What was once a new riveting way to connect and communicate is now very much commonplace. What was once a past time is now irresistible and addictive. Seeking attention and getting accolades feels so good. Checking your account likes and comparing it to others feels productive. But does it really? Is it real? Is your image sustainable? Is it helping you develop into the athlete you initially set out to become? Have you noticed a growing desire for likes on your activities? Do you think people care THAT much? What’s the purpose of being an avid SM poster?
Social media is certainly here to stay and how we use it can dramatically affect our true experience with sport, training sessions, race performances and setting expectations. Crafty titles on Strava or training selfies occasionally have a time and place, however, one need only observe accomplished and high level performers – elite or Olympic level athletes or business influencers – to notice that their messages are vastly different from the average Joe. They come from a place of passion and perseverance with a confident and sometimes vulnerable voice. Rarely would one sense any form of self-pimping, self-seeking or self-deprecating meaning from true leaders and achievers. What can we glean from them?
As written about this past summer, perseverance comes from passion. When pursued with internal motivation and drive vs. external accolades or attention seeking posts, people (everyone’s included) open space to experience fully the path they are on and the obstacles they will encounter. When all you think about is the title of your next Strava post or your photo shopped post-run Instagram the intention has been lost entirely.
From a coaching standpoint, social media has zero bearing on how an athlete is doing in the larger context of goals. What matters to a coach is rarely, if ever, going to show up on social media.
So what does matter?
What matters is how an athlete truly feels in mind and body be it energy, sleep, motivation to train, fears, mind games, disruption to schedule, accountability, compliance, consistency, willingness to go deep, and injury resistance. The juicy details are difficult to articulate because you must look under the hood vs. living on dopamine hits every 5 minutes. What matters takes thought and deep cognitive energy.
Here’s what we all know to be true…
When the gun goes you are the only one on the line. No followers, no cheerleaders, no arch nemesis. It is only after the gun goes when athletes realize how well prepared they are for the mental fortitude required to give their best effort on the day that counts. Imagine dedicating your entire social media time and creative title crafting to mentally preparing for race day and execution planning? Imagine the possibilities.
Let social media serve you instead of hold you hostage. Far more inspiring and admirable are athletes that post to help others, spread important messages or share real life experiences. Frankly, no one really cares that much about your watts, how far you ran or what ungodly hours you swim. People care about authentic experiences that not only enriched your life but theirs too.