Neil Featherby: The question every runner must ask themselves

Neil Featherby, Charles Allen and Jason Wright will be taking on the challenge of running the length

Neil Featherby and the art of motivation. Picture: Mark Hewlett - Credit: Archant

‘How can I motivate myself?’ was a question sent to me via messenger the other day.  

My reply was “motivated for what?” and “assuming you do mean running, what are your goals?”  

Having goals is so important when it comes to staying motivated. These goals must be realistic and ones which you really believe are obtainable if you are prepared to keep working towards them. 

I have covered this topic so many times over the years as we all have highs and lows. That is inescapable as there will always be periods and times in our lives where so many other factors can affect the way we feel about things. 

However, and after what has been a difficult last 12 months for everyone, I am sure things will now start to take a turn for the better whereby we can look to fix some solid goals again, be it new ones or indeed ones which we had planned for last year, but of course didn’t happen. 

Whilst 2020 turned our lives upside down somewhat, it was also a year which saw so many more people putting on a pair of training shoes to go out and have a run, which many of these people will now have the motivation to take part in what might be their first ever race.  We may also discover some very talented new runners appearing on the running scene as well. 

In many respects, this lockdown boom for the want of a better word has also seen a lot of new innovations from the various running manufacturers and I don’t just mean the latest carbon plated shoes.  

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I really have been amazed by some of the new running equipment and gadgets which we have been presented with at Sportlink from various manufacturers and when I say manufacturers, by that I mean some of those who have been established in the running world for years and of course others who are new on to the scene.   

I even had a world class marathon runner call me this week to say that he is now sponsored by a specific company which are producing a product which will enable all those who purchase it to be able to look back on each session to analyse specific areas of strengths and weaknesses within their training. 

After asking him to be more specific, I said okay that all sounds very good, but how much does it retail for and in truth do you really need this product to identify any weak areas in your training which you would surely already know yourself? 

I also asked him as to how long does this product last before needing to renew it for which I was further taken aback. In other words, not very long at all.   

Call me a cynic, and I am sure many will, but if you are training to run a marathon for instance and you need a gadget to point out where you might be losing power and a reduction in cadence, then I would be more concerned about the training plan along with having a full understanding of being able to maintain specific running intensities at longer distances. Needless to say, nutrition and fluid requirements as well. 

I get where and how it all feasibly works, but surely that is what training is all about i.e. a plan which will be structured to show progress in terms of fitness and gain to meet what is a realistic end result. 

With regards to further recognising and ironing out any specific weak areas, then for those who have a coach, I am sure he or she will also be fully aware of what is required even in the unlikely event that the athlete isn’t.   

I am fully onboard with sports science and analytics and whilst it is nothing new, the mass availability of such products which lends itself to an even bigger minefield of the latest “must have” piece of equipment, does in some cases leave me questioning the validity of some of it. 

Earlier this week, we interviewed one of the UK’s top coaches, Nick Anderson, for a Sportlink TV podcast.  

Nick is not only a level 4 coach, but has major qualifications is sports science, management, nutrition and sports therapy for which off air I asked him what he really thought about the current fast progression in technical advancements and products which are rapidly saturating the sports retail market.  

Whilst I said we all know that you can never take short cuts when it comes to getting the basics right, there are now products on the market which most certainly do give an advantage over other products designed for the same cause and my worry is that athletics, particularly at the sharp end, could end up going the same way as that of F1 racing i.e. not necessarily those with the most talent winning.   

Whilst Nick, did not disagree, he did of course and rightly point out that sport has always seen technical advancements and the one thing you cannot stop is progression. With that, perhaps I should get back in my box and go give all the old ancient running shoes in my footwear museum a good dusting off.