When I stopped playing soccer in high school in favor of long distance running, I experienced a trade off that I hadn’t expected. In soccer I focused on skill work, short sprints and vision on the field. I knew running was a different kind of sport; the kind of competition that some people don’t even consider to be a sport because they don’t think that it is “skill-based”. But these were things I expected to change and accepted to lose – what I wasn’t aware of loosing right along with it was a team.
Though I was in far better fitness as a solitary runner than I ever was as a soccer player or basketball player or as a part of any other sport, my athletic life was void of something. Running unraveled a whole new set of obstacles both mental and physical that I eagerly confronted. However, after some time it didn’t matter how fast or long I ran, or by how much I beat my own time, I was bored. I knew I had the endurance and after I ran the marathon my athletic life stopped being as competition oriented as it had previously been. Something was missing from my workouts. It just didn’t give me the same rush.
I anticipated this would go away upon joining cross-country – more competition & less solidarity – and it did. My favorite races were where I helped a teammate PR and my favorite practices were relay work and team lifts. I had been craving the teamwork that was an integral part of the sports I grew up playing. I think what I missed most was the accountability and the trust network that develops in a healthy and high-achieving team.
After listening to Tracey Cote’s presentation today on Nordic skiing, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the importance of “team”. It wasn’t so much the skiing that caught my eye – although I am a big fan of cross training – but the adventure competitions. I listened to her stories eagerly just thinking to myself “I would be so good at those and I would love to train for and compete in events like that”. I can’t wait to try one.
I also love co-ed sports. Broomball right now is one of my favorite Colby activities. I am a very vocal and supportive teammate on and off the field and it is hard to be that kind of athlete when you are just competing with yourself. It is less rewarding to me, and a lot less fun.
I love running, and it is a critical piece of my healthy routine. I also like being alone, it gives me time to think. But I don’t feel at my peak performance in anything if I’m not collaborating on my workouts and training to some degree with other people. I don’t know how to explain it other than I get an extra kind of psychological energy by having teammates to support and be supported by. With them I feel more capable and more flexible. Honestly, if I ever get stuck on a desert island I will more readily die of sheer boredom than of hunger or sickness.