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COVID-19 Can't Stop Us From Running

By Olivia Leonard

Coach Jones gives final directions during a Fall 2019 cross country meet (Jay Bendlin / ASP)

As we all know, the global pandemic of the coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, has been the cause of several changes on campus. One of these major changes includes the cancellation of all NCAA spring athletics. This has left the student-athletes at the University at Albany heartbroken due to the loss of their season, especially for those graduating in the coming months.

Although this is the case, the distance runners of the track and cross country teams are still training for their upcoming season. On March 25, Head Coach Matt Jones sent an email to the team stating, “As we settle into the new normal, at least for a while, I thought I would send a basic track conditioning training cycle.” The runners are lucky enough to be able to continue practicing on their own, and Jones plans to continue to provide a training plan for his athletes to maintain their fitness.

“I have not given up hope on some late spring or early summer competition opportunities,” Jones continued in his email.

Despite the chaos going on in society, Jones is keeping a positive outlook for his athletes in hopes that there may be some meets or races in the coming months. It is still questionable whether the likeliness of this will occur, particularly suggested by the decision to postpone the 2020 Olympics until 2021. Regardless, the runners will be able to have an early start to their cross country base training.

As a student-athlete on the track and field team, the coronavirus’ effect on the cancellation of the NCAA’s spring has been difficult to process. I had been preparing for the outdoor season by putting in the miles throughout the indoor season, then tapering off to a hiatus in order to allow for rest in hopes of a major breakthrough for spring track.

Not being able to compete has left me feeling like there is something missing in my life, a void that cannot be filled. It also makes me feel as though all my hard work has been washed down the drain, and I know I am not alone. Several of my other teammates are also devastated because of the high expectations we had for the outdoor season.

Despite these feelings, we have been able to push through this emotional barrier and be enlightened by the hope of our coach in order to continue to work hard day in and day out. Luckily we are part of a sport that only requires the ground and a pair of sneakers, thus not many setbacks are in our way of training. We may not get to train with one another daily, but we still communicate about the challenges we face in our training.

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