On the first Sunday of Lockdown, some 4 Sundays ago, I put on shorts and a tee, laced up my takkies and went to run my usual Sunday morning run. Except instead of running through the streets of my neighbourhood I ran in my backyard. A 25-metre loop, I circled and circled and circled until my Garmin watch notified me, I had completed 6km. 72 minutes later – making it the slowest 6km run I have ever recorded.
The runner in me will have you know that my Garmin was not tracking the distance correctly, tracking 12-metres for every 25-metre loop I did, and I estimate I ran 10km not 6km. But that’s neither here nor there, I ran outside, and it felt good to work up a sweat in the fresh air and sunshine.
High on endorphins, and only mildly annoyed I was not getting accurate tracking, I announced I would be garden running a few times a week during lockdown. My plan was to stick to my BC* routine of 4 weekly runs and 3 weight sessions.
I woke up the next morning with a body that hurt. Not in that good DOMS way, the day after you have pushed yourself. It was in that dreaded niggly; an injury is blooming way. My calves felt like I pulled a muscle and my ankles uncomfortable. I figured it was the shorter strides and short loops which were ruining any semblance of form I had and leading me into injury territory. I have been running for long enough to have experienced my fair share of running injuries, from small niggles that go away, to an ITB injury that was so excruciating it barred me for running for a few weeks. I did not want to land up with a running injury that would prevent me from running or doing any type of exercise involving legs. And so garden running was scrapped. So was the old weight exercises I had been doing for months.
It was time for a complete change. Instead of trying to replicate a routine I had before lockdown, I was creating a new routine. I wanted to do more HIIT workouts, to get my heart rate up, encourage a little sweat and give me that out of breathiness that a good run does. Forgoing running, I decided now would be a good time to incorporate those exercises that are said to improve your running. The exercises that I never get to, because well I’d rather just go for a run.
It has been a month now of this new routine and I have enjoyed it. I miss running, but do not feel like I have lost fitness, in fact in some ways I feel stronger. The biggest takeaway so far is how important it is to switch up exercise routines. I had been doing the same thing for months, actually years. Completely changing everything up has meant I’m working parts of my body I wasn’t, feeling (good) sore, challenging myself and hopefully working on becoming a stronger runner for when streets open back up.
My Lockdown Exercise Routine consists of 3 parts:
1. Agility Drills
3 times a week in the garden
Agility drills can help your speed, form, and efficiency. They improve the connection between your brain and feet. They strengthen both muscles and joints (knees and ankles which take a knock during running). And they help with balance and coordination.
I made up my own drill workout utilising google and YouTube to find different running drills, combining them into one 30-minute power session. I do a combination of 7 drills. Each drill is done for 1 minute at a high intensity with a 30 second break in between and I repeat the 7 drill circuit 3 times. The drills I am currently doing are:
High Knee Run in Place
Box jumps, using a ledge to jump onto
Quick runs, up and down three steps
Ladder jump in and outs, using tiles on the patio as a “ladder” to mark bocks to jump to.
Short sprint and touches
I may change these for other moves or add more rounds or reduce rest times as I need a change or challenge, but will keep more or less the same structure.
2. Body weight Workouts with HIIT
3 times a week
I have returned to my neglected Nike Training Club App on my phone and have been using it for body weight only workouts. I love the app – it is easy to use, has workouts that incorporate no equipment to some equipment and includes both short and long sessions. It also allows you to filter by equipment you have, workout type and length. I am doing one of their six-week challenges with NTC master trainer Kirsty Godso which includes 3 weekly workouts that gradually get more difficult. I have found them challenging and as they are always changing, I don’t get bored. I look forward to them.
I have an on-off relationship with yoga. I decided during lockdown to be on and have been doing short yoga sessions every evening. I use it as the marker that ends the workday and begins personal time; and it has been a really nice way to end the day. I am using the Nike App for classes – Alexis Silver-Fagan is my favourite instructor on the app. They are between 20-30 minutes and work on stretching and flexibility with the added benefit of bringing a sense of calm.
In addition, every now and then I’ll incorporate some band exercises – like this home workout session we did with Cayla. Ideally, I want to do it at least once a week – most moves are great for injury prevention and to keep you strong. I’m also trying to be more consistent with foam rolling (another on and off relationship) and not doing it only when I feel sore. Lastly, I still keep my one rest day, which is a day completely off from exercise.
Creating a new routine that fits within current restrictions has enabled me to be consistent about exercise. Knowing what I am doing everyday makes it easier to wake up and get right into it. Exercise is something I truly enjoy and starting my day with targeted movement makes me feel good and sets me up for better days.
What is your lockdown exercise routine like?
*BC = Before Corona. Feige made me explain this.
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.