The Run Express aspires to be a weekly publication providing useful running-related content while keeping you updated on everything going on in the Run Expression universe.
Shaping Our Culture
It seems like more and more great running teams and coaches are talking about culture as the key to their success. It’s likely that I’m especially tuned into this because I work at a company (Energage) that help businesses measure and improve their culture, but I find the implications of this very interesting. Check out the Northern Arizona University men’s cross country team who just won their third NCAA D1 championship in a row. At the helm is coach Mike Smith who believes much of their success can be attributed to sustained focus on building the right culture for their program. It certainly seems to be paying off. A little closer to home is the North Allegheny high school program that just won the male and female team PA state championship. Coach John Neff states that “it’s a special thing whenever people can come together and each contribute a little bit and do more together than they could ever do on their own.” That is very cool to hear in such an individual sport like running.
What is culture? It’s a shared set of behaviors, interaction patterns, and beliefs. At Energage we say that a company’s culture is the only truly sustainable competitive advantage. I see it all the time with the customers we work with, and I hear about it more and more in the context of running and athletics. Coach Steve Magness, distance coach at the University of Houston, likes to talk about how important a focus on culture can be. He explains it like this: “True culture reaches many of the same desired outcomes of team unity, belief, and buy-in from a positive path. Instead of control, we have trust. Instead of isolation to create a team, we have a shared purpose that is bigger than ourselves. Instead of exploiting vulnerabilities, we create an environment that acknowledges and accepts all of our issues.”
While much of the discussion centers on fostering great cultures at high school and collegiate programs, I don’t think the rest of us need to be left out. We have so many opportunities to be a part of communities that support our development as athletes and individuals. Recreational running teams, informal group training, coaching programs, and other groups can all bring us together. In fact, we have a ton of control over the groups we join, so we can consciously select opportunities that provide a culture that works best for us. There is no “one best” culture, only the culture that works best given the people and content you are operating in. So go find groups that bring out the best in you. Lean in and help out. The more you give to the group the more the group is going to give back to you.
As you can probably guess, this is on my mind as I attempt to build this community. In my hierarchy of what matters here, I put running performances on the list but I put it at the bottom. More important than athletic performances, in my opinion, is wisdom — I want us all to gain something important from our running experiences that we can use to help enhance our lives. And even more important than wisdom is personal fulfillment. Everyone has different motivations and reasons for running, and I believe it is important to understand and respect them. We are all responsible for our own personal fulfillment, but we are much more likely to attain it when we have people around us to provide support and encouragement. That brings us to the final value on our list: Social support. There are many things we can do together that we would never do on our own, or perhaps those things wouldn’t be as meaningful if we didn’t have others to share them with. If we do nothing else here, let’s find ways to help each other out.
In summary, we strive to run fast, we learn important lessons from our efforts, we find ways to use running to fulfill personal aspirations, and we interact together to help each other succeed. Please suggest ideas and challenge me so that we can shape our culture in a way that makes these our default behaviors.
Training and racing is hard work. Why do we do it? What happens when our efforts don’t lead to the performances we were striving for? Team Run Xpress athlete Bill Conn shares a great story about his experience at the 2018 Philadelphia Marathon. Check out his race report to see how focusing on a much deeper and more important “why” leads to more joy and fulfillment in the end.
Please consider writing and sharing your own race reports. They are a great way to reflect on your training and performance, and you’ll probably learn something that will help you in the future. If you feel like sharing, we’ll post reports at the Team Run Xpress site.
Running with rabbit
Speaking of Team Run Xpress, I’m very excited about our partnership with rabbit, the running apparel manufacturer based in California (who also manufactures everything in California). We were looking for a unique and distinctive apparel partner to work with, and we found just want we wanted with rabbit. The clothing feels and performs spectacularly. It also looks great. Here are some pictures of our latest racing kit.