An accountability partner is a person who coaches another person in terms of helping the other person keep a commitment. ~Wikipedia
There we were, August 2015 about ready to leave Manitou Springs, Colorado (Elevation 6,412’) and run 13.2 miles up to the summit of Pikes Peak (Elevation 14,115’), just to turn around and run right back down. It’s the Pikes Peak Marathon and it’s widely known as Americas Ultimate Challenge. Half of our group had completed the event once before—leaving me and one other as the rookies. The idea of this race had scared me so badly that I prepared for almost an entire year, which to date has been my longest training cycle. It was this experience that truly taught me the value of having the right accountability partners. Without them this race would not have happened.
After successfully completing the Pikes Peak event, I bounced around on some short races looking for the next big thing to tackle. During this time Nancy (my wife) and I were vacationing in Kelowna, British Columbia. This place was full of beautiful trails, wilderness, and bears. After seeing a big bear while cycling the day before, Nancy insisted that I complete my early morning run someplace well populated to which I reluctantly complied. I picked a park type recreational area at the edge of a beautiful lake and launched.
During that run, I was still trying to figure out my next big thing when I came upon a pair of runners. One was taller and grey and the other was short...childlike short. I soon realized it was in fact a child of about 12 years old. It turned out to be a grandfather and grandson out for a little early morning run. Seeing those two flipped a switch in me that changed my entire life’s trajectory. If you read the prior article you will recognize that as the day my running game switched from finite to infinite.
This however presented a problem. Every event I had completed to date had one or multiple accountability partners that helped me along the way. Training for a long game was going to require that I do things differently, delayed gratification so to speak. Who’s interested in that? Within a couple of weeks after this revelation I was attending a workshop led by Dan Miller who was a past world record holder and fitness/nutarian guru.
At the end of the day, one of the exercises was to go around the room and identify someone to help us with our newly established goals. When it came to me I launched in on my dilemma hoping that everyone would be satisfied with my non-answer. Dan was thrilled with my situation because it comes up so rarely. That’s when Dan announced to the room, “We are going to give Ron a pass on this, mainly because his accountability partners haven’t been born yet”. What a revolutionary idea! Learning that I had motivators yet to be born I could feel the urgency that had driven my recent fitness career melt away.
So, this means I can back off and wait right? Not if you believe what the famous UCLA coach John Wooten used to say, “When opportunity knocks, it’s too late to prepare”. This means that my training has adapted to one of general preparedness. Being ready for anything without a limit to what that can mean is very motivating. And, this type of training can’t be done alone either. I am fortunate to have a solid training partner with similar goals, as well as my wife and friends that keep me moving and active to build this long game called longevity. If you look at complaints about long term fitness pursuits, finding a good accountability partner or training buddy is one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. My advice is to keep looking. Go to classes, group training events, and nutritional workshops, anything that gets you around people on the same path you’re on. Chances are there’s someone out there looking for you too.