Neil Featherby on a training run. Picture: Mark Hewlett
New Year, New You, a slogan we regularly use at Sportlink at this time of year where for lots of people it's out with the old and in with the new with thoughts being geared to being a better me and of course a better you having now entered 2020.
From my own personal point of view, 2019 has been a pretty unforgettable year, that's for sure, and I think it's fair to say pretty different to the many years of my life which have gone before.
Nevertheless, going into 2020, one resolution which will be no different to that of this time last year or indeed several previous year' too and that is to be far more organised.
My problem is that I have my fingers in too many pies and I am just too involved with far too many things to ever really plan my days ahead out clearly.
My day will always start with a run. That is a must! Needless to say a second run will be in the mix too, but as long as I have got at least one run in before I tackle anything else, then I am relatively settled.
My dogs of course also love running so that's two jobs done in one.
After that, there is Sportlink work although to be fair that is not so crazy anymore what with having great staff to also take care of things there.
It's all the other projects which I am involved in which do somewhat split me into several pieces throughout any given day.
Some days, I feel like I have done loads when in truth I have done absolutely nothing which I had set out to do.
Needless to say, my time keeping is also pretty rubbish as well. Just ask Mark (Armstrong).
I am sure he tells me that copy has to be in two days before it really is as he knows I will always be late.
However, back in the days, when it really was just my running which dominated my daily life, I can honestly look back and say that despite averaging 20 miles a day, that was when I was the most organised I have ever been.
Whereas people tell me that they struggle to find the time of day to fit in all the running they would like to do, for me it really was my training which kept me organised.
I knew exactly how my life was going to pan out from one day to the next or of course from one race to the next.
People not only knew what time of day I would run by their house, but also on what day of the week too what with my schedule working to the strictest of discipline and clockwork.
Consistent and dedicated, I most certainly was.
However, I was also very focused and driven and whilst I was always realistic as to what my capabilities were. I was hell-bent on being every bit as capable as what I felt those capabilities were.
Needless to say during the last few weeks I have been asked by lots of people to help them with their own New Year running and training plans.
Some just want to be fit enough and good enough to do well in local races whilst others have some serious racing plans including marathon dates in April.
None of this is new to me having been there so many times with people in the past. What I have now learnt over time is to recognise those who are very realistic and will stay with it as opposed to those who have great intentions of being far better than they have been up to now. I just know from experience that some really do need to modify their ambitions or they will just burn out in no time at all.
They most certainly mean well, but just sometimes and despite however bad they may want it, it will always come back down to realism and consistency.
Mark summed it up brilliantly in his column last week when saying that after several weeks of being injured he can now look at things much clearer and realises just how important it is for him to balance his running with everything else which is important in his life.
He also said that in 2020, he just wants to be the best he can be which is brilliant, but that also means being the best he can be after fitting his weekly running schedule effectively into his life and not trying to do it the other way around.
Trying to fit in too much, too soon, usually ends up with something going wrong which causes further stress and pressure which of course is not conducive to good running or indeed health.
At the same time, it also means being realistic to get the very best out of the training which is to be done whilst knowing that if you can only fit in one 60-minute run each week with a mix of two or three other runs consisting of between 30 and 40 minutes then whilst you might run a decent 10K, the likelihood is that you won't run a sub 2:35 marathon.
Therefore before starting any new routine, think about everything very carefully and then if done intelligently, with time and patience you will be able to watch your plans go in the right direction.
Bit by bit not only will you see the relevant gains, but also gradually learn how to build new structure and increased planning into your lifestyle as well. It's all about opening one door at a time.
As for anyone still asking me for help, apart from those who I am already working with, I have told all the others to go away albeit with a little guidance and then prove to me that they can stay with it sensibly for six weeks before then coming back to speak to me again.
If they do, then awesome. However, if they don't or they fall by the wayside before then, as blunt as this may sound, I will not have wasted any of my own personal precious time in what is already a chaotic and pretty disorganised lifestyle, which incidentally after I have given out all this advice is likely to be no better at the end of January 2020 than it was at the end of January 2019.
Anyway, here's to a very Happy New Year to everyone who is running and keeping fit in 2020 for which I really do hope you all achieve your own personal goals.
Finally, good luck to everyone taking part in this Sunday's Norfolk County Cross Country Championships, at Thetford.
Neil Featherby's Friday EDP Feature