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Why social media is a good thing for the running community

The beauty of certain social media platforms is it gives us the opportunity to follow one another’s journeys, writes blogger Tara Campbell

Runners Social Media
Runners Social Media
Photo: Tim Huebsch.

Anyone who’s ever embarked on the journey of long-distance running likely knows it can feel lonely at times. There are days when doubt creeps in and makes you wonder if you’re actually built for this; when you surmise your latest injury must be an indication of inability, or the illness you can’t seem to shake is a sign of weakness, or the workout that you can’t quite hit is due to lack of talent. All of these lies we tend to tell ourselves are in and of themselves fragile and easily punctured given some perspective. Enter social media.

RELATED: Tara Campbell’s blog from last week.

Indeed, as we’ve all likely heard, or experienced, by now, comparing ourselves to others on social media can wreak havoc on our psyches. However if approached properly, I believe the positives outweigh the negatives.

The beauty of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Strava – or whatever your choice of social media may be – is it gives us the opportunity to follow one another’s journeys, which allows us to learn from and support one another.

I find that having a peek into the daily routines, workouts, miles logged, injuries, rehabs, pre-habs, illness, nutrition, health, and whatever life may throw one’s way helps me keep that ever-important perspective. In mere minutes I can scroll through my Twitter or Instagram feed and run the gamut of scenarios, from injury disappointments to setting PBs. I find there is always something relatable, or something to learn from reading about what other runners are experiencing.

In particular, I find it most interesting to follow professional runners. I respect the lot of them who are courageous enough to give an honest account of their experiences, for better or worse.

I recall the moment I scrolled across a tweet last year from Shalane Flanagan, about a week after I learned an injury was going to keep me from running my first marathon. I related to the disappointment in her words, which helped keep my own injury in perspective.

“I have shed a lot of tears this past week. I’m injured and have to withdraw from my hometown race, my favorite race, the race that means the most to me, the [2017] Boston marathon. I fractured a bone in my low back training through a stretch of snowy weather in Portland, Ore…”

There’s power in seeing the best in the world battle some of the same things I do. And, of course, it’s also energizing to see their reactions and insights into their successes.

Desiree Linden recently tweeted about sharing her journey, and I think she nailed it with this. “Call me crazy but I enjoy sharing my journey on social media; good days, bad days, and everything in between. It’s fun to connect with a like-minded community.”

I couldn’t agree more with Linden; as someone who shares my journey on a weekly basis I do consider it important to give the whole picture, as much as possible. I don’t want to hide my failures, or embellish my successes. I take care to give a truthful look into my journey because I recognize how valuable it is, having benefited from others willingness to share their own.