Neil Featherby: Now is the time to commit to your running

Runners set off at the start of the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Danielle Booden

Callum Bowen Jones leads from the front at the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Archant 2022

Just three weeks into another new year and this is where the word commitment comes in.  

Whilst of course there are lots of people having started 2022 with the intention of making this a really good one, I have already seen one or two cracks and signs of grinding down for some. 

Whereas last week I mentioned how we had targeted Callum Bowen Jones’ winning run in the Norfolk County Cross Country Championships, he does of course have a much longer drawn-out plan for the year ahead which consists of not just some major peaks, but mini peaks too along with periods of consolidation and even backing off when we see fit. 

With this in mind and speaking to Mark (Armstrong) earlier this week, we discussed how important it is to not always set your expectations too high and more to the point realising that you can’t just go out there and smash another PB out each time you race. This attitude will at some point lead to burn out and disappointment if you do. 

It really is all about understanding where your current level of fitness is and then planning very carefully ahead. It does have to be consistent though as it is no good building up to a race and then dropping off and letting it go again afterwards particularly if the hoped for performance on the day didn’t quite happen. 

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A very good friend of mine messaged me the other day telling me how disappointed he was with what in his eyes have been minimal gains for a lot of hard work and was going to give up running. Personally, I do think that within a few weeks he will be back, but as I have said many times before, there are no magic wands. 

Whilst the saying you only get out what you put in is true, it also comes down to how you put the effort in on a long-term basis. 

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Callum is very lucky in as much as he has lots of things going for him.  

He is only 21 for one thing which is great as that means he still has to reach his prime. However, his lifestyle fits in perfectly with his ambitions for his running.  

A lot of this is down to his parents, but at the same time he has a great belief in where he wants to go with it all and when there is the occasional setback or blip, he takes it on the chin and just keeps moving on. 

So many things are instantly accessible these days, but when it comes to being the best you can possibly be as a runner/athlete, then as mentioned at the start of this column, this is where the word commitment really does come in. 

Keep it going everyone as I am sure it is going to be a great running year ahead for those who stay the course…