As COVID-19 restrictions start to lift across the United Kingdom, people's opportunities to exercise outside are growing.
We outline the range of choices available to exercise outdoors here.
In line with greater freedoms to exercise, we asked football fitness expert, Frankie Hunter, to devise a running programme to help you get or stay fit.
Frankie’s four-week programme of running exercises is the same as that used for elite players.
But it is suitable for people of all abilities, whether you are just starting an exercise regime or are an experienced runner.
The programme consists of five sets of exercises across a week, which are then repeated each week with an increased level of activity to raise your fitness levels.
We recommend that alongside this programme you use running apps such as Strava, Map My Run or the Nike Running Club. These can help track your running times as well as give feedback during your run so you can track your progress.
Exercise Run for four minutes, at a pace you are easily comfortable with, then rest for two minutes. (Use the times in the graph to guide your pace.)
Repeat this four times.
Use the apps above or a stopwatch or timer to time yourself.
Purpose You will start the week with sets of repeat runs that will help build a strong fitness foundation and improve aerobic capacity and general fitness.
The session will change at Week 3 from 16 minutes to 18 as your body starts to tolerate this work.
Exercise – Run at a faster speed for 45 seconds, letting the appropriate distance in the graphic guide you to your correct speed.
Rest for 30 seconds then run the same speed again for 45sec.
Do eight runs and rests in total, before having a three-minute rest.
Then repeat the set of eight runs and rests.
Purpose - This type of work will push you to the upper end of your aerobic threshold, allowing you to move at quicker speeds thanks to the intermittent nature of the session, and the lower work periods prescribed (45 seconds).
Again from Week 3 the total time and pace of your runs should rise as you get fitter.
Exercise – 1) Start a stopwatch and sprint for 10 metres before stopping. When the stopwatch hits 15 seconds, do the 10-metre sprint and stop again.
Do this procedure eight times in total.
Rest three minutes.
2) Do a shuttle sprint for 10 metres every 20 seconds. Do eight sets of this.
3) Complete 10 seconds of continuous shuttles within the 10-metre distance. Try to complete as many shuttles as possible within the 10 seconds before resting for 30 seconds.
Do eight reps of this.
N.B. The difficulty scale on the graphic should relate to part 3 of this day’s exercise only (10-second continuous shuttles).
Purpose - This work aims to build your muscular strength and endurance. Expect this to be hard on your legs and your lungs.
Exercise – Do six sets of 40-metre sprints at 80 per cent full speed with two minutes between each sprint.
As a guide, a full-size penalty box is 40 metres wide or you can measure 40 big steps!
Rest two minutes.
Then do eight sets (or “reps”) of 15-second runs, with 15-second rests between. This should be done at the speeds as guided in the video, but also find a speed appropriate to your current level.
The 15 seconds of running should be in a straight line. Avoid turns as this will increase the difficulty of this run.
Do these eight reps twice, with a two-minute rest in between.
Purpose - These exercises will give you a mix of top-end aerobic conditioning and will start to work the anaerobic system, which provides the body with explosive short-term energy, during your maximal efforts. It is best to do warm-up exercises before your first set, which is run at 80 per cent speed.
If you feel comfortable at this speed, you can engage in a full sprint for the last three repetitions of the first set.
This exercise is used heavily in football conditioning programmes as it is a hybrid of different fitness characteristics needed for performing in football performance.
Exercise - The speeds and times for the running time trials are guides for you. It is always best to start slowly on the first run and build up from there.
Purpose - This is the culmination of the week’s exercise, a trial run, but at a slower pace than the previous days’ exercises. Again from Week 3, the distance increases, even if the pace does not.
Footballers need rest days too if they are to reduce the risk of injury and so do you. These are as important as the days of exercise as they allow your muscles to recover.
Frankie Hunter is Head of Fitness at Middlesbrough FC.
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