ATHLETES DOING GOOD
IT’S A GOOD DAY WHEN YOU CAN ADD ANOTHER MEDAL TO YOUR COLLECTION. IT’S A GREAT DAY WHEN YOU’VE FOUND A WAY TO SUPPORT SOMEONE ELSE. THE STORIES OF THESE YOUNG ATHLETES INSPIRED US. WE HOPE IT WILL INSPIRE YOU ALSO.
MAYA MOR, ORGANIZED A VIRTUAL 5K TO RAISE MONEY FOR A LOCAL CHARITY. SHE REACHED OUT TO OVER A HUNDRED
HIGH SCHOOL COACHES AROUND THE STATE AND ASKED LOCAL BUSINESSES TO SPONSOR THE EVENT. SHE ALSO REACHED OUT TO SEVERAL PROFESSIONAL RUNNERS (EMMA COBURN, REED FISCHER, WILL LEER - THE LATTER TWO ARE FROM MN) WHO GAVE SHOUTOUTS TO THE EVENT ON INSTAGRAM. HER INITIAL GOAL WAS TO RAISE $5000, AND SHE RAISED ALMOST $12,000. ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD MICHAELA NEAL OF WILMINGTON, DE, HAS BEEN USING HER STAY-AT-HOME TIME TO SEW FACE MASKS FOR PEOPLE IN HER COMMUNITY THAT NEED THEM. WHILE MICHAELA ENJOYS TRACK AND FIELD, SHE ALSO ENJOYS BEING CREATIVE AND HELPING HER COMMUNITY, AND WHEN THE NEED AROSE AGAIN TO DO BOTH, SHE WAS ALL IN. MICHAELA ALREADY HAD THE FABRIC AND A SEWING MACHINE IN HER BEDROOM AND BEGAN TO SEW FACE MASKS. IN ONE WEEKEND, SHE MADE AND DISTRIBUTED OVER 50 FACE MASKS.
GABBY GOODGAMES IS A RECORD HOLDER IN THE 60M HURDLES AND AN ENTREPRENEUR. SHE WON FIRST PLACE IN LAST YEAR'S DISTRICT-WIDE SCIENCE FAIR FOR HER IDEA AND HAS SINCE CONVERTED IT INTO A BUSINESS-PAWSOME PAMPER KIT--A MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION BOX COMPANY FOR DOG-LOVERS. SHE HAS SHIPPED TO SEVEN STATES, HAS MONTHLY SUBSCRIBERS, AND PARTNERS WITH A LOCAL BREEDER TO CREATE NEW HOME CARE PACKAGES FOR PUPPIES GOING TO THEIR FOREVER FAMILIES. ALSO, SHE GIVES PART OF HER PROCEEDS TO THE TRI-CITY ANIMAL SHELTER.
ALEX SALDANA, FROM PARAMUS, NEW JERSEY, IS A RUNNER AND A BOY SCOUT. HE HAS BEEN PLAYING TAPS NIGHTLY AS A LOCAL VETERAN’S HOME FOR THE VETERANS WHO HAVE DIED RECENTLY DUE TO THE COVID-19. HE STANDS OUTSIDE OF THE GUARDED GATES AND PLAYS, HOPING THAT SOME OF THE VETERANS
CALEB CRAFT DIDN’T NEED A CRISIS TO START VOLUNTEERING. SINCE HE WAS SIX YEARS OLD, HE REQUESTED THAT FAMILY AND FRIENDS DONATE FUNDS AND WRITE LETTERS TO THE VETERAN’S HOME NEAR HIS HOUSE INSTEAD OF BUYING HIM GIFTS. EACH
YEAR AROUND HIS BIRTHDAY, HE DELIVERS THE FUNDS AND LETTERS TO THE VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR AND SPENDS TIME VISITING WITH VETERANS.
THE START OF EACH TRACK SEASON BRINGS WITH IT A SENSE OF HOPE IN THE AIR, A NEW PR JUST A MEET AWAY. BUT THE OUTDOOR SEASON KICKED OFF WITH A FALSE START. IT CAME TO A PREMATURE HALT, STOPPING RUNNERS IN THEIR TRACKS AFTER THE SCHOOL CLOSURES ASSOCIATED WITH COVID-19.
