Whether pushing one another to the limits of a tempo run; sun beating down on the track, and bodies ready to give in, or warming up along the South Saskatchewan River musing about our journeys, cultivate the right environment and magic happens between runners.
RELATED: Time to tempo.
Over the past year-and-a-half I’ve been fortunate enough to train with a coach who has built a team rich in respect, commitment, and support of one another - striking a peaceful balance of competitiveness and camaraderie. The moments and memories created over hundreds of miles - some in silence, others in meaningful conversation - have proven invaluable to me as a runner and as a whole.
I’ve always been a quiet athlete. I can still vividly remember eight-year-old-softball-playing me
standing in the dugout, quietly, as my teammates roared with their cheers. Being vocal wasn’t natural or authentic to me, and therefore I chose to stay in silence. This is who I am, and it stayed with me through my young hockey career and then on into university. I probably made things a bit harder on myself at times by not joining in; silence, if misunderstood, can be mistaken for arrogance. Still, I knew I wasn’t arrogant; and anyone who understood me also knew I was far from conceited. I was fully committed, caring, and invested in my teammates. I’ve always, and still do, value the people I train with, compete with, and share my life with.
My experience as a teenager at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask. instilled in me a great sense of pride in team. I arrived at Notre Dame just days after my 14th birthday, with my sights set on making the school’s top female hockey team, one of the best in the country at the time. I managed to do that, and in turn, found exceptional camaraderie with my teammates over time. With most of us living far from our homes and navigating teenage life under the unique circumstances of living at a boarding school, we relied heavily on one another in all aspects of our daily lives - far beyond practices and games.
My understanding of teammates, and the value of their camaraderie, was sealed here. I found, in many ways, a place where I belonged; a place where it was okay to be quiet, to not have the big cheers or smiley face - I simply allowed my play, and dedication to the team, to speak for itself. I flourished at Notre Dame, playing soccer and a rugby during the offseason. I was always on the go, constantly being challenged, and challenging myself to be the best I could be. I thrived in this environment.
As an adult I find just as much, if not even more, joy in challenging myself and discovering what I’m capable of doing. I still go about it with intensity and often quietly. I know that works for me and I’ve found a quiet camaraderie with those who have an understanding.
I look no further than to my coach, Jason, who understands my intensity and knows how to manage it; he can reel me in without breaking my spirit and still get the best of me. This is a delicate balance that not many people have been able to strike with me in my athletic career. Having the guidance of someone who understands me, and who I trust completely, is invaluable. He has built his team on a foundation of respect and understanding of each of us as individuals; individuals with respect in return for him, and one another.
I will surely miss my teammates when I move, but I’ll be back to visit; and look forward to some great runs ahead with them. Jason is going to be staying on board with me, guiding me from a distance, which I’m very grateful for. There will be some adjusting to do with him being in Saskatoon and me in Omaha, Neb. but I have a great deal of faith in the relationship we’ve established; and trust we won’t miss a beat.