How Friendship Made Me a Better Athlete

How Friendship Made Me A Better AthleteNo matter how much we love to exercise, we’ve all have had our days when we don’t want to get out of bed. We’ve all experienced those times where we have to dig really deep to find the motivation to workout.

I have been a runner for 17 years; I absolutely love to run. In high school, I ran both cross-country and track. I planned on running in college but then changed my mind. I told myself I would continue to run leisurely, enjoying the sport and the time to myself. I stuck with it for a few months, but I started to skip a few days here and there. When my alarm went off for my morning runs, I would quickly turn it off. I had nobody holding me accountable, and it was too easy to skip workouts.

I returned to my hometown years later, at the same time as one of my high school friends. Amy was always a softball player, but she fell in love with running while she was in college. Upon returning to our hometown, Amy started running with a group of local runners who would meet at different times daily and run together. After high school, I had become a solo runner. I liked running at my pace, and at whatever time of the day I wanted. Then Amy invited me to come along one morning and I’m so glad that I went. I instantly remembered how awesome it could be to run with a group of people who shared my passion. I realized the reason I liked to run by myself was because I could stop when I wanted to; If I was getting tired, nobody else was there to tell me to keep going.  When I started running with Amy and the others my pace improved.

14193720_10105264765115351_160907105_nAmy and I continued to run together outside the group runs. Some days it would be just us and other times our other friends Trish, Megan, and Sharon would join.  There were times on our long runs that we would get so into a conversation that 12 miles flew by! Usually, if I went out for a 12 mile run by myself, I would be checking my watch constantly to see how many miles I had completed, and it would seem to take a  lifetime.

Amy and I both have crazy work schedules. We work shift work and get off at crazy hours in the morning. When most people were ready to head home and go to bed after work, we were texting each other and arranging runs for when our shifts ended. I can honestly say if we didn’t plan these runs ahead of time, I would never run after work. There have been many mornings that I wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed at 6am but knowing I had a commitment motivated me to workout before going home. Once I began running, I was always happy with my decision to go; I have never regretted my decision after my workout was complete.

Running together every morning naturally deepened my friendship with Amy. We’ve trained for marathons together, shared countless stories, and encouraged each other when we wanted to give up.

I have learned that if you surround yourself with people who share the same passion as you do, life is a lot easier. It is easier to be motivated when you are with somebody who is motivated to do the same thing. You feed off of one another’s drive, and you both push each other to your limits.

In 2014, I decided  to run a marathon. I doubted if it was possible due to a previous injury, but Amy and other friends encouraged me to sign up and promised they would train with me. There were mornings where I had to get in 16 plus miles and Amy would meet me to run the first 8, and then my other friends would meet up with us and run the second half with me. There is no way I would have been able to complete those runs without their help.14182361_10105264765110361_774670508_n

When it came time for the marathon, I was prepared. My excellent training partners not only helped me train but helped during the race as well.  During the marathon, I started with my friend Sharon and then at mile 13 Amy met me and we ran the last half together. I hit the dreaded “wall” at mile 18, and I probably would have stopped if it wasn’t for Amy running by my side cheering me on. When my mind tried to get the best of me, she reminded me why I was there. She helped pace me for the entire 13 miles and I owe it to her that I was able to finish that race.

I have learned that if you surround yourself with people who share the same passion as you do, life is a lot easier. It is simpler to be motivated when you are with somebody who is motivated to do the same thing. You feed off of one another’s drive, and you both push each other to your limits. Every athlete, whether amateur or professional, has wanted to quit at one point or another. We all have good days and bad days but if you are next to somebody who pushes you, you are more likely to keep going; you will push harder and go further.

14182133_10105264765384811_1576284824_nDuring a run, Amy told me she was starting Crossfit. I told her there was no way I could do that, and I didn’t think it was for me. However, with a little convincing I agreed to go try it out as long as she went with me. Anyone who knows me can attest to this as one of the best decisions I have made for myself.  I have been Crossfitting now for 2 ½ years and I  love it. I have developed friendships with such incredible athletes, and it has significantly improved my athleticism. No matter what class I go to, I’m surrounded by amazing athletes that will offer support, encouragement, and advice. I have learned so much from people at the box, and I’m forever grateful. I’m also ecstatic to say my best friend Brittany has jumped on the bandwagon, which gives us more time to see each other during our busy lives!  

As if running and Crossfitting together isn’t enough for Amy and me, we also applied for Steve Austin’s ‘Broken Skull Challenge’ reality show which is aired on CMT. We applied just for fun because we love to do obstacle races and compete. A year went by, and we didn’t hear anything, so we forgot about it, then recently we both received a callback and landed interviews! We had our interviews last month and we should be hearing back soon if we made the show!

I encourage other athletes to try to workout with a friend, or a group of friends. It is important to surround yourself with people who will raise you up.  As mentioned previously, we all have days when we don’t want to exercise, but those are the most important days to get moving because that’s how you build your mental strength. If you make a commitment with a friend to meet and workout, you are less likely to cancel your plans. Keep each other motivated, encourage one another, and reach your goals together.

14191734_10105264847804641_1247018155_oChristina Mortimer lives in Palm Coast, Fl with her husband and two daughters. When she is not working, she is spending her time either training at the gym or with her family. Christina’s athletic journey started in gymnastics at the age five before shifting to softball at age 12. In high school she found her true passion in cross-country and track; she has been an avid runner ever since. After overcoming Chronic Exertional Bilateral Compartment Syndrome through invasive surgery on her calf muscles, Christina has gone on to run two marathons, a dozen half-marathons, and numerous 5ks. A strong Crossfitter, Christina has recently been diagnosed with a rare repeat case of Compartment Syndrome and is confident that she will recover and once again run marathons and hit her 400lb deadlift goal.