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How does a GB international cope with lockdown?

Before the Covid-19 epidemic and subsequent lockdown laid waste to the racing calendar, Great Britain International distance runner Luke Prior had a spring / summer full of goals. Having already represented GB at the World Cross Country Championships, and England numerous times all over Europe, Luke looked to transfer his form on the mud into success on the track and road. NewEra Running caught up with the ever-improving youngster and found out how his plans have changed, as have so many others' across the world.

The cancellation of races all over the world is frustrating for runners of all abilities, and this is no different for international runners looking to make the next jump in their running career. Luke's list of personal bests is already impressive; a 3km PB of 8m23s, 5km of 14m46s, and 10km of 30m37s all set last summer, show that he is well on his way to making that next jump. Not only this, but his pedigree over cross country is arguably his greatest strength. Most recently, Luke has proven himself against the nations' best senior runners, placing top 5 in the South of England Cross Country Championships and top 15 at the UK Inter Counties Championships, not to mention gaining his first senior England selection. Not bad for his first season as a senior! Combine this with the fact that he's represented England twice and gained automatic GB selection for the World Cross Country Championships in Uganda (2017), and you can see that we have a talent with the potential to go all the way.

"I'm obviously pretty gutted that the racing calendar has been wiped out. I had some pretty big goals we were working towards, and I was feeling good in training so its a shame really. But everyone's in the same boat at the moment so all we can do is regroup and reassess" Luke said.

He added "I never really wanted to stop training, but the dynamic certainly changed. Instead of introducing more speedwork and race-specific sessions like we normally do during spring, we instead looked to simply maintain the current level of fitness, so that when racing resumes again, I'll hopefully be ready to get going. We're treating this period like an extended base-building season, there's no point in doing high intense, race-specific work when we have no idea when the next race will be."

For Luke, as well as training partner and NewEra Head Coach Callum, this meant a slight reduction in weekly volume (due to the 1 bout of exercise per day rule and therefore no double runs), and a continuation of winter-style sessions like split tempo's, long runs and longer intervals. Having run 16 miles at sub-6min/mile pace for his 'steady' Sunday run for the past 10 weeks, I'd say that Luke has maintained his fitness rather well.

But just because he's run for his country, doesn't mean that Luke doesn't face the same mental battles that we all have during this lockdown period (nor on a normal day for that matter), so we decided to find out how the lockdown has affected his motivation and what's kept him going day after day.

"At the start I was slightly de-motivated because I had to do everything by myself. I'm so used to training in a group, so when I couldn't meet others for training I found it quite difficult to get myself out of bed and do it solo. A big thing for me has been the fact that access to gyms and physio's has stopped, so I had to be careful to keep an eye on things to ensure I stay injury free. I changed my strength & conditioning plan, having to use bodyweight exercises instead of weights in the gym, and I think this has maintained my conditioning and helped my running over the past few months. At first I struggled but I now think that doing these hard sessions by myself has helped me mentally as well as physically."

Clearly trying to maintain a positive outlook on things, Luke is now looking towards the future to find his motivation. "There won't be any track races, and my main goal of the Great North Run has also been cancelled, so we're using this time to get a good base behind me and to tweak things in my training. We're trying a few new things, making sure we can improve on things and hopefully be in a good position when racing starts again. My main goal now is to try and make the Great Britain U23 team for the European Cross Country championships in December." Theres a lot to be learned from Luke's experience, and I think that we can all relate to his feelings over the past few months. Everyone at NewEra wishes Luke all the best in the pursuit of his goals.

NewEra Head Coach Callum with Luke Prior

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