As we are in the thick of race season, with some really big races coming up - 70.3 Worlds, Ironman Wisconsin, Louisville, and of course, Kona. And through it all, I've noticed something that isn't necessarily new, but has given me pause. Its this - the need for constant reinforcement or support from the world of social media to reassure them that they are "doing great!" or "looking good"! or "you got this!" Seeing this makes me wonder, are people doing it for themselves, or for the applause? This isn't going to be popular with those who love to post seflies post workout, or pre-workout with endless hashtags and an explanation of what they are about to do or have done. Well, you're free to read something else.
Here's the thing - I'm old school. I know this. I'm private about training, and life in general. I'm also a believer and practitioner of being my own cheerleader, my own spark. Why? Because I am confident in my decisions to chase the goals that I have.
I'm very comfortable with going dark and suffering as much as needed to improve daily. I'm good with the fact that I am going to fail, and that's a good thing.
Those are the biggest opportunities for growth. Growing up, I was taught by family, teachers, coaches, that if you really want something, if it matters so much that it causes you to lose sleep, then you will do everything necessary to get it. And that I should not waste one second waiting to see if anyone wanted to jump on board. Quite often, I've discovered that most journeys I've taken have had to be alone. But I've been positive in what I wanted, so I didn't need 100 people to tell me that I was doing the right thing. Which raises the question - is it important enough to you? If so, do you really need the world to tell you are doing the right thing, that your goals are laudable, that you can make it, even if things are tough, if you seem unable to get out of the dark?
Those moments of doubt, those moments when things aren't going well, that's the real test. When shit seems to be going off the rails, that's when you have to dig deep and find out what's really inside you. To know, that if you had to go about everything on your own, that you could, and more importantly, that you will. Not everyone is going to support your dreams. Because they are yours, not theirs. At least that's the way it should be. One of my favorite quotes is tattooed on the inside of my right arm,
"One man with courage is a majority" by Thomas Jefferson.
Those words resonate in my head every time things start to unravel. I chose this road. I wanted this. I asked for this. The good and the bad. The grind. Some of my favorite moments are when I'm the only person in the gym, or when I'm running on empty roads late at night, chopping away at my training, sweat pouring down my face, the sound of the expressway, the electricity of the city in the summer, the thick air, with making every breath feel like I'm inhaling soup. That's when I smile widest. In the times of the height of suffering, I find an immense sense of peace, knowing I am living up to my end of my dreams. My dreams, my goals, my desires aren't going to simply show up. I've got to attack them relentlessly to reach them. Its the work we do when no one is watching that helps us reach greatness.
So here's a Challenge - try going a few days without posting yet another selfie on the bike, on the run, etc, telling the world how awesome you are, and see if you can be your biggest fan, keeping your spirits buoyed, getting you dialed in to your needs, narrowing your focus on the task at hand. Watch the difference it makes. It will make the times you do post that much sweeter, and you'll soon find out if what you are doing is for you, or for the crowd. Because if its not for you, you'll never dig deep enough when it matters most. Social media praise is fleeting. The burning desire to reach new heights will always burn bright.