Today’s topic is community. I’ve had the word in my head for days, and it’s a topic I’ve put off in the past because to talk about community as I would have a year ago doesn’t match the state of our world right now.
Nevertheless, to ignore the power of community, when we aren’t able to gather the way that we used to gather, is to ignore the role that our communities — big or small — have in supporting or hindering our efforts, fitness or otherwise.
As an example, let’s discuss how one’s relationship status and larger community may affect the goal of running a marathon.
As a single person, it’s possible to train for and run a marathon alone.
Single Sally could train alone and run the race alone or with other people. Single Sally could also train with other runners and run the race alone or with others.
As a person in a committed relationship, training for and running a marathon might be easier or harder, depending on whether the other person is supportive, neutral, or unsupportive of the runner’s goal.
Paired Penny and her partner might run together or maybe Penny’s partner takes care of chores so that Penny can train. Paired Penny’s partner might also not care about Penny’s goal one way or the other, so they don’t make it easier or harder for Penny to train. Or perhaps Paired Penny’s partner might be against Penny’s goal of running a marathon, so they actively discourage her efforts and suggest alternative activities to training.
On race day, if Single Sally and Paired Penny both complete their marathons with others, the larger running community will support and encourage each runner during their respective events.
Add additional people to the equation, such as kids, parents, or others who have a significant role in one’s life, and you can quickly see how relationships — and how they affect one’s goals — can become a complex web of potentially competing priorities, especially when individual motivations are not aligned.
Though the larger running community might be supportive on race day, there are usually non-runners who are also supportive, neutral, or unsupportive. For example, think of a driver who has somewhere to be and is unhappy about runners disrupting the normal flow of traffic. (Thank goodness there are non-runners who come out to cheer for their runner friends and family, and who greatly outnumber this type of impatient driver!) Regardless of the motivation behind a driver’s impatience (which could be valid in any number of situations), to act on their motivation to get where they need to go now might hinder and could possibly injure the runners who are racing on the road and holding up traffic.
We all navigate this complexity on a daily basis.
Whether you are working on a particular fitness goal, coordinating a project at work, or aiming to learn a new language, your community and the individuals within it can affect the ease with which you accomplish your chosen goal.
Hence, the power of community.
Despite needing to limit our in-person interactions right now and take precautions when we do see others, we can still support our communities and benefit from their support.
The way we interact with our various communities has changed. The perceived size of those communities also may have changed due to the change in frequency of how we are communicating. Even so, the strength of these communities is still evident and accessible.
If you are struggling with a particular goal, finding a community to support you as you continue to work toward your goal can accelerate your progress or help make progress possible when you are stuck.
Consider your existing communities in conjunction with your goals. How can you continue to support others as well as accept support?
Would expanding or reducing the number of communities you interact with regularly improve or impair your ability to achieve your goals?
Of course, it’s not only the number of communities that can make an impact. Quality and accessibility also play a role in how beneficial a particular community is to its members.
The key here is to remember that you are not alone. Connecting with others builds community, and when you are working together with others to reach a shared goal, there is strength in numbers.
When it comes to reaching your fitness goals, finding a fitness community that supports you on your journey can be invaluable.