Tag Archives: blogging

The Running Blog Trap

If there were a job that required endlessly reading running blogs hour after hour, I can guarantee I would be one of the most qualified applicants. (And if such a job exists, tell me about it ASAP.)

I adore running blogs. In fact, I no longer go to Facebook or Twitter as my main procrastination resource, I go straight to different running blogs. If the IT department at my job could track my random non-work  internet perusing,  they would notice a very distinct trend. It’s all about running.

It was, in fact, my discovery of running blogs that inspired me to start my own. Of course I have my own personal reasons for having my blog, but a big factor was my desire to be a part of this community of women who were so much like me.

When I first started finding these blogs, it was like all of a sudden I found “my people.” People that didn’t make me feel like a huge running-obsessed weirdo. People who thought the same way I did, people who acted the same way I did, and (perhaps my favorite thing) people who had advice and ideas of all things related to running.

Runners! Runners who blog! In real life!

Having a blog myself has been a great way to be involved in this blogging community, and I truly love being able to follow others’ training along with my own. I am starting to realize, however, that despite how much I love this form of networking and interaction, there’s a definite trap that can happen. It’s a trap that I don’t think many people recognize because this is such a supportive, engaged, and happy community. I myself didn’t realize I had fallen victim to it until very recently, and ever since it’s become more and more obvious.

This trap I’m talking about is the one where you read blog after blog of super fast, never-injured, ultra-running, record-breaking, age group winning runners—and inevitably you wonder, why isn’t that me?

I’m recognizing that while running blogs are indeed inspiring and uplifting, they can sometimes have the opposite effect of provoking the comparison game. Runners of all different levels have blogs, and I read a little of everything, but I also know that I tend to check in quite frequently with runners that are much better than me. This is not to say that I don’t respect, love, or stalk the heck out of people who are more on my level, I don’t want it to sound like that at all. But there’s something fascinating and motivating for me to read about girls who are crazy fast.

I think there is a huge advantage to reading about people who are at a higher level than you. It’s why there are so many books written by professionals for amateurs on various topics; they inspire us to dream of a level above where we’re currently at.

The best part about running bloggers is that most aren’t sponsored or professional athletes—they’re regular people, just like us. Regular people who happen to be great at the sport, meaning they make that higher level seem more accessible than, say, Kara Goucher can. Sorry K, I’m never going to run a 2:24 marathon, I can admit that.

Still love you though ❤

So while this kind of inspiration may help our dreams seem more feasible, I think it can be a slippery slope between feeling motivated and feeling inferior. Maybe it’s just me and my uber competitive self, who knows, but I think that generally when we pay too much attention to the successes of others, it can take away from our own.

It’s as if the fast bloggers/runners we follow become a standard of sorts, and instead of using our own abilities as a benchmark, we start to compare ourselves to all of “them.” I started noticing this about myself when I speak to people outside of the running community about various races I’ve done and my speed in those races. Truly, I know running and running races is something to be proud of, and I am, but I’ve realized that the reaction I get from other people is not a reflection of how I feel about myself.

In other words, while most people are blown away by the mere attempt at a half- or full marathon, I’m normally completely absorbed in how fast or slow or strong the race was, not simply finishing it.

I’m not blaming anyone but myself for this, but I think one of the biggest reasons my mindset has fallen victim to analyzing the specifics instead of looking at the picture is because I’m in the running blog trap. I’m constantly seeing times, distances, splits, etc. that are, at least to me, much more impressive than mine—and while I try to remember that it’s all relative, sometimes I can’t help feeling sub-par.

Again, it may be just me, but I’m bringing this up because if there’s one thing I know about the running blogging community—it’s that we love numbers, race reports, PRs, and finish times. My most viewed posts are always my race reports, and I love whenever another blogger puts up a report of whatever it is they’ve been training for.Some might call it voyeuristic (isn’t that what blogging is about though?), but I think it’s exciting and inspiring to read about the grand finale of our training: race day.

It’s through this kind of attention to someone else’s running experiences, though, that demonstrates how easy it is to start comparing our own stats.

Upon realizing that I’d become a bit too entrenched in this running blog trap, I’ve made an effort to—as the oh-so-wise Nicole puts it—keep my eyes on my own paper. The fact that some random blogger who a) I’ve never met and b)probably never will meet can run a 3:00 marathon does not take anything away from my own current marathon PR. Using the times of runners who are more experienced than me as my own personal standard for what’s “good” is completely setting myself for disappointment. And not only that—it’s taking away from my own experiences that I should, in fact, be very proud of.

This is so true in much of life—but I think it’s easy to forget: the accomplishments of others do not take anything away from our own accomplishments. By learning this through running, and by being in the running community, I’ve been able to find (admittedly) many areas of my life where this comparison trap occurs. By keeping our eyes on our own paper, we are not only able to maintain a good sense of relativity, but we can begin to centralize our focus on our own goals, achievements, and areas for improvement as opposed to dwelling on those of others.

