First off, thanks to those who commented on their experiences with changing their running form. I always find it helpful to listen to those who have had success as well as those who didn't. What obstacles came up? How did you overcome them? Check out the comments here. This week I want to fill you in on a secret. I really think it's THE easiest, simplest, and most effective way to fast track your training to a new level. In fact, if you wanted to improve your running performance and were only allowed to pick one of the following options, which would it be?
*High Tech Treadmill – maybe even an Alter-G!
*Idyllic setting of choice – mountains, beach, Forbidden Drive ;-)
*Unlimited shoes and apparel
*Team or committed partner
*Doctor / Therapist on call
Now, to be sure, they will all help you to some degree. However, the one that sticks out in my mind is the phrase “team”. There are just so many good reasons to train with a team, club, or committed partner/friend.
One of the reasons American elite distance running performance declined from the mid-1980s until recently was that runners began training alone. Prior to that time everyone trained in large groups. Once running became something one could pursue as a professional, runners figured they could more conveniently train on their own. They had a paycheck coming to them from their sponsor so why leave and train away from home?
People like to think Kenyans are genetically different. But people who think along those lines are the same people who like to blame others for their life predicaments, too. Rather, Kenyans have always trained in groups – huge groups. Plus, running is seen as a way out of poverty and so motivation is extremely high.
You combine high motivation with others who have the same mind set and you will get some extremely powerful results. Can you think of any examples in your life where you accomplished more than you thought you could simply because you worked with a group?
When I show up at road races or track meets and I see people wearing the same racing singlet there's an instant bond. Like, “we're in this together”. Running for your team provides a whole other layer of motivation because you want to do well for the team. Plus, it's great to connect with like-minded people who share the same passion. As a member of the Greater Philadelphia Track Club I've shared in some incredible experiences that wouldn't have been possible otherwise, like running in the Penn Relays and watching teammates set a world record in the Masters 4X800m!
Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of training with a friend is the social aspect. My buddy and I lead busy lives and the great thing about running is that we can catch up WHILE getting fit at the same time. Amazing! Love those time efficient activities...
I think most of us can agree that meeting someone else for a workout provides just the right amount of accountability that we need to stay on track. We are easier on ourselves if we skip a workout, but feel terrible if we let someone else down. Interesting? Before you know it, you'll have strung multiple weeks of solid training together simply because you were held accountable by each other.
If you see your friend improving and you're running the same workouts, you should expect to improve as well. If I can keep up with my workout partner during a set of intervals, I should feel confident that I can run with him during a race.
Your confidence will also improve in another critical area: training decisions. Not sure which shoes are right? Not sure what type of run is best for your goals? Not sure which Body Glide product works best? Wouldn't it be nice to ask your friends? They'll give you confidence that you're doing all the right things. Now, admittedly this can go both ways. You could also be so inspired or competitive that you do too much, too soon, but hopefully as an intelligent reader of this blog you'll avoid that pitfall.
STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES
I actively seek out workout friends who are faster than me because it helps me raise my game. Ever notice you play to the level of your competition? I tend to have better speed than endurance. So, as much as it hurts to run with my endurance endowed friends, I've improved dramatically because of it. Same goes for them. They'd NEVER do any sprinting if it wasn't for me!
The bottom line is this: if you're not training with friends, a team, or a club at least some of the time, you are missing out big time. You'll get faster, save time, make new friends, build confidence, have no excuses and, most of all, enjoy your training. Come join us at Lululemon on Walnut Street every Thursday at 6pm for a taste of the good life!