During lockdown, people across the UK have been keeping fit in various socially-distanced ways, like running or exercise classes via Zoom. But what if you’re an elite athlete that relies on special facilities and equipment to train? We spoke to some student athletes on the university’s Elite Sports Performance Scheme to find out how they’ve adapted.
Rosie Rudin, 21, senior international swimmer
“With pools and leisure centres being closed, I bought a paddling pool from Amazon and with the help of my dad attached a bungee and rope to the garden fence so that I can still practice my stroke. The pool is extremely cold (10-15 degrees Celsius) compared to a normal pool, which is 28 degrees. I will be doing an English Channel relay attempt next year though, so this will get me used to the temperature!
“Si from University Performance Sport has provided me with a home gym programme that I’ve been following, and I’ve also been running a few times a week. For swimmers who want to stay fit, I’d recommend following gym HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts online, like at Sport Sheffield. Doing workouts with others on Zoom keeps you motivated too.”
Gwyneth Uttley, 20, junior international climber
“Climbing is a sport based on community and the outdoor lifestyle, so training with less people is very strange. Lockdown has meant that all climbing walls are closed and the Peak District has been closed to climbers.
“I’ve remained in Sheffield as I live with three other climbers, which makes it easier to find the motivation to train. We’ve been building up strength through exercises like pull ups (a lot of pull ups!) and fingerboard (hanging off a piece of wood to strengthen the fingers). We built a board to climb on made from wood which has allowed us to replicate the movements of climbing that conditioning exercises don’t allow.
“For other climbers unable to climb, I’d recommend setting a goal to keep you motivated, even if it’s just something like doing a one-legged squat. Watching climbing films and having video calls with fellow climbers has also kept me motivated.”
Timothy Dowden, 19, flatwater kayaker
“Initially my water-based training had to stop, so for a few weeks I was just running and using weights. Setting goals, like running a half-marathon and doing stretching outside to break up the monotonous indoor routine, really helped. Thankfully, after the most recent exercise rules change, kayaking is now allowed. Although we have to keep to pairs, it’s mentally a lot easier than training alone.
“Effectively the whole season has been called off, but hopefully there will be some events in October before winter fully hits.
“Training in lockdown can be really hard, as we lose structure in our days and miss those we usually see day to day. Setting a training timetable really helps, but my way of keeping productive has been getting out first thing in the morning. If getting out of bed is a struggle, you could see if a friend will train with you via FaceTime.”