Teamwork


Without each other, we would accomplish nothing. Teamwork is responsible for all great things in this world. From the great pyramids of ancient Egypt to the marvels of modern technology, human history is a paved path of group goals and group accomplishments.

And while we may feel that we have done many things on our own…there’s always someone that helped us along the way: parents, teachers, mentors, coaches, employers, friends, family, co-workers, etc…

Life is a team sport and if we want to succeed we need to look into the phenomenon of teamwork.

If you described the sport of running to someone, I’m sure the consensus would be that running is a very individual sport.

And while this holds true in many respects, there are some running teams in history that have consistently produced more than their fair share of Olympians and world record holders. 

What makes these teams great? Do they just attract all of the “gifted” runners or are they a product of true selfless teamwork? 

When Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile on May 6, 1954, he grabbed his pacing partners Brasher and Chataway and declared, “We did it!”, as they ran a victory lap together. Not an individual wonder…another team success story.

There have been many articles, papers, and studies conducted around the Kenyan long distance runners and why they have become such an indomitable force.

Many people latched on to genetic theories and running mechanics, but it seems a bit far-fetched to me that one tribal town in Kenya has radically different human genetic characteristics from the rest of the world.

From the little I have read about the Kalenjin tribe in Kenya and their running successes, I think that this group of runners has benefited from their altitude training, their diet, their hard work, their belief in each other…and more than anything else, they benefited from each other – they work as a team.

If you put two people together and have them work towards a common goal, both of them will push each other and get better in the process.

Every season, there are some cross country teams around the world that seem to groom elite runners. They bring home what seems like a dynasty’s worth of Championships. And while some runners may have the body type and propensity to be efficient and fast, the push that propels them to be great comes from their team.

Through positive peer pressure, we have the ability to propel each other to new heights. Teamwork is more than having the same uniform, it’s a philosophy of a common goal and the feeling that you’re included in working for and attaining that goal. It is knowing that your hard work will benefit others and anything less than your best effort will let others down.

A new team of distance runners called the Hanson-Brooks Distance Project has gained some recent notoriety. They don’t have any superstars on cereal boxes, or athletes with shoes named after them, but what they do have is a growing list of accomplishments and a very simple, hard-working charter.

Two brothers, Kevin & Keith Hanson, sponsored the team through their Detroit-area running shoe stores. Over time, their team evolved into a group that lives together, eats together, works together, and trains together. These runners have a common goal of Olympic- qualification…and their performance at the 2006 Boston Marathon (3 finishers in the top 15!) showed the running world that they are for real.

Whether your goal is to lose a few pounds of train for a competitive athletic event, teamwork can really benefit your venture. Something as simple as a running group or walking partner can be enough to increase your performance.

Having other people to work with or share our goals with can motivate us to new heights. If you find that you’re a bit bashful…try the on-line community for support. There are many chat rooms, clubs, cyber coaches and forums that can offer enough motivation to keep you going strong.

It’s a great feeling when a goal is reached through teamwork…join others and reap the rewards!


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