Coach Alana: The Power of Team
Some of my most fond memories in the sport take me back to working out with a team in college. There was nothing better than a track day where the 800 runners through 10k girls were able to do a session together. Even though we had a range of abilities, there was some special about doing work together.
A snapshot of the past...
At the crack of dawn, I gather up with 15 other women for the most dreaded day of my week, speed day. While the “milers” are eager for such mornings, my 10k-er self would much rather settle for a 6 mi tempo run on the finely manicured dirt canal, surrounded by the beautiful citrus groves of Riverside. Nevertheless, it is still go time, and I have to prepare myself for what will be under 60 seconds of torture applied a numerous amount of times for some 300m repeats. It’s time to make my feet ache and calves burn by putting on my track spikes. Joy. Coach must think that it’s funny to make someone do speed work at 6am. The jokes on him. He has to deal with a number of half-awake college girls who will make him repeat the workout details 3-times before at least 10 other questions get asked. The warm up begins and soon our silence turns to chatter, the chatter turns to laughs and by the end of the warm up and drills our giggles somehow transform into focus and discipline. I suddenly don’t dread getting drilled into the ground by some two-lap track divas. The repetitions begin and we rotate leaders, and somehow I am not getting dropped. After each rep we quickly jog back over to the start, slapping each other on the back, getting one another ready for what is just the halfway point in the workout. I can tell that I’m in over my head. I give my other long distance friend a simple look, she nods empathetically. Coach sees and he puts us up front for the next rep. We make it without fading. A few more reps go by and we are down to the final 300. Somehow the distance girls are still hanging on to the back and the mid-distance runners at chomping at the bit for the “have fun with it” rep. We start the last 300 and everyone springs off the line, it is crazier than the start of a cross country race. I hang on as hard as I can to the middle group. As we approach the finish line our legs begin to lock up, and we just make it through the line. Hands on my knees, I take a glance at my watch and see the fastest 300 time I have ever run in a workout. Breathless, we throw high-fives all around. We made it. Better together. Something we couldn’t have accomplished alone. Pure synergy.
As miserable as I remember that session being, I also remember it as one of the best moments of working out with my cross country teammates in college. Now, years removed, I crave those team moments on hard workout days. As an adult, training buddies are limited to people who have similar work schedules and lifestyles as you. However, if you look hard enough chances are you will find some great people around you to train with.
Since being new to RunningLane, I have had pleasure of meeting some of the RunningLane PRO athletes at a number of practices. In one of the first sessions, I had the luxury of freezing my tail off at the track at 5:30am while several runners did track workouts together in the bitter cold. Each one of them had a slightly different workout and they were of various abilities, but they pushed through it together. This moment brought me back to my college days of thinking, “this is really a team.” Suffering loves company, and accountability in suffering sure makes a world of a difference. Here’s to us continuing to build our team, capitalizing on synergy and finding a sense of togetherness through the sport.