Since the start of lockdown in the UK at the end of March we have been reaching out to people in the sport we know for inspiration on how to push through the uncertainty of lockdown and keep smiling till we reach the other side. So far we’ve spoken to bike fitter Jake Yarranton from Precise Performance, heard from our friends Mike and Joss of Zero Neuf who are enduring a tough time with the restrictions on riding in France and also Simon Holt from Grinta Coaching. All have given us tips and hints into life around the bike during lockdown but now it is the turn of para track cyclist Blaine Hunt to let us know how he is coping.
You might remember we met up with Blaine in 2019 at the Lee Valley Velodrome. Observing a typical session of training we were impressed with his attention to detail in training and his determination to succeed. He is an athlete and a person who won’t stop till he’s at the top. So how is he faring in lockdown and what tips can we take from him to make us stronger by the end of it? Read on to find out…
Where are you for lockdown, and how long is the queue at your local supermarket?
My lockdown is in Central London N1. The queue at the supermarket is actually ok. Because there are so many small independents or small chain supermarkets it’s fairly easy to find what you need within close range. It’s not like the suburbs where so many people rely on one big shop so actually central london has its perks during lockdown. The Ben and Jerry’s selection in Sainsburys Angel is pretty comprehensive, but then they didn’t have oatly, so our local shop around the corner sorted us out. Dreamy combo right there.
Tell us a bit about what your pre-lockdown weekly training plan consisted of and what you can no longer do?
My pre lockdown plan consisted of 2-3 track sessions a week at the Lee Valley Velodrome and 3 gym sessions courtesy of my strength and conditioning (S&C) coach Jason Coultman and his program. I would ride my bike to and from work and fit in turbo sessions around everything. Obviously the track and gym are closed so that’s a massive hit to my routine, I’m also not getting the volume of riding to and from work to keep me ticking over. The turbo is the only thing that remains from my program!
How have you kept on top of your strength training away from a gym?
It’s been difficult to keep on top of the gym work without the heavy loads I can achieve in the gym. Ideally I would need a squat rack and barbell but I’m holding out for post lockdown to buy a set when the people who have bought them realise they only used them once before letting them gather dust. I expect there will be some bargains to be had. I got myself what I could afford and what was the best bang for my buck. I went for two 28kg kettlebells, two 20kg dumbbells, two 5kg dumbbells, some resistance bands and a 12kg slam ball. The key is to be creative and work with what you have, even if you have nothing compared to a gym it’s still possible to get some decent work in.
I was super motivated at first but as time goes on I am really starting to struggle without the social interaction of going to the gym. I miss the accountability you get when talking to people at the gym. For example conversations along the lines of “Are you in on Wednesday?”, “See you then” and “I’ll be in around 7 for my session” not only give you something to look forward to but importantly provide focus towards that session and accountability to show up and work as people are expecting to see you there.
Not all of us are track cycling champions but what is the one exercise you think we could all benefit from doing?
I think a lot of sprinters neglect the endurance aspect of training so I would say ride your bike and enjoy it! From an exercise point of view I would say a key exercise at the moment is a step up or a Bulgarian split squat. Both are single leg exercises meaning you won’t need as much load as something like a barbell squat. The movements are unilateral and are sport specific to your pedal stroke. If you don’t have much load you can really slow down the eccentric phase of the movement and then explode up from the bottom, this will increase your time under tension and should harvest some juicy gains.
How have your season goals changed since the lockdown and how hard is it mentally to shift your focus away from your old goals and pursue the new ones?
Well all of my long term goals are pretty uncertain so i’ve moved to some shorter term goals. Preparing and planning for a bike packing trip this summer and then shorter term goals than that are really daily. Get my S&C done by 12, or get my intervals done, I don’t overload myself with goals as I’m still working full time from home and don’t have all the time I would like to train.
How many watts difference do you think you’ll be putting out by the end of all this? Or do you think your rooftop training is going to pay off with big numbers?
I expect I’ll end up with a healthier body that moves better than pre covid. Who knows if it will give me more watts but I know I will be healthier for having some more time to focus on movement and mobility.
What do you miss the most from life prior to lockdown and what don’t you miss at all?
I miss the track and the people down the track. You spend a lot of time chatting nonsense to each other between efforts. I don’t miss having to go to the office, I think covid is a wakeup call that it’s not the healthiest thing in the world to commute to an office, spend all day in artificial light to be not as productive. I track my Heart Rate Variability (HRV) every morning and pre Covid I was all over the place. Now I am 9-10 out of 10 every morning so i’ve actually stopped measuring it for the moment, I feel great. More sleep, less strain from commuting and being cooped up all day at a desk around people that cough and sneeze during the winter months. I don’t miss the office at all.
Who would be your ideal isolation gym partner/apparatus?
I think my ideal isolation gym partner would have to be someone like Matt Rotherham, I like a hype team in the gym, he brings hype in the gym and has a good attitude to training. Ideal apparatus would have to be that illusive squat rack that I’m longing for.
High weight, low rep or the opposite?
I’d have to say high rep high weight. I love hypertrophy training, lots of people hate it but I like the pain, it makes me feel like i’ve worked.
Finally has your local supermarket still got medjoul dates?
There’s a reason I have to shop in Waitrose!