Being a part of a team is an amazing privilege. It is a rare but fulfilling experience to work alongside other women towards a common goal. Whether you are on a high school team where whoever shows up on day one is your teammate, you are a collegiate athlete who has the rare opportunity to “pick” your teammates in the recruiting process, or you are on a post-collegiate racing team — you may find yourself in a situation where your coach asks you to “race with your teammates.”
What does it mean to race with teammates? Having a pack mentality during a race can be tricky at first, but the feeling can also be intoxicating. Racing with your team allows you to feed off of your teammates and it creates synergy within the group. It is impossible to achieve that feeling on your own.
Here are my tips to racing successfully as a team:
Acknowledge each teammate’s strengths and weaknesses
No two runners are the same. Some struggle getting out hard while others struggle when surges are put in mid-race. Being aware of each teammate’s strengths and weaknesses is crucial to working together in a race.
Communicate with your coach
Communication between the coach and teammates is crucial when you are racing as a team. While the race plan will vary depending on the overall goal of the specific competition, it is always important to make sure that you are aware of your coach’s expectations. For example, does the coach want team to race together for a specific distance or the entire race? Does there have to be a minimum number of teammates in your pack at all times?
Communicate with your teammates
Communication between teammates throughout the race is important as well. Be encouraging when you know a teammate may be struggling and be vocal with each other about how you are doing during the race. If someone is having a rough day, you may need to be a voice of positivity for them, encouraging them to stick with the pack. Communication also allows athletes to stay focused and in the moment, honing into what’s needed right now rather than looking too far forward.
Trust each other
A successful team is built on trust. Without trust, you are just a collection of runners. Regardless of how talented that group of runners may be, the outcome of racing as a “group” as opposed to a team can be disappointing. When you know your teammates are committed to the plan and to the team, it makes the unknowns of racing less scary. Racing alongside teammates you trust provides a sense of safety that can allow each of you to push further outside your comfort zone than you ever imagined.
Have you ever raced with a team?