Editor's note: the fourth part of USA TODAY's Working Out From Home (#WOFH) series focuses on keeping your strength at home if you're used to working out at a gym. Sign up for Good Sports, our weekly newsletter that will bring you more exercise tips at home + stories of good things around the sports world.
Distance runners everywhere have felt the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with canceled runs and many tracks and trails closed, keeping corridors confined to their homes. Away from running a multitude of kilometers on a personal treadmill, distance runners were tasked with finding creative ways to achieve their mileage.
Gareth Allen took that creativity to another level in late March, setting up his own marathon route in his garden in southern England. The 47-year-old from Southampton is a 13-year-old veteran who has participated in 137 marathons and overseas over the past four years.
Given its typical volume of miles and runs, sculpting its own 26.2-mile course has become a necessity. Allen is trying to complete 12 100-mile runs in less than 12 months for charity.
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"I saw articles about people running in their apartments or balconies. I looked at my garden, took a tape measure and realized that I could actually do a marathon – or more – in my backyard," Allen told USA TODAY Sports. challenge would be to keep the count and curves constant. The first problem was solved when a local triathlon company offered to lend me their time system so that I could do the counting in real time. The second problem was solved when I decided to change direction every 100 laps. ”
Part four of USA TODAY's Working Out From Home (#WOFH) series focuses on sculpting original courses for distance runners. Allen used the 130 feet of his garden to distinguish the 138,336 feet needed for a marathon. This is equivalent to 1,064 laps. He ran it in 5 hours and 2 minutes.
Allen's garden marathon course inspired others to be creative with their own courses, he said. He chose to broadcast his entire race on Facebook Live. At one point, more than 4,000 people were watching.
"The answer was crazy," said Allen. “I did this a little fun. The live broadcast was there because I am more of a social runner, so the company is important. The live broadcast seemed to be a good way to achieve this, given the current situation.
"I don't think I'm an inspiration; I just used technology to show people what is possible and have a little fun at the same time. It is the emergency workers who are the inspiration at the moment."
The point is that runners need not feel confined because they are confined.
Allen said his main advice is to have a positive support system with family or friends and to be strategic in designing the course to deal with the mental rigors that often accompany distance runners when the "wall" is installed.
"The main advice is to keep changing direction – so doing loops is better than" going back there. "It allows you to vary the parts of the body that are under pressure," said Allen. "Also, if you have a garden, get permission first, as I now have a used path on my lawn," he added, laughing.