Exercising locally, once a day and with no club sessions isn't always going to be easy. Thankfully we have some tips to get you through lockdown in fine shape!
We spoke to our elite road and mountain runners, ultra-runners and VOOM Champions to get their top tips on how to stay in shape during lockdown. Run training during the COVID-19 lockdown has to be adapted from normal training plans, but it doesn’t mean you can’t continue to make fitness gains.
Introducing Team Voom’s Runners:
Nicole Taylor - Current England 10,000m track champion.
Ross Jenkin - Running the ‘Big 4 at 40’ in 2021.
Eden O'Dea - GB Mountain Runner and VOOM Young Gun.
Callum Davidson - Team England Mountain Runner.
Angela White aka 'The Running Granny' - Ran 'JOGLE' in 2019.
Joe Dixon - Morpeth Harrier and VOOM Young Gun.
Steve Edwards - 900 marathons and counting!
Adapt to new training environments
Social distancing and isolation mean athletes have had to adapt their training to new environments and look for creative ways to keep their training engaging and effective. For Nicole Taylor, the closure of gyms has meant she’s switched to medicine ball style conditioning routines for her strength and conditioning sessions. Effective conditioning exercises for runners include exercises like med ball lunges, toe touches calf raises.
Callum, Joe and Eden have all been missing training as a group with friends and clubmates but are thankful for having family on hand as training partners. Eden’s Mum has been joining her on her long runs on a bike, whereas Joe has a speedy older brother to train with. With resources like ZOOM available too, there’s ways of working out with others, in the safety of your own homes.
Use your time effectively
“Complete timed efforts, rather than distance” Nicole Taylor
We have all got one opportunity per day to exercise outside, so use this time wisely! We asked the team how they are using their time effectively:
Nicole: “I am currently training on my own, in a relatively hilly area! So, I try to utilise this environment and focus on driving up hills and working off the downhills”.
Callum: “The most important concept of a session is to get your heart rate up and run fast. On a track this is easy however on the hilly roads near my house trying to run 16 x 400m in 66 seconds is difficult. However, now with all facilities closed again I have switched my efforts to all time-based, so the session discussed above has now changed to 16 x 1 min on/off. This is a great way to stop worrying about pace or time to do a set distance because you are effectively doing the same session but without the pressure of hitting paces. For example; I may do 1 rep at 6 min mile pace as this is uphill but on a decent downhill stretch, I can get close to 4 min/mile pace for 60 seconds so it’s all relative”.
Eden: “Keeping to the one exercise a day rule, days I was previously meant to have two runs, obviously can’t go ahead. Therefore, I tend to lengthen my one run slightly and also do a 20-minute skipping workout beforehand in head out!”
Steve: “If getting away from the home is or becomes difficult then I would start doing more HIIT sessions. Never underestimate the value of these sessions, which should include things like, burpees, squat thrusts, squat jumps, box jumps, side steps, step ups etc. A good session can typically last anything between say 5min for beginners to 20+ minutes once your body has adapted to it. It's explosive, involves relatively short bursts of intensive activity with short periods of rest in between each set or exercise. It helps improve and maintain speed, stamina, strength and suppleness. And while I wouldn't really want it to totally replace running it's a great way to supplement running if mileage has to be reduced and will greatly benefit your running strength & efficiency. Please do warm up though before a session and warm down/stretch afterwards”.
Shift your focus
“With the pressure off to train for events, I’m able to take a slower approach to rehab and strength work to help with recovery” The Running Granny
A common theme that emerged from speaking to Team VOOM was making the most of this time without races and events to rebuild and rehab from previous injuries.
Here’s a great insight into how elite athlete Callum is using his time wisely:
“The rehab part of my plan is often neglected. I broke my right ankle a few years ago and it has never been right, as I’ve constantly been training hard on it. So, now I can ease off the miles, hit the bike, follow my rehab plan to a tee and hopefully rid myself of this problematic ankle!”.
New training aids
“Does Wii Sports count?!” Nicole Taylor
We asked our team if they had invested in any new training aids or equipment and we had some interesting and different responses!
Angela, aka The Running Granny, has invested in agility ladders and resistance bands to help her speed work. Eden recommends skipping ropes for a great full body work out that engages your core, calves and quads! Ross and Callum have taken innovative approaches, using sledgehammers and breeze blocks as weights, and Joe has invested in a treadmill and Zwift Virtual Cycling. A wobble cushion is a great piece of kit to improve your foot and lower leg conditioning and your general balance.
Maintain your motivation
“Concentrate on what you can control and take it one day at a time” Steve Edwards
Top tips from each of our runners for keeping motivated during this challenging time:
Nicole: “I love watching old race videos back which I think I nailed, then I try to remember why that was such a good race, my thoughts throughout the race and what contributed to that success”.
Steve: “Document your training, write your plan down and tick off each session every day so you not only track current but also historic progress to see how far you've come”.
Eden: “What motivates me is thinking of all my competitors training, and thinking that when we do race again, it will be the ones who have persisted to train hard despite the unfortunate circumstances, that will come out on top”.
Callum: “Set yourself personal goals that may never normally fit into your schedule. I have a lot of unfinished business with the marathon, so I decided the night before I would run one, just to complete it and feel strong. I was surprised to run 2:34 solo! It must have been the Electro Energy bars…!”
Ross: “This is really an opportunity - if you are furloughed or out of work, then use the time to do something constructive. The most important thing is to keep on getting out – the mental health of the nation has really been suffering and the best way to stay positive is to get some exercise”.
Angela: “Use the time to take proper recovery days, get plenty of sleep and explore your local trails”.
Seek new inspiration
Athletes across the globe have been pulling together to provide useful content for their followers, to help inspire and motivate. Eden, our GB Mountain Runner, recommends Emma Abrahamson’s YouTube channel to help keep motivation high.
Joe Wicks PE, Kelly Holme’s Instagram work-outs and ‘Yoga with Adriane’ have also proved very popular. We are incredibly fortunate to live in an era where sharing of such expertise and creativity is so easy. We might be restricted by four walls, but there’s plenty of training options to be done within them!
Find the positives
“Tough times create tough people” Callum Davidson
Finding positives in such difficult times can be hard, but it’s important to reflect on the hidden positives of such situations. Spending quality time with family members was a consistent response throughout our team, as well as appreciating the small and important things in life.
Eden also pointed out the importance of reflecting how far you’ve come as an athlete – sometimes we get so caught up in the moment that we forget how much we’ve already achieved.
So, enjoy the time you have with family, get stuck into different activities, whether it be cooking new recipes such as the VOOM Protein Pancakes, completing a jigsaw or learning a language - and don’t feel guilty about it!