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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Running app “Strava” connects track team during social distancing

Senior runner Emily Bracken holds her phone displaying Strava. PHOTO COURTESY OF EMILY BRACKEN

Members of the St. Joe’s women’s cross country and track and field team are running together virtually even though their spring season has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

On March 12, the NCAA made the executive decision to cancel all NCAA championships for the remainder of the winter and spring seasons. That news was tough for Meridith Twomey, senior captain, to process.

“It was definitely very hard thinking about everything I had planned in my head for the spring and the goals that I wouldn’t be able to get this season,” Twomey said. “That was really upsetting. I think the hardest part was [that] I’m not going to be able to have that last time with all the other seniors in the locker room and everything.”

The team has taken it upon themselves to use an app called Strava, which allows them to view each other’s workouts and stay on track with their training during stay-at-home orders across their respective regions. Twomey and senior co-captain Emily Bracken had known of the app since before winter break, but decided to introduce the app to the rest of the team now that they are no longer all on campus. 

The app takes running and other tracking information from the athlete’s Apple Watch or other tracking tool and syncs it into their account on the app’s system. The tracking technology allows the team to view and encourage their teammates during their runs and workouts. 

“You can see what everyone’s mileage is at, or even just people’s runs, and can comment on them and say, ‘Great job!’ or, ‘You did awesome,’” Bracken said. “It’s a way to connect people.”

Head Coach Melody O’Reilly credits her athletes for keeping strong during these difficult times. O’Reilly was not involved in the team’s use of the app, but said she is proud of them for taking it upon themselves to stay together and motivated on their own. 

“I just love that they got out there and got this thing going and that they’re connected,” O’Reilly said. 

O’Reilly said the cancellation of the season has been hard for her as well, as both a coach and an athlete. 

Knowing that I had 49 really fit young women ready to go for the outdoor season, it was devastating,” O’Reilly said. “I think I struggled just as much as they did.”

O’Reilly said she also feels for the seniors on her team. 

“I feel a sense of loss for them,” O’Reilly said. “I can’t even imagine having been in this situation in my senior year of college.”

But Twomey and Bracken said running has helped them keep a routine and stay mentally well while social distancing.

“I think going outside and exercising and being an athlete helps clear your mind and helps with dealing with everything,” Bracken said. “As much as it’s disappointing, we can still use our gifts and our abilities to let go and reflect and get stronger.”

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