In an effort to illustrate my point, let me start off with a story. Two weeks ago, I ran the Long Beach Marathon in an attempt to qualify for Boston. Since it takes about 3-4 weeks to fully recover from running that hard, I’m still taking it pretty easy on my runs – shorter distances, slower pace. Since I really miss the “zone out / moving meditation” experience of my pre-Marathon long runs, I decided on my way home from the Team Breakfast to stop at the beach and do another 5 miles. I started out slowly, and then picked up my pace a little. After a while, my legs started to feel like lead. I didn’t even bother to push myself because I figured I had a built-in excuse.
But then, a guy passed me. He looked like he was struggling. His feet were smacking the pavement loud and hard with every step. He was an injury waiting to happen. My first thought was “Don’t forget to remind the team about how to have a low impact stride”. My second thought was “This guy has lousy mechanics; he looks like he’s hurting; and he’s faster than I am?! That’s pathetic. I really should be able to keep up with him.” So, I picked up my pace, caught up to him, and soon we began a conversation. He picked up his pace, and I picked up mine. It was a challenge, but there was no way I would quit. We got faster and faster. We ran our last 1.5 miles together at a pace I didn’t think I could hold this soon after a marathon; and it was 1:30 minutes/mile faster than what I was doing when I started the run.
So, why am I telling you this? Because, if I had been running by myself, I would have been perfectly happy to slog along at my slow pace. I would have taken comfort in my “that’s all I can do because I’m still recovering from a marathon” excuse. I wouldn’t have done my best.
And that’s why I encourage you to come out for the Sunday runs. Your team members will inspire you. They will push you. They will help you find the strength you didn’t know you had. They will bring out the best in you.