Have you ever made a decision in your life based on what most people around you are doing or thinking?
Of course you have.
We all have.
We don’t have time to research every last thing, so we make the best decisions we can based on the information we have available.
Often that info comes from friends, colleagues, coaches, and training partners.
I was at a Meetup event yesterday for a paleo/primal group I run.
Someone was talking about how everyone on his high school cross country team (distance running) ate high carb / low fat diets.
And while some of them could run pretty fast, none of them looked healthy.
And he was generally eating the opposite way. High fat, low carb. He was able to keep muscle on a lot better than his teammates, and perform at a high level, despite going against the conventional wisdom of high carb eating.
Everyone thought he was crazy until the results came out.
When you join a group training event, and everyone is “rewarding” themselves with donuts or muffins or stacks of pancakes after, do you partake or do your own thing?
When you get to an event and people are guzzling sugary gatorade, eating high carb Clif bars, and slamming down gels during their bike & run, are you more likely to be influenced by them and join in the carb fest, or move in a different direction, that might give you more energy?
It sometimes can be very hard to make the healthy or correct choices. And sometimes it makes sense to “let your hair down” a bit and have a pancake or two (after all, they sure are tasty!)
But it often pays off to question what “everyone” seems to be doing around you, and take a different approach.
Paleo and low carb athletes like Nell Stephenson have long careers, and look great, healthy, and young doing it!
In the 1980s, the motto in swimming was “no pain, no gain” and the more distance (or “yardage”) you could do in the water, the better.
Being completely broken down most of the time, then tapering for your races was a way of life.
And almost everyone believed that was the best way to go.
But it wasn’t then, and it isn’t now. Some things, like training methodology and diet, need to be constantly questioned.
Groups can also provide so much benefit. Sometimes you really need that group to help motivate you to get that workout in.
It’s also a great way to make friends- training and experiencing the struggles and victories together along the way.
Some people like the accountability groups bring.
So I say find your balance. Join your tri clubs and masters groups. Make friends and find training partners.
But do your own research. Make sure you are doing what’s best for you, and not going along with everyone because the majority rules.
When the heard is going one way, it often pays to go the opposite direction, “swim against the stream” so to speak.
Pick your battles, train smart, and befriend the water!