Successful businessman and multi-millionaire Dan Pena tells his students that ‘show me your friends and I will show you, your future’ pointing out that he believes every person is the average of the 5 people they spend the most time with.
We may be seeing a form of this effect in Kenya where you can bump into sub-2:10 marathoners with alarming regularity if you hang out in the clusters where most of the country’s top athletes come from. Most aspiring runners gravitate towards this area much like many ambitious runners gravitated towards Lydiard or Cerutty in the 1950s and 1960s – lured in, first by the rumours of a mysterious coach, and then by the obvious success of previous students.
To succeed it is likely, we need to judge our influences very carefully. Negative runners with limited self-belief and, perhaps, limited ability, may not make the best training partners if we truly want to ‘move on’ within the sport.
I have seen this in action in business: unless all partners are pulling evenly on the sleigh it doesn’t move in the right direction. I now hold myself to a very high standard in my profession: I expect a huge work-rate every day – no 4-hour work-week dreams here (watch out for my piece on the ‘4-hour coach’) – and I expect the same from my partners. Less than that and we go our separate ways because it only takes one weak cog to compromise the integrity of the wheel.
This rule could apply to your training group – so watch it. If you are looking for high performance, ensure everyone is on-board an have the mental attitude and commitment to the process. One bad egg can influence everyone in your training group downwards.