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Staying Motivated Amid Uncertainty: The Winter Track Team’s Unique Training Approach

As COVID-19 cases rose and GFS transitioned to remote school, many winter sports teams were forced to switch to all-virtual, individualized training. However, the winter track team took on a different training approach to preserve a sense of community: Head coach Conrad Haber designed a hybrid winter training program to allow for a balance of both safe, in-person practices and structured virtual practices.

Photo by Ada Yeomans

As COVID-19 cases rose and GFS transitioned to remote school, many winter sports teams were forced to switch to all-virtual, individualized training. However, the winter track team took on a different training approach to preserve a sense of community: Head coach Conrad Haber designed a hybrid winter training program to allow for a balance of both safe, in-person practices and structured virtual practices. 

The Wissahickon has been affectionately dubbed the “GFS COVID-19 Training Base,” since most of the team practices there each week. Haber thinks it is important for people on the team to meet up because “the track team is like a giant family and it sucks to be separated from your family for a long time.” These informal practices allow for the team to support and encourage each other. Haber also acknowledges how important athletics are in contributing to a sense of normalcy. Simon Donovan ‘23 agrees: he appreciates how these informal in-person practices allow his teammates “to all push each other to do our best and strive for better.”

When kids do decide to train together, all COVID-19 mitigation protocols are followed. 

The team is doing its best to stay motivated even amid all the uncertainty. Simon is working on keeping the team morale up with consistent training and a positive mindset. Haber is trying to be there for the team when they need it, but says “the motivation has less to do with me and more to do with the team itself.”

Even the team’s virtual training goes a step further than other sports teams. The team uses an online training portal that delivers individualized workouts to each runner, with the expectation that they train either alone or with a group 5-6 days a week. Even when the team is training at home, Haber says, “some are training with their parents/siblings, some are meeting up in the morning in small groups to train with teammates who are their neighbors” to maintain that sense of community.  

The team is also focusing on competitive goals for the future, including developing high-level racing skills and qualifying for high-caliber competitions, such as the Penn Relays and the PAISAA championships. 

When they can compete again, the Germantown Friends track team will be ready.