But young athletes need to remember that while the season is over, running has no finish line.
“I feel like running is one of the better sports to be an athlete in right now,” Jesse Dimich-Louvet, a senior at the Billings Public School in Montana, said.
While other athletes are not able to train the same during the pandemic, runners can maintain their distance—while social distancing— to continue to work on their skill.
Originally a tennis player, Dimich-Louvet said he is still fairly new to the sport. Placing third in the men’s 5,000 meters 15-18 division in 15:45.85 at the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in December, he currently abandoned spring track workouts as a senior to look ahead to the cross country season when he attends Temple University in Philadelphia in the fall.
“I would love to have one more season with my teammates, and you feel like you worked hard all winter, DimichLouvet, who said. “But I’m not one of those people who are like well it was all for nothing. Especially in running—you train and you don’t see the effects for another year, sometimes it’s two years.”
He hopes his hard work put in now pays off as he enters the collegiate level of the sport. His current training includes running about 60 miles a week, doing Yoga, and taking time to roll out the
threat of any potential injuries.
“I felt like I needed to prepare myself for college by putting in a lot of miles and doing things I wasn’t necessarily focused on because I haven’t been a runner all my life,” he said. “I would say it’s been more work, more time consuming, but I enjoy it a little bit more than the short, track sessions with a lot of speed work.”
High school sophomore Amber Schulz at Timber Creek High School in Orlando, FL said she’s been a runner “her whole life,” but competitively since she was about 8-years-old.
The 1:23:25 OUC Orlando Half Marathoner was also disappointed with the cancelation of the spring season. But she changed both her outlook— and her workouts.
“I turned my focus to really get as good as I can and as strong as I can in this time, and let my body recover from all the racing that I had been doing from the past season,” Schulz said. “And focusing on getting a base and mentally prepare. Let this be a refresher for the long career I want to have with running.”
Typically a low mileage runner, the 3000m first place winner with 10:41.49 at the 2019 USATF Florida Association Junior Olympic Championships, is adding more strength training. “I’ve been able to up my miles with it feeling really good.”
Many running coaches agree that the best way to move forward with training is to scale back on intensity and return to that base phase to prevent injury and stay healthy.
“Since they are not training for anything, there’s no sense in taxing the system,” Robert Gessler, MD, RRCA Certified Coach, and Instructor and USATF Level III coach said. “The best type of training is to not get overtrained and have the immune system do what it needs to do.”
During the season, the mental pressure of physical demands of performing results in high levels of stress. And with so much on the line, many athletes push through because they don’t want to say no to a race. “Now’s the time to take the time,” Dimich-Louvet said.
Head coach at Reservoir High School Cross Country and Track and Field in Fulton, Maryland, Gessler recommends athletes sticking to conversational pace running to not overstress the body.
“We are in the pattern of starting buildup for the cross country season. What we can have for them is a longer buildup,” Gessler said. “And that doesn’t mean we won’t throw in some workouts in here and there, but we will not have them overdo it. And then hopefully they will come in the middle of August to us in really good shape.”
Despite enjoying track more for “the energy, the momentum from the people around you,” Schulz is now also gearing up for cross country once Nationals was officially canceled. After a week to refresh the legs, her coach plans on increasing her milage to build a cross country base and continue with strength training. She is now running 30 to 35 miles per week.
During COVID-19, there is now the benefit of more time to train.
“For those that are distance runners, they are looking at it has more of an extended way of preparing for the cross country season in the fall,” said
Jim Hughes, the head coach of Moore Catholic’s and St. Clare’s track and field/ cross country teams in Staten Island, NY.
He recommends finding a good area of
a park to run in and simply enjoy it and rediscover the fun and love for running. Make some days easier than others. Add hills—including downhill work for fun— and trail running. “Stay comfortable with the slower pace running.”