I encourage running bloggers, and everyone else, to continue to use the successes of others as inspiration. Educating ourselves with success stories of feats that otherwise seem impossible are a powerful way to jump start our own journeys. But remember that those accomplishments belong to someone else, and while they should be celebrated—they in no way take away from our own.

When you look at your own paper, whether it be a list of PRs, a resume, or an essay—take ownership for all the work and effort that was put into it. Because it is all worthy of admiration—no matter what “level” you think you’re at.

And let’s face it…in a country with an obesity epidemic on the rise and people who prefer segways to walking tours—the ability to run at all is something to be damn proud of.

What do you think about ‘the running blog trap?’ Have you fallen victim to it? Why do you think we’re so susceptible to playing the comparison game? Is it a simply an athlete thing, or is it in our nature? 

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100 Posts

Hello!

Thanks to my good friends at WordPress and their stellar programming math skillz, it has come to my attention that I have reached 100 blog posts.

Woo! Big numbers!

I realize in the blog and internet scheme of things, 100 is minuscule. However, it’s all relative…and for someone like me who really just figured out how Twitter and Facebook work,  100 is big.

In honor of 100 posts, I’ve decided to talk a bit about the things I’ve learned through being a part of this cyber blogging and running world. Some good, some bad, some ugly (see: missing toenails), but overall…I’ve gained a whole lot more than I ever thought possible from being a part of you people, and I’m happy for it.

Let’s hope to it then.

I’ve learned that I’m really not that crazy.

Well, okay, yes I’m that crazy.

However, for a while I thought I was alone. I thought that preferring to run many miles on a Saturday morning over a Friday late night bar crawl made me somewhat of a freak. And sure, maybe it does. But there are other freaks out there! Hooray for unity over hydrating and carbo-loading!

Occasionally, I do love a night out, a day off, and generally just being lazy. But, for the most part, I consider my love of consistently being active and ready to run very unusual, and before having a blog…I barely talked about it with my friends and people I knew. I wasn’t embarrassed, necessarily, but I didn’t want to feel like I was “showing off” or trying to get attention. Because that’s never been what my running’s about. Honestly, I would actually downplay my answers when people asked me how many miles I ran every week or how often I worked out, because I didn’t really feel like explaining myself away to people who just weren’t going to get it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with not getting it. But I was happy letting other people do their thing, while I did mine.

I was kind of a secret runner, I suppose you could say, and with this came a tendency to think of myself as a bit of an outsider.

Joining a community of running addicts like myself has really helped me to realize that I’m not all that strange at all, and in fact—marathon training and hard workouts can be something to be proud of. Sure, I do tend to feel gloaty sometimes and I still tend to shy away from discussing my training with other people…but reading about the running other women my age are doing really makes me feel like I’m part of something other than just my own seclusive habits.

I’ve learned that I really, really love to write.

In reference to the above “lesson” I’ve learned, you might be wondering…if I shy away from talking about training, why would I have a blog where all I talk about is miles and cookies and sweating?

Good question.

I actually started my blog primarily because I love to write. My love of writing has existed for much longer than my love of running, and it’s actually the catalyst for why I started my blog.

I began reading lots of books and articles all about running. I didn’t really realize that this literature on running was out there, and all at once it seemed it was all coming at me like wild fire. I loved it, I couldn’t get enough of it, and it made me want to run and train even more.

It was actually a book about running that really jolted me to run my first marathon. Not to sound like every other American recreational runner-turned-marathoner, but it was Dean Karnazes’ book “Ultramarathon Man” that made me think, “Wait a minute, I can do that!”

Not long after I did my first marathon, I somehow stumbled upon some running blogs. In all honesty, I never used to read blogs, and I kind of thought they were a place where people were more honest about their lives than they were in the real world or on Facebook…which, unfortunately, some people think of as “the real world.”

In a nutshell, I thought blogs were for internet shut-ins who would rather spend time in the virtual world than with their friends or family.

I was wrong.

I started finding blogs of girls who were runners, and they were exactly like me. I felt like I was reading my own writing with some of these blogs, and I found myself coming back to them every day. The more I read…the more I admitted the truth to myself: I wanted to start my own. Because if there’s one thing I love more than writing and running, it’s writing about running.

As you can probably tell at this point, I can get a little metaphysical and deep when it comes to talking about running, I will totally own it.

But it’s who I am…and it’s been through writing that I’ve realized that running is so much more important to me than just calorie burning and leg toning. In fact, when it comes down to it, those things are in last place on the list of reasons why I love running. Having a blog has helped me realize that…and it’s through all the writing and reflections that I’ve done about this sport that I’ve really broken down the true essence of why I love to run.

Additionally, I am convinced that having this blog has helped my professional writing as well. For those of you who don’t already know, I’m a magazine editor by day, meaning a lot of my job requires writing in all different shapes and forms. Articles, reviews, interviews, press releases, newsletters…you name it, I’ve written it. And I’m finding that the writing is coming easier to me than it used to, and I think that has a lot to do with the more fun, quirky ranting I do here.

