As you would expect, the unprecedented events of lockdown have changed the way we train for the foreseeable future. Keeping rides and runs to an absolute minimum and going outside only once a day has challenged our endurance athletes to adapt their training.
Eleanor Wiliams, Team Vitfor OTE triathlete, tells us how she’s been coping.
“I’ve opted to use the turbo inside and run and walk as my outside activity. Having struggled to get back to running last year with injury, it’s been a perfect time to build up a steady base.
I’ve enjoyed exploring new paths and I’m lucky I can head straight out of town to quiet routes. I plan them in advance and make sure I avoid enclosed narrow paths where social distancing might be hard to adhere to.
Inside on the turbo, my husband Dave and I have taken part in group rides on Zwift. As I have a coached plan, I sometimes just use the freeride option in Zwift to stay ‘rubberbanded’ within the group, but able to continue with my own training sessions.
We’re so lucky that we have a room available in our house for the turbo trainers. There’s also just enough space in there to set-up a sort of ‘gym’ workout. We’ve organised our kit: therabands, swim cords, bosu, swiss ball, some adjustable hand weights, a yoga matt and a foam roller. I also found a random skipping rope in the back of the cupboard which I can do in the garden.
Since we are still allowed to exercise outdoors, I’ve not had to find ways to ‘run’ inside. But, in case a full lockdown takes place, I’ve planned ahead by testing doing a run by going from the bike and up the stairs. I found I could get up and down in just over a minute, so I did reps off 90s turnaround, ten reps at a time, and 5 sets. Pretty tough, but rewarding!
The hardest thing for me as a triathlete, is no swimming. We’re using the therabands and stretch cords around the door handle and doing a few workouts we found online, such as these: Team Charles-Barclay | Global Triathlon Network
My favourite is the ‘thread the needle’ exercise adding a small hand weight.
Finally, to ensure I stick to my plan, I’ve signed up to a once a week Zoom S&C class, run by a friend of mine who normally takes care of my sports massage. So, not only does it give me a schedule to keep to, but I’m also able to support a local business.
I’m so glad that I can still exercise, because lockdown means there is a lot of baking happening…!”
So, whether it’s a pandemic that keeps you indoors or a long bout of really bad weather, here are Vitfor Performance Director, Craig Stevenson’s recommendations for adjusting your training program:
- Consistency is key
When long runs or rides just aren’t possible, use shorter more frequent sessions to keep you fit. You may find this is actually a better use of your training time
- Intensity is king
When you can’t get in the miles in the big outdoors, replace the training stress that you’re missing with extra intensity. Developing the top end will help you over the hills with less relative effort once you can get back outside
- Don’t forget your strength and conditioning
Use your time indoors to work on building your strength and conditioning. You may not have access to extra weights but exercises like single leg squats can be a great alternative.
- Develop your flexibility
It’s an area that’s often overlooked, but usually our flexibility isn’t what it could be. Gaining extra mobility may not lead directly to being able to push the pedals harder or run further but it will help to increase your comfort and to hold a more aerodynamic position on the bike or engage your core on your runs
- Break it up
Clock watching can be a training killer so try to break the monotony by using shorter interval blocks. Change your cadence or intensity when running or riding and go from seated to standing on the turbo
- Join virtual training sessions
With access to so many options such as Zwift, you can avoid the boredom and even join your friends and training partners. Pick a route like one you would ride on the road – the climbs and varying terrain will really help to pass the time and the social element will give you some of that club ride feel