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10 Tips for the Traveling AthleteOctober 22, 2022
A Harsh Take on Social Media and Endurance Sports
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
…I took the one less traveled by.
And that has made all the difference.”
Unpopular opinion but…
I’m not impressed when people do dumb things just to finish a race.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a fair amount of grit and determination. What I’m talking about is a blatant disregard for physical well-being simply to prove that you can do something tough. Except I don’t find that to be “tough” in the sense that it’s worthy of awe or respect. Let me explain…
Full disclosure: we don’t feel every injury or bit of pain requires a shutdown from training or dropping out of a race. We are quite progressive in that respect. But there are injuries that are safe to “push through” and there are others that should be given their due respect to just simply let your body heal.
This post is brought to you by two social media posts I saw leading into the thick of triathlon season. One post had a man taking a selfie from a hospital or ambulance bed with a cervical collar and then right next to it was a picture of him with his bike for his latest training ride. He explains that only a couple of months ago he was hit by a car doing 50 mph and put in the hospital. Now he is “still unable to run but manages to ride and still sacrum hurts.” Also only 6 weeks after the accident he “went all out again!!!”…that’s three exclamation marks for those of us keeping track.
A second post was a woman’s recount of her DNF last year at a triathlon because she couldn’t feel one of her legs and it kept collapsing on her. She barely made it to the run where she was in excruciating pain and they pulled her off of the course only 5 miles into the run. It turns out she had a major vascular issue and needed surgery. Well she’s back at it now and still having leg pain and weakness but she’s going to push through regardless and her tri team is “so supportive of her resolve” and this is what it’s all about; “doing the really hard things.”
….sometimes the hardest thing to do is to hit the brakes and do the responsible thing for your body. THAT is a difficult decision to make and worthy of respect.
I understand how much time and energy and passion goes into these races. I know what it takes to train for them. I know the sacrifices. And I know all too well the excitement and disappointment that comes with signing up for and not finishing a race. But I’m pretty sure we’re not getting a paycheck from this. Our bills and food don’t depend on us abusing our bodies and causing long-term complications or even short-term bodily harm. This is, despite your reasons, a hobby. And frankly, one with its pitfalls. A common one is being sucked into the addiction of training and racing at all costs. This is where we lose the ability to be objective and our judgment becomes clouded. We focus on the emotional attachment to the race or process, we view stopping as a failure, and we forget that this is all secondary to our daily lives. Or at least it should be.
So if you really want a challenge, and you really want to be proud of doing something difficult, then I challenge you to listen to your body and give it an honest response. I also challenge your friends, families, and local clubs to also rise to the occasion and don’t just blow smoke up your ass to make you feel better. Give each other honest feedback. Look out for one another. Make decisions based on logic and not on emotion. The next time you’re faced with the decision to push through severe injury or throttle back and recover, I hope you remember that other people don’t actually care about your race medal, and the outcome won’t affect your daily life. As harsh as that seems, it’s coming from a guy who sees the outcomes every month in the clinic. And I promise it feels much better to make the decision yourself than to have someone or something make it for you.
I challenge us all to be better athletes and set examples that deserve to be followed. In a time where we’re all looking for that new path, take the one less traveled. I promise it will make all the difference.
Happy, and safe, training!