“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
I can’t tell you who said this first. But I bumped into it the other day and I love it. Because it’s true. If you want anything to stick long-term, whether it’s regular exercise, your career or the basic ability to keep it together day in and day out, you’ll need support. You’ll need to go together.
That’s why climbers tackle mountains in teams. They would die on their own. Climbers need someone to recognise the signs & symptoms of hypothermia when they are too far gone to see it themselves. They need someone else to make decisions when they are no longer capable. Someone to guide them down when they can’t see the route, no matter how hard they look.
And while our own goals may not be as exceptional as getting to the top of Everest, we still need a support crew to lean on. People who pull us up when we’re not well, when we’re pushing ourselves too far, when we’ve become confused about what really matters. And perhaps that brutally honest friend who recognises that we’ve ignored the alarm clock in favour of a lie-in one time too many…..
In an ideal world, I would have encountered this saying years ago. In 2007 when I attempted the Paris marathon. I started with my sister. We hadn’t trained together because we lived in different countries, but we ran at a similar pace. It was spring and should’ve been a nice, cool day. But Paris had other ideas. It hit record temperatures for April – one of those days when you sweat just sitting still. Which my Australian self could cope with, but I’d just spent two years shivering in London.
The water stations were running out of sponges to cool off with and the road was radiating. But the event buzz was overwhelming. It was exciting and I felt good. So good, in fact, that at the 10km mark I didn’t want to run at my sister’s pace anymore. So I said goodbye and ran away.
Not my best idea. The heat started to take its toll. By 30km I felt terrible. By 35km I was trying to bounce back by shovelling in nutrition, but it was too late. I was zig-zagging across the road. At 37.5km I fainted in the gutter. I did finish the marathon….. but in the back of an ambulance. Which doesn’t count. My sister finished, just 10 minutes slower than my target time. If I’d stuck with her, I would’ve had company to make the experience more enjoyable. And running slightly slower would almost definitely have saved me from my meltdown.
Lesson learned – going alone is very rarely the answer.
Gretchen Masters loves helping everyone to get fitter, healthier and happier. With the solid foundations of an exercise science degree and over 10 years experience in the fitness industry, Gretchen knows how to help you to get the most out of your training.
Gretchen’s biggest project these days is Spring – a national campaign delivered online to fight depression. Held each September, members follow daily fitness plans, eat good mood food and access meditation podcasts. They track their mood and watch it soar. All of the profits from Spring are donated to mental health charities.
Gretchen also delivers corporate wellness programs and writes regular columns for Inform magazine. When she’s not busy boosting health and vitality all over Australia, you’ll find Gretchen planning her next trip to France. Each July, Gretchen shares her passion and guides groups from the French Alps to Paris, following the Tour de France.
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