The silver linings from challenging moments
When the world decided to lock down and take a break for COVID-19, more people than ever took to the streets, fields and hills to run. Lacing up seemed to lend a natural sense of freedom and a way to feel in control of one’s health and fitness, even with restrictions and cancelled races.
From elites to newbies, everyone has had to face their own personal struggles during these times, but the upside to any challenge is that there are lessons learnt too.
Curious to see how the pros have adapted and conquered? We asked these runners what this year’s unique experiences have taught them so far, and what positive lessons they’ll take forward.
RW UK Deputy Digital Editor @janemcguire
‘Lockdown has taught me that, fundamentally, I run to look after my mental health. When races got cancelled and things felt stressful at times, it was lacing up once a day and going for a run that became a lifeline.
‘Running gave me a sense of freedom from the pandemic and it helped me to focus on putting one foot in front of each other. While I’m excited to race again, the past few months have taught me that it’s okay to run for the love of running rather than for a PB or shiny medal. This is a lesson I hope to take with me.’
2019 European Indoor 3000m bronze medallist and 2018 Commonwealth Games 1500m bronze medallist @melissa1bryant
‘Learning to adapt to the new normal was the biggest lesson learnt. Not being able to run on the track for over three months was tough, but I quickly made use of nearby roads, trails and a 400m grass track that I measured out.
‘I was fortunate to have gym equipment on loan and my husband is also an athlete, so we turned our shed into a gym. Luckily, this meant my training routine didn’t have to change too much. We still have a treadmill in our kitchen!
‘With no races confirmed, it was difficult to know when to push hard or ease off. Luckily, I have a very experienced coach, Rob Denmark, who was able to adjust my plan as we went along. Usually I’d see a physio and soft tissue therapist about twice a week, but during restrictions I had to become better at my own recovery strategies: more stretching, foam rolling, self-massage and prehab exercises, and listening to my body to manage any niggles or tightness. I also had to make smart decisions like taking more rest.
‘Running on harder surfaces, rather than track, was more demanding on my body. So I wore more supportive trainers: New Balance 880s for easy runs and New Balance FuelCell TC for the road, because although they’re lightweight and fast, they’re also very cushioned and supportive.
‘Fortunately, one of my races went ahead this summer, but I know others haven’t been so lucky. I would urge other runners to try to look positively at the situation – the extra time training won’t go to waste but will benefit future performance.’
2018 Commonwealth Games 4x100m bronze medallist and European Championships 4x100m gold medallist with Great Britain & NI @aikines
‘Lockdown for me was an interesting one. Staying motivated was a struggle to begin with. Trying to find a way to better myself was near impossible given the current circumstances, especially when you know what’s necessary to be a world-class athlete.
‘So I took a step back and used the opportunity to reevaluate what it is I wanted to achieve in this time. I reconnected with my family and friends, which gave me some clarity on how to approach situations with my usual positivity.
‘I had support from my New Balance family, who sent me footwear so I could train on any terrain. This motivated me further, as it was quite fun to experiment running on different surfaces.
‘Taking on new projects, such as renovating my garage and turning it into a gym, has taught me how resilient I am and how much I love a challenge. Even baking became a highlight during my week!
‘As an athlete, I know I need consistent stimuli and challenges to better myself, and it goes without saying that my support network and team around me have had a massive effect on my mood and overall positivity. To put it simply, these are the things I’m going to prioritise going forward.’