then moved on to how some people have tattoos and after explaining to Lara that she wasn’t allowed one until she was at least 60, she thought about what my wife, Alison, and I would have if we were to get a tattoo.

We decided that due to Alison’s passion for photography that she would get a camera... a solid choice.

But what would she choose for me? A football? Nope. A pen given that I write for a living? Nah. Surely a picture of a runner then you would think...

“I think you should get a picture of someone eating, because you love eating!”

Thanks Lara...

I can always rely on my darling daughter to keep me grounded.

800m night

Good luck to anyone competing in the 800m events this evening - it promises to be a great night. If you’re trying to think tactically about how you’re going to run it then my advice would be to not bother! Just run hard for two laps!


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