A couple months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Julie Moss, the most famous finisher of Ironman Kona, when I attended my first ever “Betty Camp” with the 2017 Betty Designs team. We have Julie to thank for putting triathlon on the media map when, in 1982, she signed up for Ironman Kona as part of a college assignment, took the lead the woman’s race during the run, and collapsed in epic fashion a mere 200 feet from the finish line. The entire meltdown was caught on camera and as Kathleen McCartney passed by her to take the win, Julie crawled across the finish line for second. The whole saga was shown on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and Ironman Triathlon officially became known as that crazy race in Hawaii.
Addressing our small group of triathletes, Julie recounted that famous race and her subsequent career. She summed up the entire experience in one phrase: Check Your Ego.
Racing Kona, Julie thought she was going to win. She was excited to see the cameras following her out on the bike and, wanting to look cute on camera, tossed all of her nutrition (one Snickers bar) so she wouldn’t get melted chocolate all over her face. Whoops.
A week after hearing Julie speak I found myself racing my first race of the season. I asked my husband to film me with the GoPro and I took plenty of prerace photos and video. During the race I was feeling awesome, watching my speed on my fancy Garmin watch, thinking about how I totally had a shot at the podium. And then I missed the run turnaround because I didn’t study the course ahead of time and wasn’t paying attention to the road signs. All I could think as I posted my race photo on Instagram was, “Why didn’t I listen to Julie???”
It was the ego check I needed for sure.
Training isn’t pretty. For every Nike and Under Armour ad showing beautiful buff women with sporty, shiny ponytails and subtle makeup glistening through a workout on an empty track at the bottom of a huge coliseum, there are a thousand women you don’t see- women in cotton t-shirts and spandex shorts that highlight their tummy rolls, messy hair bun askew, dripping buckets on their bike trainer in their windowless basement. With all of our social media channels and constant exposure to “fitspo,” a workout no longer seems relevant unless we capture it from 10 different angles before polishing and posting the best shot. Our egos get a constant boost with every like and comment, and a small panic creeps in when a post isn’t racking up as many likes as usual. I use Instagram to help with my fitness accountability and inspiration, sure, but I’m as guilty as the next person for taking 10 photos and not posting any because I looked pale/fat/tired.
Triathlon age groupers with beautiful social media profiles are a dime a dozen. You know who suck at creating beautiful social media profiles? The Pros. Seriously- go look up Mirinda Carfrae and Daniela Ryf on Instagram. Notice how few training shots they have. Notice how few posts they have in general. My guess is that they’re too busy putting in the focused, quality training required to be at the top to take 10 selfies and edit the perfect one before uploading it with a witty caption and 25 hashtags.
Imagine the gains you could make if you focus more on what training feels like instead of what it looks like?
My challenge to you this week is to leave your camera and phone behind during your sessions this week.
I promise, the workout does happen even if you forget to take a picture.