So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Three Is A Magic Number

Fresh in my home e-mail in-box...good stuff from PowerBar and Carmichael Training Systems, which I'll shamelessly borrow for your benefit. (My editorial comments will be in italics.)
Exercising with partners provides additional motivation and adds an important social component to keep you engaged in your exercise program. There are days when it's easier to do something other than exercise, or you'd rather sit on the couch than go for a run. It's not that you don’t want to exercise; you just need a little nudge from a buddy. Even highly motivated professionals benefit from training partners because they make you accountable for your workouts: Someone waiting for you at the park or the gym will make you shut down the computer or drag you out of bed.
In our household I have little trouble getting out the door to the pool or the bike, at least when my wife is home. When she is on the road, however, the positive motivation to get up and get out begins to wane. This autumn I found the motivation loss kicked in about three weeks into her last business trip. Mind you, I still managed to get my afternoon run workouts in, with varying degrees of (perceived) success, but the cross-training sessions which enabled me to loosen up tight muscles went by the wayside.
Optimal performance often depends on involving the perfect number of people. In business, a team that's too big struggles to make decisions, and a team that's too small doesn’t have the brain power to cover all the angles. Likewise, for training groups, involving too many people makes it too complicated to coordinate schedules and preferences. But training alone makes it too easy to put exercise on the back burner.
Even Saturday morning track workouts during the late summer got scrapped because there were no fellow participants. I'd show at the track, see no teammates, and say 'stuff it.' Well, I'd use the YMCA cardio machines (elliptical trainer or treadmill) and/or the pool for lap swimming in order to fill in the check-box for the day...kind of the 80-percent solution to physical training.
I’ve found that three is the perfect number for forming a reliable training group. A triad ensures that if one person can’t make it, there’s still one person depending on you to show up. It’s not imperative that all three of you meet up to do the same workout, just that you commit to starting and finishing together.
Sunday morning runs are a good example here. In fact, I changed the Sunday morning route from a loop course to an out-and-back, based on time, in order to allow everyone to (nearly) finish together. All each person has to do is keep track of their time and turn at the right moment. When/if the pace on the return trip is the same as the outbound, just about everyone encounters each other at the last mile at the worst, the last five minutes at the best. This way no one is left alone on the course, and if someone has a very bad day we can help bring them in.
The importance of a third person is evident even in a (pro-exercise) environment....I noticed that several of my employees were struggling to stick with their fitness programs, so I encouraged them to establish training triads....signing up for endurance events, like the Leadville 100 mountain bike race, and then completing a fraction of the necessary training. He went and completed the events anyway, but he suffered more than he needed to in the process. When he (had one) training (partner), ...only had a little more success sticking with his training. Whenever (one) had to miss a session, (the other) missed it too. But adding (a third athlete) to the team created a training triad, and the chances that at least two people were available for a training session increased by 100%....Training triads work. Even for athletes of differing fitness levels and disciplines because they keep everyone engaged and committed to training.

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