The Planet Wave: Running Group Dynamics Are Transformative

December 20, 2013 Posted By: Bob "Wish" Wischnia

I’ve never heard of Jim Rohn until I recently saw this quote from the late entrepreneur and motivational speaker. Evidently, Rohn had a lot of great things to say, but what really resonated with me was this pearl: “You {we} are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Surround yourself with people who are doing interesting things, who are thinking interesting thoughts, who challenge you to be better and who comes from a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences.”

This beautiful quote hit me square between the eyes. The night I read it, I was stuck on a weather-delayed flight and so bored out of my mind that I picked up the in-flight magazine where I found this insight into myself.

After finally landing and making it home, I checked the forecast and the weather was predicted to be so atrocious (cold with sheets of rain or sleet), that I mentally bailed on my weekly long run the next morning, assuming most everyone else in my training group would stay in bed too.

But, I am the average of the five people I spend the most time with and the folks I surround myself with challenge the hell out of me. That’s my long-run group and they (we) do come from diverse backgrounds and experiences that all seem to meld together every Saturday morning. Even so, I had checked out of the next morning’s long run because of the lousy weather and being wiped out from a week on the road.

But I failed to reset my internal alarm clock. It sounded at my normal Saturday morning time as it always does. As long as I was up and drinking coffee, figured might as well show up for our usual long-run meeting spot even though I doubted my group would be at full strength.


The windy, wet weather sucked, but everyone—the incredibly motivated peeps I surround myself with—were ready to roll for 16 miles at the usual bewitching hour. Instead of bitching about the weather, we accepted it as just another little hitch. The footing was a little tricky at first, but we quickly formed into tight little packs as we headed right into the teeth of the fierce north wind which was spitting ice pellets at us.

Nobody seemed to mind much. It was business as usual for this group of achievers who come together every Saturday without giving it much thought whether to run or not. If it’s Saturday, we long run.

Although our professions and backgrounds differ—we are lawyers, engineers, business men and women, health care professionals, college professors, government workers, even a symphonic conductor, gay and straight—we are probably just like you.

The commonality we all have is running (duh), but despite our varied interests and professions these are the goal-oriented, competitive, high energy people I am surrounded by. None of us is the same runner—or person. I don’t know if we have come together because of who we are or who we’ve become, but the power of our group has been transformative.

Runners come and go in our group, but the core is so deeply committed that nothing—certainly not a little weather–throws us off our stride. The true beauty though isn’t just in our unwavering commitment to running. That’s why we meet every Saturday before  sunrise, but everyone is also so deeply committed to such a diversity of interests and passions that we all have become better, more diverse and more accepting.

It’s rubbed off on all of us and we aren’t just better runners for it but—I like to think– even better people.

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