Hannah Irwin Where Next?
Artisan Design are extremely excited to introduce a young lady who not only is a highly talented runner but is also studying a masters at the University of Surrey in Creative Writing. We hope you enjoy her first article.
Life during COVID has been far from how I imagined 2020 to be. In all honesty, I hoped for a summer of hard work followed by some PB’s on the track, and instead we were all faced with a summer of hard work and staying at home. Whilst extremely frustrating, there was a little bit of comfort in knowing that everyone was in the same situation.
For me, training wise, lockdown didn’t really cause any drastic changes to be made. Apart from being unable to use the track and go to the gym, I was able to continue training almost completely as normal.
For the past two years, my training has involved a lot of cross training to replace a significant amount of ‘easy’ running. Pre-lockdown, this was predominantly a lot of hours in the pool, aqua jogging. For most people, aqua jogging is a form of punishment when injured, but it became part of my regular training plan and I actually began to enjoy it! However, the closing of gyms and subsequently pools, meant I had to look elsewhere for ways to cross train. I was fortunate enough to have bought a cross trainer back when I was out with an injury in 2018, so over lockdown, this became my new friend! I actually welcomed using the cross trainer as a refreshing change. I also experimented using the rower, but quickly decided this wasn’t for me.
Whilst the majority of athletes were forced to get used to training alone, the arrival of solo training came as no shock to me as I have been doing the majority of my training alone for a while. Although not ideal, it is definitely a way to build mental strength and test our determination. In contrast to most people, I actually gained a training partner over lockdown. My boyfriend was living with me for majority of it, so I had someone to push me in sessions and chat to on easy runs.
At the start of lockdown, I was quite excited by the prospect of having an uninterrupted period of training. I love racing, but I had started to put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself both in training and racing, and it was beginning to affect me negatively. It is quite rare that we get the opportunity to train, pressure-free, and work on our weaknesses or experiment with training without missing out on lots of races. I found myself getting into a flow of uninterrupted training and enjoying it again! However, now novelty has worn off, I can’t wait to toe the line and see what sort of shape I am in.
Looking forward and setting goals in the post-covid world still appears to be somewhat of a challenge. The future is starting to look slightly clearer, but the racing scene is still an unknown concept. A few races have been confirmed, but I still don’t know what my race diary is going to look like.
Apart from possibly a few road races (depending on what goes ahead), cross country is the main event I am aiming to be race ready for. I have been feeling stronger as the weeks go by and hope this will give me a good base to build on ahead of the cross country season. I have set my sights on giving my all to try and earn some international vests, providing the season goes ahead as planned. Focusing on a less immediate goal gave me a more realistic focus over lockdown, rather than falsely convincing myself we might actually have a decent track season. I have been keeping my training pretty varied, working on improving my endurance as well as my speed. I am also hoping to test myself over the 5k distance at some point but preparing for cross country to be my first post-covid race.
For now, I am training hard and keeping my eyes on the slowly emerging race calendar, so I can be ready when my first race arrives.