Neil Featherby: Be realistic with your New Year running goals

Running in Felthorpe

Runners shaping up for the New Year at the FOP Running Group in Felthorpe - Credit: Neil Featherby

As we come to the end of another year, it always feels like it’s a chance to wipe the slate clean and start again - particularly if you fell short of any challenges which had been set 12 months ago.

From a running perspective, there will be those at the serious and elite end who will have very definite targets and will be fully focused on achieving them. Probably the biggest obstacle in their way will be the risk of getting injured or, of course, ill. Even a common cold is a big issue to elite athletes.

Back in my day, this time of year regularly meant aiming for a January or February marathon for which I can remember doing sessions out on very quiet roads on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

However, whilst the elite and top club athletes are aiming high, for those with perhaps more modest objectives - ie, the regular runner aiming to hit new standards or just those who want to get into good shape whilst following a healthy lifestyle - it really is all about being realistic when setting goals.

Planning and patience are key components whilst taking it one day at a time. I have said it in these columns several times before about how over-eagerness can lead to early burn-out and, of course, injury where, in lots of cases, the journey has already been brought to a halt by February.

Running at Felthorpe

Another session done and in the bag - Credit: Neil Featherby

Of course, being careful can’t always guarantee that things will run smoothly, but if there is a hiccup along the way, just stay focused and, if needs be, go backwards to come forward again.

It may also mean a bit of time off until any niggle has disappeared, but most importantly, don’t get put off. It’s all about trying to keep things going on a gradual long-term basis. As I said just last week to one of the athletes I coach, it’s one thing every now and again shining and showing glimpses of real potential, but when all is said and done it is far more important to be seen to be consistent throughout the year.

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We have been absolutely inundated this week at Sportlink with runners, long term and newbies, all coming in for training shoes, which is a great sign with regards to what might lay ahead for the running scene here in Norfolk.

We are also looking forward to the Sportlink Grand Prix Series to start again and we've had lots of people asking us for more details. Other races too, such as the Mammoth Marathon in May. It really will be so good to see all the usual races back on again and at what has always been their designated dates.

Anyway, I have one or three challenges lined up myself and whilst I am very determined to achieve them, I also know that as with everything else which require some long-term commitment, it will invariably mean having to deal with one or two setbacks along the way.

It is being able to deal with and overcome any such setbacks which will make the challenges ever more satisfying when they have been completed. 

Happy new year, everyone, and I sincerely do wish you all the very best when it comes to taking on and completing your own personal goals in 2022.

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