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10 Fun Ways to Stay Connected to Your Friends and Teammates While Social Distancing (That Aren’t Just Skype)

10 Fun Ways to Stay Connected to Your Friends and Teammates While Social Distancing (That Aren’t Just Skype)

In the span of just a few tumultuous days, the sports world ground to a halt and social distancing became the norm — leaving many of us feeling unmoored. Humans are social beings, and sports are truly about so much more than the game itself. While we love the intensity and fun of playing, the community and social aspects are just as important — and one of the main reasons why we love sports like Ultimate Frisbee, Spikeball, Quidditch, Disc Golf, and Dodgeball so much.

So what happens when high-fives are suddenly forbidden, all social gatherings and games are canceled, local hangouts are temporarily closed, and social distancing becomes a critical part of staying safe and healthy? We get creative and come up with new ways to stay connected to our friends, family, and teammates. Social interaction, bonding, and coming together as a community are probably more important now than ever, which is why we’ve come up with a list of 10 fun and creative ways to help you stay connected. 

Host a Virtual Group Lunch or Coffee — When you’d normally be at practice, do a full-team coffee hour or eat a meal via Skype or Google Hangouts video chat. Having a set time to bring everyone together as a group helps to maintain a routine and stay connected and is a good way to check in on everyone.

Go Outside! — Large social gatherings are off-limits, and maintaining a distance of six feet is encouraged, but unless you’re in a city or state where you’re barred from leaving your house for unnecessary reasons, you should absolutely be going outside and getting some fresh air and a bit of exercise. Take a friend or two and go on a hike or a jog or bike ride (give the handlebars a good wipe with sanitizer before and after). So long as you’re all healthy/asymptomatic, refrain from high-fives, and maintain a safe distance apart, some time outdoors with a couple of friends should be totally okay.

Have a Remote Workout Sesh — Set up a group video chat and have your team captain or another volunteer lead the group in a basic workout or yoga session. Even though you can’t get out and play together, you can still stay in shape and game-ready for when seasons start up again. Group motivation and holding each other accountable is a great way to stay fit and healthy together so you can dominate next season. Stay tuned to the Savage Blog, Facebook, and Instagram for some tips and home exercises to help.

Do a Group Photo Challenge — A photo challenge is a great way to stay busy and have some fun together. Decide on your approach (Googling “photo challenge” will give you plenty of options to choose from, but here’s a good basic one). Every day, you each have to take a photo that fits the theme for that day then share in a group chat or on social with your own hashtag. 

Play Mobile Games — The great thing about mobile games is that everyone has a smartphone, and most of these games are free. Draw Something, Words With Friends, and Drawful are pretty much modern classics at this point. Ever get into a cut-throat game of Draw Something with your grandparents? If not, you have 100% been missing out. 

Host a Virtual Game Night — If you’re more a fan of playing board games and missing your regular Cards Against Humanity throwdown or poker night, there are also plenty of options for playing board and card games online with your mates. Monopoly, UNO, Yahtzee Party, and poker are all solid options for a virtual game night. There’s also a fun Cards Against Humanity clone that includes a very necessary group chat feature since commenting and laughing over the card combos is an essential part of the game. 

Organize a Virtual Book Club — Google Play, Open Library, Free eBooks, and Project Gutenberg offer an extensive array of free eBook options to choose from. If you don’t feel like falling down a black hole of book options, r/freeEBOOKS is a great place to find solid recommendations. Other than entertainment and offering mental escape, plenty of books can also impart valuable lessons in leadership and teamwork. Our friends at Five Ultimate put together this list of great reads that can also sharpen your game. Once everyone decides on a book, set up a reading schedule and video chats to discuss. And yes, it’s totally fair to read Harry Potter again together.

Give Each Other a Little Boost — Sarahah is a site and iOS/Android app that lets you post anonymous messages for your friends. Have everyone on your team sign up and share their links, then go through and leave everyone a nice message telling them something you admire or appreciate about them. It’s totally anonymous, but you can leave your name if you’d like.

Start a D&D Group  There’s a reason why Dungeons & Dragons has been the most popular role-playing game since the 70s — it’s fun! With everything going on right now, this feels like the perfect time to get together with a group of friends and escape into a fantasy world for a few hours. With social distancing, you might not be able to gather around a table to play, but fortunately, there are some really amazing online options. Roll20 is a great way to play D&D together online, either building your own campaign from scratch or using one of their ready-to-play campaigns. Set up a video chat using FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts and get ready to party with rangers and warlocks.

Start Planning for Next Season — It’s a very rough and uncertain time right now, and many of us are mourning our interrupted seasons. Though things can seem pretty grim at the present moment, it’s more important now than ever to keep looking ahead. There will be a light at the end of all this. Sports will come back. Leagues will start up again. Tournaments will be rescheduled. And when they do, it’ll be such an incredibly celebratory moment. The start of next season will likely be the biggest, most exciting start to any season ever. And it’s totally okay to start getting hyped about it now! Skype with your teammates and discuss game strategy and ways to kick more ass than ever next season. Brainstorm ways to introduce new people to your sport and get them excited and involved. Start designing those new uniforms you’ve been talking about for ages. Come up with some cool fundraising ideas. Plan the most epic first-game after-party ever. Because we will all play again. And together, we’ll come back stronger and better than ever.

