Just recently I had a rather unexpected and very nice e-mail from someone who had come across my website and blog via the RAAM website. The author posed a few questions about subjects that I do intend to address in subsequent blogs, but also asked why I wasn’t on Strava… or rather why I have an account but don’t use it. He assumed it must be related to wanting a bit of a competitive edge but felt the data could be of interest to people wondering what training for an event like RAAM entails. It’s a question I’ve been asked before, so I thought it was worth answering. Once you’ve read the post you’ll realise why I chuckled about the “competitive edge” assumption!
I first became aware of Strava without actually realising it. A couple of years ago, the vet I’d replaced at my last surgery popped in to see everyone and we got chatting. We’d met briefly before back in my non-vet years and I knew she was a cyclist. Someone mentioned to her that I cycled and the conversation quickly took a bike-orientated turn. She started telling me about the great “segments” up round the hills where I live and various KOM and QOM timings. I had ABSOLUTELY not the faintest idea what she was talking about! It seemed that these segment things were important but although I knew the roads she meant, I didn’t really quite follow where one would then record and compare times. Obviously I didn’t let on that I no idea what she was on about and quickly forgot the conversation. It was only when someone else asked me if I was on Strava shortly afterwards that a quick Google made sense of the whole conversation. I also realised how popular it was and wondered quite which bit of the dark ages I’d been in. Oh well, no change there!
I ventured on to Strava and explored the many local segments. I could instantly see why people love it….. and made the decision there and then that we would stay acquaintances but not friends. To put it bluntly, my poor Chimp has quite enough issues comparing its own performances day-on-day, let alone needing to judge itself against a whole host of people it has never met. I also made a promise to myself when I started my RAAM training with my coach Nick that I would train like a racehorse – I’d stick to the workouts I was set and not go off and randomly do my own thing. It’s a promise I have mostly kept over the years (ok, my first 200km Audax turned into my first 200mile ride, but what’s in a unit?! I do feel the need to point out that the extra mileage was by choice not due to appalling navigation!) I didn’t want to start chasing segments and QOMs as I’d end up working in the wrong zones and for the wrong durations and potentially get myself into a pickle. At the time I also didn’t have a Garmin and wasn’t storing my data anywhere – I just did what Nick programmed and reported back.
I do now have the means to upload stuff but I still have no intention of sharing that with anyone. Why? It’s exactly the opposite of wanting to have some sort of competitive edge… pure and simply it’s a basic human fear of feeling inadequate. I don’t want people looking at that data and thinking “bloody hell, that’s not good enough for someone wanting to finish RAAM” or words to that effect. I train hard and I put the hours in. If it’s long enough, hard enough, easy enough…. well, RAAM will tell.
Knowing how your mind works is key to being both successful and happy. I know that chasing segments and QOMs will do my Chimp no good at all at the moment, so I don’t do it. Similarly I know that mentally I’d rather keep my data to myself, not so much because of what people will think but because of what I THINK PEOPLE WILL THINK which is worse. I’m doing a lot of work on mindset and resilience (as an NLP Practitioner, the first person I practise on is myself!) but day-to-day it’s also wise not to do things that are going to undermine your confidence and for me this is one thing I can do to not let my Chimp get hijacked.
So, there you go. Strava and I will remain as separate entities until my Chimp is big enough and bold enough not to care what other people think! Gordon, don’t hold your breath……!
(P.S I do, however, love the whole Strava art thing; now that I do fancy! Art isn’t my strong point but I reckon I stand a fighting chance with that!)