FOMO is the enemy of meaningful progression. FOMO, which is ably abetted by the immediacy and autonomous intimacy of social media, is what can drive us to over-commit, over-compete and put our bodies through increased periods of stress without the necessary time to recover. Our systems become prone to physical injuries, endocrine stress, adrenal fatigue, not to mention the psychological, familial and financial stress that we may incur on our endless quest to never miss out on an experience, a race, or a competition.
Pitting ourselves against others in competition is both integral to our development and an engaging and enjoyable process which in and of itself has many benefits. Delayed gratification, which manifests in consistent training towards a select goal, is one of the main benefits of a pursuit such as running. FOMO erodes our ability to delay gratification, our entry into events may become impulsive, obsessive and even addictive. We enter for the thrill of entering and the connection that this brings us with other like minded souls, often through social media. It appears that sometimes the race itself becomes secondary to the entry and social media process. Constantly distracting ourselves with banner events is not sustainable, nor should it be celebrated as a healthy manner to conduct ourselves.
Race, It’s a fantastic experience. Engage in running culture, it’s great to make connections. Strive for your goals and put in hard work to achieve them, but please consider that over-competition due to FOMO is not the way to make healthy, pain-free running a sustainable and adaptive component of your life.
Here are some strategies to use to limit the impact of FOMO
Acceptance is Key: You are not alone in feeling isolated. You won’t be the only person not doing X event. Focus on this fact. Acknowledgement that you are part of a wider group may help your distress.
Be Firm in Your Goals: Have a plan of what you want to achieve and why. Write it down. Feeling the FOMO? Review your goals and reflect. Visualise the negative impact of increased fatigue and potential injury. Likewise visualise your success. If your goal is a lifetime of running, consider how overloading yourself now may impact on you in later life.
Volunteer/Pace/Spectate: I do not know a single race director that will turn down volunteers. If you simply must attend a race but do not wish to over-compete consider volunteering. You are engaged, your friends will love seeing a familiar face and it is good for both inspiration and delaying gratification. Pacing is a worthwhile experience for those who love longer events, you are contributing meaningfully to someone’s day, you are running and you get to experience part of the course for free. Lastly, turn up to support. It’s fun. Cheer, heckle, high five and have a great time.
Unplug: It’s fun to follow athletes at races with the event apps that are so common, however this can expidentially increase FOMO as you feel you are missing out in real time. Consider checking in at set times during the day then focus on other things. You can relive the experience with your friends after the fact, not live vicariously through them whilst the event is happening.
Przybylski, A. K.; Murayama, K.; DeHaan, C. R. & Gladwell, V. (2013), "Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out.", Computers in Human Behavior, 29 (4): 1841–1848, doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.02.014
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