My thoughts on social media, technology and running

Running has changed a lot over the years.

Obviously I wasn’t there in the “glory” days of the past when running gained momentum and popularity among the masses (long before London Marathon became the entry nightmare it is today) but you hear a lot about how it used to be. Someone at parkrun told me how when they were training for the Southampton Marathon back in the 1980’s they were unable to find running shoes – if shops even sold them! He had to wear flat plimsolls. I mean, seriously. And forget gels, electrolytes, isotonic drinks and super duper compression gear. It wasn’t around back then. Some may argue is it even needed really?

Today it does seem a bit like we’ve over-complicated running (and cycling I suppose) with technology, gear and nutrition. No longer do you just throw on a t-shirt, shorts and trainers and get out the door. Put on those carefully chosen trainers (do you pronate too much? Not enough? Flat feet? High arches? Narrow? Wide?), have you had your pre-run snack (not too high in protein, careful of that fibre, is it the right carbohydrate?), find those satelites, (DON’T YOU DARE START RUNNING UNTIL YOU HAVE THEM) and run along your pre-planned route of the set number of miles according to your well-researched training plan (which you’ve got the book for, obvs). Gotta hit that mileage for the week!

Post run routine… have you foam rolled? Had a hot bath with your epsom salts? Don’t leave your post run snack too long – you’ll lose those gains and you’ll fall over with faintness! Put on your compression socks, you don’t want those muscles to get tight. But MOST importantly, have you updated Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? STRAVA. Omg, don’t you forget about Strava. If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen! Think about the forgotten kudos, likes, favourites and comments.OK I’m being silly. And I’ll be honest with you, the thought of running without my Garmin and not tracking takes a little away from my enjoyment of running. Don’t get me wrong, if Garmins suddenly died everywhere or Strava disappeared, I would still run. Running is a significant part of who I am and how I live my life. It gives me great happiness – and health, of course.

But I love the post-race analysis of a run. My splits, cadence, elevation… I find it interesting. It adds to my enjoyment of the run. Strava segments are fun to get involved with and beating a run you did a year ago is always a nice boost. It gets me motivated and I love having a log of what I’ve done.

My legend of a granddad who’s in his 80’s uses Strava. He regularly goes for walks, hikes and bike rides and logs it all. He’s a cool guy. I remember having a conversation with him a while ago where he said he wished he could have written a blog or had Strava back in the days when he was in the thick of his mountain climbing. Claiming segments, summits and routes left, right and centre. You could easily prove who got somewhere first. It wasn’t just relying on someone’s word. He’s a highly competitive person so I imagine this would have really boosted him to see his achievements in this way. So though back in the day it might have been a simpler world, there are definite advantages of how it is today.

And social media? Oh yes I’m certainly guilty of excessive over-sharing. Pre-run photos, intra-run photos, post-run photos… I’ve done them all. Look at my new shoes! Look at how I did in this race! Or just simply boring guff about how I went for a run one lunchtime and didn’t get rained on. I’m not breaking any records or doing anything really that worthwhile to shout about.But still, I like to share. I like to throw my little run into the soup of social media and interact with other runners who have done just the same. I prefer to follow people who are similar to me. Elites are interesting don’t get me wrong, but I love the posts where someone has just gone for a 4 miles run at 9.30min/miles on a normal Wednesday morning. I like to connect with runners all over the UK and the world – people doing exactly what I’m doing. No disrespect to anyone, but most of us aren’t that fast…but we all love running and the community of that is fun to be involved in. It’s interesting to see what others are wearing, what runs they’re doing, where they’re going and what they want to achieve.Yes some posts I roll my eyes at. Some posts can annoy me. Or make me jealous. When you’re injured, social media is certainly a dark place to be. But equally, it’s an uplifting place. It’s full of good natured people with good intentions who like to support others. I will never meet 80% of the people who I follow and follow me on social media, but that doesn’t mean I don’t take an interest in what they do. I want them to do well, give advice when I can, receive advice when I need it… For me social media, when used wisely, is a good thing.

That said, I do know I need to work on how much I use it. Especially when Real Life is happening. Learning to put my phone away and not telling Twitter every tiny boring detail of my life. Learning that the people actually next to me in the flesh are more important than hundreds of, essentially, strangers.

What I do know for certain is that I enjoy the way I run – Garmins, selfies, over-sharing and all – and I’m glad to be involved in different communities, but I don’t need that stuff to make me happy and fulfilled. As long as I have the important people with me and I’m not injured, I’m happy.

What are your thoughts?

Do you use social media?

Do you track your running?

18 thoughts on “My thoughts on social media, technology and running

  1. Completely agree with all of this! I love my Nike run app and being able to have “evidence” of my runs, but I’d still run anyway even without all the add-ons. I love your running selfies as you always look like you’re having so much fun!
    lilylipstick recently posted…Life: April Round-upMy Profile

  2. Are you inside my head?! This is exactly how I feel. I’m trying really hard not to over use my phone/social media, but I do love to share my runs and have a nosy at what other people are doing! Sure, I’d still run without all the “stuff” but there’s just something about sharing and looking at all those running pics.
    Allison recently posted…Week In Review – Here We Go!!!My Profile

  3. I’m in a similar boat to you although I don’t post that much on social media other than the odd Insta and tracking my runs on Strava. Unless I’m training for an event or doing a parkrun, I run for the general health benefits and it allows me to see some amazing scenery/socialise with friends.

