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We’re all living through a pandemic that none of us expected at the close of 2019. These times are all about making the most of what we’ve got. Currently in the UK, we’re still allowed to take one form of exercise everyday, however, the rumours are that this may change.  We may soon be restricted to home/garden or distance-from-house type rulings similar to how things are in Spain and Italy.

So, with that in mind, what can the average runner do to keep their sanity and fitness under control? Here’s a few tips…

1. Remember there are 3 basic types of fitness

Runners are great at working on their cardio – lapping up the miles where they can. However, we often overlook the other two types of exercise that can really benefit our running and our fitness; strength and flexibility. With the extra time at home, now is the time we can focus on all three and our running will benefit when we finally get out and rack up the miles again.

2. Break your day up with exercise

Many of us are finding our daily routine has changed dramatically. We’re either working from home, have been furloughed or are trying to juggle home-schooling. Whereas running is usually one continuous length of exercise, now is the time to mix it up. If you usually run for an hour, break up your day with three sets of 20 minutes. If you’re used to two hours of running, make it one hour of cardio and two half hours later in the day. Even better if you can make each of the sessions a different type of exercise – cardio, strength and flexibility.

3. Get the family involved

Running, in the most part, is a solo activity – even when you run with a club regularly, you still isolate yourself at times to get in the miles. Some of us seek that time alone, our own bit of headspace, but seeing as we’re stuck with whoever we’re in lockdown with, it will help if we motivate each other. A boost of endorphins for even the most grumpiest of teenagers will help lift the mood in the house! Set weekly challenges for each other. Give yourself something to aim for. We set up the family fitness challenges during this time so that we’ve all got something positive to work towards.

4. Use the gym equipment you’ve got

But I don’t have any gym equipment!” I hear you cry. Ah, but you do. Little did you know that your home is bursting with un-utilised gym equipment. Here are a few suggestions, but get creative with your workouts:

  • Stairs: You want to work on your cardio and your strength? Running up and down the stairs is a perfect replacement for the hill sessions you usually do.
  • Old rope? Washing line? Tie-cord from your dressing gown? All of these make perfect skipping ropes and skipping is one of the most effective, fat burning workouts you can do. There’s a a number of great, full body workouts, available on the British Rope Skipping Association’s website (BRSA).
  • Tins:  Using baked bean tins (full ones!) as a replacement for dumbbells or kettlebells does work. The weights may not be heavy but upping the reps will all help with toning. Don’t forget the unused cans of paint you’ve got lying in the back of the garage. They’ll be heavier than the beans and work great for goblin squats. There’s a few exercises on the BBC Make your move website to get you started.
  • Your sofa: Is not just for sitting on! Use it for raised push ups (put your feet on the sofa whilst in the push up position but remember to take your shoes off first!) or sofa squats (sit on your sofa with your feet on the floor and stand up, then sit down as many times as you can in a set amount of time).
  • Phones: We’re not advocating picking up your phone as a form of exercise, but alongside the great running apps, there’s a huge array of exercise apps too. Our go-to app is Nike Fitness App, but Adidas, Sworkit, Glo offer some great choices – checkout Coach Magazine’s recent best workout apps guide.

5. Make it regular

The hardest part about changing a routine is making that routine stick. However, in these strange times, a routine is the one thing we do have control over. It gives us grounding, something to focus on and will keep us on track of a fitness goal. Just like you have a routine for your runs, make sure you create one for your new workout.

6. Have a goal to work towards

None of us know when this is going to end and that’s seems to be one of the hardest parts of lockdown. Will we be socially distancing for a few weeks or a few months? Looking at the evidence coming from China and Italy, it would seem that it’s likely to be the latter. If we accept that’s likely to be our fate, then make a plan to work towards a goal in that time frame.

A lot of us are used to have 12 or 16 week training plans, use this as a basis for what you want to have achieved for your fitness level. I’m working towards having a stronger core and to finally see my abs! Let’s not forget external targets too – we’ve already mentioned our family lockdown challenges – these help you earn trees to be planted whilst working out. Having something that keeps you focused on a bigger picture will help you to stay motivated.

However you want to use this time for your fitness, the main thing is that you stay safe and sane. The impact of socially distancing ourselves will bring so many ups and downs to us all. I keep telling the kids to be gentle, both with others but also yourselves.

Allow yourself to have downtimes and don’t kick yourself if things aren’t going to plan. We all have bad days. Just pick yourself up and know you’re working towards the day when running any distance, anywhere will happen again. Stay safe.