Adapting your running during lockdown

Running Health & Lifestyle Advice
Adapting your running during lockdown

While perspective is obviously needed at this time, with so many people feeling the effects of the current situation in so many different ways, how do we adapt our training when we are being encouraged to stay local?

At an elite level our top athletes like Callum Hawkins who was already selected for the Olympic Marathon in Tokyo and the likes of Laura Muir and Katrina Johnson-Thompson have all had their dreams and plans put on hold and will need to adapt as well. They will have to take stock, and it seems are being encouraged by their coaches to dial things back a little, while new plans are put in place.

The competitors amongst us will continue to compete, either with themselves or in a virtual arena, but for most of us, the daily run will just be that special time of day to look forward to. With more time at home for some of us, we can also plan in that home session of pilates, yoga, stretching, or join one of the growing number of classes that are moving online. 

The next few weeks will be challenging for all of us and we just need to keep perspective with changing work, family, life situations just being grateful we can get out for some miles every day. So whatever your level, just as with the world situation in general, we really are all in this together.

For most of us it is time to take stock and use the next few weeks to enjoy running for its own sake, keep ticking over, using running as that bit of personal “ME TIME” to just relax and unwind.

As time goes by, when events evolve and hopefully things return to normal, proper training schedules can be dusted down again. In the meantime, take care, stay safe, stay local and remember to keep your distance. 

6 tips to help improve your running 

Whether due to changing life circumstances just now, or if you feel the need to have a fresh stimulus, Edinburgh coach Matt Holland, from Improve My Running, offers some simple tips you can focus on to help you be a better runner – now and always. 

1. Focus on good posture 

Run tall and relaxed.

2. Keep arms relaxed

90-degree at elbow, with forward and back momentum, not rolling the shoulders side to side.

3. Make use of a local hill

Once a week if lockdown rules allow. Different reps usually dependent on phase of training but right now mix it up and have fun. Maintain good form.

Long hill reps
2-4 minutes reps (e.g. 6 x 3 mins) / jog recovery. Quicker than 10k pace.

Short hill reps
1 minute reps (e.g. 10 x 1 min) / walk recovery.  Quicker than 5k pace.

More advanced: Sprint hill reps  
(e.g. 10 sec x 10) / 90 sec recovery. Quick.

4. Run for time, not distance 

Turn off the stopwatch. Aim for smooth flow, relaxed not straining in runs.

5. Remember why you run

Enjoy the freedom while you have it without the stress of upcoming races.

6. Still think about working towards a goal

...but maybe for next year. Use this time to work on imbalances and try cross training options.    

Remember to follow all government guidelines regarding lockdown. Also keeping a strong immune system is essential right now, so don’t push too hard in runs.

About Matt Holland

Matt Holland is a qualified coach and rehab expert working out of Edinburgh. He has coached hundreds of runners over the years at 10k, marathon, and ultra marathon. His recent success stories include Jo Newens who won the Run and Become Sri Chinmoy 24 hour race at Tooting Bec in 2019 with subsequent selection to the GB team. Also Rachel Normand, Scottish ultra trail champion in 2018. More information on Matt at

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