What is social data and how might it be removing the fun from training and racing? Simply put, social data is the information you are posting to Strava or sharing via Garmin Connect. It is also the data in your private Training Peaks account. If you are participating in endurance sports you know of these platforms and either have or are currently using one of them.
Is Social Data Removing The Fun?
I would argue that it is. It may not be removing all of the fun, but it is taking away some of the joy. Think about the workout you completed and then were worried that Jane, halfway across the country, would see it and while giving you a kudos was really thinking: they are not working hard enough.
Are You Running Easy On Your Easy Days?
How about that easy run on your training plan? You know that easy is supposed to mean easy, but your data will be uploaded to Strava and your Garmin Connect friends will also see it. So, instead of going easy, you decide to push it. You are looking for that kudos and comment that says: Man, you were killing it today. Reality is that the only thing you killed is your recovery and workout structure for the rest of the week.
It isn’t all public information that could be harming you on your journey to the finish line. I use Training Peaks to upload my training/workouts and it is fun to see the color change to green when the workout is completed to the plan. That being said, I encourage the athletes I coach to have a Christmas Tree of colors (green, red, orange) because that means they skipped a workout or didn’t complete it as planned. That is all OK because we have more going on than training and racing.
We Are More Than Endurance Athletes. Keep That In Mind.
We are parents, spouses, partners, business owners, and more. This means that we sometimes have to skip the workout to tend to other responsibilities. The problem with the social data removing the fun in this instance is the need and desire to turn the gray box green (that sounds like a song!) When we ‘force’ that workout, we are giving ourselves a greater chance of injury which can then, truly, take the fun away.
I am not saying that all of these things are bad and should be avoided. I have a Garmin Connect profile and look at the data. As I mentioned, I also have a Training Peaks account and I use the within reason. I look at my plan as I create it and check the data after a workout but then I leave it there. I turn to the perception of my body. Am I tired, am I sore, how do I feel? Depending on those answers I move forward one way or another. I do not let the social data dictate how I go forward.
My training plans are updated on Sunday evenings. Looking at the overall data and incorporating how I felt throughout the week. This helps me create a plan that will allow me to continue to get better. Maybe it’s my marketing background that I use A/B testing. This worked, this didn’t. My body felt great, my body didn’t. Adjust from there.
It’s Not Just The Social Sharing Apps
I mentioned Strava, Garmin Connect and Training Peaks but Whoop and the Oura ring are other devices that could be removing the fun from your training. When we allow these apps to dictate how we train we are removing our own insight into how our body feels. Understanding your body, and your mind, is imperative to training and racing success. How an app perceives your training should be taken with a grain of salt.
My Suggestion To Battle Social Data Taking Out The Fun
My suggestion is to limit the amount of data you are relying on for training and racing. Focus on how your body feels, hydrate and eat well. Look at the simple data: HR, pace/power and determine your RPE for those workouts. Knowing that will allow you to perform on race day and improve throughout training.
There is a reason you see blog posts and articles telling you to tape over your watch or run ‘naked.’ It’s because all of this social data is removing the fun from your workout. You are spending more time stressing on what somebody else thinks or making sure you have a perfectly green training peaks account versus how you actually feel and perform.
Let’s Put The Fun Back Into These Sports
I would tell you to find me on Strava, but I’m not there. I would tell you to connect with me on Garmin Connect but I won’t accept.
Instead, join me for a run, ride, or swim and let’s take it easy. Let’s put the fun back into these sports and remember why we got started in the first place.