As GJ Hudgens and his cross country program seasons have been placed on hold, the athletics communication staff caught up with the third-year head coach to discuss what his team is doing to adjust and adapt to the new normal brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
HOW FALL HAS PROGRESSED
I had to tell the team the day we reported that we wouldn't be having a season, what is difficult about that is trying to figure out what the next steps would be. The hard part for us right now is trying to fit all these ideas and ways to work out into the COVID guidelines. It's difficult for us to not be able to have team meals or gatherings we would normally be having during a season right now due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
Preseason is traditionally the summer as I encourage them and want them to get a ton of mileage. XC runners do most of the work in the summertime. In-season training is dependent on how much mileage they have accrued over the summer months.
TALKING ABOUT THE DAY-TO-DAY TRAINING
This is the first time in my three years here at PC that we don't really have a season. When we have our normal cross country season that's is our fall season and then when we manufacture a spring season as we still have meets and treat it like a full season. This is the first time we've been stuck in kind of an extended preseason.
Sometimes I am going to have to give them something harder to do because quite frankly you should have done the mileage over the summer months. For those who haven't done the work in preparation for what should have been the fall season they have been given a second chance to get the mileage up but for the ones who have done the work, I don't want them to peak to soon.
I want to do some time trials and would love to do it with some official timing. I also want to figure out a way to bring this team closer together in a world that's telling them to stay apart.
HOW HAVE THE STUDENT-ATHLETES RESPONDED BEFORE DURING AND SINCE YOU TOLD THEM THE NEWS
Having to tell my team that the fall season wouldn't happen was the worst day of my summer. I think that feeling would be felt by most coaches across the country. I had to come to terms with the fact that no matter how I told them the news I wasn't going to be happy with how it was shared. The hardest part was all of them had questions after I broke the news and a lot of my answers were, "I don't know" because it was an evolving situation.
Since the initial news, we have a few more answers and some possibilities of what could be our season in the spring. The hope of a season gives them a little bit of direction and they are a little more willing to do 8x800 meter runs then just blindly doing them for no rhyme or reason.
DEVELOPING FOR A SPRING SEASON
We had individual team meetings over the past few weeks after the decision was made about our season I asked each student what would you like to do to help keep the team comradery together and the ideas ranged from picnics and team retreats. I don't know if I can do them I would like to try because keeping the team together is just as important now as it has ever been. They may feel slighted by what has happened, but it is our job to protect them and make sure we stay together as a team no matter what.
Since we are in another preseason we are largely trying to build them back up and we want to get them built up to a good place before we do the speed work which is what you do to get them to the peak. Since we aren't in a season for a while we don't want them peaking too soon. As the semester goes on I do intend to do some more speed with them and more hard workouts to help them mentally prepare.
While I don't have the answers during this time I refuse to be beaten by these decisions and I refuse to be beaten by a virus that has not only left my team limp but others. We are going to make the best of this as we go and we are gonna do everything we can to prepare for something next semester.