Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Semper Fi--Always Faithful and the Importance of Team

I have never had a vision of serving in the military. Although, I must say that When I was a youngster, I liked the army commercial, "We do more than 8 AM than most people do all day." I thought that would be a cool way to lead my life. Now, I borrow a different military motto--Semper Fi--always faithful. I could also borrow and adapt "Never leave a fallen soldier/comrade behind" and turn it into "Never leave someone from your running team behind." How do these military expressions fit into my daily running experience?

Today, I happened to be with a lead group of five in the larger group with which I run on many mornings. At one point, two went ahead leaving three of us, and one was a bit fatigued from a workout less than 12 hours earlier. I said we (i.e., the one other on-fatigued person left and I) could run with her. She encouraged us to go ahead. I told her that I really didn't like to leave any runners behind. Me and the other guy didn't get very far ahead and we all ended up running the last mile and some together after all. My fellow runner thanked me on Facebook later in the morning.

I hope that my fellow runners would have done the same for me if I were hurting or fatigued. It is not that I feel unsafe on the streets of Baltimore City for an early morning run. It is simply that I am keenly aware of why I run with a group many mornings rather than running on my own. It is to be part of a group, and , more than than, part of a "team".

When I first joined with Back on My Feet, the local program director at the orientation told everyone that the morning runs are not about "coming back first". She told everyone that each runner--either the men in transition from homelessness or the community runner volunteers has a reason for being out there--as part of the team in general and on any given day. She pointed out that everyone there--from whatever background and with whatever brings them there--is part of a team. That emphasis from day one has stuck with me. And being part of a team means doing things for each other that sometimes put the needs of others ahead of your own. Particularly on a day that is somewhere between races when we are all just out there for a good time and a good run. My own need (sometimes to run fast) can be set aside to run with someone instead.

The other group I run with is not described as "team" in the same way on day one. It is a training group. However, after a while, my affinity for certain runners has certainly led to a feeling of "team" with some of the runners in the training group. However, I've said it before and I will probably say it again--there is a big difference between a training group and a team. For my team, I say "always faithful" and "never leave a fellow runner behind" unless they want to be left behind. For a training group, until that feeling of team fully evolves, it was much more about helping myself.

To a certain degree it is all a matter of what is initially presented to participants and what evolves over time. Certainly, I credit Charm City Run with developing a team spirit over time. But it just is not emphasized at first in the same way. This morning, I witnessed in my own behavior, the importance of the initial and continuing emphasis on team.

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