For the last 5 years, the only athlete I've trained with is Ashton. At first, Harry tried having us run workouts together, giving me a head start and having Ashton run after me. But hearing his breathing and pounding steps on the track as he ran me down only made me push harder, tighten up, and feel terrible about myself because I'd be totally wiped and he'd look like he just went for a walk.
Needless to say, we stopped running workouts together and I came to terms with the fact that I would have to find a way to motivate myself and endure the pain of running sessions alone.
Then comes the technical practice sessions. Aside from the fact that he's a great runner, Ashton is one of the world's greatest athletes because he catches onto technical elements VERY quickly. Although he is a great teacher and steps in to help me when I'm struggling, being the only person in your training group who doesn't catch on to a new element your coach is trying to teach you within the first 3 attempts gets defeating. It makes you feel like you're falling behind.
Don't get me wrong, I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to train with Ashton and I wouldn't trade him for any other training partner. However, I would often mention how nice it would be to have another person to share the struggles of training with; someone who is feeling the same pains of running sessions as I am, who is having the same technical frustrations, and someone to share the anxiety of competitions with.
We spent some time looking for a training partner; a guy who could run workouts with me, a current heptathlete. When we couldn't find anyone who lived in our area and had the job flexibility to work around our schedule, or a high caliber heptathlete who was willing to move across the world, we gave up.
Then last month, an Estonian heptathlete and fellow competitor, Grit Sadeiko, contacted my manger and said she was looking for a new training situation and would love to come to the US to train with Ashton and I. After a lot of thought and discussion with our entire team, we all felt she would be a great addition.
Why change a situation that was working so well, especially the Olympic year? I think sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone, out of your regular routine, to realize that there may be an even better situation. Yes, I have a great training situation, but the thing it's missing is that training partner element. I am extremely excited to have Grit join our group, am looking forward to learning from one another, and pushing each other to become the best athletes we can be.