“If you are someone who likes to keep your goals to yourself, I challenge you to speak your goals into existence. It will change your mindset to be able to accomplish more, because each time you talk about it you are helping yourself believe that you can do it.” 

Jessica Stratton – Old Saybrook (CT) High School, Class of 2019

University of Delaware, junior

This article was taken from Milesplit on March 29, 2022

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In a sport that focuses so much on individual performance, the dynamic of a team may look a little different in running than it does in some other team sports.

But I want to talk about how important your teammates are for your success. 

Here are some tips on how you can accomplish your goals, and build stronger relationships, alongside your teammates. 

1. The people you are surrounded by push you to be your best

The people you surround yourself with can either lift you up or bring you down. When everyone on your team is working to lift each other up and push each other to be their best, the work that gets done is so much more powerful.

Think about how you can foster this environment on your team. We are a better and stronger version of ourselves when we surround ourselves with people who push us to be our best and do the work day in and day out.


2. Work Together To Be Great — The Horse Carriage Analogy

This analogy represents the greatness that can happen when teammates “pull each other’s weight,” as the saying goes.

The idea is that one horse can pull a certain weight by itself. But when there are two horses, the amount of weight that they can carry does not double, as it would seem, it actually triples.

So two horses can carry three times the weight of one horse. This idea was taught to me by Amy Cragg, the 2015 American champion in the marathon, and is the philosophy that she lives by in her training.

It helps her lean on her teammates and realize that they can accomplish so much more together than by themselves. It helps them realize that teaming up and chasing after something special together will get each of them much farther than they would alone.


3. Dare yourself, don’t compare yourself 

Use teammates who are better than you to push yourself. When you can recognize the benefit of being surrounded by people who are better than you, you will be empowered.

Dare yourself to be better, don’t compare yourself.

You can only be a better version of yourself when you embrace the challenge of chasing teammates and using them to get the best out of yourself.  


4. Invest and Request 

Teammates are family.

Invest in relationships with your teammates, because creating a bond that has depth and purpose will impact your performance and mindset. Sometimes we spend so much time with our teammates at practice and feel like we know each other so well, but there isn’t time at practice to explore the deeper layers of people.

Spend time outside of practice getting to know what else matters to your teammates, what things they may be upset about, or just who they are outside of running.  Developing a deep bond will allow you to push each other harder at practice, and it will also let you know when a teammate is having a bad day and needs a little extra help getting through a workout.

Knowing your teammates at this level will give your training a new purpose, too.  Additionally, request support from your teammates when you need it. That’s what they are there for.

Be open, and lean on them when things get hard. 


5. Share Goals 

Speaking about your goals out loud is powerful! Share them with your teammates so that you can be surrounded by people who know what you are working for and so that they can push you and encourage you. 

So that you can be open when you’re hitting a setback and be empowered to stay the course by those around you.

If you are someone who likes to keep your goals to yourself, I challenge you to speak your goals into existence. It will change your mindset to be able to accomplish more, because each time you talk about it you are helping yourself believe that you can do it.

Overall, it’s important to reflect on the value of teammates and strengthening relationships with the people who you share a passion with. These points can help ease competition between teammates, and put into perspective that you’re all working together to accomplish individual goals that collectively achieve something great.

If a teammate does better than you in a workout, you can be happy for them because they are getting one step closer to their personal goal, and you can share that joy with them and uplift them.

Everyone’s purpose is to help each other become the best versions of themselves. And if a teammate has the same goal as you, well, then be the two horses that carry triple their individual weight.

Jessica is a 2019 graduate of Old Saybrook (CT) High School and a junior at the University of Delaware. She was a multiple-time CIAC State Open and CIAC Class Class S Championship qualifier and placer, and held PRs of 2:22.78 in the 800m and 5:07.42 in the 1,600m. This is a monthly series where Jessica writes about important and wide-ranging subjects involving young and developing runners.