How They Are Keeping Fit – Mark Armstrong

STAYING FIT AND HEALTHY
We’ve asked our reps, our team and a selection of our friends how they are keeping fit at this time. We're also posting tips, advice and extracts from fitness publications about the importance of keeping fit.
 
This Morning - The EDP and Run Anglia's Mark Armstrong on how he is keeping fit and staying motivated during lock down…
 
During my recovery from injury last year I had a lot of time to think about my goals for 2020.
From the moment my ankle went one way and my foot the other on a recovery run around Whitlingham, it was clear my main goal of the Manchester Marathon wasn’t going to happen.
I needed something else to aim for but I wanted to give myself plenty of time and not place too much pressure on myself. I decided that my main target race would be the Lord Mayor’s 5K.
 
I only told my wife, Alison, and my coach Neil Featherby of my plan as I knew that during my comeback there may be a few niggles along the way as any regular readers of my running column for the Eastern Daily Press would be well aware of.
 
However, when races started postponing or cancelling their events due to the coronavirus I knew this was very unlikely to happen.
I completely lost my motivation for a while as running was shunted a long way down the priority list.
 
Helping to home-school my two children along with working from home took priority and I convinced myself that I didn’t have time to fit running in.
A frank phone conversation with Neil made me see that I actually needed running more than ever for my physical and mental wellbeing.
After bemoaning a lack of time to go for a run Neil replied: “Well you’ve just spent the last half hour talking to me…”
Point taken.
 
So I got firmly back under Neil’s coaching wing and for the first week I didn’t run more than 20 minutes. The first couple of runs were around 10 minutes with the thinking being that I should always finish a run wanting to do a bit more. I’ve since learned it’s a great way to get back into a running routine.
I had convinced myself for some reason that every run had to be at least four or five miles… it doesn’t, particularly during this time.
I still didn’t have a goal but this arrived when a group of friends decided that we would set a benchmark 5K effort at the start of April and see how much we could improve on it during that month.
 
The winner would get their breakfast paid for after the next parkrun we all do together… whenever that may be!
It has lit a bit of competitive fire in me and before I posted that benchmark run I was a little nervous, as ridiculous as that sounds. It would be the first proper 5K effort that I had done for about six months.
 
I was pleasantly surprised to just dip under the 21-minute mark with 20:55. It’s a decent base to build from and I’m hoping with a month’s consistent training I can get near that 20-minute mark once again.
But more importantly it has given my training a bit of purpose, which is so important to me.
 
I’m not a runner that can just knock out runs for no reason - I need something to work towards and that that’s not changed even in these most worrying/bizarre of times.
A month ago the last thing I wanted to do was run, I felt overwhelmed by the whole situation. I still do sometimes but running is helping control a tendency to overthink things.
 
There are a lot of things we can’t control at the moment… our running isn’t one of them.