Neil Featherby: A warning – listen to what you body tells you

The correct footwear is essential for runners Picture: PA

The correct footwear is essential for runners Picture: PA - Credit: PA

I know I touched on this a couple of weeks ago in my column, but this week I feel that I really must once again visit the subject of all those many people who have taken up running since lockdown.

It's an important weekend for Norfolk Gazelles Picture: Ceri Theobald

It's an important weekend for Norfolk Gazelles Picture: Ceri Theobald - Credit: Archant

However, this time I am also including those more experienced runners who have increased their usual weekly mileage by a considerable amount, what with having more time to do what they love doing best.

So, why do I need to go over this again? Well, it’s due to the fact that our advice line at Sportlink has been absolutely swamped with emails from so many people who have undoubtedly got hurt through doing too much, too soon, to put it bluntly.

As all us long-time runners know, running really is so very addictive and we need our daily fix (mine currently stands at 14,150 days on the spin) and that, of course, can mean burying our heads in the sand sometimes when it comes to having picked up a niggle, which requires a few days’ rest.

Having recently set up an online store and with Sportlink being synonymous for customer service and advice, I suggested that we should also have an email advice line to go with it.

Having now had this up and running for the last eight weeks or so, I was correct in my thinking; there is now a danger of it becoming a full-time job.

Whilst it is footwear and gait analysis which we are being asked for, so much of it is also on the back of people having got hurt through really just having done far too much, too soon.

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Incidentally, the number one injury is shin splints followed by plantar fasciitis, knees and then niggles associated with the lower back. I am absolutely refusing to mention blisters and black toe nails, my pet hate.

Even with the very best shoes on your feet, you will still get hurt if you don’t allow for a gradual and progressive build-up with any training programme. Our bodies are fantastic when it comes to applying a new stress in respect of adaptation, but it must also be done with care and attention.

At the same time, we must also realise that we are all individuals as well and whilst there are many great beginners’ programmes available, there will always be those who adapt much quicker than others.

Therefore, irrespective of wherever you are on the league table when being scored for having any natural talents for running, always be aware of your own body and listen to it.

If it says it is tired and needs a rest, then back off a little until it tells you it is ready to go again. If you have any aches and pains which you know are related to all the jarring which our bones and joints take from the impact upon running, then just think about how severe these aches are. If they get worse, stop or take a few days off until you can run again without any pain.

With regards to footwear, then most definitely look for a pair of shoes which not only gives you plenty of protection, but also suit what might be your own specific bio-mechanical needs.

As I always say, keep on running, but do so within the confines of your own fitness levels – it is a fantastic way to keep our minds and body fit, so let’s not get hurt doing so.

This Sunday sees the Norfolk Gazelles’ Alex Moore Relay. Like so many other events, this year’s race is another virtual competition.

However, this one is particularly special with 1,500 runners and 50 teams entered from all over the world and as far away as Australia.

Alex, who was an excellent runner and club member, so very sadly lost his life at such a young age. The phenomenal entry list not only shows just how well virtual racing has taken off, but also demonstrates how fond people were of Alex.

Good luck to everyone who will be doing a stint for their team or club and I will certainly raise a glass or two to all of them and, of course, to the memory of Alex Moore, athlete, Norfolk Gazelle, RAF Serviceman and really good guy.