To be honest, I’ve always been a bit of a lone wolf. I like doing my own thing, I like doing it alone and I like my own space. I have also always thought that my sport is an individual one.
Recently I’ve had to do a few sessions in the pool alone and it has been a big reminder of how much easier it is to train when you are part of a group or team. Over your career as an athlete, there are many times when you have to train alone. This might be due to changes in your own schedule, your coaches or the venue at which you train. Whatever the reason, it sucks. I guess the biggest thing I’ve noticed is the lack of motivation when training alone, the severity of which decreases even more depending on how ‘alone’ you really are during the session.
Type I alone – the no coach, no training buddies case.
This is by far the worst, and highly unrecommended. No one is there to make sure you turn up, which significantly reduces the chances of you doing so – probably by about 50%. Even if you start with significant levels of inner motivation, it’s frustrating, gets boring very quickly and you are probably not going to get much out of yourself. This type of training is recommended only in case of emergencies e.g. missed sessions, vacation training or any other exceptional circumstances.
Type II alone – the no training buddies only case.
This is slightly better, you’re not going to miss this one but your not necessarily going to have a good time either. You get told what to do which is pretty good, you’re there to do it which is even better but you still don’t quite have the drive that you would if you had other people around you.
This brings us back to training in a group.
I love training in a group – it’s the best. I wake up in the morning knowing that my teammates will be there to have a joke with, whatever the ridiculous topic we have chosen to run with that week is. I get the benefits of personal support and encouragement when I’m feeling average, I get to build new and maintain lifelong, one of a kind friendships and with these friends I get to become extremely competitive and end up being able to push myself to new boundaries that I wouldn’t have otherwise reached. This increases personal performance and fast tracks reaching your goals. On top of all this, I get to do exactly the same for my buddies in return. The sense of gratification and satisfaction you get from this is second to no other.
In summary, train with a group. The benefits are clear – you’ll form great friendships, get the most out of each session and most importantly you’ll have a good time 🙂