#FeatureFriday - Aber Runners Continue to Train in Isolation

04/02/2021 00:00, In Blog /

As COVID-19 continues to impact severely on our day to day lives the importance of exercise for good physical and mental health and well-being is constantly emphasised and promoted.

However, that can be more challenging as leisure centres and gyms have been forced to close and sports clubs have had all group activities curtailed.

One club naturally affected is Aberystwyth Athletics Club, who prior to the pandemic, organised activities five nights a week for all ages and all abilities as chair Ian Evans explains,

“We were regularly having 25-30 people for our individual sessions, such as the interest, and because we were also offering sessions for all abilities and ages the interest was constantly growing. The ethos of the club is that all are welcome, you work to your own ability, and we all support each other,”

 

“But then the pandemic struck and all activities had to be cancelled, and with the exception of a brief period last autumn where we were allowed to meet up under strict social distancing guidelines and limited numbers, it is coming up to twelve months since we last met as a club.”

 

It would have been easy for the club’s volunteer leaders to have taken this time to ease off from developing regular training regimes but, recognising that the need was more important than ever to offer support to members, weekly exercises have been circulated to keep everyone moving as Louise Barker explains,

 

“There has been greater awareness during this pandemic of the importance of exercise not only from a physical but also, mental perspective and we felt it important to offer our members some stimulation to carry on exercising, albeit in isolation.

 

“The club is also a big friendly community and, by asking members to post their activities and say how they get on, this again reinforces the support we can offer each other during an incredibly challenging time.”

One member who has found these exercises very helpful is Meleri Wyn James,

“I was a relatively new member of the club when the pandemic struck, having started with the great Couch to 5K programme and then moving on to train regularly with the club – it is such a supportive environment.

 

“Thanks to the club’s approach I have been able to continue with much of the training and continue to feel a part of the local running community. I have even taken part in some of the virtual races, a completely new and interesting experience.”

 

It’s not only the adults that have benefitted – prior to the pandemic there were over 70 youngsters attending weekly sessions and they have not been forgotten as coach Enid Gruffudd says,    

 

“As with adults, ensuring children and young people have regular exercise is so important to aid with physical and mental stimulation. We’ve tried to make it a bit of fun setting various challenges, one of them being the Distance Challenge. 

 

“The juniors were split into two teams and over a week they were to run as many miles as they could. Each team had an adult Captain and whichever team had run the least amount of miles for that week the Captain of that team suffered a forfeit, which was shared on our closed social media page for everyone’s enjoyment!

 

“During these challenges alone they have run over 1600 miles – quite a feat in isolation.”

Although physical races have either been cancelled or postponed worldwide, virtual races have been growing in popularity and Aberystwyth AC has seen considerable success come its way with the most recent being team and individual triumphs in Welsh Athletics’ virtual 5k relay races as Ian Evans says,

“Many of our members plan their training around different races throughout the year but, in this unprecedented time, no physical races have gone ahead. The technical developments of virtual racing, however, have allowed us to continue to take part in a variety of activities, some organised by the club itself, and it means that some healthy competition has continued.

 

“But the continued emphasis within the club is about encouraging people to get involved in exercise as it is so important for all our physical and mental health in these difficult times.”

If you would like to hear more about Aberystwyth Athletic Club or its activities visit aberystwythac.wordpress.com or find the club on Facebook.

Thank you for Deian Creunant for this #FeautreFriday story

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