Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, universal masking and social distancing have been put in place to allow the Andover Cross Country teams to practice on campus. According to Natasha Muromcew ’22, these safety precautions have changed how the teams train and build community.
“Before Covid, we could all run together. We could run in packs and now you have to distance, so we have to spread out a bit more and we have to run with masks which has been a huge challenge for everybody because, naturally, it makes it harder to breathe,” said Muromcew.
While masking is mandated to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and maintain the safety of runners, it has caused training progress to stagnate for Boys and Girls Cross Country, according to both Muromcew and Sam Capobianco ’21.
“Naturally [wearing masks] has taken a toll on our training. We can’t get any faster like this. I think we’ll be able to maintain the strength that we’ve built up to, but we’re not going to get any faster while we’re here. It’s a huge bummer for most of us, but again we’re trying to have a positive attitude,” said Muromcew.
“[Wearing masks] has been a challenge during workouts. It’s been hard to keep your mask on because it’s obviously a lot harder to breathe when you’re doing the high-intensity work. But I think we’ve been doing pretty well and just kind of pushing through it,” added Capobianco.
Even when running time trials, runners have continued to practice masking and social distancing. According to Caroline Empey ’22, the teams have recognized that, despite the challenges running with a mask poses, this new obstacle will also help them build strength and endurance.
Empey said, “It’s harder to breathe [with masks and] harder to go as fast as you normally would so I think for most people, [the time trial] was probably a little slower than their normal times. But, overall, as a team, no one had a problem with or were opposed to wearing a mask. But the masks definitely make it harder, but I guess it will just make us better for when we can’t wear a mask anymore.”
Despite the frustrations of masking and social distancing, both Muromcew and Capobianco have been trying to maintain a positive attitude this season.
“[Masking is] obviously pretty difficult during workouts. But we’re thankful that [Lisa Joel, Director of Athletics] has allowed us to go off campus and do those runs that we enjoy every year while maintaining social distancing,” said Capobianco.
“We’re just trying to have a positive attitude because none of this is in our control and there is really not anything we can do about it. We’re just trying to make the best of the situation and be thankful that we can at least still train together and run together, even if it’s distanced and with masks,” said Muromcew.
Girls Head Coach Rebecca Hession has strived to make practices more engaging despite the restrictions that have been set in place.
Coach Hession said, “Teammates are committed to prioritizing community, long-term training goals, and enjoying fall in Andover. This approach keeps practice and training meaningful and fun.”