By Josh Elliot
What is a team? According to most dictionaries there are multiple definitions. Generally the first one that comes up is some variation of the following… ”a group of people who compete in a sport, game, etc., against another group”. This has always been my understanding of what a team is.
I have been training with Rogue for almost two years, and made a big decision this last summer to start training for my first marathon. I was already strong, already had a good base, and was ready to roll. I pulled the trigger, joined Allison Macsas’ group, and fired off three registrations to the three major Texas marathons. Lofty goals, but I was confident in my ability to push myself to complete these and complete them at a high level. My first long run was a success on the hills of Exposition. 14 miles and hills had my confidence soaring… until the following morning. 1 mile into a recovery run something wasn’t right. My left knee felt like hell and I knew it. I walked home, put ice on it, fretted about what it could be, and rested it for the week without understanding what was wrong. By the next Saturday, I felt better, so I took a chance on another long run (once again hills and trip to Scenic Drive). Needless to say, it didn’t end well. I took a long 5 mile walk from West Austin back to Rogue DT and could barely walk by the time I got back. Allison agreed it was time to see someone about the pain. The assumption was that is was a cranky IT Band. First thing I thought when she said this, being new to injury, was “What the fuck is an IT Band and how can I get past it as soon as possible?”. Verdict, I had raced myself into the ground, made my IT band one giant knot, and beat up all of my stabilizer muscles. What this meant? 2 months of aqua jogging, stretching, massages, rolling and being good to myself. It just wouldn’t go away, and just when I thought I could run again, it would flare back up at that magic 3-5 mile mark.
I have never been injured, so the first few weeks were hard on me. Not knowing when it would get better was killing me. I was cranky, withdrew and isolated myself from my training partners. I didn’t grace the doors of Rogue for a almost a month, and didn’t want to see any shiny happy people getting to run when I couldn’t. One night, I was looking through Facebook and started realizing how much progression the members of my group were making with their runs. The pictures, the posts, the happiness. Seeing this development and their growing strength made something click. I had sense of disconnect and of not being a part of the group. This is what ultimately made me decide to stop being a child about the whole situation. Instead of sitting at home and sulking, it was time to show up at Rogue and do what I could do. If that meant watching my teammates run, then so be it. If it meant I would get in 2 miles instead of 6 miles, then great. This is where the magic began. I started bonding with people in my group, learning about their running pasts, talking about their tweaks and pains, getting advice about my own issues. I began using my experiences to help others in the group who were struggling as people did the same for me. In that short time I learned so much and got to know so many new people. I began to enjoy watching people’s progress and cheering them on. I began to accept my injury, and accept the shitty runs that came with it at times. I was not 100%, but I was back and interacting with running partners past and present. This is where my definition of “team” and my attitude began to change.
At the beginning of September, I started ramping up mileage again. First came 10, then 14, and then the test… Six lonely runs while I was on vacation in Portland, including a very cold and wet 18 miler. The runs went wonderfully… but something was missing… something didn’t feel right… my team wasn’t there. Not my training partners, not my running group, my team, The A-Team. Disclaimer: Somewhere in this period of time the phrase “The A-Team” was coined. We had a team name! Copyright to you know who)
When I got back to Austin, I resumed full time workouts with The A-Team and within a few weeks, was ready to race a conservative Run for the Water. No knee pain, no aches, no problem. I was finally back on track! Run for the Water couldn’t have gone any better and it isn’t the fastest race I have ever run, but it was the smartest race I have run to date. All was well except for that one minor detail… a sharp pain in my foot after the race. Something was different this time though. I was calmer about the injury. I knew that I had the support of my coach and team and this would be a cinch to get past. Fast forward two weeks and two trips to the fine folks at Advanced Rehab, I am back on the road. The difference in between this injury and the last? I had the support and resources of of the team to not run through the pain and make it worse. Instead of holing up, I came to Rogue, I got worked on, I limped to the track and supported the crew while they were running. Mental and physical rehabilitation got me out of an injury I could have drawn out for a lot longer. Piece of cake!
Fast forward again through a month and a lot of strong runs. Dallas Marathon race day approaches, and we all know how that story ends. Cancelled. I discussed the alternative options for the weekend with several people and ultimately, I opted out of the BCS Marathon as a replacement, and took the attitude “live to fight another day”. With that, I sent out good luck messages Saturday night to those racing BCS, had dinner, a stiff drink, and went to bed. What am I doing at 8 am the next morning? Sitting in bed, refreshing Facebook awaiting the results from my teammates’ 5 months of work (as I did a month before with my teammates running Philly and NYC). The first results start rolling in… and it was nothing but good news and me screaming with excitement at the computer for the rest of the morning. Sub 4s, BQs, 35 minute PRs, etc. All of that hard work I had done was not paying off for me, but instead of being disappointed that it wasn’t my day I was happy that it was my TEAM’S day!
One final fast forward to last night. The A-Team sits at a local pizza joint, drinking a few beers, and having a nice dinner. All chatting, exchanging war stories, give congrats, talking about our experiences over the last 5 years, 5 months, and 5 days. Once again, I realize, this is a team… This is a different definition of team than the definition given earlier in this blog though. We have picked each other up, we have helped each other out, we have exchanged resources, we have been happy together, frustrated together, hurt together, and strong together. Without each other, a lot of us wouldn’t have made it this far. A variation of the definition of team that I found states… “a group of individuals that come together to achieve a common goal”. This is The A-Team. We have come together to fight ourselves, rather than another team to achieve our common goals, whatever they may be. Even though we talked of the sadness of the A-Team ending, it won’t. We will all keep on training, we will all cross paths, and we will all check in and push each other. Above all, even though there will be breaks in our training, we will all continue to be a part of the larger team we call Rogue. It is good to remember that you CAN do things on your own, but it is so much better when you don’t HAVE to do them on your own. Strength truly does come in numbers. When I walk through the doors at San Marcos Street, or when it comes time for me to walk through the doors at the new Rogue location I will remember one thing and try to pass it on. Whether you are looking for it or not, your team is there for you. All you have to do is open your eyes and see them.
(this blog is reposted from the