The Little Things . .

a Going the Distance newsletter

Early September 2020 || issue #94
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The ever-present bottles of hand sanitizer.

Summer Conditioning Programs

The risk of coronavirus transmission made this summer’s xc and allsports conditioning programs a challenge for athletes and coaches.

We designed the programs to follow state and local safety guidelines, which included mandatory facemasks for staff at all times and athletes on arrival and departure, on-field and off-field distancing at all times, hand sanitizing on arrival and departure, cleaning of all equipment after every use, and health-screening for every athlete on arrival at each session.

Finally and most important, to maintain safe distancing on the field, we restricted registration to 30% of the previous summer for allsports, and 50% for xc.

What did the athletes have to say?

We asked some of the very experienced Braz Camp athletes the following questions.
* How was this summer different from the past?
* What did you do differently this summer?
* What was the best part?
* Regardless of your fall season happening, are you glad you did the program?


Ryenne shows off this summer's shirt -- 2020

Ryenne Feeney

This year there were a lot less people onsite than there normally are, so the groups were much smaller. That often meant you had time to do more reps and that the workouts were a little more focused for everyone. Overall though, the coaches worked really hard to make the program as normal as possible and they did a great job at it. They still provided us with intense drills and I feel just as in shape from camp as I normally do, if not more.

This summer I put a lot more focus personally into working out and getting into shape, so I took this time to challenge myself and see how hard I could push myself. Even though there is no actual competition, each session I put it into my mind to work the hardest and try to be at the top of the group.

My favorite part of the onsite sessions were resistance days because I really want to get stronger, so it really helped me. We did hills, bleachers, bands and parachutes those days and I always left feeling great about the work I did and feeling stronger than before.

I am playing DII soccer at Bentley, but the Northeast-10 conference cancelled the fall season, so I will not be playing in the fall. I am still glad I did the program this summer because I was able to get stronger and more conditioned, which I will continue to develop during the fall in case I am able to play in the spring. When my season got cancelled, I lost some motivation as many other athletes did, but when I came back to camp it was a great way for all of us athletes to build off of each other and gain back that motivation.

[For more on Ryenne, go to this link.]

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Caroline Johnson

It was different having to check in before camp and bring a daily health form. There were fewer athletes and coaches onsite and the coaches were always reminding us to keep six feet apart.

I tried to incorporate more strength into my workouts and up my intensity during drills. I also did a lot of biking this summer and I think that has helped me.

Just being able to be onsite was the best! During quarantine I ran alone almost every day. I feel like running in a group helped me to push myself and get the most out of my training.

I started camp expecting we would run this fall. I was extremely disappointed when XC was postponed, but Coach Braz reminded me to stay focused on what I can control, my own training. I don’t know what XC season will look like this year, but I feel ready.

This was my fourth summer coming to camp and I would have been really disappointed to miss the last summer of high school. We all work really hard but it’s always fun. Every summer I take something new away with me and there has never been one morning that I would rather sleep in and miss camp.

[Caroline is perhaps the most focused athlete each year at Braz Camp. For more Edge, she often trains with a boys group at camp. She is a Senior at Marblehead High School.]

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Shannon O'Connell

Camp was set up differently this year, as is most of everything in the world right now. Even though it was different I felt like I wasn’t missing anything in my program. Most days it was just Victoria and me running together and we would start around 7:30 so we could get our run in before doing drills with the high school cross country group. Every day we had to sign a waiver and come and go wearing a mask. Coach Braz and Coach Pete did a really good job at making sure we were socially distanced when we were doing things like core, hurdle drills, etc.

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Shannon with running partner Victoria Lombardi

My mileage increased about 10-15 miles a week from what I was doing last summer so that was the biggest adjustment. Obviously one of the biggest things now is just trying to stay healthy by being smart about social distancing and following all of the guidelines set by the state. I focused on strength work more than last summer and I’ve really seemed to notice how much it helps my running. With increasing my mileage I’ve just been trying to eat enough and have a well balanced diet so I feel like I have enough energy to support all the working out I have done. I’m still working on forcing myself to slow down some days, but I’ve figured out that taking your easy days easy is the best way to feel good on the harder effort days.

I think my favorite part is all of the drills that we do after. Coach Braz is really good at making difficult core and band sessions that leave me feeling like I just got a really good workout in. It definitely hurts in the moment, but they make me work harder than I would on my own. Also having friends to run with gives me a boost of motivation on days that I’m feeling tired or sore. I was just happy that camp could happen this year because it made the world seem a little more normal.

