I often say "there's no "I" in team but there's an "I" in win". And I'm a bit serious! I have never been great at team sports. I like winning and I don't mean beating other people, I mean beating myself. I also like being by myself. I'm not able to think about others when I'm trying to focus on myself when exercising. I need the room in my head and physical space around me.
It can be difficult for relationships, especially the romantic ones. If you're more of a team player, it can be hard to be with someone so wilfully independent it seems like they don't need you, and if you're wilfully independent it can be hard to ask for your own space, and hard to get your head round being needed, and responding to those needs nicely! But of course it's not all black and white - you can be a supportive and loving friend / partner / family member without sacrificing your own cause.
It was amazing to watch something like this this in action on Sunday, when I arrived at Balloch shores and a fellow swimmer, Caroline, was 3 miles away from finishing her 21.6-mile swim of Loch Lomond.
Before I go any further I should add that I do not know Caroline and her husband Grahame that well so I'm really basing this on my own experiences, but it takes a certain kind of mind to be able to
It also takes a certain kind of person to be able to live with someone doing that, to come along to training sessions, hang about in the cold and rain, for hours on end, take responsibility for nutrition and hydration and, crucially, be there emotionally on the day. For any of you that have supported someone doing an endurance event - especially the first "big" one - it is emotional and nerve wracking. You'd give anything to take their fatigue away, you want to cuddle them every 5 minutes and tell them how amazing they are. But you can't, you have to stay focussed and let them get on with it! (Or maybe, like an ex or 2 of mine, you don't care very much and you're at home in your pants watching football 😂)
It was amazing to watch Caroline storm into Balloch shores like she hadn't just swum in shit conditions for 12 hours solid, but what made it so special was seeing how proud, nervy, emotional and excited Grahame was. He was SO proud of her and couldn't wait to see her in. It moved even my cold dead heart.
And it got me thinking about the importance of having a team when you have some fitness goals your trying to achieve - for many people that's simply to "get fit and lose weight". Our friend and dietician Nathalie Jones was explaining to us only last week about how, if you are starting a journey to lose weight (or swim 21 miles or run a marathon) those closest to you need to be on board. It's vitally important to sit down with them and tell them your goals at the outset and how you are going to achieve them. Explain to them why it's important to you and what you need from them.
For example, if you are trying to maintain a calorie deficit to lose weight, it's helpful if the people you live with don't bring home your favourite chocolate biscuits every day. Whilst you can't blame them for your decision to eat them, it's super helpful if they can help you with your journey. They may not be able to relate to your desire to kick the biscuit habit but hopefully they will understand why you're doing it.
Or maybe you want to do a marathon and need your partner to look after the kids when your train: sit down before you even sign up, decide on a rough training plan and agree that on, say, Saturday mornings you're out the house for 2-3 hours and that your training is going to increase as the weeks go on. Plan the days you need to give your partner a break and get a babysitter or Gran along!
It seems so obvious when you write it down doesn't it, but we hear over and over again "I'm trying to give up smoking but my friend keeps giving me cigarettes when we're out" or "I wanted to exercise but my other half brought home a takeaway so we watched Netflix instead". We must take responsibly for our actions (some colleague will ALWAYS bring in biscuits to the office, we don't need to eat them) but we must also communicate with our team members and make sure we are all on the same side! And ensure that we support our friends and family the way they support us.
I think we all just really want to be listened to and respected by those around us, whatever our personality type, whether we're a classic team player or a lone wolf, and deep down I think even the most independent of wolves needs a pal to see them through cold dark winters.
So congratulations Caroline on an epic swim and congratulations Grahame on providing epic support! You make a wonderful team!