Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Take on Athletes and Social Media

When it comes to training and racing, I've always been self-motivated, but now in my mid-40s, the flame doesn't burn as bright for all 365 days of the year. I never needed a training group to help with my motivation, and when I did run with a group, it was more about the camaraderie and social activities. After I was hit by a car in 2003, group training ceased altogether for me. There were many reasons, the biggest of which was that the near-death experience made me wake up and smell the coffee (literally, by sleeping in on Saturdays). My OCD running behavior took a vacation, and the group-running habit no longer served a purpose. I was still motivated to run, bike and swim, but not to get up at 5 a.m. on Saturdays and drive 30 minutes to run someone else's workout. Or sprint out of work and drive like a maniac while changing into my running clothes in rush-hour traffic.

For several years, the only time I talked to athletes was at races, and even then, I tended to shy away because I always felt (and still feel) like the poor stepchild riding the beater bike and wearing hand-me-downs. I know my training could use a push from faster athletes now and again and I still find ways to challenge myself as often as possible even though I train mostly alone.

But things are changing in this connected world we live in. Social networks have made my world a smaller and brighter place where I can find people like myself and not feel so alone. For me, social networks Facebook and Twitter are not places to tell everyone what I ate for lunch or where I am at every minute, but they are places where I can share experiences and read other people's stories and feel connected. As an athlete, I am continuously blown away by people who contact me, share with me, or are even interested in what I do. And I love reading about their trials and tribulations. It has re-energized me to work harder in hopes of having my own stories to tell or wisdom to impart as a way to thank them.

Making connections with athletes in social media circles is still new to me, but some of my online resources are the following (this is a personal list, it's NOT comprehensive -- I welcome others' resources in the comments):
Some coaches' and athletes' blogs I follow are on the right and there are many triathlon groups and pages on Facebook, which is still the place I spend most of my time.

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