PT, Cross Training Part of Hudson Roberts' New Normal

For about six minutes on Thursday afternoon, Byrd's Hudson Roberts was not in pain as she ran four laps around the track at Lee Hedges Stadium in Shreveport. When the adrenaline gets going, Roberts' pain from a stress fracture injury last summer goes away.

It's usually a good feeling, to be on the track--running pain free, but that was not the case in the girls 1600m at the Southwood Cowboy relays, which Roberts won easily with a time of 5:51.77. 

The weather--with warmer than normal temperatures and winds gusting into the double digits out of the south--made it a struggle for Roberts and the rest of the field.

"Interesting" is how Roberts described having the wind at her back on the back straight away and a major head wind on the home straight. Captain Shreve's  Evan Johnson, who won the boys' 1600m with a time of 4:37, used the term "brick wall" to describe the latter to his coach after the race.

As if those conditions weren't enough, Hudson was running without her watch and had no idea what her splits were.

"It feels like the elements were working against us today," Roberts said after the race.

Roberts looked at Thursday's race as an opportunity to race "by feel." Unfortunately, the feeling wasn't the best.


"It didn't feel great," Roberts said. "With the heat and the wind, it wasn't a good feeling."

How did she prepare for her race? A trip to Shreveport Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine. It's the new normal for the junior who is learning how to train without the mileage load she had come accustomed to last summer.

"It's learning what's my cap on mileage," Roberts said of the process. "I don't think I'll ever run 65 miles a week like I did this summer," Roberts said. "That's just not what my body is built for, but there are tons of amazing runners out there--(University of Florida's) Parker Valby, (Oklahoma State University's) Natalie Cook who have tapped into cross training and really been our inspiration for that this season and keeping our bodies healthy--and that's always the main priority. But getting a win while doing it is awesome." 

Overcoming setbacks is nothing new for Roberts. She has literally been doing it since her first day of high school.

On her first day at C.E. Byrd High School, Roberts didn't even make it through her first period class before being sent home for 14 days due to contact tracing. She was at a back-to-school party and a classmate tested positive for COVID. 

A tough way for a freshman girl to start her high school career.

If it seems like the resilient Roberts has an innate understanding of athletics and how to roll with the punches, look no further than her genetic makeup. Her grandfather, Ken Meeks, was a wide receiver on the 1973 Louisiana Tech national champion football team before transferring to Northwestern State. Her uncle, Bo Meeks, was a star quarterback for the Demons. Her mother, Patricia,and father, Jason, were both athletes at Ruston High School before moving on to ULM where her father played safety for the Warhawks. Her mother was on the ULM dance line. Her sister, Emerson, was a standout goalie at C.E. Byrd and is now a member of the ULM soccer program.

Roberts' coach, Juan Plaza, said having Roberts back running and competing this season  has made everyone in the program better.

"It's great to have Hudson back training regularly with her teammates after the long recovery from her injury," Plaza said. "It's even better to see her compete pain-free these days. She is a part of a special class at Byrd-the Class of 2024. That group just isn't the same without her."

While Roberts wants to be putting up times like she did her sophomore year when she broke the school record in the indoor 3200m (11:26.95), she knows that it is going to take time to get there. Her coach knows that the future is bright. 

"As she continues to put together uninterrupted training days, weeks, and months she is setting up to have a great spring," Plaza said. "But not only even better senior year in cross country and track. My hope is that she will reach optimal health, sustain it, and we can sit back and enjoy watching her progress."