Every week runners ask me if social media is beneficial or detrimental when it comes to training for an upcoming race, or to one’s running practice in general. Full disclosure: I have an insatiable addiction when it comes to social media. Granted, our social media streams are proliferated by a lot of mindless distractions, but behind all of that is what I feel to be an authentic desire for human connection. I consider the running community I belong to be akin to a ‘tribe’—a highly diverse group that transcends gender, race, geography, and socio-economic divides. So, in this week’s “Ask JP” column, I’d like to share with you my Top 10 ways social media makes you a better runner.
1. No Man is an island.
Running can be such a lonely sport, and even the most seasoned runner will attest to how difficult it can be to hit the trail, track, road, or gym for a run. Connecting with the huge online running community reminds us that even when we are out there alone pounding out the miles, we are part of a huge running family.
2. Let’s talk chafed nipples and black toenails.
We runners can be insufferable to live with—especially when we are tapering! Staying in touch with your running mates on social media allows you to spend hours waxing on about chafed nipples, black toenails, and even the perennial question: “Should I wear a singlet or short sleeve shirt in tomorrow’s race?”
3. Everyone needs a ‘soccer mom’ or a ‘hockey dad’.
Training for a race is hard work, so it’s inevitable that our motivation might be sorely lacking a little boost. Receiving a tweet from a runner friend or a Facebook message from another runner across the globe is just like having your mom or dad cheering you on.
4. All you need to know is right here.
Twitter can be an invaluable source of information for any runner. I love checking in with my tribe to find out what the weather was like on someone’s run, what new products are out there, and when, or even if, I should sign up for a given race.
5. Sometimes a little humble pie is a good thing.
So…I’ve just got in the door from a great tempo run and I decide to post my run online for all my mates to stare at in awe. It doesn’t take long to read that other people have run farther, faster, and in worse conditions than I did. Yep…Twitter keeps my “ego in check”.
6. The surest way to inspire is to perspire.
There are definitely days when I simply don’t want to get out there and run, but a quick scan of my Twitter feed always sorts that out. Every day I’m amazed by the challenges we all face, and the resilience that so many runners bring to our sport. Whether you’re training for your first 5k, or your first 100-miler, it all starts with lacing up your shoes and proving to the rest of us that no matter what obstacle you face in life, things always seem better after a run.
7. Travel is not so lonely with tweet-ups!
Over the past four years, I’ve amassed quite a large group of running friends from around the world thanks to social media. I have a solid core group that I check in with most days while I’m eating my breakfast after my run. Social media has enlarged my world and connected me with some of the most incredible people on the planet. One of the joys of traveling to distant races throughout the year is the opportunity to “tweet-up” with some of my friends on Twitter when I visit their city for a race. Nothing calms pre-race jitters better than sitting down for a coffee or a meal with a running friend I met on social media. As an added bonus, having a local contact makes race logistics so much easier, as you gain an insider’s perspective to the best hotels, restaurants, and running routes in the new city.
8. Dig your head out of the sand…. You’ll be fine!
Nothing feels worse than training months for a big race, only to see it all go “pear shaped” on the day of the race. No matter how well we train, weather, stomach issues, and sometimes a nagging injury can derail your expectations—and maybe even result in the dreaded DNF. I’ve been there on many occasions, and my running friends on social media are always there to hold my head up, and remind me that one bad race is not the end of the world.
9. Lighten up—take a selfie!
We runners can have a tendency to take our running passion a little too seriously at times. I need a daily reminder about what brought me into running in the first place—to challenge myself physically and to help bring balance to the rest of my life. One of my favourite things to do is to look through my Facebook and Twitter feeds for the “selfies” and awesome run pics that many of my friends post. I’ve had the opportunity to run through some of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet, but I need to be reminded to slow down, look around, and take it all in!
10. Our running tribe has a kick-ass vibe!
You can’t choose your birth family, but you CAN build your running tribe! Let’s work together to build a super, supportive running tribe that will make us not only better runners but better people. You can start by retweeting this post and tagging me, @runjprun and three of your running mates. It’s an awesome way to meet amazing people who share our love of the sport.