Paly athletes find new ways to train during social isolation

Running through an eerily silent street in the early hours of the morning, junior Alex Selwyn slows to a halt as he completes his daily run. Wiping sweat from his forehead, he checks his phone as the first rays of sunlight dawn, making sure that he’s completed his workout instructed by his coach.

Like many athletes, Selwyn, a track and cross country runner, has had his regular practice schedule upended by COVID-19 and the statewide shelter-in-place order taken to slow the spread of the virus.

Because he is a runner, Selwyn said he has been able to somewhat continue his regular practice schedule, as his sport does not overly rely on teammates or special equipment. However, he said it is still challenging to match the intensity of a regular practice.

“We have practices six days a week that last from two to two and a half hours,” Selwyn said.

Despite the disruption to his normal running schedule, Selwyn said that his impromptu practices have still been effective.

“What I am doing at the moment, a mix of workouts and longer runs, has been relatively effective, although it cannot perfectly substitute the training I would otherwise be getting if school were still in session,” Selwyn said.

Selwyn recognizes that he is very fortunate compared to other athletes, as he can practice during quarantine.

“In a time like this, I can carry on with my training pretty conveniently while other athletes (baseball, for example) might have more difficulty doing that.” Selwyn said. “I think I’m just very lucky because running is one of those sports where really all you have to do is get out the door.”

While Selwyn can still adequately practice his sport during the quarantine, other athletes are not as lucky.

Senior Tom Galetti, a swimmer, said he has been unable to practice.

“All the pools are closed,” Galetti said. “My pool is 59 degrees; I have not been swimming.”

Galetti said that his school swimming coaches have pushed out workouts online for the athletes to complete.

“In the offseason we had this app that we use called Volt, and we’ve been using that now,” Galetti said. “(In the offseason) basically there’s three workouts a week based on when our final meet is. (For quarantine) we switched to a bodyweight and cardio type thing.”

Because of swimmers’ intense practice schedule, Galetti doubts that Volt workouts will approach the level of a normal practice.

“It will help keep me in shape, but it’s not taking 2 hours every day and whatever you do on the land isn’t necessarily going to correlate to what you can do in the water,” Galetti said.

Like Galetti, junior and volleyball player Trisha Razdan said she also receives workouts from her coaches and likewise finds them lacking in effectiveness.

“(The drills have been) super ineffective,” Razdan said. “The workouts are so much easier than what we usually do, and because it’s a club-wide thing they have to make sure the (12-year-olds and under) can do it, so a lot of us have been doing separate things, too.”

While Razdan said replicating a volleyball practice is impossible, she has found that she is getting a similar exercise level from what she has been doing while quarantined. Razdan said that the additional exercises she has been doing have compensated for the delta between her regular practices and what her coaches have assigned.

“It’s hard to simulate an actual practice, but workout-wise the calories I’m burning and sweat I’m sweating is a good match,” Razdan said.

While Galetti said he feels his fitness is declining because of the quarantine and Razdan said hers has stayed consistent, Selwyn said his overall fitness level has actually increased while being stuck at home.

“Quarantine has improved my overall fitness,” Selwyn said. “I’ve been going on a lot of bike rides (running in the morning, biking in the afternoon), and as of right now, I haven’t noticed any decline in my running performance.”

Selwyn said he has deviated from his normal track workouts during the quarantine.

“I’ve been doing a lot of longer runs and tempos, which is referred to as base training and is something runners do the summer before the cross country season,” Selwyn said.

In the face of the school closure, Selwyn said he has punted on track training and began preparation for cross country in the fall.

“Because it is unlikely we’ll be having track races any time soon, a lot of athletes, including myself, have simply moved up base training by a few months for the upcoming cross country season in the fall,” Selwyn said.

Similar to Selwyn, Galetti said he is also not planning on returning to the pool this season.

“I hate to miss my senior season, but if I had to miss a season then (my senior season) makes sense because I don’t have to try and get back in the pool,” Galetti said.

Galetti sympathizes with his teammates who will be swimming competitively in the future.

“It sucks for freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors committed to swim in college because they’re missing lots of really important practice time,” Galetti said.

Unable to spend practices with the rest of his team, Galetti said he misses the camaraderie of swimming the most.

“I miss the guys, the people I do it with,” Galetti said. “Having the other guys to motivate you, you know that you’re suffering but you’re suffering together, all getting better together.”

Razdan agreed with Galetti and said practicing individually may cause her future performance to suffer, as volleyball is a chemistry-driven sport.

“I haven’t been able to connect more on a chemistry level with my teammates (because of quarantine),” Razdan said. “During games, I have to rely on my teammates to get my job done, so not being able to practice things you would in a game sucks. Trust is very important.”

Despite these difficulties, Razdan said she has kept her mentality consistent throughout the quarantine.

“My mindset hasn’t changed (from during the season),” Razdan said. “Even though I’m not actively in the gym, I’m still trying to stay in shape and make the transition as seamless as possible.”

Razdan also said her coach has played a large role in helping her train effectively during her volleyball hiatus.

“My coach is very proactive and always sending stuff out,” Razdan said. “Something would be missing if she weren’t doing that.”

Like Razdan, Selwyn also realizes the importance of his coaches.

“Quarantine has made me further appreciate the coaches for all the time and effort they put into our practices,” Selwyn said. “They really hold us accountable to the team, which I think has a major impact on our team culture and my individual growth.” 

To Selwyn, coaches also provide an important source of motivation.

“It’s a lot harder to get out the door when you’re missing that motivation and encouragement that coaches provide,” he said. “So it really takes a lot more self-discipline to continue training now.”


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