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Neil Featherby: Don't let the past hold you back, but don't forget it either

The Lord Mayor's 5K City Centre Classic will have a lot of running talent on show this year. Picture: Sonya Duncan

The Lord Mayor's 5K City Centre Classic will have a lot of running talent on show this year. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Being a member of a certain Facebook group which has a high mix of runners from yesteryear and today, it really can be very interesting to just sit back and read some of the comments and totally differing points of views.

Mark Armstrong is preparing to take part in the Lord Mayor's 5K City Centre Classic at the start of July. Picture: Cambridge Half MarathonMark Armstrong is preparing to take part in the Lord Mayor's 5K City Centre Classic at the start of July. Picture: Cambridge Half Marathon

Being a member of a certain Facebook group which has a high mix of runners from yesteryear and today, it really can be very interesting to just sit back and read some of the comments and totally differing points of views.

I actually saw one discussion where the dialogue was going back and forth for which one of the more recent converts to running posted "celebrate the past, not live in it" by way of a bit of backlash to one of the want for a better word, older generation of runners, who suggested that today's attitude towards running is not like it used to be.

However, he is right, running has changed and most certainly isn't like it used to be, but at the same time I have to say that I think the comment about living in the past was spot on too.

I love talking about my past running career, be it the races I competed in, or of course about the many friends I made, hence some of the columns I have submitted during the last couple of years.

I love the history of the sport and I have running books, be it autobiographies and old coaching manuals which go back to the 1930s.

I have also kept old cuttings, programmes, race results, numbers and even running shoes which go back years too.

For me it really is all about celebrating the past. For my other half it is clutter, but if some of us don't collect clutter then certain things might just end being lost forever.

We must always remember if it wasn't for the past we would not be where we are today. It is the past which directs the future.

Having had a look back on some of Mark's (Armstrong) recent columns, they really do sum not only him up, but that of so many others too when it comes to worrying about whether they are going to be able to achieve the standards and goals they have set themselves.

In Mark's case, the Lord Mayors 5K, particularly with there being a cut-off point at 3K this year.

Or of course being seen at the back of the field assuming that everyone else in the race are going to be that much faster.

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This is all part and parcel of being good enough to be able to participate in this race in the first place. This in itself is an achievement.

Nevertheless, once the initial thrill of being accepted into the race has died down, this is when reality takes over.

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

The Lord Mayors 5K is most certainly not a parkrun. It is very much a race which will range from the elite at the front of the field to that of high quality club runners at the back of it.

Now going back to my earlier comments about the past and the future, sport and lifestyle.

This race will be full of competitive athletes all out there with the aim of running to the very best of their ability.

However, and whilst the next few weeks training for Mark will be geared to getting him to the start line in the best physical shape ever, it will also be about getting him there with his mind in a great place too. He must try to embrace whatever pressure he may be bringing to himself and turn any emotions of fear or anxiety into positive thoughts, focusing on himself and not what others may be doing or saying.

It's time for him to take a deep breath and, instead of worrying about the fact that after several weeks of training for a marathon, which really did have to be fitted into his busy lifestyle followed by a slight calf injury a few weeks later, he now needs to come to terms with accepting where he is at with regards to his current level of conditioning. With this in mind we have to structure the training to get him to where he needs to be come the week of the race.

In a nutshell, planning and preparation, whilst also having the confidence in his ability and the training plan to build up to a peak performance when it matters.

This is the difference between preparing to compete when setting yourself high standards or just turning up to run as you feel on the day for perhaps at a local parkrun.

As he said in one of his recent columns, he needs to train his mind too and so should all competitive athletes.

The mind dictates everything we do and believe in. It can so easily be the difference in level of performance between two athletes of equal ability.

Whatever the sport, when you toe the start line or walk out on to the field of play, self-confidence and belief are just as important as the physical conditioning of the body.

In the words of Henry Ford: "Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right."

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