Neil Featherby: Stay safe, stay positive and keep setting goals

Neil Featherby at Felthorpe. Picture: Neil Featherby

Neil Featherby at Felthorpe. Picture: Neil Featherby - Credit: Archant

I have spent most of this week wondering how to start my column.

Neil Featherby out on a training run around Felthorpe Woods. Picture: Neil Featherby

Neil Featherby out on a training run around Felthorpe Woods. Picture: Neil Featherby - Credit: Archant

Usually it’s no problem whatsoever but all of a sudden there is now only one subject which has completely taken over our whole lives irrespective of our pastimes, working life and of course our personal lives too.

Just a few weeks ago so many people had plans to not only run in April marathons, but also had so many other plans for the rest of the year too. That is how we run our lives so when something so very quickly pulls the rug from under our feet such as this has, the shock of it all can just leave you standing there pinching yourself trying to work out if it really is happening.

However, and whilst we are now completely surrounded by what is the coronavirus, where all of a sudden it seems like there is nothing else happening in the world to talk about, let’s at least try and talk running if just for the time it takes to read the rest of this column.

Lots of people have asked me as to what I advise with regards to trying to stay motivated with their running particularly now there are no races? Well for those who I coach be it someone like Callum Bowen Jones who I was convinced was going to have a super season to that of a couple of ladies who I also advise and just wanted to get round the London Marathon, I am still planning their training to meet certain specific targets as if they were still racing (not a full marathon I hasten to add), albeit whilst trying to also fit in with the government guidelines about daily exercise.


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Whilst the actual thrill or indeed in Cal’s case an official PB may not be registered, at this moment in time this is as good as it get. By still preparing to meet our designated goals by way of performing solo time trials, it not only shows where we are at with the training, but also keeps us on track by way of confirmed benchmarks whilst still adding that extra little bit of race like pressure and motivation to keep focused knowing there are tests to be undertaken at given points.

Certainly in his case it does to the point where we even go through the same pre-race talk and strategy.

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Obviously if a complete lockdown comes in to place then it will change things, but Callum has a treadmill and has taken to creating further motivation if when occasionally using his machine by doing what I do and that is to watch some of the great races of the past set up on his laptop screen in front of him.

People have said to me that running on a treadmill is boring. Try racing Roger Bannister whilst watching the old black and white footage of his world record sub 4 min mile in 1954 whilst seeing how close you can get to running a mile yourself before he finishes. We all have to adapt at times and none more so than just right now, so it’s all about thinking of ways to add that little bit of extra spice and fun to it all.

Whilst lots of people take up the challenge of running or gentle jogging as part of a New Year’s resolution, this is also now perhaps a good chance for others to start. It really is a fantastic way to not only keep our bodies healthy, but our minds too.

Providing you are medically fit, it is never too late to start and as for pace, that doesn’t come into it. It is simply all about just putting one leg in front of the other and all in your own time.

My current early morning runs with my dogs are without a doubt my favourite time of the day just right now.

Running through the trails and woodland near to where I live whilst watching the sun come up through the trees and listening to the sounds of the wildlife is awesome. Apart from two other people who I see out doing the same thing each morning, the solitude and chance just to remove myself from what is going on for 45 minutes or so, really is something which for me is invaluable.

A friend said to me the other day, it is like someone has pushed a stop button and then pushed re-set. It certainly does feel a bit like that, so my advice to everyone out there who can get out into the fresh air for their daily exercise is to set yourself a little weekly goal and enjoy a few moments of just switching off whilst switching on and focusing your mind towards your own little challenge.

You certainly don’t have to be an elite athlete to do that. Stay safe everyone and stay positive too….

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