Everybody loves a good training partner. Some days we need the accountability, motivation, support, or just some socializing while we knock out our training. Whether it’s an easy session or a wind sucking track session, training partners can help you get through your week more easily. So, what makes a good training partner? Here are my thoughts: The “Be’s and the Don’ts”
This one is easy! If you say you are going to be there, be there. Everyone has busy lives and packed schedules and we might not realize how someone reorganized their day so that they could make that 8am run work with you. Maybe they moved a meeting, moved other sessions around, planned for someone to watch their kids, or promised their partner they’d be done and home by 9! Sure, life happens and things pop up. But after a few last minute cancelations you can be assured that no one is going to plan their day around you going forward. So be reliable! And sometimes that just means being realistic with your planning.
Be On Time (or at least easily tricked)
We all know that person! And if you don’t, well then it’s probably you… You know; the person who texts 5 minutes after the scheduled meeting time that they “will be there in 5mins” and when they do they aren’t ready to roll. Ugh! Yeah, it happens to all of us on occasion, but some people are chronically late. Don’t be that person! A technique I like to use is to take the time I want to start the session, subtract 15min, and send out the invite. Sometimes that means I’m the person that is “late.” 😉
Build each other up, don’t tear each other down. Whether it’s training stress or life stress, we can all get through it a little easier if we have someone who can relate. A good training partner will listen and offer support when needed… even if you’ve heard about the sore ankle like 100 million times and you can’t take it anymore! Be there to remind them how to focus their energy toward the positive, because someday the roles will reverse and you will need that support just as bad! When it comes to training milestones, the same rule applies. Be able to say “Oh wow, your FTP is at an all time high? Awesome!” even if yours is in the dumps. Better yet point out to your training partner when they are doing something well… “hey man, nice work on that last interval. Looking better every week!” We all love to hear that stuff. Positive affirmations!
“Yes, we know you have that KOM, you told me 10 times. Yes, I know you ran faster than me on that mile, it happened right in front of me. Yes, I saw how many hours you trained last week, you won’t shut up about it. No, I don’t want to compare watts with you!” This is a tough one.. because in the RIGHT environment with the RIGHT people these topics can be easily discussed and positive. However, if you are constantly talking about your accomplishments or comparing yourself to others, people are going to get annoyed. Trust me, we can all see when you’re doing well. Your training partners know you dropped them… they were there.
Don’t Race Me, Bro
This comes down to being able to execute your workouts based on your ability and your goals, rather than based on what your training partner is doing. So, if we have a 10 x 800m track set and we are supposed to descend, don’t race on #1 if you can’t be there on #10. EXECUTE. Nailing the session as a whole is better than having a good single interval. More importantly, if you act this way and your training partner isn’t disciplined enough to stay away from the competition, you could ruin their workout too. Yes, we all love a little competition here and there. It motivates us to dig deeper and get more out of ourselves. But if you can’t compete the workout properly, the competition is null. If you want to race, let’s race the last one!
Positivity! Don’t drag the group down. If you aren’t ready to work, don’t come. Also, you can be tired/grumpy/whatever and still work hard. It’s ok to say how you feel, but say it once and move on. My best training partners rarely complain. Not much else to really say about this one… because I don’t tolerate it!
Don’t Bring Me Down
If you’re having an off day, or you can’t keep up for whatever reason… let them go. Don’t be mad if you get dropped on a climb. Don’t pout if the pace is too hot on the run for you that day (or every day). Know what you’re getting yourself into and realize that you may not be able to keep up all the time. And that’s ok! Some days the opposite will happen and you need to be ok letting that person go as well. Of course this isn’t always going to happen on an easy ride or run. But if it’s a key session, expect the possibility and make it clear that you can handle being on your own.
Quitting is a habit. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Then it starts to rub off on the group. Even if it’s not full blown quitting a session, but ALWAYS finding short cuts, it’s bad for the environment. “Oh, I see Tom just put his pull buoy in for this aerobic swim… that sounds nice. I guess I will too.” Yeah, ok, we all have bad sessions and need to know when to pull the plug. But I am talking about that guy/gal that always finds a way out. Just don’t do it! If you consistently do, you probably won’t be around very long.
Training partners have made this sport so much more enjoyable for me. Some of my best personal relationships have been formed in those moments between intervals, hands on my knees trying to recover my breath, listening to the suffering of the group, hearing “let’s go, 1 more.” Looking up to a fist bump. Knowing we are in it together. Call it “being in the trenches” or the #grind or whatever it may be to you. Something brings people together when they share a struggle… when they can suffer alongside you.