The Inside Track: WHS Athletes and Coping with Lockdown

Written by | Sport

The Corona Virus pandemic has disrupted life as we know it.  We have all had to adjust to what has been dubbed “the new normal”, but almost three months without any sport has felt like an eternity for many of us.  Arguably, one of the biggest impacts has been on the summer sports’ programme here at Wallace, with athletes, cricketers and tennis players having to accept that this season will simply have to be written off – competitive fixtures cancelled before they even got underway, a year “lost”.

We have been chatting to several of our athletes and asked them to summarise how they have dealt with the past few weeks of lockdown.  They include, Rebecca Wallace: Y14: 1500m & 3000m; Victoria Lightbody: Y12: 800m;  Connie Crothers : Y12: 1500m;  and Cathy Hempton: Y11 100m, 200m & Relay.  All have been very successful for Wallace at District, Ulster and even Irish Schools’ level.  

Qu 1. The current pandemic has made it tough for the serious athlete to maintain their training.  How are you staying in the best shape for when you return?

CH: My athletics coach sends me through sessions to try and keep me in the best shape possible throughout the week.  They consist of strength and conditioning sessions, tempo runs, and regular sessions we would normally have done before covid-19.

RW: Reminding myself that training and competitions will return to normal eventually, using this free time to reflect on my progress and goals and trying to maintain my usual training routine.

CC: To keep my fitness up I am including other types of exercise such as cycling and yoga, as well as running to help keep on top form

Qu. 2  Have you been taking part in any zoom based practices, virtual group sessions or using any new apps that have made training easier?

VL: Athletics NI have been hosting weekly zooms, some of which are aimed at coaches and some are aimed at athletes.  We’ve had seminars on nutrition, university selection and have had some elite athletes talk to us about how they are staying motivated during lockdown.

CC: I have weekly strength and conditioning zoom calls with my swimming club, which also helps my running.

CH: I personally haven’t been using any apps.  Luckily athletics is quite easy to do on my own by following a training session, without the need for a zoom call.

Qu. 3 Do you think your fitness levels will be impacted if you compare what you were like before lockdown, or where you would normally be at this stage of the season?

RW:  My fitness levels aren’t as high as they would normally be at this stage of the season.  I would usually be in the middle of Schools’ Athletics, which was my main goal for this track season.

VL: Yes, with no races it has been a case of keeping a fitness level with the target of building up training once we get confirmation of when race season will begin.

CH: My fitness levels have definitely been impacted.  Even though I’m trying to do as much training as possible, with track facilities having been closed until now, I have to train locally, which limits what I can do.

Qu. 4 What is the main challenge you face on a weekly basis?

RW: Staying motivated to train at the same intensity as I normally would.

CC: Trying to add variety to sessions has proven hard, but things are looking up now that restrictions are starting to loosen, allowing me to travel to train in different areas.

CH: The main challenge I have had is having no athletics track to train on and trying to find a large grass area or quiet road.

Qu. 5 How do you remain motivated?

VL: Initially when all of the big races and events were cancelled I struggled to maintain motivation, but now with the hope that the race season may begin in August or September, it makes it easier to focus on a target.

CC: At times I need to remind myself of the goals I have set for myself.  I find setting an ultimate goal helps to keep everything in perspective, especially if I have had a hard day’s training.

RW: Focus on the other positive aspects of training such as the physical and mental benefits of exercise.

Qu. 6 What have you missed the most from athletics this season?

CH: I miss the competitions the most – even though athletics is mostly an individual sport, there are so many other athletes there and it always has a great buzz around it.

VL: I’ve missed the opportunity to compete at national level and lower my personal best time.

RW: I’ve missed the social aspects of seeing my friends at training and races.

Qu. 7  Have there been any positive impacts from spending the last couple of months in lockdown?

CC: With the extra time we have had, I decided to start yoga.  This has greatly helped my mobility, which I hope will help prevent injuries.

VL: It’s given me a chance to sit down and work out what I would like to study after I finish Wallace.

RW: I’ve had time to put more thought into my athletics as I’m usually so busy with school at this time of the year.

Qu. 8. What is next for you in terms of athletics and general life, when lockdown is lifted?

RW:  Hopefully starting university at Queens in September and getting back to a regular training routine with my friends and coach once lockdown has been eased.

VL:  The club athletics season will run later this year, hopefully starting at the end of August and running into October.  The target is now the European U18 Championships in 2021 which will be in Italy, in which I hope to compete for GB.

CH: I’m hoping to train with my club group again soon and maybe compete in late season races.  In general, I am looking forward to life returning with some sense of normal, see my friends and try to enjoy a good summer.

CC: Just getting back out doing what I love, which is competitions on my horse and tetrathlon events.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that some scheduled events will still happen before the season is finally over.

By Mrs J. Hinds

Last modified: June 22, 2020