Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I’m learning the importance of finding the right partners to workout with. I was always a “do-it-alone” kind of gal and have had great results chasing my own goals and not worrying about keeping up with or slowing down for a training partner.
But the universe always has something to teach you and in December I learned for the first time what it is to work out with someone. An old school friend (now living in the US) travelled home for 6 weeks and I was the only person she knew who did regular exercise. She’s a pro-cyclist and was worried about sitting idle for too long so she asked me if I would include her in my training. I liked that idea so we set off for 6 heady weeks of hard training under the glorious African summer skies.
As I said, she’s a pro-cyclist so I’m way behind her on the fitness scale but she slowed down for me all the while pushing me to work harder. I, on the other hand, kept pushing her to fit her workouts in by registering both of us for road races and sending her random text messages telling her that the road was calling. It was positively electrifying and when she returned to the US I suddenly had this terrible void.
I couldn’t figure it out...was it the lack of conversation (she taught me that an iPod isn’t actually necessary), or was it the lack of motivation, or was it just that I would never find a perfect “fit” like she was??? As the months have gone past my training has slipped, I began to eat badly again and then I was benched by the dreaded ITB and I had no-one to help me out of the doldrums. Suddenly I realised that I had become a little dependent on her, and she has big shoes to fill. More depressing thoughts followed and I really figured I’d lose the plot completely.
Don’t get me wrong, I still like working out alone sometimes, but I want to find the balance between self-motivation and a team effort and this is where I’m learning that you really need the RIGHT partner.
And so, through a series of very fortunate events I found myself in a select group that practices yoga together twice a week. Very select, it’s almost like a secret society...it’s just me and 2 ladies twice my age who are so advanced in their yoga that I feel like the Yeti when I’m around them. But the energy is right, balanced, and they make me feel like I belong. They make me work harder...not out of jealousy or embarrassment, but because I’m free of inhibition with them. They encourage me, we laugh and I never feel square for modifying a difficult pose that I’m not able to mange just yet.
Quite by accident, I found another great partner at the twice weekly training sessions with my running coach. My running club offers the training with an experienced coach as part of their membership and I’ve really enjoyed the sessions. But I usually run alone, even though the group is quite large...we’re all at different stages and run different speeds so the group spreads out quite quickly and you’re generally alone. Because of the ITB, I’ve scaled back my training until I’m only doing the track training and I hang around waiting for the session to start, getting to know everyone.
One guy, also on a weight loss journey and generally much slower than me, has cheerfully encouraged me through the ITB saga and even convinced me that I may still one day run the Comrades. So last night, as we began our cruel and unusual punishment that the coach set for us, I fell into step with him and chatted for a bit. He politely said I could run ahead if I wanted to go faster but I answered that slower is better for my injury right now and so we trotted along, mostly in silence.
And what a great session we had...after we’d completed our tasks, he even shook my hand and said thanks for making him work 20% harder than usual. I was surprised and told him that I was the one who’d worked 20% harder, even though I was going slower. He laughed and said, “Well, our shared energy is compatible then.”
And that’s when I realised that what I’d been missing was compatible energy. Not a particular person, group or method of exercise, but rather the right energy. There is no off-the-shelf solution here. And I think I’ve finally found it...both in my yoga practice and with my running.
And now, the sky really is the limit...