CHAMPION runner Natasha Cockram gives her tips to amateurs looking to kickstart the new year in style:
THE START of 2021 has seen the country move into its third national lockdown. With thousands of people across the country looking to start their year in the healthiest way possible, they will not be letting the lockdown and gym closures get in the way of their new year exercise resolutions.
With parks and public spaces open for exercise, many may be wondering how to regain the fitness regime they started during the first national lockdown.
During the first lockdown, retailer Sports Direct sold 218 per cent more pairs of running trainers online than in the same period a year earlier.
Brits also bought 243 per cent more running clothing than normal and spent 268 per cent more on running accessories and equipment online at the retailer. Now, as England finds itself in another lockdown, how can new runners improve their training schedule to stay healthy during this period?
NATASHA COCKRAM is the British marathon champion, Welsh record holder and Revvies Ambassador. She has given an insight into how she trains across lockdown and how amateur runners who have taken up the sport can improve their own training plans.
What is your advice for runners when it comes to getting through a third lockdown?
“I think it’s a good idea to look back and reflect on how you coped with the previous lockdowns. Write down what you did well, what worked and also what you struggled with and what you think you should change. Make a plan on how you can change the things that you either struggled with or didn’t do well. For me, I found it was important to keep myself busy and keep a routine.”
What have you found helpful to keep on top of training?
“Something that I’m still not great at but find helpful is keeping a training diary. I find it motivating to see all the work I’ve put in and the progress I have made.”
Has it been more difficult for you to train? Or has the lockdown helped you regiment your schedule? And did this have an impact (positively or negatively) on your performance at the London Marathon?
“Lockdown actually made it easier for me to train because of having more time (time saved through not having to commute). I felt I was also able to better focus and properly prepare myself for training/workouts. Prior to lockdown training was generally rushed – I’d get my miles in before work, rush breakfast and getting ready, work all day, get home and then get out the door for my second run/workout (it was always rushed to just fit everything in).
“With the extra time gained from working at home, I am able to properly fuel and prepare for workouts. Work is important to me and I always get it done but working from home has enabled me to be more flexible. Instead of fitting training around work, I am now able to balance the two to fit each other better. (I am fortunate in that I have a supportive and flexible employer – I started a new job during the first lockdown.
“This has been a massive help as prior to that I struggled because of lack of flexibility and extremely long hours). This definitely helped me better prepare for London!”
Do you have any recommendations for people who are looking to get into running outdoors during this period?
“Now that the mornings and evenings are dark definitely invest in a good headtorch, reflective clothing and a waterproof jacket. If you are new to running outdoors build gradually as it is different to treadmill running.
“Usually, I’d say find a running buddy to help hold each other accountable but obviously with Covid that is not a safe or legal option but there is nothing to stop you setting up virtual challenges with your friends.”
How and why do you use caffeine to help in your training and races?
“I use Revvies energy strips which contain either 40mg or 100mg of caffeine and they have been a massive help in my training and racing. Fuelling is something that I previously struggled with. I don’t like running on a full stomach and during races I often struggled to pick my bottles/gels up and if I did manage to pick them up I struggled to take them on.
“Revvies have helped massively as they provide a great instant boost, they are light on the stomach and dissolve on the tongue so don’t have to even worry about swallowing (something I find difficult when running).
“They are also really easy to carry – I often slip a couple under my watch strap. That way I know that in a race if I do miss my bottles I have a Revvies on me.
“I use Revvies prior to hard workouts and also prior to 5km and 10km races. For the marathon, I will take a 40mg Revvies on the start line and will then take another 40mg around mile 13-15 and 100mg at mile 20. I try to mimic a similar strategy during my Sunday long runs.”