It wasn’t until the thrill of riding my bike overtook me did I realize riding alone—training alone—hardly compared to the enjoyment of working out with other people. My dad always stressed the importance of riding with other people, mostly for safety’s sake. Being a girl in a college town, riding alone on country roads ruled by old farmers driving big grain machinery didn’t instill pleasant images in my dad’s head. So I got involved with the University’s cycling club. I was hooked.
Each Saturday, we met at the trailhead and rode miles and miles into the surrounding towns of Palouse, Garfield, and Troy, exploring countryside I could never have discovered on my own two feet. Thirty, fifty, seventy miles flew by without me even knowing it. The scenery certainly helped, but what inspired me most centered on the camaraderie and conversations I had with those riding with me. By the end of my stay in Moscow, I no longer felt intimidated by the guys with shaven, chiseled legs clad in spandex. In fact, I even challenged them to a few hills, but I was a lady and always humbled myself enough to let them pull me home on the flats
The point is that, while training alone is a necessary component to everyone’s training, especially during the week when juggling work, school, and kids; finding the opportunities to workout with other people should be just as important. Even if the weekend is the only time to do so, I say DO IT. My involvement with Trifusion and those associated with the group has taught me the benefits of leaving hard workouts for the weekdays when I have to train alone. That way, I can gravitate toward others during the weekend and enjoy the company I come to crave during the week. What eludes me during the week (like swimming lap upon lap of drills and backstroke) suddenly becomes possible when I look to my left and my right to see everyone else suffering through the same misery that I am. Pedaling nowhere in a 70-degree basement for one to two hours makes the sweat dripping off my face (and other places I care not to share) taste a little sweeter knowing I can bitch and complain about the single-leg drills and 20-minute tempos with everyone else in that room.
And running. The final two months leading up to my marathon required Tuesday speed work on the University track (aka punishment). Yasso 800s awaited me after a 2-mile warm up. Sets of four turned into six turned into eight turned into ten. Starting out, I dedicated each 800 to someone in my family, my greatest effort reserved for the brother who needed extra motivation on a test, for the mom who went through similar pain (ok, more pain) giving birth to me, for the dad who always pushed me up every damn hill we scaled together on feet or on wheels. I may have been alone, but I finished each lap with them in my head when they couldn’t occupy the empty position alongside me on the track.
|Photo taken by Jessi Thompson. From left: Jarod Crooks, Bryan Rowe, Jennifer Little, me, Adam Little, and Jeff Wilcox.|
To that end, I simply encourage everyone who’s made it this far into the post to simply try it. See what others have planned and coordinate a trainer ride or a run. Just ask. I guarantee others are looking for the same opportunity that you seek. Be grateful. Thank those—like Josh Hadway, Roger and Jessi Thompson, and Michael Woodward—for taking time out of their schedules to facilitate these opportunities to socialize, learn, and exercise.
Now that I’ve convinced you to involve yourselves in group workouts, I have an 8-minute run test scheduled for this Wednesday morning, about 6am, at Mead High School track. Don’t let the fact that we’ll probably be dead by the 4th minute as we attempt to run all out for eight. I can’t promise you’ll feel great when we’re finished, but I can guarantee feeling miserable together is a little more tolerable. I promise to cheer you on if you do the same for me. Anyone care to join?