The group dynamic Vs going solo

How a team dynamic can you make you better individually.

There is an “I” in Triathlon, but not in Team?

Have you had one of those moments….as you stand on the shores of some expanse of water around the world, or that dark place descends deep in to the run section, and despite being surrounded by a lot of others,you feel alone and like its all been a very lonely road to get there.

“The author in that lonely place”

Yep, me too…. however I know it could not be further from the truth and here’s why;

We are the product of all those tough swim, rides and runs with others and it is vitally important that we recognise their importance in helping us to do what is needed to finish that race and probably, thank them for allowing us to not make excuses to miss training or having to dig extra deep on those tough long sessions when we know, if we had been on our own, we would have bailed.

As triathletes, those special breed of people who feel one sport is not hard enough, we have to be greater than the sum of our parts, and whilst it is all to easy to just get your head down and train or be on your own, being part of a group or team can be essential to driving you forward and bringing your performances on.

I’ve been very lucky to race around the world, at all distances and without doubt the best ones are those that I got to share the journey with others.  Now that journey could be during training, it could be the physical journey to get to the race and racing together, or it could be those who you share your experiences with afterwards but their purpose is the same.  They keep you focused on the goal, push us everyday to never give up and also allow me to continue to set myself goals knowing I can achieve them with their support.

I have long had a motto – if you want to get faster, train with stronger people!  And I still very much believe in this.  This does not always just mean faster people, maybe mental toughness, their ability to organise their lives to maximise training or recovery and a whole host of other talents. Some of the best groups you can find has people with a mix of all of these attributes. Now of course, this has its caveats of….i.e. don’t try and hold the wheel of a world champion time cyclist, drown yourself clinging to the toes of an ex-Olympic swimmer in the pool or train as much as your friend who just happens to only work 20 hours a week and has no other life responsibilites…….you’ll just end up constantly disappointed.

It means finding one or more people, who will push you enough to bring your performances on.  And as you improve, it could be that you bring others on or you start to train with even stronger athletes.  But that group dynamic is very powerful and I struggle to find any athletes who would not agree and support that view.

So you are probably thinking what next….how do I become part of a group.  Well the options are endless…..but heres a few suggestions;

  1. Join a local club…this could be running, triathlon or swimming club but being part of something bigger helps.
  2. Create a WhatsApp group for all your training buddies and organise ride, runs and swims. Knowing others are expecting you to turn up is enough to not hit the snooze button 10 times at 6am.
  3. Find some squad training sessions local to you (or even if means going a little out your way) and build them into your plan
  4. Train with others online….Zwift can be brilliant tool to help motivate you and with virtual cycling and running clubs on there now its amazing how motivating this can be despite essentially being on your own.

Fundamentally, just do what you can to immerse yourself in a positive encouraging group environment.

We at TTT are massive believers in the power of the group, and

work hard to encourage all of athletes to collaborate, and where possible train together.  These group sessions can be built into your plans as required, as we know the benefit of them in a well-structured training plan.  So ensure you speak to your coach to build them in.

Even we at TTT do this….we run training camps, weekends, have whatsapp groups for any athletes who are local to each other.  We have our Performance Facebook group and also suggest a yearly team race knowing that these bring us all on and encourage that team spirit.

As I’ve said, this sport can be a very lonely place….especially about 80miles into a Ironman bike leg, but knowing you have the support from that team dynamic makes it all, just that little bit easier.

Coach Hammo

Andy is an IRONMAN Certified Coach and a BTF Level 2 qualified triathlon coach.

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