It is not a secret that training is an integral part of my being...what is also known to many of the folks I have trained with over the last decade is that I enjoy pushing them to a place they don't likely want to be. Let me be very clear though, I am not the fastest guy out there, and I do try to train with those who will push me outside of my comfort zone. Truly, I think that this is something that is inherent to training in general. After awhile, everyone gets a satisfaction from hurting there peers. I'll call this the shadenfreude effect. I remember when I first started riding back in 2001 and had a good friend names Warren McDonald (affectionately, Uncle W). He was a stud on the bike and the run, and I would endure countless hours of riding, hanging on for my life. The first spring and summer of 2001, I would meet him at his house at 5:20 and we would ride 20 or so miles completely in the dark with barely any lights. I would get dropped in the first 5 miles and ride to the turn around point on a bike that was two sizes too small. There they would catch me on their way back and I would hang on for another 3 miles or so only to get dropped and limp home. I made it my mission that summer and fall to not get dropped. I am pretty sure it was Uncle W's mission to try and drop me. FInally some day in 2002, I not only didn't ever get dropped, but I was beating him in races.
For the next 10 years I have tried to spread this pain evenly out to all my friends. There is a guy I swim with who would get mystery calf cramps whenever a set got hard. It became my goal to push him to those cramps in every single workout from the moment of this discovery until today. Regardless if I was in shape or not. I can grade the success of a workout on this. If he cramps=success!!
On the bike it is the same. If ever someone speeds up, it is my duty to continue this speed, but to also ratchet it up another notch. Even if it is an off day. It is a matter of principal (and likely the worst way to train). It's like I can't help myself.
And I'm not alone, my buddy Chuckie G is a closet practitioner of the schadenfreude training affect. On our rides he likes to act like someone else sped up and that he just held the pace, but there are plenty of documented cases of him being the instigator. By plenty, I mean hundreds. Always one to downplay it, Chuckie G blames it on me.
What is also interesting is that I enjoy getting abused nearly as much as abusing. There have been plenty of times when both riding and running,I didn't think I had another ounce in me and I am cussing whomever it is I am with as I search for another gear. This happens a lot when I am running with my co-workers from Mizuno. We will go out for an easy 30 mins that will turn to them chatting away holding sub 7:00 pace with me 4 strides back about to vomit a lung. I like when they chime in "You are looking strong!" or some other lie. 50 minutes later, the 30 min easy run is over.
The moral of this story, is simply this. If you want to improve your training. Poke a bear every once in awhile. Train outside of your comfort zone. Push someone else outside of theirs. Everyone will hurt and everyone will benefit.