Strava is currently littered with runs around gardens and on balconies, as serious and recreational runners attempt to maintain their fitness (and their sanity) during the 21-day lockdown.

But there are only so many 100-metre laps a person can tolerate, no matter how committed they are, while many others don’t have access to an open space in which to run.

Living Fit spoke to 2019 Comrades and Two Oceans champion Gerda Steyn, who is also in lockdown in Dubai, about how she is coping and maintaining her fitness.

Dischem Living Fit

Get back to training basics

Like all runners around the world, Gerda’s training and racing schedules have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic, with many races cancelled or postponed.

While she waits out the lockdown period in her apartment, Gerda says she has gone back to her basic off-season approach, without the running, of course.

“I always do lots of cross-training indoors during the off-season, so I have exercise equipment such as dumbbells, stability balls and bands that I can use at home,” explains Gerda.

She is using this time to focus on areas such as her core and glute strength and her mobility, which often get neglected during the season when training volumes ramp up.

“I also have my bicycle set up on an indoor trainer, which helps me maintain a base level of fitness. And that’s my main aim. It’s the same approach I would follow after an injury. Just do what you can as often as possible.”

For those runners who don’t have access to exercise equipment, Gerda suggests that you get creative.

“There are many bodyweight exercises you can do. You can also run up a staircase if you have one in your home, or you can skip or follow online workouts. Let your imagination run wild, and don’t be afraid to try new things.”

Get online to get social

The other aspect of training through the lockdown is maintaining your motivation levels and keeping a positive mindset.

“It is hard to train when you’re not working towards a specific goal event, even for me,” Gerda adds.

One way she is keeping her motivation levels high is by adding a social element to her training.

“I joined a social skipping group on WhatsApp. We have a lot of fun posting skipping sessions and motivating each other. It’s a great way to keep spirits high with the camaraderie and banter you would normally have during a group run.”

There are also numerous free virtual group exercise classes available online for those who want to add a social element to their home-based lockdown training routine.

Ultimately, though, Gerda says she remains positive by thinking about her racing season once it gets underway again, which it eventually will.

“I’m excited to see how the world will emerge from this unprecedented situation. The fire and hunger to compete and race among all athletes will be immense when the world finally overcomes the challenge we currently face.”