• Pauline Cound

The Social Media Athlete

Apps such as Strava, Zwift, etc. have become an integral component of training whether it is for just recording workouts, setting training plans, or even exercising in virtual environments.

The question is whether this has a positive or negative influence on performance. How does the receiving of Kudos, Ride Ons, Likes, etc. determine how an athlete trains, races, choose events and number of events, purchases equipment, or even selects coaches? One must accept the phenomena of the “Social Media Athlete”. The Social Media Athlete (SMA) is completely driven by the perceived positive feedback that is achieved through posting their training and racing performances. The SMA is continuously in need of the “strokes” that feed their self-esteem but not necessarily their short or long-term performance or help them achieve their goals. Irrespective of talent, dedication, or commitment the SMA’s approach is compromised by the need to succeed as much and as often as possible on social media.

The SMA is a challenge for any coach who must recognize that the stated objective is not a time-based finish at an event such as Ironman. This one-off goal does little to satisfy the SMA because like an addiction the SMA is in continuous need of its fix. The tendency for the SMA is to race often, with too much volume, too much training volume, and intensity, with injuries and underperformance the results. These athletes are often those who have the most ability rather than the athletes who still want the recognition of finishing but not the drive to perform at a high level.

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