Many “old school” coaches like Hughes normally wouldn’t recommend headphones and phones when running. But Hughes thinks it’s a great way to keep the motivation alive for those like the runners in New York who can’t run with partners.
Dimich-Louvet listens to podcasts or music now to keep entertained. He does go for a long weekend run with teammates at social distance.
Runners are encouraged to run 8 to 12feet apart. Single file running also isn’t ideal during COVID-19. “I think it’s best for people to run side by side,” Gessler said. This is to avoid running in the airspace of droplets that are breathed out from the other runner.
Dimich-Louvet revealed some of his teammates wear masks, but he struggles with breathing too hard with one on. “But it’s important to take into consideration,” he said. “Not only are we trying to stay healthy as an athlete, [but also] we obviously want to stop the spread of the virus.”
There are no current mandates to wear a mask, but Hughes recommends having one on below the mouth for easier breathing that can be pulled up when passing others.
Coaching has gone virtual—and even for younger runners. These rookie runners are encouraged to exercise as a way to burn off energy and stress. It’s a sense of normalcy in their day for those returning to the sport.
“We could just be a little thing that parents can do for their kids in a time that’s crazy that feels familiar to them,” said Melissa Ray, a New Jersey community coordinator of the Healthy Kids Running Series program. “A lot of families a returning families, so they know what race day feels like for them. And to give them a little bit of that in a time when everything is up on its head feels good.”
For kids ages 2-years-old to those in the 8th grade, the Healthy Kids Running Series is a five-week race program that is virtual this season. “We hope to provide that sense of motivation for those kids who don’t have their other sports, not just track,” Ray said.
The Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) is holding workouts and lectures on Zoom twice a week that focus on proper stretching, drills, form, and core while sheltering in place. These 30 to 45-minute workouts are available for free for all CYO track programs.
“We wanted to keep them active and engaged with their teammates,” Moderator and CYONY Club coach Stefan Anikewich said. “Many of the kids can’t leave their houses or apartments during this crisis, so we thought let’s bring practice to them.”
He said the kids are left smiling at the end of every workout.
“We will keep these zoom trainings going until it is deemed safe to be together in person, and we will keep them going after. Even though the kids are not training together in person, they have been part of lectures/trainings from former and current Division I athletes, coaches, military families discussing not only workouts but life experiences,” said CYO Director Seth Peloso. “They are virtually sharing experiences, training, learning, listening and growing together.. If we (youth sports) are going to come out of this pandemic and have the same impact on these children’s lives, we will have to adapt and keep them engaged now.”
Parents should remember to keep running fun for younger athletes. The end goal is just to keep them moving. “We want them to come back so that they develop a lifelong love like we have for running,” Gessler, a coach for the Howard County Junior Striders said.
no rAce PlAnned, no Problem
While younger athletes are used to running for fun, middle and high school runners might be struggling to cope with COVID-19.
For Dimich-Louvet it meant missing out on his victory lap as a senior. “I feel more for the juniors,” he said. “I know that junior year was a very crucial year in order to showcase your talents.”
The 5000m second-place finisher at the November SATF Montana Association Junior Olympic Championships said that he knows juniors that are struggling with motivation in both academics and training. “The juniors think, ‘well what is there to train for?’ Races are getting canceled left and right now. We don’t even know if we’ll have a fall season,” he said. “My advice is to stay training at the intensity that you were in season and not burn out. Stay focused and don’t lose sight on the bigger picture.”
Having no planned races isn’t such a bad thing.
“Honestly, it has had a positive impact on me because I feel like I’ve gotten to know where I want to go with running even more because I’ve had time to just get away from races and do other things,” Schulz said. “It’s made me realize that I really do have a passion for running and racing. It’s made me rethink everything and made me so thankful for running and what I’m able to do when I do it.”
Remember why we run.
“First and foremost it should be to stay healthy,” Dimich-Louvet said. “It shouldn’t be for the accolades or the spotlight. It should be for the love of the sport.”
