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Exercising while in lockdown

Aly Dixon is an English Olympian, two times British marathon champion, 50km World Champion and 50km World Record holder.


For the regular runners who were perhaps targeting races which have now been postponed or cancelled, my advice is not to look at it as a waste of training. The hard work has been done and now is not the time to press on regardless, potentially leading to burnout or injury. Take a step back and take it easy, we’re not going to be racing for a while now anyway!. Most importantly hard training can suppress the immune system, not ideal at a time when we all need to try and stay as healthy as possible.

With many having a little more time on their hands, now is the time to do some of that all-important strength and conditioning that many runners overlook. There are loads of programmes and apps to follow, find one that suits you and build up gradually. You don’t even need all the equipment as many household items are perfect substitutes.

For regular runners, I’d recommend reducing your training both in volume and intensity. I personally, have reduced my own training by approx 50%. There is no need to be putting in excessive mileage, super long runs and long hard sessions. I’ve reduced my load to mainly easy/steady running once a day (I don’t own a treadmill to be able to do a second run) plus one tempo or fartlek type session. If you are missing competition there are plenty of virtual races being set up. Or you can chase some Strava segments during your runs to give you something to target.

Many of the runners currently pounding the streets are not regular runners, either gym closures or team sports cancellations have forced them to take up running in order to try and maintain some fitness during lockdown or they are just using there outside time to start exercising. Here are some top tips:

Carry ID or a mobile phone with your emergency contact displayed on the screen even when the phone is locked.

Stay local and DO NOT drive anywhere to exercise.

If running for less than 30 minutes carrying water is not necessary, carrying a bottle will upset your balance.

Make sure that you are well hydrated before you run and top up (with water) on your return.

Don’t wear too much clothing, it may feel cool when you first step out but you’ll soon warm up. 

Wear comfortable, clothing preferably not cotton or you will sweat too much.

The best places to run right now are the places you would normally avoid: industrial estates, leisure complex car parks etc. Avoid parks where there are likely to be plenty of walkers. If you do use paths be prepared to move and/or stop to allow other people to pass safely. 

Greet people with a smile, say ‘hello’.

If you can manage without don’t wear headphones when running.

It means you are much more aware of your surroundings, while road traffic is reduced it is still there.

Take things steady and don’t immediately start running further and faster than normal, build up gradually and take rest days particularly if you are new to running

Enjoy it. Take in the things around you. Look for wildlife. There are loads of birds around, see what types you can spot!

Show respect for other people who are outdoors. Some people are wary of runners at the moment due to them breathing harder and heavier so give people lots of room, slow down, stay single file if running with anyone else and give a hello or thank you if they move, even if they avoid eye contact.

Ensure that you drink water/soft drinks throughout the day, this will help to keep upper respiratory tract infections at bay. Also, increase your fruit and veg intake if you can (frozen veg & berries are great for this).

If you feel at all unwell DON’T EXERCISE, STAY AT HOME. Wait 48 hours after you feel better before exercising again, now is not the time to weaken your immune system.

One last tip, if you can run in the morning … before your brain figures out what your body is doing!