Keep Calm and Carry On

Jared WoodfordThis is a time of year when many marathon swimmers are ramping up their training in earnest, in preparation for big swims this summer. It’s a time of year when reports of epic workouts appear with increasing frequency on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. While it’s fun to read of others’ training exploits, it’s important to keep your eyes on the prize – maximizing your performance for your event – and not get caught up in cyber-rivalries.

My friend and former training partner Jared Woodford recently wrote an excellent post on this subject, and I asked his permission to re-print it. Jared is a professional triathlete, a commercial pilot for ExpressJet, and a former collegiate swimmer at Delta State University. Last May he was featured in an interview on SlowTwitch. 

Possibly unique to triathlon (and maybe its component sports) is the ability to read about the workouts of other athletes online.  Via Facebook, Twitter and blogs there is an access to other athletes that isn’t found in other sports.  I’ve never read on AJ Green’s twitter feed about how many pass play routes he ran that day and Kevin Durant doesn’t update us on how hard his last workout was.  Triathlon social media though is inundated with completed workouts, epic training day totals and regurgitated coaching mantras.

I wouldn’t say that triathlon’s use of social media is a bad thing though.  It can be a great motivator to read what others are doing (especially as our sport is easily quantifiable), and the ability to share a recent workout can garner positive reinforcement often lacking in an often lonely pursuit.  But as I ran my 5k on the treadmill today (that I didn’t find to be twitter worthy) I was thinking about how easy it is to be distracted by the training of everyone else.

It can be disconcerting when others are logging epic workouts and you aren’t.  And while good people train a lot (endurance sports work like that), remember that the competition is on race day.  The goal of training is to race faster, not to train more than your friends.  [Emphasis added.] There are no medals given out for epic training days posted online (other than social recognition medals, which could very well be more important to some).  And even if there were, they wouldn’t be handed out in January when the races are 5 months away.

As others gain early fitness and hit the web, don’t panic thinking you might be behind.  There is no glamour in patience; no online reward for staying the course.  It takes great self-confidence to do what YOU need to do.  The workouts that make the real difference (the ones that are repeatable and appropriate), won’t foster many “likes” and won’t impress your twitter followers.  But remember that the season is long, training is individual, and to keep calm and carry on.

10 thoughts on “Keep Calm and Carry On”

  1. A salient post for today, as I reflect on my first One Hour Postal and look down the road to 10k. (“Gaah!” comes to mind.)

      1. The 10k postal swim. I am so slow! Plugging away at an activity where you perpetually rank in bottom 10% means one has to continually affirm the value of it. In other words, it isn’t about the t-shirt.
        Wish I could do a stage of 8 Bridges. Maybe dave b could move them closer together!

        1. I’m right there with you! I rocked 2nd-to-last in the 2011 5K Postal Swim. Swimming is the only sport were only the FAST people complete. We’re providing a valuable public service by showing up. If not for brave souls like us, a fast person would have to bring up the rear.

          1. I’ll do all of them. I’m working on my post about the 1-Hour right now.

            I don’t think I’ll mind 10K in the pool, as long as it’s not too hot. Water is better than land, no matter what. It’ll be a challenge to find a long-course pool that has enough public hours for me to finish it, though.

  2. Thanks for posting this. Coming off a minor illness that kept me out of the pool for 3 days, it’s encouraging to read.

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