Mile 4: Putting the “Team” in Teamwork

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I apologize if you found my last post to be a little long-winded. However, I felt it was important that you all knew about The Running Dead. Why? Because I hope you feel the same way about your team as I do about mine. Also, it will make it easier for you to understand the characters along the way should you continue to follow me on this FUN and MUDDY path.

One of the aspects about OCR I have found most difficult is organizing a solid team for each event. I hope you have realized by now that I’m not a guy you will find in the elite wave of any OCR. That’s just not me. The team you’re with during the race enhances this whole experience. So why do I find this whole team organization aspect so difficult? It’s hard to continue to ask people to spend a good bit of money, give up a weekend and take time off of work for these. OCR is not my life, and it’s not the life of my teammates. We love, and I mean love, doing these races, but we aren’t the “let’s do this every weekend” kind of people. I’d probably be broke or broken by the end of the year. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve completed each race with at least one other person, except for one time. I’ll explain my solo experience in a later mile. In addition to the money and time, it’s difficult to convince “new” people to sign up for these. I don’t blame them. Just look at some of the YouTube videos out there—some are terrifying. Each time I get someone new to sign up, it’s really exciting because it means I helped the team and the sport grow. It’s one of the few sports where the participants are responsible for growing each event. This is truly an enjoyable moment.

When organizing a team, I believe there a few things you should need and shouldn’t need. These are my own beliefs, and yours may be different. I’m not an expert. I’m just trying to help you based on my knowledge. Now I’ll break down the two categories with a few bullet points for each. These are in no particular order.

What You Need:

  • Your team has to be fun. Have your teammates leave their egos at home. It’s important that you enjoy the day as a whole from start to finish. This can be hard because it might mean not inviting your best friend who you know is annoying whenever you do anything competitive with each other. Sorry bud, you just have to sit this one out. I’m sure there will be plenty of other things you can rage about later.
  • Your team needs to be positive. Going back to the “fun” point, having a positive team will make all the difference. These are the people that will support you (physically and mentally) throughout the race. No one wants a Negative Nancy (sorry if your name is Nancy!).
  • Your team needs to have muscle. Yes, believe it or not, you need to have some sort of muscle to help you on race day. These are the people that will help you over a large wall or help you carry something when you need it most. Having muscle is important. So whether it is a guy or a girl, have at least one pair of guns.
  • Your team needs to be humorous.  Not everyone needs to be a comedian, but you need everyone to laugh throughout the day. This shouldn’t be a day full of serious attitudes with no smiles. Remember, smiling is contagious! Of course, the race will be serious at times so no one gets hurt, but if you’re walking or taking a break those are times for some laughter.
  • Your team needs to have matching shirts. OK, this can be kind of lame, but it definitely helps should you become separated from the group. You’ll be able to spot your team easily, especially when they’re wearing a unique color. Plus this adds another fun aspect to the identity of your team.
  • Your team needs to have an organizer. I can see all the confused looks on your faces now… What the hell is an organizer? An organizer is someone who finds the races, registers first (to build the team), shares all the up-to-date details, maps out the distance to each race so you leave on time and ensures everyone has everything they need for race day (extra clothes, towel, shoes, ID, waivers, cash, etc.). In case you didn’t know, this is my job. I enjoy it thoroughly!
  • Your team needs a Facebook group or group email. No one likes group texts. Plus no one can use the excuse “I didn’t get your text.” Seriously, you did, but just didn’t read it. This will help with all your communications for EVERYTHING. Our team has a Facebook page and email. Both work great!

Now, that we covered the “needs” (there are a lot more!), let’s take a look at the “shouldn’t needs.” The good thing is there aren’t many.

What You Won’t Need:

  • Your team doesn’t need to be too big. I’ve run with as many as 10 people and as few as one other person. There are teams out there that are big! Sometimes companies organize an entire office team, which I’m sure is great, but not needed. Realistically, what are the chances of your team of 15 or more people sticking together? C’mon you know it won’t happen. Whether it’s because the team isn’t at the same physical level or you want to steer clear of that office creep. I would say a team under ten people is perfect. This will help logistically as well.
  • Your team shouldn’t need to train together. Yes, you do have to train to some degree, but you don’t need to have weekly practice runs to play in the mud or carry a bucket of rocks around your neighborhood. Just think about what your neighbors might think! Train at the pace that you want to and when you want to. I don’t even think the “serious” teams train together. It would be funny to be at the gym and see six or seven people wearing matching shirts all huddled around practicing their chants (…don’t be a chanter).
  • Your team shouldn’t need everyone to commit to an event. Don’t expect everyone on the team to be at every race you want to complete. Unfortunately, it isn’t realistic. The Running Dead roster sits close to ten people, but we average between four or five runners at each event. Everything will be OK if you have that one person who only does one race a year. No need to boot them for someone else.
  • Your team shouldn’t need a leader. This is probably the most important point I’ll make in this post. You’re each already a leader for taking the initiative to sign up. During the course of the day you will lead something at some point. It’s a turn-taking role throughout the day. So if you went to the Rick Grimes Leadership Academy, I’m sorry to say you wasted your time. You might think the organizer is the leader, but I consider myself more of an offensive coordinator than a head coach. Just worry about your team not your leading ability.

Well there you have it, all my suggestions for your team. Building your team should be a fun experience but it’s definitely not required. If you love going solo then I wish you the best. I personally enjoy running with the team and always look forward to the post-race diner or restaurant stop.

Now that you’ve gotten your team together, in the next mile I’ll focus on your “I can” attitude.

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