Malvern's Team GB kayaker Emma Witherford sheds light on her life during lockdown - The Malvern Observer

Malvern's Team GB kayaker Emma Witherford sheds light on her life during lockdown

Malvern Editorial 13th Jul, 2020 Updated: 14th Jul, 2020   0

MALVERN’S freestyle kayaker Emma Witherford has spoken about how she has had to change her training regime during the Coronavirus lockdown.

It comes as Emma found out last week she is being supported for another year by town technology firm Payara which will enable her to carry on achieving in her sport during these challenging times.

Before lockdown the final year University of Nottingham student’s typical week centred on lectures and associated work based on campus, as well as her part-time job.

She would also train four to five times in the gym, three to four times at the National Watersports Centre, and twice in the pool for Canoe Polo.

But when the restrictions were imposed she had to complete the final year of her biology degree at home.

On the kayaking front local and international competitions were postponed or cancelled (including a home nation’s World Cup in Nottingham), and her training facilities closed their doors – it is not known when they may reopen.

Returning to Malvern and changing her routine

She said: “The not-so roomy nature of student accommodation (and lack of outdoor space/training equipment) meant I soon made the return journey to my family home in Malvern.

“This physical move gave me a fresh outlook on the situation and shift in mindset of what could still be achieved.

“Within the first few days, my childhood summerhouse was converted into a mini-gym, with weights and a bench kindly lent by a neighbour, and I was enjoying the daily hour outside in the fields and hills near our house.

“Training in the mornings and evenings, with walks and cycles during the afternoon, I soon adapted to my new ‘normal’.”

She added managing her time effectively between studying, working, training and competing had been vital over the last few years, so she set herself a routine (and stuck to her) to maintain productivity.

“With the gym commute now less than a minute, I’ve been able to keep up the training, whilst having more time to relax and avoid overdoing it.

“Although I can’t wait to get back to what I love doing with no restrictions, this pandemic has allowed me to learn about myself and my approach to training, as well as focus my energy into what I can control – university work, training, and nutrition.”

“It can definitely still be difficult to find the motivation some days (even when I can see my gym from my bed!), however, I remind myself how lucky I am to be in this position and although competitions are cancelled for now, they will return, and I will return stronger.

“I aim to continue to make the most of the situation and look forward to the time when travel and competitions will resume.”


Emma’s five tips which have helped her survive the lockdown.

1. Make a routine (that you like) and stick to it – I focus on my university work from Monday – Friday and try to take a break over the weekend which has helped me keep productive and avoid burnout.

2. Keep active and keep it fun! – I always feel better for having been active and even just a short walk can make you feel so much better, especially with a good podcast.

3. Take some you time – with everything from work to the gym infiltrating the home, it’s important to switch off. Find a good book, take a bath or just listen to your favourite music.

4. Find something you enjoy and make time for it – whether it’s a weekly Zoom quiz, trying a new recipe or watching a movie you have been waiting to see.

5. Make a to-do list (or bucket list) – boredom happens, so have a list of things to keep you occupied from home. It could be the list of jobs that never seem to get ticked off, researching future adventures, or just a list of things you would like to try.

Emma, currently ranked third in last year’s GB selection, is remaining positive and hopes to compete in the European Championships in October this year, as well as the ICF World Championships in Nottingham in 2021.


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