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Training with a group of international class women is giving me an ego check

One Canadian Olympian explains how it feels to have to keep her competitive side in check during the workout

Training with a group of international class women requires a constant ego check.

I’m back up the mountain at Falls Creek for another month of altitude training before the Australians in our group compete for spots on the Commonwealth Games team. This time around, we have a larger women’s group.

In my years in this sport, I’ve found that women’s groups can often be more competitive than men’s. Male runners seem to be more open to working with their teammates and when things do get competitive, they’re more willing to call their teammates out for racing an interval. Generally speaking, from my observations, I think that women seem to struggle with both of these things.

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I’m not new to training with women, but never have I had such a large group of accomplished women to train with. During my time with the University of Toronto Track club, I became the best 5,000m runner and had the privilege of having my workouts paced and catered to me. These days, I’m not the best in the group and learning not to compare myself to others has become part of my mental training.

While running with my teammates recently, we started chatting about this and it made me realize how important it is to focus on myself and my own progression in training. The main thing that I remind myself of daily is that the point of training isn’t to win the workout, it’s to get better to eventually win the races. Training with this group of women is a privilege and it’s my responsibility to have confidence in myself and my abilities so as not to feel like I have to beat my teammates in training in order to feel validated.

The reality of switching training groups is that there’s a long period of transition – whether it’s six months or 18. Being the newest member of the crew means that I’m deep in the transition period and I struggle with some of the workouts or volume that the others have become accustomed to.

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Each of the women on this team has a different focus and different goals. My focus is vastly different than the Australian women. For example, where they’re looking to peak at their national championships, my focus races are still months away. And while this may be the case, we’re all, in a way, working towards the same goal: to be more competitive on the international stage.

I also have the utmost respect for all of the women who I train with. We have all competed at the World Championships and Olympics, and while some may have more credentials than others, we’re all international class. That’s undeniable. I truly look forward to travelling, racing and training with this group of women and, hopefully, watching us all achieve goals that we set the foundation for during these tough months of altitude training.