Stuck Indoors - 28th March 2020

Simon - running coach
by Simon - Middle-distance runner and athletics coach

Stuck indoors and worried about losing running fitness? Assuming you're feeling healthy, then rather than fretting, use the time as an opportunity to work on elements of strength and conditioning that you usually overlook.

Circuit training and weight training are excellent ways of injury-proofing, fixing "weak links" and maintaining cardiovascular fitness, but they're not as useful for developing running-specific fitness. Most runners appreciate that to improve running fitness you need to actually run.

So, the goal is to train as specifically as possible without actually going out for a run.

The Treadmill

The treadmill's very specific training. It's not quite the same as running completely under your own steam, but nothing else comes closer. Obviously, in order to train on a treadmill you need to have one available. But if gyms and fitness centres are closed and you don't have your own in the garage or the spare cash to order one, then other solutions are needed.

Here are a two workouts that I've found to be useful for maintaining running fitness and require little space and minimal or no equipment.

Step Ups

This is a straightforward exercise that provides a good aerobic workout, really works the hip flexors and quads, and the only equipment required is a sturdy platform or a step.

  • Step up onto the platform with your right leg, then follow with your left leg.

  • Step down with your right leg, then down your left leg.

Try to coordinate the arms whilst carrying out this exercise and you'll get a much better and more-running-specific workout. Don't over-think arm action: if you start with your elbows bent at approximately 90-110 degrees and as you step up move the opposite arm forward, then everything should fall into place.

Switch the leading leg periodically, since the mechanics are slightly different depending on whcih leg leads and you don't want to develop any imbalances.

Once you have the hang of it this exercise is simple enough that you can watch TV or listen to the radio, music or a podcast at the same time.

For a more demanding workout, set a metronome and aim to complete a cycle every two seconds. With a platform raised at 30cm this should be moderately challenging.

Remember to keep the body upright. This exercise is great for working the hip flexors and quads. And just think how great you'll be at climbing hills when you're back out on the road.

Jogging on the Spot

Yes, it's basic and pretty boring, but it also closely mimics the movement patterns of proper running.

To make the workout more interesting, you could add ten-second bursts of energetic high knees every minute or so. You can vary the workout further by alternating spot jogging and other exercises. For example:

  • 2 minutes jogging on spot
  • 10 press ups
  • 2 minutes jogging on spot
  • 15 squats
  • 2 minutes jogging on spot
  • And so on.

If you have a bit more room you can also jog forwards and backwards a little for variety.