Neil Featherby: A week when I lost an old training partner

Neil Featherby West Runton Beach

A time for gathering thoughts - a run on West Runton beach. - Credit: Neil Featherby

Going right back to my school days running has always been something which I have felt compelled to do, especially when needing those moments of escapism. 

A time to just get away and clear my head or even solve problems and come to terms with things. 

Most of my columns during the last four years have been written on the run.  

Certainly in my head that is and then quickly typed up before all the other daily chores and even clutter got in the way again and confused things. 

During my competitive days, running was of course more about focus and a necessity to get specific sessions completed for which there were times when if I am honest, it may have caused some stress. Especially if things weren’t going to plan. Then there have been days when finding the time to even get a run in has caused added pressure when it has been more of a rushed charge to get it done. 

Neil Featherby Bluebell Woods

Running takes you to some scenic places, says Neil Featherby. - Credit: Neil Featherby

However, and in the main and when weighing it all up, running for me has been a joy and a chance to escape from everything else. A time for gathering thoughts and for working out what’s really important in life. 

Just this week, I lost one of my old training partners who I covered thousands of miles with during the 10 years we ran together. She never complained and always just trotted along usually right behind my feet. 

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Needless to say, I am talking about one of my beloved dogs. Tia, my Saarloos Wolf Dog, loved to run especially with her old mate Oslo and then later on with our three huskies too. 

Neil Featherby Horsford Woods

Running with dogs and exercise can be medicine for the mind. - Credit: Mark Hewlett

However, just over three years ago after a run, I noticed she was limping. It never got any better, turning out to be the start of an awful arthritic condition and one to the point where during the last few months, the furthest she could walk without stopping either due to pain or just out of breath was in our garden or from my van into Sportlink to say hi to everyone and then back out again. Other health issues also added to this of late for which she really did go down hill albeit fighting all the way. 

Therefore and just right now, running really is once again a time for me to escape with my thoughts and reflect on all the good times we all had together particularly during some of those awesome and beautiful scenic runs - in all weathers of course too. 

As I said in the film made last year by film maker Lee Blanchflower – Running with Dogs – exercise really is medicine for the mind. That’s definitely another truth! 

Dedicated to the beautiful and loving soul that was Tia.   

Neil Featherby with dogs

The joys of running with your favourite training partners. - Credit: Baz Hipwell