Ole Zimmer
Ole Zimmer

Wearables and social media bring Ironman success

Digitization in professional sport: Triathletes Anja Beranek and Stefan Frommhold on technical change

In the past, a professional triathlete’s job was quite simple. But then came the new media. Triathlon star Anja Beranek speaks at ISPO Munich about the challenges posed by digital change, her goals for the Ironman and her new life as an influencer.

The two triathletes Anja Beranek and Nils Frommhold at the ISPO Munich 2018.

At the ISPO Munich 2018, triathlon star Anja Beranek is on stage together with her Ironman colleague Nils Frommhold and is presenting the new running shoes from her sponsor Skechers. She’s talking about her sport, training and planning the season. "It’s an Ironman when it hurts for nine hours," says Nils, laughing at his own joke.

Also in training, Anja adds, one moves well as a professional "in the pain area one fifth of the time". It’s hard graft being a professional triathlete: hardly surprising thus far. But the profession has changed dramatically in recent years, it may have even become a little bit harder.

Digitization is changing the professional’s job description

The increasing digitization in particular has significantly changed the professional image of the professional triathlete."I am experiencing digital change at first hand, and it’s very intense," explains Anja after appearing on stage. Lots has become simpler, yet other things are more complex.

As an example, her trainer isn’t always on site but can always track how Anja’s training went, how she is recovering and the effects of stimuli. Even performance diagnostics are completed remotely and completely digitally these days. So far, these are all improvements. "But in everyday life, it also means that I am constantly surrounded by technology and have to engage with it," says Anja, explaining the flip side.

It takes time to master some of the really complex devices. And it’s not always clear what may happen to the data. Anja is transparent as an athlete.

The athlete as an influencer

However, the even bigger change is being caused by social media. A professional triathlete’s job description has changed a great deal in recent years. Alongside training, it is increasingly important to act as an influencer yourself, to engage with the community and to interact with fans.

"That’s also expected these days," explains Anja. "The World Championship title is no longer enough for many sponsors. You must also let your character shine too." That helps tremendously with marketing. On the other hand, there is also a certain amount of pressure to share your private life with social media users.

"I personally have no problem with it," says Anja. But it’s important to prioritize – after all, it’s about being fast in the competition and "I must look after myself first".

Meanwhile, this year’s plan is no longer a secret. Anja Beranek is a determined and ambitious athlete who constantly wants to improve. The season’s high point will be the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in October. She’s come fourth once before. This year, she’s aiming for a spot on the podium. To see if the plan pays off, visit Beranek’s Instagram profile in good time.

Ole Zimmer
Ole Zimmer
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