    Like Allison, I’d still run without all the stuff but I do think it adds to the experience so long as you don’t overly obsess about it.

    Although I must admit I do get a bit of cake envy with some of your posts 🙂

    • Cake will always enhance my running hehe. I think you just need a good level of perspective to know that we run regardless of external things but it can definitely help.

  4. I honestly always feel a little lost when my garmin battery drains or when my HRM is not correctly connecting to my watch. I LOVE data analytics and enjoy reviewing my stats after a workout/race. I honestly don’t think I would push quite as hard without the data!
    When I was injured recently I had to stay off of garmin and instagram so that the workouts wouldn’t be rubbed in my face while I was recovering.

  5. I resisted for a while but once I started tracking my runs and bike rides, I couldn’t go back. The post run analysis is too interesting to ignore. I’ve run without tracking devices since of course but I know if I have the opportunity to track I’ll always take it.

    I’m part of a local running group on Facebook.
    Taran recently posted…Don’t Fear a Superintelligent AIMy Profile

  6. I love tracking my runs on Strava, but not really for speed or anything like that (although I do look at my parkrun splits usually), but just to see the mileage add up over a month, and also to help me remember a route if I want to run it again. I try to share runs in social media groups (like the parkrun tourist page, or my running club page) because a lot of my friends aren’t interested in running (apart from being polite, and then being impressed if I run any sort of race), whereas at least in those groups the people get it. That’s so much of why I blog too- I would bore people too much about going on about things, whereas people who read my blog seem to be interested in my ramblings! I had to wait to sign up to Strava til the 1st January so that I had a real starting point for some reason. I really wish I had started my blog when I started running too, but I didn’t really know about blogs then.
    I’d still run without a Garmin (I did run without one for a couple of years), but I do like knowing the mileage while I’m out.
    Maria @ Maria runs recently posted…Hertfordshire parkrun volunteer celebration evening 2018My Profile

    • Yep I agree about Facebook and sharing where people aren’t really that interested. I find twitter helps me with that as there are so many people who are so similar and like talking about running too.

  7. Well, I used to have a blog all about fitness and running, which got the bulk of my updates on my runs, distances, race reports, etc. Once I stopped the blog I used to do lots of social media updates about my running – and sometimes I still do – but I must admit I toned it down after a few passive-aggressive grumpy Facebook posts from “friends” along the lines of “People who post about their workouts really annoy me, who cares, I don’t need to know” etc which of course I was convinced they meant me! 😛 none of them were/are runners though! But don’t get me started on bizarre Facebook behaviour, it’s the main reason I don’t use it anymore, it brings out the crazy… 😛

    I like Instagram stories for running updates these days. I can take pics, share a few thoughts on how I went, a song I enjoyed listening to, and it’s only up for a day and is a bit more in the moment.

    I have never been a techie runner – I have never had a Garmin, for example. Even when training for the marathon! I have a Fitbit and that’s it. Oddly, now that I’m thinking of getting back into long distance training, the Garmin is very appealing! Yet seven years ago I didn’t really care, I just cared about being able to do it. And I’d look up the distance on “map my run”! (old school!)

    If you wanted to do a post about what GPS watch/tracker you’d recommend, I’d be all over that! (and very grateful! I’m thinking about the Garmin Forerunner 235) xx

    • Don’t even get me started on Facebook. I don’t care that your child did something mediocre but you still post it…
      Yes exactly. I quite like the casualness of the Stories 🙂

  8. This post is so great. As a marketer, I think a lot of it stems from businesses trying to capitalize on the running craze, making you think you need all of this fancy stuff. Granted, there is value in the foam roller, the gel, and the Garmin, but you certainly don’t need those things. And like you, I am such a sucker for data and analysis. I love, LOVE looking at splits, elevation, etc and comparing results over time. You have a good attitude about it all and you made me laugh!
    Elizabeth C. recently posted…Boston Marathon 2018: Soaking It All InMy Profile

  9. I’ve been running since the early 80s so I’ve been around long enough to remember what it was like before the tech and social media. It was still fun, just different. I kept paper training diaries (still have them somewhere), read running magazines for advice and finding races, used envelopes and cheques to enter races, and if you wanted to measure a route you either drove it on your car or tried to work it out by measuring it on a map!

    I love all the tech and social media now, it’s enhanced the whole experience for me, but I always try not to over-complicate it, after all running is still a simple activity, which is why I guess we all enjoy it so much.

    • This is really interesting to read. It’s cool you’ve gotten to experience both sides of the story. I agree tho, over complicating can massively take the fun out of things!

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