Lockdown has changed almost every aspect of our daily lives, particularly that of fitness and sporting facilities being closed in an attempt to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic ground all manner of sporting events around the world to an abrupt halt and sports fans around the globe will be welcoming the tentative return of their favourite teams and athletes to their screens. But what if you are a professional athlete?
Having previously worked in professional sporting environments, I know that athletes are required to take part in many carefully planned fitness and technical training sessions on a weekly basis. Training phases are meticulously structured for different stages of the season and for most athletes even their diet is carefully structured to complement their training, recovery and performance. So what happens when you don’t have the daily routine of training with your team? Or the direct support of your coaching, medical and sport science departments?
Glasgow Warriors outside centre Huw Jones made his Scotland debut in 2016 coming off the bench against Japan, and then got his first start a few months later against Australia, scoring two tries in the game. A further brace followed in the famous 25-13 victory over England in the 2018 Six Nations, his efforts helping Scotland to a first Calcutta Cup win in a decade. Huw was gracious enough to take part in a Q & A with JONES THE TRAINER, to describe what life has been like as a professional athlete during lockdown….
JTT: How have you been since lockdown?
HJ: I’ve been ok since lockdown. It’s easy to get bored so I’ve just tried to stay occupied each day.
JTT: What did a typical training week look like for you pre-covid?
HJ: A typical training week before lockdown would be:
Monday – Lower body gym, and light training on field.
Tuesday – Upper body gym, high intensity training on field.
Wednesday – day off
Thursday – Full body gym focus on speed and power, high intensity training on field.
Friday – Light training on field
Saturday – GAME DAY
JTT: What training plan are you following since lockdown came into effect? Is it like an off season? Are you trying to maintain in season fitness?
HJ: I tried to stick to a training plan for the first two weeks but we’ve been in lockdown for a while now and I’ve relaxed it a bit to give my body a rest. The lockdown will eat into our off season so I’m using this time to rest while keeping a base level of fitness. I’ll have a bit of work to do when we resume training to get my fitness up but at least I’ll be fresh.
JTT: Have you had to get some of your own training equipment for the house?
HJ: Yes I’ve managed to get an exercise bike which has been useful. Apart from that I have a green power band, a set of 25kg dumbbells and a 15kg med ball. It’s not ideal but it’s enough to do high volume strength work.
JTT: How do the sport science team monitor you now?
HJ: The sport science team aren’t really monitoring us at the moment. They are available if we have any questions/concerns but there’s no pressure to follow a program.
JTT: What can you do to continue working on the technical aspects of your game?
HJ: I’ve got hold of a couple of rugby balls, so I’ve been practicing my passing with my girlfriend. She’s getting quite good!
JTT: How do you see the sporting calendar restarting?
HJ: I think we’ll get to a point where we can get back to training whilst maintaining social distancing from other members of the public. Games will probably have to be played behind closed doors at first.
JTT: How are you approaching the mental aspect of training and staying positive/ motivated?
HJ: My new motto is ‘train if you feel like it, but don’t feel like you have to train’. Strictly no pressure but I would maintain that exercising is a great way to lift your mood.
JTT: What would be your advice for people not being able or play sport or train like before?
HJ: It’s definitely frustrating not to be able to play and train like before. Just look at it like an off-season, a well earned rest. Try to find something else productive to do in the meantime. You might find a new hobby or skill you never knew about.
JTT: With social distancing in effect how are you interacting with your team mates during this time?
HJ: We have a few WhatsApp groups that are pretty busy and regular zoom calls. Playstation online is also a good chance to have a chat.
JTT: Is there any specific plan for testing athletes on returning to training?
HJ: There will definitely be a testing plan when we return but I’m not sure how it will work yet.
JTT: What aspect of Rugby are you missing the most?
HJ: Missing my team mates the most but also the competition aspect. It’s hard to quench my competitiveness during lockdown.
We know what you mean Huw! I for one, cannot wait for sporting world to start back up again, once it is safe to do so, and I will definitely be looking forward to watching Huw play again. Click here to see Huw’s player profile: