July 22, 2013

Group Therapy

Group Therapy

IMG_4428“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”

~ Ryunosuke Satoro

For the past couple of years as a runner, I have run alone almost exclusively. It’s not that I don’t occasionally go out with a friend, but mostly, I don’t. My running time is my time to not talk to others, to not answer, to not share. It’s mine. It’s personal.

In years past, however, my preference was always for groups. I did serious martial arts for a long time and part of what I loved was the dynamic of my school. We trained together. We trained a lot, and over time we became like a family. One big sweaty family united by upper cuts and side kicks and wrist locks. In years since I have had similar kinds of experiences in yoga studios, though less so because there is more transience in yoga.

For me personally, a funny thing happened over the years – the harder and more demanding my family and career became, the more I craved activities that took me away from people not towards them. Running lets me be an exercise hermit, and I am grateful for that. It also lets me be at my own pace and push only as much as I want to on any given day. One of my readers here once commented about physical “diminishing returns” in running…and I wonder if this is partly why.

So I started to think recently, that maybe part of the magic of a group has to do with accountability.

When someone else is there to push you, maybe you can expand your limits more than you can on your own?

We all do it. We draw lines around ourselves and say “this right here is the edge of what I am capable of.” But I think the truth is that this is a matter of perspective. When I see myself I see all my cumulative successes and failures, trials and errors – all the learnings of my life time about what I am capable of.

When I come together in a group, I not only see what is possible in others but they see what is possible in me.

It seems like each day I go to CrossFit I am asked to do something that my mind is pretty sure my body can’t do. The other day it was 150 military style push ups (in a work out that also included 225 squats and 75 pullups). Alone, I might have stopped long before the end and maybe not even done most of the pullups (ouch). But there we were – a group – sweating it out together. Cheering each other on. Cursing collectively under our breath at times – but pulling each other to the goal just the same.

I am not giving up on running by the way. I have had a pretty tough few days and I am taking a nice solitary run in the quiet of my own head tonight. Rx me time.

But there is value in both – we gain different things alone or together – I am hoping to find the right balance between the two.








Leave a comment
  1. Larry
    July 22, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

    Well said, Well written!

    • Jacqueline Jacques
      July 22, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

      Thank you Larry.

  2. Dawn
    July 23, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    CrossFit is some tough stuff!!!!!! I feel worn out just thinking about all those pushups…(I can manage maybe 20 on my knees never mind real ones!) That is AWESOME!!

    \It is also a reminder to me that I need to get more strength training in…feeling like I have been drifting a bit lately and everything is more of an effort… I know it is just a season and it will pass and I shall come out the other side stronger for working through it! 🙂 (living in hope anyway! HA)

    • Jacqueline Jacques
      July 23, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

      Hi Dawn – you should do it…while it’s very challenging, they will adjust the workouts to your skill and it’s very effective. Plus, it’s fun. And if you are going to do a really hard workout, fun is important!

      Nice to be back and to have your comments!