Neil Featherby: Highlands put a spring in my step again

Neil Featherby and Hammy Cox in Scotland

Neil Featherby with dogs and old running friend and international marathon runner Hammy Cox in Scotland - Credit: Neil Featherby

A change really can be as good as a rest.

We have all been there: sometimes certain things feel rather boring and even tedious. The buzz is just not the same as it was, and whilst a new pair of running shoes or an item of clothing might help for a while, unless you have a real goal and target to aim for, the desire to get out of the door and get your run done can feel much harder than it should do.

Being honest, the last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle for me. I am a long way past having a race or a marathon to train for; my only goals these days are to just keep my daily running streak going. And by the end of this month it will be 40 years without missing a day of that - not forgetting the occasional ultra-long running challenge which I also try to set myself every year to raise money for my favourite charities.

But, of late the desire to keep it all going has started to feel more like a chore and if it was not for running with my dogs, finding my mojo was becoming more difficult.

With this in mind, I said to my partner Steph that I just wanted to get in our van and head off with her and our three huskies for a while to recharge my batteries.

“Where do you want to go?” she said.

“Where do you think?” I replied.

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For those who know me well enough, they will know I have always (albeit light-heartedly) said that one day I am going to move up to the Highlands and live in a log cabin.

That's always been a bit of a tongue in cheek joke, but it was Scotland where we headed off to this week with all five of us crammed into our vehicle with a stopover for one night in North Yorkshire before crossing the border on our way up to Inverkip to see an old running friend, Hammy Cox and his wife Jane.

I have always stayed in touch with them, but this was the first time in over 20 years I have been up there to see them - and to say I have a new spring in my step is an understatement.

The hills in Yorkshire and Scotland really have proved that Norfolk is flat, but running has been a joy again - even if my hamstrings and quads have been screaming out at times to stop.

I have also been struggling quite badly with my asthma recently, but up here I can’t believe how it just seems to have disappeared.  I don’t know if it is the clearer air or just psychological and down to the change in scenery and usual daily routine, but whatever it is, it really does feel great to be out there running again without coughing and wheezing.

One of the best things about sport is the amount of long-standing friendships you make over the years and I have been very fortunate to meet lots of super people, such as Hammy and Jane.

Having gone along to last Sunday’s Norfolk County Athletics Championships, it was also nice to bump into a lot of old friends, particularly those who I hadn’t seen for a long time.

It also reminded me of some of the brilliant talent we have had in Norfolk over the years, particularly when catching up with former international athletes, long jumper and now multi-events coach Denis Costello, javelin thrower and sports consultant/advisor Tim Newenham along with top sports scientist Dave Carolan.