Running column: Run Norwich will mark the end of a journey for Mark Armstrong

Mark Armstrong before the start of last year's Run Norwich event. Picture: Alison Armstrong

Mark Armstrong before the start of last year's Run Norwich event. Picture: Alison Armstrong


Any regular readers of this column will know that all my training in the last few months was geared towards the Lord Mayor's 5K.

It needed to be to give it the respect it deserved.

Achieving that sub 20-minute qualifying time and the event itself took a lot out of me and, whilst I've had one eye on Run Norwich, it has been a bit of an after-thought this year.

That's not to denigrate what is a fantastic event and I can't wait to run it on Sunday but it has never been one of my 'A' races this year.

As I'm still a relative newbie runner, when I put in a big effort it takes my body quite a long time to recover.

I've been nursing a niggle in my knee recently, which gets a little angry whenever I really put the hammer down for an event.

I had to take a few days off after race two of the Wroxham 5K but after the Lord Mayor's race my right knee felt in a pretty bad place.

I've really had to step back for the last 10 days, making me feel quite under-prepared for Sunday.

The rational part of my brain knows that I really won't have lost too much fitness during that time but when you break out of your normal weekly running routine it can be quite disconcerting.

It was only after seeing exercise specialist, Charles Allen, at Sportlink earlier this week that I decided that I was definitely going to run on Sunday.

Faced with pain below and above the knee joint I was starting to worry that I had done something quite serious and I tend to go into panic mode if I think I might not be able to run for a while (it might prove quite tricky to write a running column you see…)

But after a bit of prodding and being drawn on a few times with a biro(!) Chas had got to the root of my problems.

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My speed training had seen my body adapt to become too quad dominant whilst my hamstrings have been only too happy to let them take up the slack.

After showing me a few exercises to help ensure that my hamstrings get off the deckchair this summer, I felt a lot happier.

As long as I was sensible Chas saw no problem with me running on Sunday and the pressure around my knee has certainly alleviated since doing quite a few Nordic curls (they're horrible, but they work) and a lot of quad stretches.

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At the time of writing I was going to do an easy four miles on Thursday evening to get the legs going again and then have a chat with my coach Neil Featherby about what pace to set.

This is when I'll have Neil's mantra of 'perfect pace makes for the perfect race' not so subtly placed in my head. I really don't want to be struggling up through Castle Meadow and Red Lion Street in that notorious final mile. I did enough of that at the Lord Mayor's 5K!

So the plan is to make sure I finish strong in that final mile, appreciate the great support that comes out, before kicking back with a beer on Sunday evening and reflecting over what has been a productive summer training block.

I'm ready to take it easy for a few weeks and focus on the conditioning side of things before perhaps doing a couple of 10Ks and half marathons later in the year. I'm sure there will be a few parkruns here and there in between but I really don't want to get too much in the diary for fear of making training for too many events feel like a chore.

I read a great quote recently that 'you won't make much progress with your running if you just run when you feel like it'.

It's so true but I also don't want my running to feel a burden. I've learned it's important to give my mind and body a bit of a break from racing and/or intensive training.

I didn't do that last year and limped from race to race in the second half of the year with a lot of mediocre times that left me feeling low.

I'm determined for that not to happen this year but that doesn't mean I won't be giving it my all around our fine city in just under 48 hours' time.

I can't wait to feel that buzz around Norwich on the morning of the event and I really hope anyone taking part gets exactly what they want out of the race.

Good luck!

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