The Buddy System
As the race season begins in earnest for most of us, I think about those who helped get us here. I’m referring to the ones who met you at 5:30 a.m. for a run in the dark, barely awake and a little grumpy. Those who witness, without judgment, the many ungraceful acts of training – the workout you were forced to stop in gastric distress or the snot rockets you blow mid-conversation – are just as important as your coach or training plan. In fact, your training partners are crucial to the execution of your goals. They’re the ones who give you a wheel to sit on when you bonk and the wind picks up. They stand guard while you change out of wet clothes in a parking lot. For them you lead the swim set so they can practice drafting or meet a pace time just beyond their reach.
These are the people who regularly see you at your most powerful and most exhausted. You are who you are in the company of your training partners and that makes for a genuine and beautiful connection. Whether it’s the endorphins or the rhythm of breath that gets you in tune with yourself, something happens on long rides and runs that makes it easy to share the most private thoughts. Yet, there’s an unwritten rule that what gets exchanged in that space stays there – it’s like a sacred compartment in your day. That intimacy can charge your ability to push each other.
As you begin logging longer hours in the saddle and on the road or the trails, take note of just how much you rely on your training partners. They encourage us. They make us accountable. They’re the first ones we want to talk to when we’ve had a good race or a bad race – they always understand. But there are rules to live by to make sure this connection stays strong. Always remember the following:
Agree to use the “Five Minute Rule” when meeting. After five minutes you’re considered a no-show. It’s not personal, we just have busy lives. Never take off on a long ride or run. Lead when you must, double back if you have to, but never take off. When swimming open water, always stay together. Understand that silence is OK and that a grouchy training partner isn’t mad at you. Occasionally (and occasionally only) racing your training partner in practice is OK, but not without making your intention known ahead of time. You need to work together. It’s a better effort for both of you. Most importantly, remember that racing is not training and during a race you’re meant to go hard, even against one another and that’s OK.
As you start ramping up your volume remember who’s been with you for the long haul, who’s got your back in and out of the race season. Don’t forget to thank them and give them a sweaty hug.
Brent McMahon, Magali Tisseyre and Chris ter Horst training in Maui in March