Back To Basics: Ultra Running Isolation Tips

Written By Sam Heward

Sam is one of the Ultra X Co-Founders. If he's not actually out running, chances are he's busy writing about it (or plotting Ultra X strategy!)

21 April 2020

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The Covid-19 pandemic has meant we are all having to make massive adjustments to our day to day. The extent of government lockdowns, layoffs, furloughs, working from home mandates, school closures, and sports facility shutdowns has changed a lot about the way we live our lives.

If you are a runner, you can count yourself lucky. Yes, we may have had our races cancelled, but think of the gym monkeys, the team sports girls and guys, and the swimmers, for whom training now means bench pressing their sofa or mimicking movements with giant elastic bands. In many ways running for enjoyment has never been so enjoyable. You probably have more time on your hands, the roads are empty and it’s getting sunnier and warmer (even where I am isolating up in Edinburgh!)

Of course, these aren’t the greatest of times. But we’ve got two options; dwell on the situation, or take a positive approach on it and see the opportunity for growth.

For those of you who consider yourself runners, without the usual targets it can be difficult to find the motivation to keep training, but that doesn’t mean going into hibernation. There are still loads of ways to ensure that you make the most of this.

For those of you who have recently started (and judging by the daily notifications I now receive on Strava, there are a lot) it’s important to not get carried away with your newfound speed so this piece is just as relevant for you.

Whether veteran or novice, now is a time to get back to the basics, build that base and remember why you started running in the first place. Here’s a few ideas to keep it fresh and ensure when this is all over you can come out the other side fitter and more race ready than ever.

Get that S&C going

Every runner is guilty of avoiding it, but, yes, you are supposed to do something other than run. With the extra time on your hands you now have no excuses. Plus, with the amount of physio’s and gyms that have now gone virtual you can find almost hourly HIIT or Strength and Conditioning classes for free via Instagram live. It’s time well spent.

Think about form

Running is easy – just lace up your shoes and start moving at a faster pace than a walk. Sure.

Getting quicker is easy – just run more. Sure.

What about efficiency? Hmm.

The better your form, the easier running is, simply because you are more efficient. It’s easy to go out everyday and never think about this. If you are training harder the chances are you are getting faster so why bother? What if you are missing a trick?

Why not use this time to have think about what happens with your head, shoulders and hips when you go for a run. You may find a little tweak can make a big difference and if not, hey ho, no races coming up, nothing to lose…

Create a habit

No commute, no travel, the pub is now at home. If you can’t create a routine now, you never will!

The lockdown is an awesome opportunity to build a winning routine. Whether it’s getting that morning meditation in before opening the emails, fitting in 10 pages before turning off the lights or actually stretching that tight hamstring after your workout. The beauty of a habit is that once done for a while the activity, well, becomes a habit. This is the time to get those things ingrained. Let’s make it happen.

Remember why you started

With races cancelled the stakes have also never been lower! You’re free from the shackles of a training plan, so why not take risks and try new things… maybe even leave the watch at home!

No races doesn’t mean no goals

London Marathon may now be too far away to think about so why not set yourself some goals to aim for from isolation. There are loads of targets you can set yourself which you don’t need a starting corral or a bib number for, and even better, most of them are free. How about going for a 5km PB, trying to steal that Strava crown on a home segment, investigating local FKTs (within running distance from your front door obviously), or checking out a virtual race!

Recover

Many people have less recovery time available to them given the current situation. However, if you are now not commuting and have more recovery time available to you, use it. Focus on sleep, routine and eating as well as possible. The energy and motivation you build up now, you will be able will take into your life and running when things start freeing up again.

Afterthought

Many people have less recovery time available to them given the current situation. However, if you are now not commuting and have more recovery time available to you, use it. Focus on sleep, routine and eating as well as possible. The energy and motivation you build up now, you will be able will take into your life and running when things start freeing up again.

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