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Running column: Mark Armstrong asks what happens when the times stop tumbling?

Mark Armstrong on the Norfolk Coastal Path at Waxham. Picture: Mark Armstrong

Mark Armstrong on the Norfolk Coastal Path at Waxham. Picture: Mark Armstrong

Archant

I've been thinking a lot about my relationship with running recently.

When I report on a lot of the local running events I often wonder what that race means to each individual. For some, it will be an event they have been working towards for months whilst for others it will be just another race to keep them out of mischief on a Sunday morning.

Running has become so much more than a hobby for me. It has pervaded almost every aspect of my life since that first hungover parkrun I ambled around on New Year's Day in 2016.

Most of my spare time is spent running, I read running magazines, I listen to running podcasts, I listen to running playlists…

Running has even become part of my job - writing a weekly column as well as planning Run Anglia each month is one of the pleasures of my role alongside that of being the deputy sports editor.

I couldn't have envisaged how all consuming it would become given I only really took it up properly after watching my wife at the London Marathon in 2016 to keep a bit of weight off around the demands of having children.

But, predictably, it has brought out my competitive side, which had probably been lacking ever since I decided I didn't fancy being kicked up in the air every Sunday morning in front of one man and his dog.

Seeing my times come down over the three and a half years since I started running regularly has helped keep the fire burning.

If someone had told me when I started that I'm realistically targeting a sub 20-minute 5K and competing in the Lord Mayor's 5K City Centre Classic I would have had them certified.

But that's where I am … and when my running is going well then that positivity bleeds into other areas of my life.

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It can also go the other way as well of course.

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

Having running as such a central part of my life places a lot of pressure on it. If I'm injured or miss a session then I can be a right grump… my daughter, Lara, will tell you.

An injury or a niggle makes me want to avoid anything running related as it just reminds me of what I'm missing. That can be quite difficult when you have a weekly running column!

But a lot of the enjoyment I get from running is from the progress I make. I know that one day that will stop, the times will plateau or get slower, and I wonder how I will feel about running then?

Will I still have the desire to get out for those training runs when I don't feel like it?

Or will I have to find something else running related that inspires me?

I must admit that reading Carmine De Grandis' race report from the Dragon's Back Race has made me want to use running to get out and see more… Long Stratton is great but it's not Snowdonia… (I'll bet the fish and chips are as good though).

Hopefully I've got a few more years yet of achieving a few more personal bests but beyond that perhaps I need to appreciate my surroundings when I'm running a lot more.

Norfolk has some of the finest scenery to run through - I look forward to savouring it a lot more.

But only after I get that sub 20-minute 5K…

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