I found out my league canceled fall and winter sports through 2020 during the middle of camp. I was upset because I feel like this has been my strongest summer training yet. My freshman cross country season went super well, but I dealt with an achilles injury that took me out from being able to seriously compete during my indoor season. I really wanted this cross country season to be my comeback to set new PR’s and hopefully qualify for NCAA nationals.

I like being competitive with running, but it is also my way to destress and clear my mind so I didn’t plan on stopping just because my college season was canceled. I was still really glad to go to camp camp every day despite not knowing much that was going on with my season and still continued to go after it was canceled. I’m hoping to find some races that I can run unattached in just to see where my fitness is at and how fast I can run. Despite not having a season I still trained like I was going to have one and I feel confident with my abilities right now.

[For more on Shannon, who studies and runs at Colby-Sawyer College, go to this link.]

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Victoria Lombardi

Camp was different in a lot of obvious ways: wearing masks to and from the field, having to fill out a wellness checklist every day, having to social distance, and other things that kept staff and participants safe. One thing that I was not expecting was how small this summer’s group was. In years past, I remember there being a huge group of collegiate men and women that would be running before I even got there. This summer, that group consisted of just a handful of collegiate athletes, including myself and my training partner, Shannon O’Connell. That is probably the most noticeable difference for me.

This summer definitely required a little bit more effort in terms of being completely mentally present each morning. GTD is already a challenging program, but as races kept being taken off of my fall meet schedule leading to its eventual cancellation, myself and the other collegiate athletes faced a whole new challenge of having to find another purpose for such vigorous training. I began to think of my summer training as an investment—the work that I did this summer will help me in the long term when I eventually get back to competition.

My favorite part of the onsite sessions was having people to run with! Before camp started in early July, I was doing almost all of my training on my own since I was sent home from school in March. Harder days are especially difficult when you do not have someone to push you, so it was definitely nice to be able to run with other athletes in terms of training. I also benefitted from connecting with other athletes that were facing the same uncertainty as I was.

Even though my cross country season was cancelled, I am still glad that I did the program. Like I mentioned before, I was able to get the most out of my training and to go through the changes with the support of the GTD staff and other athletes that I would not have received if I had kept training solo. If the season had not been cancelled, I definitely would have been prepared for cross country this year. I am certain that a year from now when it is time for preseason again, I’ll be more than ready!

[Victoria studies and runs at Stonehill College.]


Mckayla Fisher

Coming into the program this year it was obvious that there would have to be changes made due to the pandemic, but the coaches and athletes both made it work. Every day we were required to wear a mask to and from the camp and were to bring in a paper confirming that we had no symptoms of the virus. To assure that we would be socially distant when we arrived and on our breaks, we sat at cones that were set up 6 feet away from one another, which definitely was difficult for me because of how much I love to socialize. Also, while using weight balls and bands, we were to wipe them down with sanitary wipes after using them, and were frequently given hand sanitizer.

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As Mckayla reports (sadly) at water breaks the athletes maintain social distancing, with bottles and bags -- and athletes -- 6 feet apart.

After doing this program for several years, I knew what to expect when it came to the level of difficulty. Although, something that I have always been needing to improve is my endurance. In addition to Braz Camp, I also focused on running on my own, increasing the distance and speed as days went on. This definitely benefited my pace when it came to long workouts during this program.

Although the workouts are dreadful, my favorite part of these sessions was definitely the competition. Even though there wasn’t much racing involved, working with other athletes pushed me farther than I could imagine. My biggest competition is Fernando Braz’s 10 year old daughter Ella Braz. I’ve never seen someone so young yet so talented like her, as she always has me falling behind in a workout cause I can’t keep up with her! Seeing her at these practices also has to be one of the highlights of this camp.

As a three sport athlete, I am aware of how important conditioning is, as it prepares you for your upcoming season. Although, without knowing for sure if we will step on the field, I am beyond glad that I took part in the program. Not only did it improve my skills, but every day it increased my hopes that there will be a soccer season this fall. Even if there are no fall sports, I left braz camp as an improved athlete with a positive mindset.

[Mckayla is a dynamic student and athlete at Peabody High School.]

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Mckayla and Ella


Emily Ernst

This year was different because we all had to wear masks before and after running and socially distance during runs. This is definitely different from past years and at first was weird but it became the new normal.

