How to Continue Training During Lockdown

By Neil Cooper

Over the past few weeks, my inbox has been full of notifications of cancelled or postponed events, due to the impact of Covid19 and the social distancing restrictions. Training for an event or active holiday is a great motivation to keep exercising and to structure training to make sure you are in great condition on the day of your event.

So how do we keep motivation levels high and structure our training without the certainty of when we will be going on an active holiday or competing at an event? Also, how do we make sure we keep our training going while complying with the current restrictions?

I think the first thing to look at is changing our goals. Instead of a goal of a specific time or the completion of an event or route, we need to make the goals achievable today.

Many runners don’t do enough strength and conditioning work as well as their run training. Now is the perfect time to focus on this area of your training. By improving your strength or range of movement, you can see significant improvements in your performance, and the added bonus is that your resilience to injuries will improve. Perhaps your goal should be to improve your strength?

There are lots of great online resources at the moment to use for training in the comfort of your own home, without the need for any equipment. Try some of them out to see which ones you enjoy. Adding at least one yoga or Pilates session a week will help your strength, range of movement and relaxation. Here are six of my favourite strength exercises that I like to do which are targeted to help my running. With all of these, there are lots of ways to make the exercise easier or harder.

Although this article refers mainly to runners, all of these exercises are suitable for training for walking and cycling as well.


squat.JPGThe squat will work your quads, hamstrings, glutes and back.

With feet shoulder width apart and pointing at 10-2 on a clock face, keep your head looking forward and back straight. Lower yourself down by bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor, or you can’t go down any further without arching your back. Then straighten back up.

Do this slowly so you really work your quads. To add a degree of difficulty, put a thick book under each heal. You can also keep moving slowly without fully rising back up, so you don’t lock your knees. This way your quads don’t stop working. To make it even harder, rest one foot behind you on a chair or bed so you do the squats on one leg.


lunge.JPGLunges will work similar muscles to the squat, as well as the adductors.

Starting in a standing position with feet shoulder width apart, take a big step forward with your left leg and sink down so your right knee is nearly touching the ground. Your left knee shouldn’t come further forward than your toes. Then push back up to a standing position. Do the same with the other leg.

To add to this, you can do lunges to each side, or even backwards, by stepping back. Keep your chest and head high during these exercises.


plank.JPGThe plank is a great core exercise which is vital to running.

Support your upper body on your forearms with your elbows directly below your shoulders. Your head should be in the neutral position, so looking directly ahead. The back should be in line with the legs and you can either be on your knees or feet. Engage your core by tucking your belly button towards your spine. Hold this position as long as you can while remembering to breathe.

To add to the difficulty, raise one arm or leg. To make it even more difficult, raise the opposite arm and leg at the same time while maintaining the position.

Side planks

side plank.JPGThe side plank is also a core exercise working the stomach muscles on either side. With this exercise, support yourself on a single forearm and side of your foot. Keep the body straight and hold the position. To add a degree of difficulty, raise the uppermost leg and arm. Repeat on the other side.

Calf raises

calf raise.pngA great exercise for calf strength and to improve the drive phase of your running. Standing straight with feet shoulder width apart, push up quickly until you are on your tip toes and then slowly lower back down. Try doing it on one leg, and if you find that easy, try closing your eyes!

Glute bridges

glute bridge.JPGA great exercise for the glutes which are a really powerful set of muscles, which more runners need to make use of.

Lie flat on your back with your arms down by your side. Raise your knees and bring your feet close to your backside. Raise your hips up by squeezing your buttocks together. If you feel it in your hamstrings, bring your feet closer to your bottom. To add a degree of difficulty, raise one leg while doing this, but make sure you keep your hips flat.

With these exercises it is important to do them slowly and in a controlled manner. A great routine is to do the squats, lunges, calf raises and glute bridges each for a minute, and then the plank and side plank for 30 seconds (30 seconds each side for side plank). Have one minute rest, and then do them all again. I like to do 3 sets, forming a 20 minute session.

Remember you can still go out exercising once a day, but don’t do more than one intense session a week as this will reduce your immunity levels. Also remember to build your training gradually and to have rest days. Other great cardio exercises include skipping and step ups on a step.step.JPGI would caution against running up and down a short space, or laps of a small area. This can put a tremendous strain on knees and ankles.

Above all, keep smiling, enjoy your training and stay safe.

skip (1).JPG

Neil Cooper

Running Coach

Neil Cooper is the head coach of Lakes2Tri.

Read more blogs by Neil Cooper

Originally published 27/04/20

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