So- the simple fact hit me this morning while traversing the dark suburban streets with my new Tuesday running group-" I'm getting faster". I was confident in this self-assertion and I owe a lot of my recent improvements not only to a solid training plan, but to a new, faster group of runners to train with. It is no coincidence that workout and race times have dropped since pairing up with faster runners each week. After 10 months of solo training and so-so results, it was time to put the pride aside and "train up" with those who push me; who can beat me. Being an (admittedly) ego-driven athlete, this was a big step out of my current comfort zone.
For many athletes, there comes a time when it becomes increasingly difficult to reach your goals without reaching out to others. As for me, sometimes this takes getting out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself more than you usually would do on your own. There is some risk of getting initially more fatigued or even "left behind" intially, but the benefits often outweigh the preceived risks of training with those more skilled or experienced. This sometimes means getting beat initially, or repeatedly, but in the process of getting beaten-something happens-you become better. A better competitor, a better athlete, and perhaps a better individual. Do you think Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake would be as fast if he didn't train with Usain Bolt? Stick around long enough with good company, and you may find yourself improving more and faster than you originally imagined and enjoying the process of doing so.
Training among athletes whom help you elevate your game has offers a number of benefits:
- On perhaps the most basic level, this is another way to bond and socialize with others in your sport. Training with those more experienced often have a lot to offer in terms of lessons and tips for becoming more successful in your respective sport.
- Role modeling, as allude to above is highly effective in athletic development. Find and train with others displaying characteristics and skills you aspire to develop or sharpen.
- "Playing up"-when challenged, we tend to acquire the skills we normally wouldn't when training and competing with those at the same level or lower.
- Increased mental toughness and self-confidence. Most of us learn that we can actually survive working harder to initially stay with more formidable training partners.
- The chance to influence and push others as well-it's not a one-way street! (see article)
Hopefully you can have an enlightening and confidence-boosting experience like the author has. When seeking out others to train with, think of how good you want to become, then find others better!
Enjoy the journey.