What Will You Be Remembered For? Instagram for Triathlon, or Triathlon for Instagram?

One of my favourite questions has always been: what will you be remembered for?

Slightly morbid, but important nonetheless. 

Will you be remembered for your social media account, full of fluffy training shots, light-bro images and cleverly constructed hashtags? 

Most likely not. Will you be remembered for how real you kept it, getting down and dirty in training sessions, turning up when you didn’t want to, digging in when you wanted to quit, running when you wanted to walk?

Could you imagine a world without social media? Without influencers (people flogging other people’s crap so that they can get free crap), promoters and posers?

It’s crazy to think that only (just under) 9 years ago we didn’t have Insta-athletes riding 4 abreast to shoot stories of their rides, finding that perfect pose, making sure the shot is just right. Yeah, we had other mediums, but nothing like what the Insta vortex has become.

Please, before I lose you as an audience: here me out. But I will be blunt.

I am not saying that Insta is garbage, and that athletes who contribute to it and consume it are fake plastic tree’s or that has become so overloaded with marketing ploys, clickbait imagery that it can swallow hours of your precious time. Or that it produces a false representation of life.

It serves (served) a purpose – to share real stories,  real experiences, real moments. That’s what it truly started as.

But that vortex grew into the spinning hole that it now is, where athletes’ stories seem too crafted (I should know, I am a storyteller of sorts), a little too polished, a little too staged. It isn’t real. It can’t be. 

This sport doesn’t work like that. 

It is gritty. It is tough. Some days you don’t even want to get out of bed. Some days you can have the session of your life (and post about it), the next could be the worst training ever (does this ever get posted?).

That’s the reality of what you do.

If you are in it for the ❤️ or the 👍🏼 are you serving that which helps you grow as an athlete? That which will leverage yourself, and others by sharing the real moments of the sport you dedicate yourself to? Sharing the truth – the sometimes harsh truth of endurance sports?

Or are you feeding an ego, propped up on hashtags, fluffy comments and followers?

To this day, I am yet to see an athlete race successfully on hashtags, comments and followers.

Not one.

But I have seen many athletes perform to their best because they put the work in, they recovered smart, they ate well, they listened to their body. That’s what makes you successful – regardless of what it is that you are chasing. Sure, there is ego there – we all have one, but it is tempered with the discipline it takes to show up and put the work in.

Ok, ok. I get it. I do understand the perceived value of social media, and how it can be used (I do – after all, we operate businesses that utilise socials to spread our messages).

But when that value is replaced by misguided notions that you must train like *insert-any-random-pro* because that’s what they post about, or that you must wear what everyone else is wearing because, well that’s what everyone else is wearing, Then you need to stop. 

Worse:

You think that you are not good enough because, *insert-any-random-age-group-athlete-who-seems-to-be-doing-really-well* is always posting about “successful” bike rides, and how “amazing” training is going. Or worse still: you compare yourself so harshly to that person(s) that you start to erode your own self-confidence, self-worth and self-belief. 

It sounds slightly far-fetched, maybe even cynical, but it is true. Deep down you know it is. It is part of the current human condition to compare yourself to those in your circles, to hold your stock against theirs. It is toxically addictive and inherently narcissistic.

 It is also, completely not why we dedicate hours of hard work to our craft.

Let’s go back to the start (in case I did lose you there) and think about what it is you will be remembered for. The dedication to your craft? Your ability to juggle #familylife with #trilife

The work you put in?

And, if you find yourself succumbing to the pressures of that vortex, that black hole of pretending-that-everything-is-rosy-and-endurance-sports-are-easy…then stop. Just stop, take a moment to remind yourself that most of – almost all of – what you see in that vortex is not real.

Post more about the real stuff, the grit, the tears, the sessions that absolutely wrecked you. And less of the garbage.

Keep it real.