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Neil Featherby: Runners and coaches must be mindful of how far they are pushing themselves

Neil Featherby puts his runners through their paces at the Field of Pain. Picture: Neil Featherby

Neil Featherby puts his runners through their paces at the Field of Pain. Picture: Neil Featherby

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Neil Featherby is mindful of how hard runners are pushing themselves, and whether they are fit to do so

Neil Featherby puts his runners through their paces at the Field of Pain. Picture: Neil FeatherbyNeil Featherby puts his runners through their paces at the Field of Pain. Picture: Neil Featherby

Talking to a friend a couple of days ago about a friend of his who collapsed with a heart attack whilst out running in Norwich got me thinking about the subject again.

I’ve had four other friends suffer similar experiences during the last seven months and thankfully all of them have recovered or are on the road to recovery.

I’ve touched on this subject before but it’s one of the utmost importance. Don’t get me wrong, for as long as I have been running, incidents have occurred whereby some of them have turned out to be tragic with a loss of life.

With more people running now than ever, then the likelihood is that more such occurrences will happen. However, I am always keen to get people running, telling them that if they can put one leg in front of the other and are medically fit, then the only person stopping them is themselves.

Neil Featherby puts his runners through their paces at the Field of Pain. Picture: Neil FeatherbyNeil Featherby puts his runners through their paces at the Field of Pain. Picture: Neil Featherby

I think it is great watching people of all ages, shapes or sizes out there having a go and I am sure they all get a buzz from doing something which is designed to keep them fit and healthy.

I cannot imagine for one moment that anyone who takes up running think anything other than that too. Nevertheless, does it come down to some of us pushing ourselves far too hard at times when perhaps we shouldn’t? Or are some people just destined for something to happen to them which unfortunately occurs during the course of a run when the stresses placed upon the body at that given time act as the trigger point?

I organise two or three run groups each week at a park near to my home which the group have named the Field of Pain.

Whilst this is all tongue in cheek and everyone laughs about how hard some of my sessions are (ask Mark Armstrong), the truth is that the standards within these groups are anything from those who might take over 12 minutes to run a mile to those who run very fast 10ks and marathons at five and six-minute mile pace.

Neil Featherby puts his runners through their paces at the Field of Pain. Picture: Neil FeatherbyNeil Featherby puts his runners through their paces at the Field of Pain. Picture: Neil Featherby

More recently I have become even more aware of the need to be very mindful of not just how hard I push the runners in my group, but how hard they push themselves.

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group here

In other words we all assume that when we are running well, we are indeed medically fit and almost indestructible at times.

At the local running clubs they have coaches who are there to guide their members of all standards with thorough care and attention which of course is a must.

Unfortunately though and despite all the information online or in magazines, there are still a lot of people out there who don’t have any guidance or indeed are confused and just think that all they have to do is go buy a “proper pair of running shoes” and take off without the fear of getting hurt.

At Sportlink we see people on a daily basis who are all relatively new to running, coming in to ask us questions why they have still got hurt albeit just a minor niggle or indeed a favourite subject of mine, to talk about blisters despite having purchased a good quality pair of running shoes.

Whilst these types of issues are far less extreme, it does also confirm that a lot of people are still somewhat unaware as to how much stress they are applying to their body when first taking up this form of exercise and that even the very best running shoes do not come with a guarantee which says you will not get injured, particularly if too much is done too soon.

On a more serious note, as running does put a lot of stress on the body, be it through the impact and vibrations that run through the body upon each foot strike or through all the other stresses that are placed upon our very complicated, but extremely sophisticated bodies, it is the responsibility of those like myself who encourage others to run to make sure that we always adhere to some pretty strict guidelines.

At Sportlink all the staff do their very best to advise and even educate people about all aspects of running, but at the same time perhaps the best advice to those who may be unsure as to where they are at before starting out, is to go get the good old fashioned check from their GP.

On the whole, running has so many great benefits to mind and body hence why so many people are addicted to it and why I will always endorse it. However, and whilst always wanting to learn more, I decided to go and speak to Chas Allen at Walk to Run where he is the Director of Performance.

To say he thinks and cares very deeply about this subject is an understatement. His knowledge is indeed very complex for which my column next week will be dedicated to his very constructive views on running and exercise.

Let’s just say that it will be well worth waiting for...

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