After weeks of bad weather and bitter cold, athletes and coaches from around the state are looking forward to warmer temperatures and better training conditions.
John Jones, Spring Valley High boys' track and field coach and SCTCCCA Hall of Famer, said "This has been one of the worst springs I can remember and I have been coaching here for 36 years."
The Upstate and Midlands have seen snow, ice, and temperatures hovering around or below freezing for the past month. During the month of February, Jones reports having lost two to three days of practice per week, due either to bad weather or freezing temperatures.
"We have tried to get in two hard days a week and two to three days lifting but we have done absolutely no technique work," Jones said. "Our sprinters have not done any speed work and if they had to sprint full out they would all pull."
Since cold weather greatly increases the risk of pulls and strains during high intensity activities, especially for sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers, many coaches have been forced to train at the mercy of the winter weather in order to keep their athlete's healthy.
Eric Cummings, head track and field coach and assistant athletic director at Riverside High School, said "As a track team, we lost a week due to temperatures, we lost four days due to school being out and then lost two more days from the district and three to rain days. To say the least, we are far behind."
Lack of indoor track and field in the state has only served to further slow down training. Cummings remarked that his athletes have access to an indoor track upstairs in their gym, but the track is 11 laps to the mile, has very sharp 90 degree turns, and therefore hard to use for training.
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David Lee at James Island Charter High School and SCTCCCA president said the coastal regions training has been limited not so much due to cold and ice, but to rain. Limited access to indoor training facilities has also proven a challenge for his team. "Unfortunately for our team, but fortunately for our boys basketball team and our school, our boys' basketball team made it all the way to the Lower State championship," Lee said. "So that means that we haven't had any indoor facility to use in cases where there were massive rain storms."
While the temptation may be to work extra hard to make up for lost time, Dr. Bill Pierce, Furman University professor and chair of the Health Sciences Department, cautions against such a move. "It's risky to try and double up efforts or to progress through a training regimen faster than planned," says Pierce. "Use those days when it is not advisable to run outdoors to do cross training on stationary bikes, rowers or in the pool." He also recommends core strengthening and stretching for inclement weather days.
John Jones perhaps best sums up the feelings of coaches and athletes across the state by saying, "All we can do is hope for better weather and hope everyone else is in the same boat."