Neil Featherby: New year, new you? Here’s my tips to help make 2018 a running year to remember

Running columnist Neil Featherby on a canicross run. Picture: Mark Hewlett

Running columnist Neil Featherby on a canicross run. Picture: Mark Hewlett - Credit: Archant

New Year…New You!

So here we are, just a few days into another year whereby so many of us have lots of good intentions, especially when it comes to health and fitness.

As you can imagine we at Sportlink see many people seeking advice at this time of year and whilst we really do our very best to advise, there are times when you can just see that some of those seeking it are not always hearing what they want to hear.

There are no magic wands or easy short cuts when it comes to doing it properly.

Getting fit and staying healthy particularly for those who haven't put on a pair of trainers for a number of years is like anything else in life.

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If it is worth doing then it will require planning and the patience with a mindset to be in it for the long term. The rewards can be immense if you follow a structured plan.

Needless to say, have your long term goal, but to ensure that you get there, also set more easily attainable short and medium term goals as well to see very gradual gains whilst staying motivated and of course have regular feelings of self-achievement.

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In a nutshell, start out by keeping it simple with little and often. Create a habit and routine to be able to gradually increase the level of exercise without putting too much stress on the body at any one time. Even just 10 to 20 minutes three times a week for a month will help set a pattern and routine towards a new lifestyle.

Even 10 minutes is better than nothing and if it means you have kept things going on one of those days when you just didn't feel like it, then it's done the job.

Focus on what you are doing and not others. Just because you may have seen someone of an age or even body shape out there regularly pounding the streets for which you think 'if they can then I most certainly can', just be careful before increasing the load. Apart from hurting yourself, burn out can quickly take hold if you don't allow for the body to fully adapt to these new found stresses which are being applied.

When it comes to getting the right equipment, no one has to pay hundreds of pounds to get started. However, it really is so very important to get it right and at a price which fits in with your budget. I have seen on numerous occasions people taking up running whilst wearing inadequate footwear and then six weeks into their programme, they have hurt themselves due to this or of course doing too much too soon.

'I wasn't sure if I was going to keep it going,' is the most used quote whereby they then look to buy a really expensive pair of trainers to put right what has gone wrong. This just does not happen though and it is not then all about spending as much money as you can on top of the range running shoes.

Having advised runners on running footwear for 29 years and despite there being huge advancements in technology, I am still yet to see a shoe which is absolutely perfect in every way possible and I don't doubt for one moment that in a further 29 years the manufacturers will still be producing their so called best range of running shoes ever. At the end of the day, we are all different and have differing individual needs for which it really is important to try and get it right from the start to reduce the risk of getting hurt.

Running at whatever level is fantastic and so addictive once you get into it. It is not only great for strengthening our bodies by way of the cardiovascular responses, but also to our bones, muscles and joints too. However, it is just as important for the mind and the feeling you get after many a run is only describable amongst those who know.

'New Year, New You' means being very patient, very sensible and of course very consistent!

Good luck to all those who are about to set out for the first time and of course good luck and best wishes to all runners who will no doubt all have their goals and targets in mind for 2018.

Happy running and Happy New Year!

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