External conditions impact track performances

Hopkins takes off on a cool down jog after a rewarding workout on the track.

Sophomore Braden Hopkins takes off on a cooldown jog after a rewarding workout on the track.

Ann Fitzmaurice

The morning of any given RBHS track meet junior Mojuba Shonekan wakes up, drinks a smoothie and has a race day tradition of boiled eggs for breakfast. During the meets, the coaches provide the team with bagels and fruit to sustain the athletes, adding to Shonekan’s boiled egg diet.
Though his teammate, senior Morgan Banker, partakes in the latter meal and not the prior, she prepares for meets by staying hydrated and readying a packed bag. While these runners prepare with practice and conditioning, other stimuli come from their diets and even the weather surrounding a meet.
“I try to get good sleep the couple night before [meets,]” Banker said. “On the day of, I pack tons of healthy snacks like bananas [and] clementines. I also pack several different outfits because Missouri weather is super finicky, so you have to be prepared for all weather conditions.”
Throughout the early months of 2018, the weather in Missouri changed from cold and snowy one day, to sunny and 77 degrees another. The strong shift in temperature and precipitation not only impact whether or not to wear a jacket, but also the performances of track athletes. While head coach Neal Blackburn does his best to condition the runners for any weather, some inhibitions are hard to avoid.
“Unfortunately [the weather] impacts distances, heights, and times greatly due to wind and cold,” Blackburn said. “But it should impact the outcomes regarding places finished since all athletes in the meet have to deal with the same weather.”
Regardless of temperatures and winds, however, the hopes of the athletes to place well in each meet remains the same. Despite the stressful impact on academics from missing school and arriving home later because of practices, Shonekan looks forward to following in his sisters’ footsteps and performing well.
“My hopes  [during meets are] to keep a good mental state of mind so that I can race the very best [of my ability,]” Shonekan said.
On and off of the field, attitude can help or hurt a performance regardless of the skill level of the athlete, according to a study by verywellfit.com. A strong mindset can enhance someone’s energy level and overall mood. Blackburn agrees with the study, believing attitude is a huge component of what makes someone successful in any facet of life.
“While competing, having a positive outlook tends to help with the overall energy that flows from event to event over the course of a meet,” Blackburn said. “If someone has a poor performance, it’s critical that we bounce back well and in doing so, much of it has to do with the attitude of our team and the individuals that still have to compete.”
As for conditions the runners cannot control, however, Banker said wind and rain are the runner’s biggest competitors. While rain holds more of a negative impact on the runners because it makes the track slicker and harder to run on, wind can either propel the athletes forward or push them back.
“It’s hard to overcome weather because there’s nothing that you can do to change it,” Shonekan said. “You just have to remind yourself that it’s effecting everyone there, not just yourself, so you can’t go into it thinking you’re at a disadvantage.”