Athletes around the world have had to shift their expectations and training plans in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting social distancing measures.

So, we thought we'd catch up with our PH athletes to see how their training has changed. In the first of a three-part lockdown training series, we've asked our ambassadors about how their current training plan compares to pre-lockdown...

Hi team, hope you're all keeping well during lockdown. A lot of us from the PH office have adapted our training and we're missing swimming, so we were interested to hear how your 'Lockdown Training Plan' compares to your 'Pre-lockdown training plan'?

Pro triathlete and multiple IRONMAN 70.3 winner, Emma Pallant:

The main difference for me is having more time. I'm not the strongest swimmer so I have a swim session at least six times a week and so now we can't swim we have upped the gym work, but there's been much less time spent driving to and from the pool now.

I have one day off the bike and one day off the run (got a bit carried away to begin with and didn't have a day off the run but it catches up with you!).

Every week has been different so far. If we concentrate on run mileage one week, then we pair that with bike intensity and then swap it around for the next week.

The plan is to do three really hard weeks then an easier aerobic one. But I've hit week four feeling good so we might stretch it out a bit longer now that there are some virtual races happening.

Two-time Olympian and elite Team GB middle distance runner, Eilish McColgan:

To be honest, there hasn't been a huge difference to my training.

I'm lucky enough as a distance runner that all I really need is a trail to run on!

Of course the gym being closed has meant that we have had to adapt our strength programme and also my cross training too as that's something I do most evenings.

At home, I have loads of equipment in the house but as we are currently out in Arizona, USA - we've had to buy a whole load of cheap gym equipment, a mountain bike and a turbo - all from Walmart!

The tracks were initially open out here but they've now closed so we're sticking to the trails and remote roads to do our sessions. With no races on the horizon - it really isn't an issue for now! We feel very grateful to have been able to continue running without any real disruption.

British 24-hour international runner and endurance athlete, Robbie Britton:

Somewhat “fortuitously”, I was just coming back from an injury before this all started so building up to 10-12 hours of cycling on the turbo on my balcony, with a few really good higher quality sessions in there, has felt like a nice improvement.

Had I been at a higher training volume beforehand I might have felt a little differently, but 10-12 hours with decent sessions is making me feel a lot fitter at the moment and I’m able to work on one of my main weaknesses on the bike, which is the “steady state” flat efforts, whereas outside I’m always searching for the next hill.

So far I’ve done over 1000 miles on my balcony, at around 190-200 miles a week, with a couple of rest days in there too.

Tomorrow is a 4-hour long ride, but that’s part of a study for Dr. Stephen Seiler, looking at the effect of splitting a long ride into 2 x 2 hours or having it as 4 hours continuous. Otherwise my longer rides have all been under 3 hours and consistency has been the biggest goal.

Image Credit: Robbie Britton training hours during lockdown

British cyclist Harry Tanfield, who rides for UCI WorldTeam AG2R La Mondiale:

As the lockdown started, I kind of entered a secondary 'off season'. As there isn't going to be any races until June at the earliest and because I was stuck in Spain, where cycling was banned anyway, until the end of March, I figured I would take a short break to reset, refresh and then begin the re-build again.

So, I've gone from 23-28 hours week on the bike down to pretty much 0-10 hours for a couple of weeks. I'm back riding again now, doing steady 18-23 hour weeks, but it's a little more quality over quantity right now.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-iN8qFlHGb/

Age-group triathlete, Zachary Josie:

My training has seen a pretty drastic change. My triathlon goal this year was to really figure out the swim (as it’s been every year) but because of the gym closures and the social distancing measures, I went from 4-5 swims a week to 3 x 30-minute stretch cords workouts with added core strength workouts here and there. I also added more running and cycling to the mix.

Before coronavirus, a normal week looked like:

  • 3-5 hours swimming
  • 3-5 running
  • 5-6 cycling
  • 1-2 strength
  • = 10-15 hours total 

Now it’s more like:

  • 4-5 hours running
  • 4-7 hours cycling (all indoors so this means 2-3 extra movies a week)
  • 2-3 hours strength/stretch chord
  • = 10-12 hours total

My accumulative training really hasn’t changed much, it's just shifted.

Daniel Bluff, winner of the 2018 Lakesman:

Not much has changed for me really. Obviously I can't swim so I've been using this time to sleep more.

Sleep was something I never really paid attention to but now I'm getting more sleep, I've found I'm recovering quicker and able to produce better numbers in training.

My training hours are pretty consistent for this time of year and fortunately we've had some good weather so I've been able to get outside on my bike for some decent mileage.

I've also been incorporating more HIIT workouts which will hopefully keep my upper body in check for swimming. 

It seems athletes have taken a few different approaches when it comes to their training during this pandemic. There are those that have kept things steady, those that have increased their training intensity and/or volume, those that are treating this like the off-season and dialling things back, and then there are those who have replaced training with watching Tiger King...

What category would you put yourself in?

Eilish McColgan:

I'm definitely still training hard. Part of me hopes that some races will open up towards the end of the year so I'm treating this season like normal.

It doesn't make sense for me to have a break now as it would be too long of a build up towards the Olympics in 2021, so I'll continue training for now and look to take my normal break and downtime around October/November time.

I am doing more mileage at the moment as the lack of racing has really given me a chance to build up my training volume without any distractions. I will continue to focus on longer volumes and won't get into any real intense, speed work until I know when my next competition is.

If I'm totally honest, my life is pretty much quarantine! So nothing has particularly changed for myself and my boyfriend Michael. I train alone and so we are used to it just being us two! We always binge-watch Netflix - especially on training camps!

Image Credit: Eilish McColgan Instagram ©

Emma Pallant:

Swimming has always been my least favourite discipline but I love to train so I am still pushing hard and just making sure I get the recovery right so that we don't overdo it. But the plan is to be ready for whenever races come back - I'll definitely be ready for a duathlon!. 

Robbie Britton:

As an athlete and as a coach I’ve taken the approach that we’re a little further away from goal races now, so we change our training accordingly.

After a bit of easier running during the first couple of weeks - as many of my athletes had been at peak marathon or ultra training fitness - we have often focused on shorter, faster efforts that might be neglected during big mileage weeks with lots of marathon pace work.

Another thing to take into account is what you are comfortable doing and what other stressors are currently impacting your life.

If we don’t take into account extra work, lost earnings, increased childcare demands and overall higher anxiety levels then we might dig ourselves into a  hole by adding our training on top of this.

If you need to ease back a little or you feel you want to just do what you enjoy, getting out on the trails or adding in some hills, then that’s important too.

Zachary Josie:

My wife went ahead and watched the entirety of Tiger King in two nights while I was sleeping, so I basically just had her recap the entire series. My TV show binge has strangely been The Last Man On Earth, which I guess is kind of fitting!

Harry Tanfield:

Obviously with no gyms being open, me and my brother have made ourselves a squat rack in the garage and have bought plenty of resistance bands etc for core work. It's a pretty dialled set up.

Thanks all! Great to hear from you and there's plenty we can take into our own training there. Stay safe and we'll catch up soon.