Runners often look at success in terms of numbers – like a new personal best or distance covered.
But that leaves out many others aspects of success. For Lara – a runner I’m going to introduce you to today – she needed a new way to define success.
Lara has a background in adventure racing and 24-hour team mountain biking. She also loves the trails, so splits and finish times aren’t usually that important.
Recently she discovered another way to define success for herself – and a team-oriented approach was an essential component of that new definition.
The Year of the Team
2016 has been the Year of the Team on Strength Running.
Why is a team approach so important? Because even if we do most of our running on our own, none of us succeed in a vacuum. Whether it’s friends or family supporting us or a coach pushing us to perform at our highest level, we all rely on others to help us succeed.
Lara’s background in group endurance events made the team approach a natural option. And her newest goal was to train for an ultramarathon:
In 24-hour mountain biking racing and in adventure racing I always had a team to rely on for support. I was introduced to ultra running by friends. I had already learned the importance of teamwork and being accountable so I thought that a specific running team would help me to stay focused and motivated.
As Lara turned her focus strictly to running, she was inundated by conflicting training advice. Between books, websites and running blogs, Lara was overwhelmed with questions.
Was I running enough? Too much? Should I strength train more? Rest more? Is my pace too fast? What injury prevention training should I do? It was not only frustrating, it was also exhausting.
Lara decided to cut through the noise and join Team Strength Running where she could follow proven training programs, have a team to support her, and get all of her questions answered by a running coach.
She recognized that runners sometimes need a little extra nudge to accomplish a challenging goal:
One night I read an article about habit-making and how one’s intrinsic motivation is finite. That’s why it’s so important to have an external motivator to form good habits.
My lightbulb went on and I joined Team SR that evening. If I was going to take my training seriously, I had to realize that I AM an athlete and there will be days where my intrinsic motivation won’t be enough and that’s when I can rely on my team.
Lara joined Team Strength Running with a specific goal in mind: her first 50k. And her new, virtual team would be her partner in success.
Once she made the commitment to join, things began to fall into place:
Having a program not only kept me focused, but it allowed me to relax. I was in good hands and I just had to stay focused on one thing: the program itself. I could ignore all of the extraneous information.
I started to gain confidence and see improvements as I ticked off the mileage.
Dealing with Unexpected Setbacks
Lara had been making steady progress when she suddenly faced an enormous setback: Three months before her 50k she tore a ligament in her ankle and was unable to run.
She was devastated. Her doctor didn’t think she would be able to race, but Lara remained positive and with focused physical therapy and smart adjustments to her training, she got healthy and fit enough to run her race.
Lara’s perseverance paid off, and against challenging odds she was able to make it to the starting line healthy. She also credits Team Strength Running for rallying around her during PT and cross-training.
Injury recovery can be a challenging time for even the most motivated athlete. Without a team to support your progress, making a comeback can feel lonely and frustrating.
But as a member of Team Strength Running, Lara was continually amazed by the outpouring of support online from so many runners.
I had never received such support, and all of it came from strangers around the world! They care? Wow! They cared! Amazing!
Not only did they care, but they also helped keep her motivation from slipping. Motivation can be fickle and even the most disciplined runner can struggle to stay focused while recovering from an injury. But once again, the team helped Lara keep pushing forward.
My motivation hasn’t faltered during this past year. I have the entire team to thank for that.
“We Don’t Quit on Each Other”
After finishing the 50k, Lara set her sights on her next goal: a challenging trail marathon. While she had completed this race before, it had over 9,000 feet of elevation gain and was during British Columbia’s rainy season so it was clearly a race that needed to be taken seriously.
After all she had been through during the past year, Lara was mentally prepared for a challenge. And then Nature dealt her the worst hand:
The sky opened up. I cannot even describe the torrential rain and wind at the top of the mountain. It was so sudden, so intense, I started laughing. Laughing like a crazy person. What else are you going to do?
Keep in mind that this wasn’t an “A” race for Lara – just an opportunity to get out in the woods and enjoy a challenging course. So why try to persevere when the conditions became virtually intolerable?
There was a moment, at the top of Grouse Mountain, when the wind whipped around me, and the sky opened up with rain, where I felt nuts. I questioned why I run. I questioned why I was there at all…
And then it hit me. I don’t quit because I’m part of an incredible team and we don’t quit on each other and I wasn’t going to be the first to say that I started a race and had to quit because of some bad weather.
Lara’s focused mindset and dedication to her team kept her moving forward all the way to the finish line. She was one of only 28 to finish the marathon distance that day, a testament to the terrible conditions and her sheer determination to see the race through to the end.
Lara continues to credit her success to both her training program and Team Strength Running. The benefits have come both tangibly and intangibly, but she feels like she has benefitted most from the following:
- Accountability in the form of a team to help hold her to her training and racing goals.
- Consistency while following a training plan, knowing others are paying attention.
- A supportive community, especially while injured.
- Increased confidence from training hard and facing challenges with the help of a knowledgeable team.
Her story is not over yet.
Lara continues to write her story with the support of those around her, and Team SR continues to be a source of motivation and inspiration:
Team SR keeps me focused. When you’re training hard, you get plenty of kudos to feed your ego and remain competitive in a friendly way. When you’re resting, there are other people who are resting too and asking questions about their favorite shoes or pre-race meals. When you are injured, there are people to support you.
Without Team SR, I would not be as dedicated as I am today to my running. I plan to be just as dedicated to them as they are to me.
With Team Strength Running at her side, Lara has learned to stay focused and positive in terrible conditions, even when it would be easy to quit.
She recognized that success isn’t always about numbers or PRs. Lara has risen to the top of numerous challenges, and she has learned how to redefine success for herself.
Lara’s story is a perfect way to close out the Year of the Team – she epitomizes it!
If you’d like to experience the life-changing benefits of being on a supportive team, I invite you to learn more about Team Strength Running.