Is Social Media Helpful for Athletes?

Social Media has its phenomenal uses and is well documented where it falls down. However, here we look at social media can have an impact on your athletic performance and/or approach to training?

 If you have time to selfie....are you really training!?

If you have time to selfie....are you really training!?

Social media has a way of linking people up that has never been seen before. It helps athletes of all levels improve their reach, engage with other athletes and inspire others to take part in training.

It is important to remember that social media content is deliberately chosen by the user for a reason. The best way of considering this is that it is an advert of who they are and what they get up to and this is the only side the general public are allowed to see. This makes it a double edged weapon. On the one hand, I can make it look like I am training hard, nailing all sessions and this can be very intimidating for any competitors I may have. On the other hand, I can see other athletes off on training camps, sweating on the turbo and this can leave me feeling I am not doing enough.

Social media must be put into perspective and for that I want to share a story of an athlete I coached.

For a host of different reasons, their training wasn’t going to plan A, B or C. In fact getting training done was good enough – we were counting sessions, not TSS points, which for the circumstances was excellent. When we spoke, this athlete was obviously distressed by the knowledge that their training was off-piste but equally worried by the sheer quality of training their friends and others were posting through Instagram and on other social media channels.

A short while before their A race, another coach mentioned that I was really working the athlete hard prior to their race and suggested we should be expecting good things from their race. I almost recoiled in shock. This athlete was really struggling to complete sessions, life was getting in the way and sessions were being missed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yet when we looked at their social media profile, an image was being painted that made it look like this was a full time athlete who was nailing session after session!

Of course social media can be excellent and in no way am I suggesting that athletes shouldn’t use it. However, it should be taken at face value and no more. What people post is purely what they want to portray to the world. It’s unlikely that they will tell you what they don’t post but, if they did, that is where you will glean so much more information!

In training the only person you are trying to overcome is yourself. The true measure of performance sits on a race course in the future from now. No matter what you think that other people’s Instagram, Strava, Facebook twitter etc. profiles want you to see, you must remember that has no positive impact on your performance at your race. However, you can let it affect you negatively if you take it too seriously. Behind every profile is also the truth, don’t live your training by what you see and know that almost certainly the person is training just like you rather than what you see online, they just don't choose to show you all the boring bits!

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