Four Reasons Why I Need My Athletic Community
This weekend, I celebrated a lot of things.
It was a bit of a whirlwind weekend with a gala, a training day, a family event and a year-end Performance Project party. As I jumped from party to party, I was so struck by the idea of community and how absolutely blessed I am to have such a supportive team of people around me who are better than me, smarter than me and more experienced than me.
I started blogging in 2010 knowing one other runner. 6 years later, I am absolutely surrounded by some of the most incredible athletes you can find, both in person and online. I cannot imagine waking up and trying to reach all of my goals without other people. Here is why:
They force you out of your comfort zone –
This is perhaps most at play for me in my adventure racing group of friends. A few things – when I am on my mountain bike, especially during race season when I need to stay uninjured, I am needlessly cautious. My friends force me out of that by challenging me, coaxing me and promising I won’t crash (I don’t.) It also comes into play with navigation – I confidently walk in the wrong direction on the daily. Putting a map in my hand and having me navigate my way out of a paper bag seems obscene, but this crew gives me a compass and tells me to go. And I do. And it is ok.
And then there is the training hours (beginning a mountain bike ride or run almost always necessitates a light for when darkness falls, no matter how early you start), the weather conditions (we trained with wet trails and falling snow this weekend) and the re-definition of what is hard and what is possible. These people make me a stronger, grittier and more confident athlete and person.
They encourage you to try new things –
As I am training for some new-to-me distances and events next year, I am hopping in the pool a little more. Some of the triathletes in my life are encouraging me to try some swimming competitions and I am finding myself fighting with some of the same emotions I had when I first started running: “What if I am last? What if I can’t do it? What if I embarrass myself in front of everyone?”
Who. cares. I am signing up and putting into use all of the new skills and strategies I have learned in the water. No one cares how you finish, it is just important to get out there and having people there to encourage you who have been there and can offer advice is incredible.
They speak your kind of crazy.
I have so many amazing people I can call up and do things that would seem absolutely insane to most. If I am in town and want to catch up but I want it to be a 6 am crossfit session? Todd Shannon. I want to do a night run in the forest on a week night? Charlotte Vasarhelyi. I am feeling like racing for a solid 72 hours? Brad Jennings. I want to swim, bike or run anywhere at anytime of day? Ed Cyr. I want to do a 3 hour mountain bike ride on a weeknight? Kyle Nesbitt. I want to do any athletic event of any distance and anywhere in the world? Mark Cullen. And I could go on endlessly, but let’s just leave it at the fact that I am blessed to have an incredible group of quirky, talented individuals who never leave me hanging when it comes to adventures.
They keep you humble.
I think this is the biggest one for me. Everyone in my athletic community has something that they do extraordinarily well and worlds better than I ever could. I love chasing each and every one of them, bettering myself in the process while realising that I will never be the best but trying anyways. It is so important to have people that you look up to and it is so wonderful to be able to sift through the practices of my athletic community and keep learning and growing every day. Thank you – to them and to you (many of you awesome people are a part of this community).
You guys rock. Happy Monday.