To start, I admit guilt. I’m one of the pioneering folks of social media (Facebook in particular) who posted my run workouts to an isolated circle of “non-exercise” friends. Let’s be honest, social media is a platform to share or brag about your achievements like run, bodybuilding competitions, etc. Somewhere via magazines, results from others, and advertisements I was lead to what I felt was the ultimate achievement benchmark: Boston Marathon Qualify (BQ). I thought I was so cool when I achieved that goal.
By succeeding at your ultimate goal, to date, you instantly become big-headed know-it-all; often times going as far as to start coaching others. Some folks even get ‘sponsorships’ from brands, which seek your social following more than performance results, to push products like compression socks. All the while, many deserving elites are couch surfing and barely getting by.
Social media keeps growing with new users everyday. New platforms like Strava, Athlinks, to name a few help to monitor your progress and times of others. Suddenly, like a sucker punch out of no where, you see faster/better/stronger people at your own hobby pushing you down the totem pole! Your initial ultimate achievement, such as BQ, compared to the “exercise” world puts your level into perspective. Just 60% of the best – pretty much a D student – can get in. What are the benchmarks of C, B and A students?? Look up older BQ, New York City Marathon qualifier (NYC-Q), Olympic Trials Qualifier (OTQ), sub 5 mile, etc. Your social following starts to dwindle in favor of the faster/better/stronger folks – and you question the gained so-called expertise you have. Perhaps you chalk it off some way? Saying these alpha athletes or “honor roll students” are doping or something? You may be right.
Instead of outing some Facebook friends of mine, let me bring you the Scott Jurek’s case of Dean Karnazes: READ IT HERE
NOTE: In no way am I down playing what Dean has done, but yes – there is better. If anything, he has done a lot of good work with charities.
So in an effort to restore your dwindling confidence and blowing off these alpha athlete’s performance, you continue to follow the same routine… Eventually, an injury occurs, burn out, or whatever. This can be a good thing. It is up to you to make the next move. You can quit, or seek new goals and challenges. Try to match or outperform these “honor roll students” that are just getting better/faster/stronger. Use them to learn something new. Or use your skills to pursue a new hobby, such as obstacle racing. Being pushed down the soapbox podium will be good for all of us if we try to work our way back up. Perhaps this social media effect will help make world records drop, such as sub-2 hour marathon; It sure has helped the 1000lb deadlift record.
Humility in our achievements will keep the “exercise world” benchmarks on the deserving superstars based on numbers, and not social media influence.