Acronyms, it seems, are becoming the new norm. There are so many lol's and smh's floating through the twittersphere that it's amazing anyone can keep up with the ever changing linguistic landscape. As a sign of rebellion, I would like to discuss a backronym (a reverse acronym) that runners all too often disregard.
For years, people have referred to running as an individual sport. True, you are the only person that can make you get up, get out the door, and get that run in. However, that is entry-level stuff. If you are truly looking to take your running to the next step in terms of enjoyment and quality, then let me introduce you to the backronym for team: together, everyone achieves more.
Be a part of a team??? It still amazes me when runners give me an incredulous look when I talk about being a part of a training team.
- Common complaint #1: I don't see how that will help me be a better runner. I like to run "my" pace. I don't like to slow down or be pushed to run someone else's speeds. My response: Variety is the spice of life. It's good to have some runs on your own and others with a group. Running different distances and speeds throughout training will help you develop into a better, fitter, and healthier athlete.
- Common complaint #2: I am the one that has to do the running, no one else can do it for me. My response: It is good to have someone there to hold you accountable and to help you through those tough days. We will all have our rough patches. It's unlikely that the entire team have a rough patch at the same time, always leaving someone to help pull the rest of the team.
- Common complaint #3: My run is my time away from stress, not another thing I need to try to coordinate with others. My response: Make it a date. Early morning; late evening; whenever it works for you. A team can set up a time and place to meet, and those that can make it make it. Besides, runners are an interesting lot. There are typically more than enough laughs to leaves the days stresses back where they belong.
- Common complaint #4: I've been running for a long time and know what I need. I don't see how a team can help me. My response: As recently as 10 to 15 years ago, US distance running on the world level was in a state of disrepair. We had gone from being one of the big dogs to being lucky to get someone through to the finals of an Olympic distance event. Right around the time Y2K had everyone in a tizzy, several groups decided that they were tired of Americans literally being also-rans on the world level and began to develop training teams around the US. Over the last decade, the US has developed into one of the top distance running countries in the world thanks to teams like the Nike Distance Project, the Brooks/Hansons Project, and the Oregon Track Club Elite, just to name a few. The FLEET FEET-sponsored Runnababez Elite team was started because Lisa Cary and Jackie Pirtle-Hall had both been approached by teams at the Olympic Trials and National Championships and reminded how much a team can help with their development and make training and racing more fun. They believed there was enough talent, enough desire, and enough like-minded individuals to start their own squad here in St Louis. In a very short time, they've seen big rewards both personally and athletically.
- Common complaint #5: I wouldn't know where to find a team for me because I'm (pick one) too slow, too fast, live too far away, don't train for marathons, don't train for 5ks, don't race, etc. My response: The good news is that FLEET FEET's got something for everyone. The FLEET FEET Training Team is based on the premise of team training. Everyone is assigned to a group of similar-level runners and trained by a pace coach and a site leader/head coach. Incorporating a lot of team training concepts learned from high school, college, and post-collegiate teams, our most recent season has seen some amazing results. No matter the distance, there's a training team for you. If you just want a group to run with, social runs are held weekly at each FLEET FEET location. And if you want to show up to a race and find a friendly face to warm up, cool down, and hang out with, put on your FLEET FEET Racing Team uniform and find someone dressed similarly. I love hearing stories about Racing Team members meeting up with other team members. It just adds another level to the fun and festivities.
Together Everyone Achieves More. Make that your backronym for the year. If you're going to put the work in to run, then you definitely aught to embrace the opportunity to find a team that'll make it more worthwhile for you. As NBA super coach Phil Jackson says, "The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team."