Practice makes perfect no matter what it is you’re practicing, and writing definitely qualifies in that regard.

I’ve learned that it’s important to step away from our computers.

It’s not that I didn’t really know this before, but I’ve realized recently that while it’s fun and exciting to check in on our blogging friends via Twitter, new posts, Facebook, etc. whenever they have something new to share…it’s also really important to get away from it all as well.

It’s really easy to get super caught up in the on-goings of the virtual world. And why not? We start to feel like we know the people that we follow, and that follow us, so it’s easy to spend our time procrastinating looking for what everyone is up to. This is all fine and well, however I know I can warp myself into a little black hole sometimes by spending too much time staring at my screen’s reality as opposed to living in my own.

I catch myself when I’m out away from my computer and I find myself thinking about something or someone that I only know of because of my internet relationship. This, I am sure, is normal in this day and age, but frankly I don’t like that it takes me away from whatsoever I’m doing, you know, in my real life. I love my internet peeps, don’t get me wrong…but there’s something to be said for getting away from our alternate reality and just being.

It’s the same reason, on a lesser scale, that I like to run without music. Or, how BF and I don’t check our phones when we’re on dates.

Thanks to technology ruling both our working and social lives in the modern world, it is inevitable that we will spend countless hours engrossed in the happenings on a small screen.

This is not how we, as social beings, were meant to live, though.

So be proactive and take some time outs. Everything will be there when you get back, and I promise your Twitter feed is highly more enjoyable when you check it after a weekend as opposed to a couple of minutes.

I have learned that we’re really not alone.

When something good or bad happens, it’s easy to feel we are in a category all our own.

We run our first half marathon faster than we expected? Huzzah! We must be Superwoman.

We get hurt and can’t run for a few weeks? The universe obviously hates us and we were never supposed to be a runner in the first place.

(WTF tense was that? I don’t know. Leaving it. Lazy.)

Here’s the fact of the matter:

If you run your first half, full, or whatever distance faster than you thought…that really is super awesome, and you should consider yourself a Super(wo)man.

If you are hurt and can’t run, that really does suck, and I’m sorry.

But, reality check…there have been and will be many, many, many more people in the same scenario as you. It doesn’t make your accomplishments any less great, or your hardships any less easy, but the fact of the matter is you are far from the first to experience (fill in the blank____), and that’s okay.

Take some comfort in the fact that others can relate to you.

Injured and not sure what to do? The wonderful thing about the internet (and the blogging world) is that there are positively more injured people out there that would love to commiserate with you. They may even be able to help or offer some advice.*

*Take all injury research and advice via the internet with a grain of salt, as you may wind up self-diagnosing leg cancer when you actually have shin splints.

The same idea goes for accomplishments. We should  absolutely feel proud of the things we do that we worked hard for and ultimately achieved. Celebrate. Tell everyone. Go nuts.

But, don’t be disappointed when you read ten other stories just like yours. They don’t take anything away from you, and they don’t make what you did any less spectacular…they are simply a reflection that other people want to do cool things too. Instead, you should celebrate with those people. A party is much more fun when there’s lots of folks involved, so just as other people root for you and encourage you in your training endeavors…pay it forward, and join in on the virtual cheer-leading brigade.

On that same note. Let other people inspire you! I know that while I might be envious of girls my age who have already run Boston-qualifying times or competed in Ironman races, I can turn my jealousy into fuel. These stories inspire me to reach further, dig deeper, and I love getting new ideas for races or training plans from the bloggers I admire and who inspire me.

I’ve learned that following the training and racing of other people can be just as fun as doing it yourself.

I never, ever, thought I would be someone who regularly followed blogs or commented on the ramblings of other people. The extent of my internet exploration ended with Facebook and Gmail, and everything else was for people who were much more tech-savvy and social media smart.

Now, I’m still not tech savvy, nor too skilled at hash-tagging or making YouTube videos, however…I know that something I look forward to each day is reading up on the trials, tribulations, and sweat of the lady runners I follow. (Really wanted that list to be alliterative, dang.) I think it’s really exciting to watch someone’s progression from a 5k runner to a marathoner, or a marathoner to an ultra-marathoner.

No matter the level, I love to read about people who run. Running is the underlying thread that unites us all, and despite the different locations, interests, and ages, I love that the running blogging community is held together through the pure love of putting one foot in front of the other.

My favorite thing about running is the simplicity of it. It’s primal, it’s natural, and it’s the way we were meant to get around. People who write about running get this, and I love connecting, if even just through a comment box, with others who understand the need to run.

So there you have it. Some things I’ve learned through writing about running and a bit of my blogging story thrown in there as well.

After 100 posts, countless miles, injuries, races, comments, tweets, meet-ups, emails, etc. I want to say THANK YOU to every single one of my readers. Your words and feedback make this space so enjoyable and fun for me, and I appreciate all the advice, laughs, and random tidbits you share with me. I’m looking forward to much more writing, running, and reading with you—all with a heaping spoonful of cookie dough and a Nuun-filled water bottle on the side.

Happy Monday!!