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Mark Armstrong: Why running is one of the greatest loves

Mark Armstrong and wife, Alison, smile for the camera with their medal for completing the Edinburgh Marathon. Picture: Edinburgh Marathon

Mark Armstrong and wife, Alison, smile for the camera with their medal for completing the Edinburgh Marathon. Picture: Edinburgh Marathon

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It's Valentine's Day but don't worry this isn't going to be a soppy column saying how much love there is in the air.

An M&S Valentine's meal is about as romantic as it gets in the Armstrong house, with Alison and I far more concerned about getting some childcare so we can go out for a run together.

I hope I can keep up with her...

Anyway, instead of talking about love for each other, let's talk about a love of running - here are five reasons why I do it:

Feelgood factor

Until a few weeks or so ago I've had to take part in other forms of exercise in an attempt to avoid the kind of 'Dad-bod' that bringing up two young children can engender.

As I've previously mentioned - cycling, swimming and HIIT (high intensity interval training) - were all the agenda during my comeback from breaking my ankle and in my opinion none of them compare.

Nothing beats the feeling of being on a run and the continual chase of that feeling when everything is working in effortless harmony. The runner's high doesn't happen every run, but when it does, there aren't many better feelings.

Health

Running can be a huge part of a healthy lifestyle and of course its convenience lends itself to time-poor people who haven't always got the time to get to a gym class.

There needs to be a balance as in the past I've gone through phases of loving running a little too much to the detriment of other aspects of my life.

But when my running is going well it gives me confidence in other aspects of my life and hopefully contributes to me being the best version of myself.

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Whilst physically it's helpful in keeping off a few pounds, more important than that for me is the mental calmness and clarity it provides.

Competition

My wife often ribs me for how competitive I am but running changed that streak in me.

I learned very early on when I took to the sport that I'm never going to be at the front end of races (particularly if I've had a couple of beers the night before) and once I made my peace with that it became about trying to beat myself.

I love chasing PBs. I realise that relationship with running will inevitably have to evolve over time - but hopefully I'm not there yet.

As someone who loved the competitive edge playing football as a youngster, running has definitely filled that void in adulthood.

Pushing barriers

I had a really interesting chat with sports therapist Charles Allen this week and he made the point that many people are motivated by running through the sheer discomfort of it sometimes.

Most people in the running community are fortunate enough to lead pretty cosseted lives - thankfully the majority don't have to worry about a roof being over their heads or where their next meal is coming from.

I like running to take me out of my comfort zone because that sense of exhilaration you get once you get through a tough race, or a tough training session is pretty hard to beat.

Role models

Alison was having a momentary dip in motivation earlier this week and my brand of tough love wasn't helping this time. She turned to our six-year-old daughter Lara and said: "Lara - can you give me three reasons that I should go out for a run?"

Lara replied: "1. It keeps you healthy. 2. It makes you strong. 3. *pause - it means you can go out in nice trainers."

Alison was straight out the door. You can't argue with that, can you?

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