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Virgin Sport CEO and marathon runner Jessica Frey offers advice on running during coronavirus lockdown

PUBLISHED: 16:00 09 April 2020

Virgin Sport CEO Jessica Frey. Picture: Virgin Sport

Virgin Sport CEO Jessica Frey. Picture: Virgin Sport

M J Chapman

Read Virgin Sport CEO Jessica Frey’s top tips on running during the coronavirus lockdown.

Jessica has successfully completed 24 marathons​, ​3 ultra-marathons and most recently accomplished​ IRONMAN Barcelona - a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile marathon, in 11 hours and 18 minutes.

Later this year, Jessica will take part in the London Marathon, her sixth and final Abbott World Marathon Major, following Chicago, New York, Boston, Tokyo and Berlin, joining an elite rank of just 6.5k runners worldwide.

Here are her top tips for running during the coronavirus lockdown.

How to train when your race Is postponed

- It’s tough to motivate yourself when the goal race you were working toward is cancelled or delayed, especially when training has been going so well! Sometimes, taking a step back helps you to move forward. Think about the bigger picture – start by asking yourself why you started running in the first place. Put pen to paper and do some journaling. Write about the feeling of achievement you got when you finished a long run or hit a milestone. Most of us don’t run just to race. It’s all about the journey – the ups, the downs and everything in-between.

- If you were training for a spring race and you’re feeling a bit lost, why not try out a new training plan to build a stronger foundation. Creating a routine can give you a sense of normalcy. Mcmillan Running is a good resource to learn more about base training.

- If you were training for a spring marathon or half marathon, a lot of coaches recommend decreasing your mileage by 25% from what would be “high” for you. There is no sense in continuing extremely long runs and compromising your immune system during this time. Taper down your long sessions and concentrate on form and having fun. There are lots of online exercise programmes available at the moment to guide you through stretching and mobility – all important to keep you fit through this turbulent time.

Running during self isolation

- Use the time that you would have used commuting to get in some exercise. Research suggests that moderate physical activity can boost your immune system and positively affect your mood. Keep moving, even if it’s for less time than you’d like. Small gains add up to big achievements.

- Make sure you don’t become a slave to your laptop while you work from home. It is important to have regular breaks away from the screen and moving your body. A 20- minute lunch time run or walk can help re-set for the afternoon.

- Work on your weaknesses - “prehab”. Take the time to focus on strength work and those exercises from your Physio that you never do. There are a multitude of free classes online right now. I like the NIKE Training Club app and Peloton has a 90-day free trial of their app with HIIT classes, strength and yoga (no bike or treadmill required!).

Tips for first time runners

- Start Short - Start with a really short distance, one kilometre or even one lap around the block. If you tell yourself that’s all you have to do to tick the box it doesn’t seem as daunting.

- Accountabilibuddies - Find a mate to hold you accountable and check in on them.

- Post your runs on Strava, Runkeeper or Nike Training club if the idea of social kudos will help get you out the door.

- Create incentives - Buy yourself something new to wear, create a new playlist you can only listen to while you run or save your favourite podcast for the run.

- Splurge on good socks to avoid blisters. No cotton!

- Don’t get hung up on how you look – no one is watching. It is all in your head – trust me!

- Pump your arms and keep your shoulders relaxed, arms are always underestimated in running but they are important to keep rhythm and momentum.

- Rest is important, listen to your body and take a day off when you feel you need it – your body needs time to recover in order to improve your performance. Patience is key.

- Distract yourself – podcasts and audio books are an awesome way to make time go by faster on more difficult runs. My favourite running podcasts are Ali on the Run, The Morning Shakeout and The Work Play Love podcast.


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