3 min read

To go far, go together

To go far, go together
Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton / Unsplash

I'm currently training for the NYCRUNS Brooklyn Half-Marathon on April 28th. This morning, I joined a new running group, despite having not run in over 2 months and feeling particularly down following the recent loss of my father-in-law.

Despite the struggle, I managed to get myself out of bed at 9:15am, and arrived ten minutes late for the 9:30am meetup.

We started from Union Square and ran to the West Side Highway. At that point, runners could choose how much farther they wanted to go. By the time we reach the west side, I was at the back of the pack, but I spotted someone running at a similar pace. We started talking and decided to run together.

Neither of us had run in a while, so we were both were trying to just finish. We initially went about the usual small talk of "Where do you live?" and "What do you do for work?" By the time we decided to turn around, we already found ourselves surpassing our expectations and pushing farther than we thought we could.

On the way back, we both started to get tired. Our conversation slowed, but at every avenue we push each other, giving an encouraging "We're almost there! You got it, don't slow down now!" We managed to make it to the finish line, surprising ourselves that we had ran the whole way.

When we finished and checked our Strava report, we were also both shocked by our pace:

  • Distance: 5.10 mi
  •  Moving Time: 53:08
  • Pace: 10:24 /mi

(My best 5k pace last year wasn't anywhere near this.)

Running data from Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/10923879951

Reflecting on the run, I thought about the proverb:

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Running with someone else had a tangible impact on my performance and mindset, pushing me beyond what I thought was possible. It also made me realize the unconscious limits I impose on myself. I think of myself as a 13-min/mile runner, so I rarely push myself to go much faster. Running alongside someone else prevented me from stopping when fatigue and cramps set in. Surprisingly, after a few minutes of conversation, the cramps would quickly subside, allowing me to push beyond my perceived limits.

This experience made me think about how other areas of my life could also be better if I setup ways to go farther together with someone else. Some examples that come to mind:

  • Wedding planning: In the last month of wedding planning, we had a lot of decisions left to make, and felt really overwhelmed. Rebecca would come over with bagels on Sundays, and sit on the couch with James and me over a Google chatroom as we assigned each other tasks and made decisions together. She was even there for the final call with our wedding planner. We also had friends help us make stationery and select music. Having all this support made the whole process so much fun!
  • Strength training: I've been strength training with Genaro for over a year. Without fail, every session he'll ask me "how's the weight?" I usually respond with "heavy," and in response, he'll add more. He knows that I can lift more than I'm convinced I can, and because he pushes me, I have significantly improved my strength over the last year.
  • Tag-teaming work meetings: On Wednesday morning, it was apparent that our OKR planning was not going well. We lacked consensus on objectives, and our roadmap was unclear. My manager and I decided to spend an hour reviewing every project that afternoon. We then coordinated in subsequent meetings to steer discussions back on track. The outcome by Friday was remarkable—we had a concrete plan that all of our leads supported. Now that I'm focusing back on Cloud SDK full-time, I'm excited to foster similar partnerships with the rest of my team and tackle problems together.

Running with a random stranger today, at a pace faster than I've ever achieve, reminded me of the value of seeking support from others and offering it in return. As I train for my upcoming half-marathon and the NYC marathon in November, I'll be relying on running buddies for encouragement. I also want to seek out such partnerships in other aspects of life. I believe that achieving things with someone else, whether a friend, coworker, or stranger, tends to be more fun and successful than going about it alone.