Training on my own has never been a problem. I’m not so interested in team sports, maybe too selfish and definitely too competitive to start thinking of others when it comes to sport.
Yet in the past few years I’ve found myself surrounded by friends who share the same passion and don’t flinch when I suggest another mad sporting adventure. We’ve become training partners in the process and it’s something that has grown on me and now I probably couldn’t live without them.
I met one of them while in the showers after a swimrun race, both of us desperately trying to warm up. She was ranting and raving because her partner had fallen badly and couldn’t finish the race. A year on and we have trained and competed as swimrun partners and she admits something great came out of not being able to finish that race last year.
Another one is my absolute sounding board when nerves take over before a race. Problem for her is that she has to put up with my panicked calls the night before we compete and then the next morning with my incessant, stress-induced speed talking right up to moments before the start.
One in particular has been overly kind in letting me tag along. She’s naturally strong and talented – she’s won an Olympic gold for goodness sakes – and happily puts up with me desperately trying to keep up. She pushes me to my limit, to points where I sometimes think my lungs will never be able to fill with air again and she kindly sinks to the bottom of the pool and watches my stroke as I swim above.
Whenever I suggest some form of training she is up for it and that still slightly blows me away. She can run circles around me but happily reins it in and comes for a run at my pace, while ever so gently taking me out of my comfort zone, a pace I wouldn’t run if I was alone. She kindly says it is me setting the pace while I moan about us going too fast.
I sometimes wonder why she trains with me, but the importance of training partners, or someone who shares a similar interest, is, I now realise, vital. We gain so much from each other. It isn’t always about the training, either. Sometimes a bike ride where you can just chat and get it all off your chest is best, it’s therapy. Even ‘normal’ me has managed to bring something to this particular relationship. I’ve introduced her to the new fad that is trail running, randomly taking her out of her comfort zone. And we are soon partnering as a swimrun team.
But by far the biggest thing I feel I have done is, through the magic of sport, I’ve helped this friend of mine slowly fall in love with a place she has had to call home. Without even realising it we’ve created a team out of individuals.