Running for me is very important. If I have a bad race I’m like a football fan after a defeat. Likewise if I win or get a personal best I’m on cloud 9 for days. Training is very similar, if I have a good session it can set me up for the day, a bad session and it can be like the worlds ended. With modern day social media everything you do is under a microscope and this is just the same with my running.
Social media has really helped when it came to my charity challenges and getting my story out to the media etc and I would not have raised half as much as I did if it wasn’t for social media. However, having your running career play out for everyone isn’t always a good thing. Now, I’m not perfect by any means and have my faults but one of my main ones is I’m always looking to be accepted, so when I post a training run on social media be it Strava, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, I get a buzz when people like it and comment. What’s wrong with that you’re thinking?
Well, all they see is the data, the miles covered and the pace in which I did it. They don’t see the full picture, such as how I felt before/during and after a run, what else is going on in my life etc. So when they leave comments I’m very guilty of easily having my head turned. People see I did for example a track session and people see the stats and reply with comments such as “wow PB is defo on the cards!” or “your training suggest you should be much quicker then your official times” etc etc. I then get it into my head that I should be running XX:XX instead of what I know I should be based on everything at the present time. This means that come race day, I’ve wound myself up because I’m expecting a certain time, I don’t relax and then things go wrong in the race, I set off too fast or don’t relax which is a major thing if you are aiming to run a certain time. Then I finish, get a time which is well off what I had wanted due to listening/reading comments from everyone with a keyboard. This then knocks my confidence, I end up second guessing my training and it’s a vicious cycle that I’ve been stuck in for 2 years now.
This year my 10km/5km races have been prime example of me listening and changing my targets based on stuff said to me across social media and me then not getting my times. The marathon is the best example I can give you, everyone who saw my training and my tune up races all said to me a sub 3 is a cert and even a 2:50 was almost guaranteed, I had tried to keep it quiet that I was doing one and my goal originally had been to run a GFA time of sub 3:05. But instead of sticking to my target and original race plan. I went and tried to run a sub 2:50 and explosion at 20 miles meant I struggled home in 3:07. I tell you now, if I had stuck to my original plan I swear down I would have got that GFA time.
The past few months I’ve had the pleasure of doing track races, which thankfully I had Jamie coaching me and setting my goals based on what he saw weekly in training and you know what? it worked, I achieved all 3 of my goals on the track. Now I’m back to the road and I need to stay focused. So I’ve made the decision to go silent. This means that none of my runs are in the public eye and what I’m doing in training will stay between my coach and I until after a target race. This way I can not be influenced by other peoples opinions based on a bit of data. This means hopefully come my next road race, I will have a target based on where I think I’m at due to knowing how my training has gone.
As I said, social media has good and bad points. I love social media and some days I hate it. You can only have an opinion so long as you agree with the majority if not your hung out to dry. Twitter is the worse for this and is why I very rarely state my views on things, Strava I love but it’s also something that can swallow you. Personally I become more obsessed with how other see a run then in actually doing the run based on how you feel on any given day. I get caught up trying to get course records just to boost the amount of Kudos you get and what do you get from it? Nothing, if anything you end up running a session harder then you should so come race day you’ve left it all in training so have nothing in your tank when it matters. Another thing is you see fellow runners and see their times and think to yourself why can’t I be running those times? I personally get a tad envious when runners who used to be slower then me are knocking out times I personally dream off. But I have to accept I have no control over what they do only what I can do. So if you are wondering where I’ve gone on Strava, my runs are still there but private, I will probably switch them to public view after each training period and/or target race.
I’ve done a few runs this week and everyone I run based on how I’ve felt and ignored my pace. I saw a post from Emma Coburn showing her running with a watch but having the screen taped up, she did a tempo run based on effort and not what the watch was telling her. I think this is something I’m going to start doing on my sessions, because then I’m running based on everything, how I slept, how stressed I am, how I feel, the weather etc. Doing this might make be a better runner and also come race day the pressure I pile on myself will disappear.
So for now I’m running silent………