Each Tuesday I rise early to quietly prepare for my morning run, careful not to disturb the rest of my sleeping household. Once ready, instead of simply stepping outdoors and traveling through my own neighborhood to complete my training for the day, I instead hop into my Jeep and drive twenty minutes south to a beautiful waterfront park in St Petersburg, Florida. Tuesday is unique, as this particular day of the week compels me to wake much earlier than my typical training days, provides a commute which (even at the ungodly time in which I’m driving) seems to find a way to halt me at nearly every stop light along the way, and results in a run that is generally below my preferred training pace and mileage.  Yet, each and every Tuesday morning, I faithfully wake and journey south to complete this ritual.

Why do I do this? When the paragraph above is read, I’m sure it sounds less than desirable, and perhaps somewhat strange. But there is one main factor that keeps me coming back to this location each week, eagerly anticipating my morning run, and that is the fact that this is the day in which I get to run with my friends.  This aspect alone makes Tuesday a special day, one that I look forward to each week, and I’m sure anyone reading who has the pleasure of running with a friend, or group of friends, can attest to this fact as well.

Since I initially began running, and (to be completely honest) still to this day, I tend to be a bit of a loner when it comes to my own personal training.  I like the ability to push my own limits without feeling like I’m going to hold someone back, and also without the pressure to wait for someone who may be lagging behind.  I can train at a pace that suits me, and modify my workouts at a moment’s notice depending on how I’m feeling on that particular day.  I also cherish my alone time each morning, as my work and home life thrusts me headfirst into the non-stop hustle and bustle of constant interaction with so many people on a daily basis. Although I love my family, and truly enjoy my day job, life without my morning workout to aid in clearing my head would greatly increase the chances of leaving me with a tad less patience, and feeling much more stressed.

The buddy system! It works! Try it!

With that said, even though I do love my solo workout sessions, there’s still nothing quite like Tuesday morning.  It rejuvenates me, and provides me with a morning that combines my love of running with a few of my favorite ladies.  We’re able to catch up on life, talk about our current emotional triumphs or woes, and unload on each other the random thoughts that pass through our minds so early in the day.  We laugh, we encourage each other, we divulge our stresses, we share our hopes and our dreams; and the miles pass by effortlessly as we travel along the otherwise quiet streets in the wee morning hours.  Some Tuesday’s we run side-by-side in silence, simply enjoying each other’s company, and other times we chat endlessly; but in the end, no matter the tone of the morning, we are together, and we each cherish the special time spent running in unison.

The reason I feel compelled to share this personal information is due to a recent Spartan Race challenge that was brought to my attention.  This challenge made me ponder my own dedication to my weekly group run, and also the bond that we (women specifically) glean from training and racing together.

Each month Spartan Race puts forth a 30-day challenge for those who are willing to accept the task appointed.  From push-ups to planks, burpees to squats, each month a specific workout is elected, and each month thousands of people commit to taking on that task for 30 full days.  The month of May brought with it a slight variation, as Spartan Race challenged individuals not to take on a specific bodyweight exercise, but to commit to completing 30 workouts in a group setting instead.  Whether it would be with one friend, or a whole team of people, it was encouraged to join together and complete daily workouts together.

The Spartan website detailed this challenge by saying, “A team workout is any exercise that can be done two or more people. Ideally, it incorporates movements that require a partner to complete. But in most cases, it is exercise where the motivation of a friend helps complete the workout.”  This idea intrigues me, and although I do not make a point to train with others on a daily basis, I can absolutely understand why this is such a great idea!

I bet that if you took the average American today and asked them about their current fitness status, they would most likely tell you that they wished they had more time for exercise.  They may lament as to their desire for the drive to achieve results they can be proud of, and to finally lose the added pounds that have crept on over the years.  But finally, with a defeated sigh, they will likely tell you that there’s just no way that that will ever happen.  Although past fitness goals may have been made, and things may have started out great, slowly but surely motivation ran dry, the snooze button became easier to hit, and now, months (maybe years) later, they realize that the initial resolve to get into great shape has dissipated.

But take this same person lamenting over their failed attempts at weight loss and add in a friend, a confidant, and more importantly, someone to hold them accountable, and this can result in a game changing formula much more likely to bring about the success that they so desire.  By incorporating another person into your daily routine, they will not only help keep you committed to your training, but you will also be doing the same for them.  Together you will celebrate each other’s strength, work toward improving your weaknesses.  You will encourage, support, struggle, and eventually succeed together.

Spartan Race events also display this very same concept on a very grand scale, as each race is full of teams of all sizes.  While there are some who choose to run the course solo, most participants elect to band together with a team of friends to tackle the course head on.  I’ve seen so many instances of a person frozen on an obstacle, terrified to continue on, but by the encouragement of their teammates they’ve been able to muster the courage to complete the challenge.  They emerge triumphant, celebrating their accomplishment with those who helped give them the confidence to continue on.  It’s an amazing scene to behold, and it happens hundreds, perhaps thousands of times at each event.

Run with others! It’ll make motivation easier.

Running, working out, or racing with a friend will build memories that are lasting, and help to make an uncomfortable situation bearable, even enjoyable.  By joining forces with others with the same goal in mind, each person of the group will find it more difficult to back out of the commitment to train together, especially on mornings when hitting the snooze button sounds so much more appealing than rolling out of bed before the sun rises to get a workout in.  Friends hold each other accountable to their pledge by keeping each other moving forward, and by allowing for anyone to fall by the wayside.

If you’ve been struggling to find the motivation to keep up a consistent workout routine, I strongly encourage you to find a friend or two and ask them if they are willing to join you in your training.  Set a schedule and stick to it!  If no one is willing, there are typically many different style indoor and outdoor fitness classes available in most areas that you can join for a low cost.  In addition, many communities have local running groups that you can join for free or a very low cost as well (some even stop for a drink after their scheduled run!).  If all else fails, find a gym nearby and stop in to see if they offer any group activities, or have personal trainers available to help whip you into shape!  There are so many different resources available for someone looking for options to be held accountable; all you have to do is ask!

So my challenge to you as summer approaches, and the impending threat of the dreaded “bikini season” looms nearer, is to grab a friend, make a plan, and stick to it together! Already have a great workout routine in place?  My bet is that you know someone who’s struggling with theirs!  Invite them along to join you, even if only for a day or two a week, and I can guarantee it will help them stay more committed to their goals.

Being a part of the Spartan Race family brings along with it the obligation that we take care of all of our members across the globe.  We are all at different points in our fitness journey (some aren’t even off the couch yet!), and it is up to us to encourage and support each other, no matter our level of fitness, so we can hold each other accountable to the expectation of self-improvement.  It’s a big part of why I love Tuesday morning, and you can bet I won’t be giving up on that weekly run anytime soon.

Check out the Spartan 30 online and sign up for the current workout of the month.  Once signed up, get someone else to commit with you too!  My husband and I recently completed a 30 days of 30 push-ups, and we wouldn’t let each other forget our commitment!  Now grab some friends, create a team, and sign up for the next Spartan Race that’s coming your way!  A year fully of training and racing with friends will be a year enriched with great memories, and amazing results.

~Holly Joy Berkey

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