Yeah, I definitely did a lot differently this summer. I am going into my junior year which is crazy and I had a different mindset going into camp. I used to go just to have fun and of course I still have a lot of fun at camp but this year I also came in wanting to get the most out of this program and hopefully have a good season.

My favorite part of the onsite sessions was definitely being able to run with other people. Running alone can be difficult and being able to run with people three days is so nice.

I came into the program hoping that there would be some kind of fall season and I still hope there will be one. This camp always gets me prepared for the cross country season and this summer especially I am feeling strong. If we are unable to have a fall season I am still glad I did the program because I love the people and the sport.

[Emily studies and runs at Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School.]


Nicole Ruggiero

This year’s camp was different because social distancing was enforced heavily, setting up cones for everyone both on and off the field, and taking the necessary precautions to slow down the spread.

I usually participate in the two week program before the camp starts. This year I was sent home from college in March so I could focus more on training and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

My favorite part of the onsite sessions was definitely the parachutes, everyone got their own cone and it got competitive which helped me focus on myself.

Regardless of having a season or not, I would have done the program anyway. If I had a season, I would feel very confident about my conditioning. This is the best summer camp to prepare for all sports. Since there is no fall season, I am very grateful to have been a participant in this program because it keeps me in shape and helps me boost my confidence. I will continue to train and maintain what I have in order to be ready for whatever sports happen in the near future.

[Nicole is a student-athlete at Emmanuel College. For more on Nicole, go to this link.]


Deanna Ruggiero

Due to CDC regulations, less athletes were able to attend the camp itself as well as the fact there were social distancing guidelines in place. Other than that, the structure of the camp and the workouts we performed were similar to previous years.

When my college got sent home in March, I was battling an injury for a while after being home. I found it challenging not being able to train during the heavy lockdown months, however it was easy for me to recover and start over with my training. Throughout those months, Coach Braz was extremely helpful during the recovery process and in giving me workouts once I was healthy enough to train again. This summer more than ever before I built up my strength before endurance, which in turn helped me to get back in shape faster.

The best part of the onsite sessions was being able to be with other athletes and friends who pushed me. I missed the team aspect of training so coming together a few days a week was beneficial mentally and physically.

Like every year, I am glad I was able to continue the program despite the circumstances of a canceled athletic season. Finding out there was no soccer season was disheartening, however I view it as a time to better myself and to keep up my training for both soccer and track.

[Deanna is a student-athlete at Emmanuel College. For more on Deanna, go to this link.]

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Rachel Brennan

This year's camp was different from past years in that we had to remain physically distant from the other runners but that did not mean we had any less fun.

Even though there were fewer people at camp this year, I felt that this was helpful because everyone who chose to come was ready to work hard and get ready for the season this year. We also did a lot more band work this year which was very hard but I can tell that the extra strength work will be very helpful during the upcoming season.

This summer I prepared for camp by going to bed earlier so that my body would be well rested and able to perform well at camp. I also tried eating better so that my body would feel good during the workouts.

My favorite part of the onsite sessions was just being able to run with other people. I think that running with other people is helpful to push me to do my best. It was good to be around people that were willing to work hard and put in the effort each day.

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I am running at Gordon college this year and we are having practices and there is the possibility of having a dual meet, but we will not be having an official season.

I am very happy with my decision to attend camp this year because I have already noticed that it has helped me be ready for the increased mileage at school so far. All of the coaches and GTD worked hard all summer to help us get ready for the cross country season and it is clear after the first couple of weeks of practice that their hard work coupled with all of our hard work has paid off.

[Rachel was an award winning xc and track runner at Lynn Classical High School before starting college this fall.]


Personal Coaching

Coach Braz provides personal coaching for runners at all levels who want to improve their performance or want a guided maintenance program.

Registration Form

The program is designed for runners who have a specific racing goal, or a series of races to prepare for, or want to build or maintain their running fitness.

Program details
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Previous Issues of The Little Things

Please go to this link for previous issues of The Little Things.


Going the Distance is a coaching service for runners at all levels.
If you know someone who might benefit from the Going the Distance program,
tell them about us, and forward The Little Things to them.
Visit our website -- Going the Distance
Head Coach -- Fernando Braz
Webmaster and Director -- Dave Smith
For more information, contact Dave at dave@goingthedistancefb.com

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