What has lockdown taught us? Hannah Irwin gets insights from Marc Scott, Sonia Samuels and Mhairi Maclennan

With the restrictions of lockdown slowly starting to lift, we can start look back on what the experience has taught us. During such unknown and uncertain times there are many things that we had to change in relation to running.

We also had to alter many aspects of normal life in ways that were beyond our control. Of course there are many things we will never return to unless we have to. Despite this there will be some lessons which we can take forward.

Plenty of people have found themselves appreciating the little things in life and finding joy from things they never would have considered previously. Others have used the time to experiment with their training and make changes they have always thought of doing.

This may have included incorporating cross training into your week, structuring your week differently, or allowing more time for recovery. With the return of some aspects of normality, what positive lessons have you learnt from lockdown? And which of these will you take forward?

The true reason

Something I am sure many of us have started to think is what running truly means to us. We are so used to chasing races and results, that it can be easy to lose sight of what the sport really means to us.

For many of us however, the love we have for the sport is so much more important than race results. For Scotland’s Mhairi Maclennan, lockdown has improved her outlook on running.

“For me, lockdown has sort of been a blessing in disguise. It has given me the time and space to step back and breathe, to step off the treadmill and focus on my health as well as re-evaluating what running means for me in my life. I think a lot of athletes are rationalising the purpose of their running when we find ourselves in a place where material goals and tangible success is removed and therefore redundant.”

I for one, told myself at the start of lockdown that I wanted to regain my love for the sport. I never fell out of love with it, but I found myself getting more and more worked up before sessions and putting too much pressure on myself. As a result, running was becoming a source of stress rather than joy at times.

I found the release of pressure lockdown brought allowed me to regain my passion. It helped me remember why I got into it in the first place. It wasn’t purely because I enjoyed working towards results.Lockdown has helped show me that I truly loved the sport (I won’t deny racing is one of the most exciting parts of it!).

MacLennan at Podium 5km in 2018 Photo: Pete Brown

Motivation tester

One thing lockdown has done is test our motivation. Something few of us experience, except when injured, is the inability to race even when we want to. Racing often drives us and it can be hard at times to feel motivated without it.

Whilst on the odd occasion it is ok to listen to yourself and not force yourself to do what you don’t want to do, you don’t want to get into the habit of it.

It is important to stick to your usual routine, so it doesn’t come as a shock when normality returns. There may be no racing on the horizon at the minute, but we want to be ready when it does return. So keep pushing on.

13:08 5000m man Marc Scott says how important it is to do just that. “My first lesson of lockdown is to keep training. We are going to be allowed to compete when the time is right, and you want to be ready when that may be.”

Despite this Scott highlights the importance of still applying common sense;

“It’s important that we realise the severity of the virus and help to keep one another safe by following all guidelines in regard to training with one another.”

Ultimately, there is no point pushing the limits of what we have been told is safe potentially putting yourself and others at risk.

Don’t hold back

With the increasing amount of time on our hands, lockdown has allowed us to focus on the things we might previously have neglected and give our all to becoming the best version of ourselves.

Olympic Marathoner and owner of Run Stars, Sonia Samuels, says lockdown has taught us all not to hold back in becoming the athlete we want to be. Embrace doing all the extra 1%’s and try to establish a routine that you may be able to take forward. If you want something, go after it, but most importantly remember why you love it.

“Lockdown is a unique opportunity for athletes to regenerate and work on their weaknesses and strengths. A chance to become the athlete they want to be;

• s&c rehab for ongoing niggles or just general strength improvements
• work on base fitness without having the pressure to race
• improve or try out new areas/ ideas in training
• work on mental preparation for performing in future races and workouts
• explore new running routes we wouldn’t normally do.

Lockdown allows us to reflect on why we run and what we love about the sport. We can have an appreciation of what running brings to our lives both physically and mentally.”


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Making my @gozwift debut. Thumbs up from me. 📸@sammo800m #zwift #getfit #getactive #challenge #bikelife #rideyourbike

A post shared by Sonia Samuels (@soniajsamuels) on

 New experiences in lockdown for Samuels

These are only a few lessons that lockdown may have taught us. Whatever yours are, are you going to use them to shape yourself as an athlete into the future?

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