Is lockdown a sporting blessing in disguise?

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By Conor O’Sullivan, Third Year Ancient History

The recent national lockdown has swept a wave of boredom across university students, no meeting friends, no pubs, and no sport. Although it is frustrating to have sports taken away from us just as they were starting to get going again, look at this situation as a chance to get ahead of the curve.

Just because gyms and organised sports have been unavailable at times throughout the year, does not mean that you have to stop. University sport has finally returned but over the Easter holidays many of us might be at home and not playing. So rather than transforming into a couch creature, take this lockdown by the scruff of the neck and use it as an opportunity to become better than you were before.

You can turn the lockdown sports hiatus into a blessing in disguise by using this new-found time to get ahead of your competitors. As Mike Tyson said, ‘No one wants to get up at four and run when it’s pitch-dark, but it has to be done. The only reason why I do it so early is because I believe that the other guy isn’t doing it and it gives me a little edge.’ Now I am not saying get up at four (fudge that), but his point still stands, and is now more relevant than ever.

You do not have to go crazy to start with, rather see what your fitness level is and work on improving it from there

In lockdown it is easy to simply relax. If you put in a bit of effort now, you will be gaining an advantage over “the other guy”, who is likely in bed watching Netflix. When sports return, this effort will pay dividends and the results will be clear to see.

You can approach this in a number of ways. For work on your fitness, go for a run every other day, testing yourself on your best times and furthest distances. You do not have to go crazy to start with, rather see what your fitness level is and work on improving it from there (apps such as Strava or Nike Run Club can help with this – not sponsored… yet).

You could also choose to work on your body strength – aim to do 50 push ups or sit ups a day, and gradually increase the number as you go on. Everyone will be at different fitness levels, so see how you do and adjust your aims accordingly. There are plenty of home fitness sessions and tutorials online which can help you with this.

Alternatively, you can focus on improving your skills in your preferred sport. If you are a footballer, aim to beat your kick ups record, which will undoubtedly improve your first touch. Or even better, if you have a housemate who is keen, head to the Downs and practice your long-range passing. If you are a basketball player, there are outside courts in Bristol where you can practice your three pointers and free throws. Try learning a new shot that you are less confident with – practice your step back jump shots or your lay ups.

These are the things that will make a difference, as sport is all about fine margins. Putting in that extra practice is what will get you ahead of the competition. When sports return you will feel so much sharper than those around you who have not kept active.

Days can easily pass by in this lockdown without feeling like you have done much. Just going for a run or doing a small workout will give you a massive sense of accomplishment – even just 15 minutes is good – far better than no exercise at all. If you can do more, even better! Try to incorporate it into your routine.

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Recently, I have been going for runs every couple of days and I do not regret it one bit. Sometimes all you need is to see what routine works best for you. I like to go as soon as I wake up, whack on an album or a podcast I like and even just a light jog for 15-20 minutes in the morning does wonders. I return home ready to start my day already feeling like I have accomplished something.

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Exercise is key in maintaining not only your physical health but also your mental health, which cannot be overlooked. The stresses of lockdown and university can easily get to you, but with just a bit of exercise your mind can clear almost instantaneously. This will undoubtedly benefit you in other aspects of life, such as your studies, as you will be in a much better headspace to approach your work. Regular exercise is key in living a healthy life, and I can guarantee that if you follow these steps you will not regret it.

Featured image: Patrick Sullivan

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