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Running during the lockdown: daily workouts in gardens, on stairs and even on balconies

PUBLISHED: 15:41 30 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:41 30 March 2020

Action from last year's Woodbridge 10K road race. This year's event is one of many to be cancelled, due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Action from last year's Woodbridge 10K road race. This year's event is one of many to be cancelled, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Athletics writer Carl Marston explores a few of the ingenious ways that runners have been keeping fit at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown

Flashback to the start of the Bury Friday, in 2013. This year's Friday Five Series has been cancelled. Picture: ANDY ABBOTTFlashback to the start of the Bury Friday, in 2013. This year's Friday Five Series has been cancelled. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Runners are a hardy bunch, and very adaptable.

Those traits are certainly shining through, during the early days of these very troubled times when the country is in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From the Olympic Games, to the East Anglia-based Friday Five Series, announcements of future events being postponed, or cancelled, continue apace.

Understandably, more events on a global, and of course local scale, have been making such announcements over the last fortnight, and its difficult to see any races happening anywhere before the Autumn, at the very earliest.

Joe Wicks, whose daily workouts on YouTube for schoolchildren and adults have been proving very popular. Picture: PA SPORTJoe Wicks, whose daily workouts on YouTube for schoolchildren and adults have been proving very popular. Picture: PA SPORT

Last week, the organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics declared that the big event, due to start on July 24, would be postponed until next year, no later than the summer of 2021 (it will still be called Tokyo 2020).

It has since been decided to start the event on July 23, 2021.

Closer to home, the Friday Five organising committee, embracing six five-mile Friday evening races over the early summer (Kirton, Framlingham, Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and Great Bentley) made the decision to cancel this year’s series.

They issued the following statement: ‘We considered postponing to later in the summer but there was a unanimous feeling that they would still get cancelled nearer the time. We wanted to be in a position to be able to give full refunds to those who have already entered the races, and the only way to ensure that was to cancel now before the host clubs incurred significant costs.’

There might not be any races happening, then, over the next few months, but the running community remains strong, and of course adaptable.

While some runners are making the most of the allotted once-a-day slot for exercise, to go on runs or jogs around fields, sports pitches, in woods and along river banks, many others are staying indoors, and perhaps following a new fitness regime inside.

Of course, in the midst of such a frightening pandemic, running no longer seems so important anymore.

Setting that new personal best for the marathon, doing an interval session on the track, and enjoying a five-mile race on a balmy Friday evening, or sunny Sunday morning, will have to wait.

One of the few reasons that people can leave home, under the current government regulations, is ‘to exercise once a day, either alone, or with members of your household.’

And here’s a few examples of how runners have adapted to the current restrictions:

1 Plotting the garden run:

Many are utilising their gardens (if you are fortunate enough to have one), as their makeshift track or mini cross-country route, even if space is tight, and the corners are even tighter.

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Some have managed to squeeze out a 100-metre circuit, covering that distance 100 times to make up a 10K distance, while others have embraced the garden one-mile challenge.

2 One step at a time:

Others are focusing on the stairs as a place for exercising the legs.

There are many instances of people clambering up and down their stairs, 50 or 100 times – very useful practise for when the lift is broken on your next visit to a hotel, whenever that might be.

3 View from the balcony:

This was inspired by the well-publicised story of Elisha Nochomovitz, a Frenchman, running the equivalent of a marathon while never leaving his balcony.

Nochomovitz made the most of his 23-foot balcony (seven metres) in an apartment block in Balma, in the suburbs of Toulouse, running back and forth to cover 26.2 miles, sharing his experiences to an online audience.

It took him six hours and 48 minutes, very respectable given that it was an out-and-back-out-and-back-out-and-back ........ course, keeping track of the distance on his pedometer.

Nochomovitz said: “It was about launching a bit of a crazy challenge and bringing a bit of humour, to de-dramatise the confinement situation.”

4 No time to lounge around:

A few weeks ago, there was the story of a Chinese marathon runner, Pan Schancu, who overcame the lockdown in his country by running 31 miles (50 kilometres) while never leaving his living room.

Shancu completed a total of 6,250 laps of his mini-circuit around tables in his small apartment, in the city of Hangzhou.

4 A trudge on the treadmill:

If you are fortunate enough to own a treadmill, there’s no limit to the mileage you can rattle up in the garage or lounge.

Personally, I have never felt at home on a treadmill, and have only ever used one on two occasions.

I fell off on my first attempt, while testing out some new trainers on a conveyor belt in a sports shop, and the second time, in a Danish hotel, saw me get bored after five minutes and go out for a run in the open air instead.

5 Home workouts:

They are all the rage. I even tried one myself over the weekend, with my wife.

We followed the Joe Wicks daily morning exercise session on YouTube, which has already drawn more than 15 million viewers during the first week.

Such workouts are already proving very popular, although a word of warning – you might discover muscles that you never knew you had, and you might wake up with a few aches and pains!


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