Online learning is new for many people around the world. But, just like a hard workout or new sport, we need to learn to adapt and find ways to help us face the new challenge. I am one of the many people who have had their school closed and are now starting to do online learning. I am also one of many people who have discovered how difficult online learning really can be, since sometimes focusing can be tough with your family doing other things around you! Thankfully, over the past couple of weeks, I have found some ways that can help me focus on school, get my work done, and be successful.
It doesn’t mean you have to get up super early, but it means you should not stay up too late and sleep in until noon. I find that going to bed at my normal school night time and waking up by
9:00 am (at the latest) helps me get enough sleep and prepares me for my day. When I wake up, I get dressed, eat breakfast, and go through my routine.
Looking over my assignments and making a to-do list helps me to organize what I need to get done for the day. It also helps me better manage my time and ask teachers any questions I have about the classwork for the day.
My schedule looks a little like this: Wake up and get ready for the day. Complete work for 2-3 classes. Exercise and take a short break or do assignments for gym. Finish work for one more class. Eat lunch. Complete the rest of the classes for the day, taking a quick break halfway through if needed. Finally, get the second round of exercise in (this is where I normally will do my run for the day,
When online learning began, I thought working alone on projects would be best. But, I found that working with one to two other people can be very helpful! When starting a project, I email the person (or people) I want to work with and find a time that we can work on the project together online. Through email, texting, or facetime, you can then split the work and finish the project. Trust me, working with another person can cut the time it takes to do it in half, that’s a lot of time saved! Also, it is much more fun to be able to complete it together.
Although it may seem hard and somewhat scary to ask teachers questions, it can be very helpful when you are doing schoolwork at home. Knowing how to do an assignment is important, and asking questions is sometimes the only way you will figure out how to do it if you are unsure. Many other students are asking questions as well, so you should not be afraid to ask for help. Searching for help online can also be useful if you are unsure about how to do something.
I learned that doing this is extremely important. My Believe training journal keeps my running and cross-training organized; however, I do not add anything about my schoolwork in there. Take a moment to plan out your day so that you don’t find yourself sitting and not knowing what to do.
With this whole digital learning experience, it is quite likely that you will be online for most of your classes. From being on your iPad or computer too long, you can have mood changes and get bad headaches. Try to look away from the screen every 20 or so minutes to give your brain some rest.
Just don’t do it with a big group of people. Exercise and moving your body is extremely important, but we will just be stuck in this situation longer if social distancing guidelines aren’t being followed. A run, walk, game of basketball, or even fresh air is amazing. You just have to be mindful of who’s around you.
For me, teachers at our school have been emailing us daily, giving invitations to Google Hangouts/Zoom meetings, and assigning homework. To not get behind, it is very important to keep up with the lessons given during class.
Yes, online learning means you have school during the day, but you should do other activities to give your mind a break. If you have already exercised and done for the day, maybe you can bake a dessert. Spend time with family, try chalk art, start a new hobby, etc.
I hope this helps everyone with their remote learning experience and makes it a bit more enjoyable. Happy learning!
At the 2019 AAU Junior Olympics, Kayleigh broke the 200-meter hurdles record twice. She broke it first in the prelims running the event in 27 seconds flat. Then, the following day, Kayleigh broke the record again running the 200-meter hurdles in 26.84, becoming the first 13-year-old girl ever to run 26 seconds! She also won silver in the Pentathlon.
Competing at the 2019 AAU Club Championships, Kayleigh won the gold in the 200-meter Hurdles, the 13-yearold Pentathlon, and the Long Jump where she went over 17 feet. Additionally, Kayleigh was the Georgia Middle School State Champion in the 300 Hurdles, won the 2019 AAU indoor title in the 200m, and at New Balance Outdoor Championship in 2019, Kayleigh placed 3rd in the Long Jump.
Last year, Kayleigh traveled to Belize to study global warming and became certified to Scuba dive while she was there. Kayleigh was also one of eleven girls selected by Chevrolet to go to Manchester, England as a “Goalkeeper” from the United States.
With all of this, Kayleigh still manages to be an honor roll student, plays softball, basketball, and participates in dance. She is a busy girl!
Way to Go Kayleigh!
There is a full interview with Kayleigh at youthrunner.com.