Lockdown number two was not entirely surprising but the news that our nation would be subject to such stringent measures once again was still disconcerting. For the fitness fans amongst us, another lockdown meant that we had to say goodbye to our beloved gyms, training groups, and racing prospects.
During these unprecedented times, people all over the nation have been learning how to train effectively whilst adhering to the new restrictions. Keeping fit during the lockdown is possible, you just need to know how.
Learn from your previous lockdown training mistakes
Take two of lockdown should not be as difficult as the first. Use the first lockdown as a learning tool; identify what went well and what could have been improved, this will ensure that you do not make the same slip-ups again.
When I think back to March, I vividly remember starting lockdown like I had an indispensable amount of energy. I would try to cram in extra educational webinars on top of my university work, complete some form of holistic exercise every day in addition to my planned training, and work on the house. I reached week three before I realised that this routine was not sustainable.
This time around, I am not going to try and be super productive all of the time. The pandemic is an incredibly stressful time for all of us and so downtime has never been more important, well that is what I am telling myself when I sit down and consume endless amounts of mind-numbing reality television.
Identify your goals and aspirations
Motivation is the key to success with any venture, but motivation requires a motive. It is important to identify the reasoning behind your training and once you do, write it down and leave it in plain sight. This will assist you when a boost of encouragement is needed to start training.
The reason behind my training this winter is to build up a good bass line fitness and increase my strength to assist with my venture of completing an ultra-running challenge, next summer. I find running in the cold and dark winter months particularly demoralising but, if I am ever close to skipping a session, I will always ask myself why I need to get out the door and start training. The prospect of an ultra-challenge is normally enough to get me running, no matter what the time or temperature.
Plan ahead and stick to it
Have you ever heard of the saying: ‘failure to plan is like planning to fail’?
No one can be expected to uphold their training requirements without some form of structure and regimen in place. It does not have to be the most comprehensive or advanced plan but having something will help you to stay on track. Without a training plan we will always turn to what we enjoy doing the most or what we find the easiest; this would result is a sub-optimal training routine.
If I had to make daily decisions regarding my training, I would probably end up procrastinating for most of the morning and then heading out to the Peak district for a long fell run. This would mean that I was neglecting active recovery workouts, anaerobic sessions, strength training, and flexibility work; this would be highly ineffective and most probably end with an overuse injury.
Make the most of being able to exercise outside
We no longer have a limit to outdoor activity so take advantage of being able to get outside and train. Walking, running and cycling do not require an indoor space or any equipment; there is really is no reason to stop exercising during lockdown.
During the first lockdown, I took great pleasure in reconnecting with the outdoors. Before the pandemic, I definitely took having the ability to exercise outside for granted. I would often choose to complete a bike session on the turbo trainer as opposed to riding on the open roads; now I am the total opposite.
Find the appropriate alternatives
Whilst you may not be able to hit the free weights or go for a swim, you can do supplementary workouts to maintain some conditioning. Body weight exercises can provide an adequate strength stimulus and banded drills are the most appropriate alternative for swimming.
I invested in some home gym equipment at the start of the first lockdown to keep me lifting, even when the gyms were closed. I have even continued, post lockdown, to complete my strength training in the comfort of my own home gym.
Get your household onboard
As group training has been cancelled, why not recruit members of your household to accompany you whilst you exercise. Get your partner or children to ride their bike whilst you run, or even get them involved in your stretching sessions.
During lockdown my partner and I did a lot of running together which helped us both to maintain training motivation.
Create or join a virtual training group
Just because you cannot train in a group, it does not mean you have to cut all ties with your exercise buddies. Set up a WhatsApp group chat and keep each other updated on your training progress. You could even set virtual challenges and compete remotely.
I am a member of quite a few different training groups on Zwift and it really does help to know that there are others suffering on their turbos just as much as I am. It definitely makes the whole concept of solo training seem a lot less isolating.
Choose your training partner wisely
This time around we can recruit one other person from outside our households to train with. Make sure this person is of a similar standard to yourself, is somebody you enjoy training with, and will motivate you when you lack the get up and go.
I have always found running with somebody else far more motivating than flying solo, especially when they are of a similar standard and my competitive side kicks in.
Use your extra time effectively
If you are working from home, use your usual commuting time wisely. Spend time completing the all-important accessory work, like stretching and foam rolling, that is often neglected because of time restraints.
I really got into my yoga during the first lockdown and spent time working on my stability and flexibility in an effort to become a more resilient and well-rounded athlete.
Be realistic with your expectations
The pandemic has brought about copious amounts of stress and so it is important to allow yourself the time to unwind and relax. Do not fall into the trap of creating a training regimen that mirrors a professional’s plan or feel pressured to do more exercising than before. Now is the time when training can reduce and the focus can be shifted onto prioritising self-care.
My outlook on the current situation is that competition is not on the immediate horizon and so highly intense sessions are not necessary. What is important is that I build a solid base fitness, keep things consistent by staying fit and healthy, and continue to enjoy my training.
About the author: Laura Smith is a triathlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.