Photo by Bruno Gomiero for Unsplash

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How to Survive Running in the Mountains

How to Survive Running in the Mountains

We're a fan of any fun activity that takes us off the beaten path, and it's hard to think of anything that takes that concept more literally than the App(ugh)lachian Race Series. Savage is a proud sponsor of this wild event, scheduled for April 27-29 in the mountains of Virginia and Tennessee. 

One thing that makes this race unique is that the actual course will be a surprise to participants. "We believe there’s only so much of a challenge, or an experience, that can be had from running a 5k that you can drive the route of beforehand, or doing an obstacle race with obstacles you know about, or riding a Strava bike segment over and over again to get the best time," according to organizers. 

Sign up here, then read our Q&A with race director Adam Parks, who has some words of wisdom about stayin' alive while running through the mountains.

Savage: How does running in the mountains differ from running elsewhere? What do you like about it? 

Adam Parks: Running in the mountains, for me, is the purest form of running there is and is the greatest escape from the “human world” that I know of. I call it the purest because you’re always running in nature, and, with running in the mountains in particular, you get a chance to have a little bit of everything: seasons, terrain, flora, fauna, etc. What I would say most people recognize about what makes running in the mountains different though, is that it comes with the obvious difficulty of the terrain, running uphill, and running at altitude. For me, that, along with just being in woods, is why I prefer running in the mountains over running anywhere else.

I realize a lot of people would prefer easier, not harder, but when you run in the mountains you’re much more capable of running anywhere else, rather than vice versa. The terrain has prepared you to do so. That’s why I love it. I love it when I enter a race in a city, or somewhere outside of the mountains, and I hear people stressing about some hill (something I might consider a slight incline) in the race, because I know it won’t be an issue. I suppose it's a sense of pride, a mental lift, to know that the mountains have made me stronger. And that’s also what I love about running in the mountains, is that, I don’t have to go out and push myself incredibly hard to make sure I get a hard run in, I just let the mountains push me. There’s always a bigger mountain to climb. 

Savage: How do you train for the race? Do you have any pre-race rituals?

A.P.: Well, the beauty of the races in the App(ugh)lachian Race Series is that you don’t know exactly what to train for. We only give you just a little bit of info beforehand to ensure that you are aptly challenged in the races. We will let you know how far you have to go, but you won’t know where. And, around here, the where makes a BIG difference.

I usually just tell people to run a lot of hills. I want it to be up to the individual to prepare themselves for anything (or not), because there’s not really anything too impressive about running a 5k that you can practice on year after year. I want my races to be more closely related to life and the strength that comes through venturing into the unknown, or overcoming obstacles that you may not have expected beforehand. I want to test your grit, because that’s what we have in the mountains: grit.

As for my pre-race rituals, I always like to take 2-3 really good poops before a race. Just gonna be honest. Number one, it helps ensure I don’t have to poop while running, which is important, but I also feel much lighter and faster doing so. Aside from that, I usually eat an orange, a Clif bar, maybe something else, and I drink a lot of water. 

Savage: What do you wear when you're running in the mountains?

A.P.: It really just depends on the season. A lot of times I’ll have to layer up because it’s a big difference in temps based on the elevation and how open the trail is. I like to have zip-ups for that reason so I can adjust either way, and I prefer natural fabrics that breathe well because I sweat a lot regardless of the season. Other than that, I always run in minimalist shoes because I prefer the feel and I’m more conscious of my stride and foot placement when I do. I might add a pair of socks if the trail is pretty rough.

I’ve also learned that it’s a good idea to wear something long legged if you're on a trail you’re unfamiliar with because briars, stinging nettles, and other things can suck hard.

Savage: What's the best way to recover from a mountain run?

A.P.: Running in the mountains is much harder, and you’ll burn more calories, than a similar flat distance. Therefore, recovery is really important and prepping for your run, or having stuff after the run is equally important. As for myself, I’ve just learned to listen to my body and sort through the cravings to figure out what I need. Water and electrolytes are essential first, and then I like to usually get in something high in quality fats and protein; or, just eat a whole pizza. Depends.

Savage: Where are some of your favorite places to run in the mountains? 

A.P.: Anywhere new. I love seeing new places and being in new surroundings. I also just really enjoy anything that’s challenging and that tests my grit and the shape I’m in. My favorite places to run, without giving away any race locations, are the trails at Steele Creek Park by my house in Bristol, TN, the plethora of ones around Damascus, VA (Appalachian Trail, Creeper Trail, Iron Mountain Trail, and Grayson Highlands State Park), and the ones connecting to Hidden Valley Lake outside of Abingdon, VA. We are blessed to have access to an immense amount of trails here and a variety of natural beauty to take in on them.

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