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There's always more to learn

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Strava and I are on a Break

Do you know Strava? It's pretty much like Facebook for athletes, with the added bonus of being able to see how fast and how far your friends went plus their heart rate, power output on the bike, pace per 100 on the swim, and elevation gain on their route. Basically everything you need to compare yourself to friends and plus thousands of other random people. Oh, and hidden out there in the world there are these "segments", which are like mini race courses where Strava keeps track it's users' efforts on these particular stretches of road and then kindly lets you know how you stack up.

When I'm in good shape, I love Strava.

Right now, not so much.

Strava is awesome for motivation and accountability and encouragement and connection in sports that are largely solitary experiences. I love to see all the cool places other people run and bike. I love how it keeps track of my mileage for me and shows me trends of my averages. I love being able to congratulate people on their epic rides and race performances; they don't have to brag, I don't have to remember to ask, it's a win-win.

But the dark side of my relationship with Strava is that it hard for me to feel good about backing off and giving my body the time and care it needs to recover. Strava makes it hard for me to be content. Strava is a constant reminder that no matter what I do, there is always somebody out there doing more, faster, stronger, longer, and that makes it hard for me to be happy with me.

Strava feeds my competitive side, which is a blessing and a curse. During past training blocks Strava helped me get in the pool and out on the roads when I wasn't really feeling it. Strava helped me get the extra yards or miles in because I didn't want evidence of my slacking off to show up on my feed. Imagining my Strava feed pushed me to do the big loops on my bike because I knew they'd make me feel accomplished when I poured over the analytics later. However, feeding that competitive side is a curse when competition isn't serving me. There's absolutely no reason to measure my workouts against others when I end up feeling bad about myself and my efforts as a result. There's absolutely no reason to compete when the only thing at stake is my self-worth.

Which begs the question; why is my self-worth tied up in my workout performance in the first place? Well, that's something to think about now, isn't it?

I've always been the kind of person who prefers to blend in rather than stand out. I was the kid in the back corner of the ballet recital not because I was the worst one, but because I hated being seen. I rarely raised my hand in class. To this day, I get sweaty palms and a racing heart if I have to make a comment in a meeting. It's not clinical anxiety of any kind, it's just shyness and shaky self-esteem. I've accepted it and for the most part, figured out ways to talk to myself that makes the fear less of a barrier to action.

When I trained for and completed Ironman, something changed. This thing I did, this process I had completed, this accomplishment that not a lot of people have a chance to even attempt, flipped a switch in my brain so I now could see myself as capable, dedicated, brave, and strong. I think I was afraid of believing those things before. There always seemed to be evidence to contradict those beliefs and so it was safer to stay in the background and to let everyone pass me by. Believing those things about myself might make me seem conceited or overbearing or obnoxious and that definitely was not how I wanted to be known.

But going through the training and racing of Ironman showed me that I can be strong and gentle, confident and kind, brave and scared, capable and uncertain all at the same time.

Learning to be okay with these types of opposing forces coexisting in my life has been a game-changer. And a constant struggle. Because there are always opposing forces, conflicting goals, and temptations to go back to my "default" settings. I can choose to do what feels easy or I can choose to grow.

Strava had become part of my routine, a habitual check-in and rating of myself. That part of my routine was not only holding me back from doing what I know my body needs, it was dragging me down emotionally too. It's freeing to let everybody else pass me by right now. It's rejuvenating and refreshing to let go of expectations and focus on the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of the season.

So that's why I'm taking a break from Strava. Don't feel bad, Strava friends; you are still awesome, even without the validation of an extra kudos from me:) Instead,

I'm reconnecting with the awesomeness of my own life, workouts, resting, relaxing, and enjoying my family, whatever each day may bring.

(Cross Country races are exhausting. Thanks to my son Jack for providing the image for this post LOL!)

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