If only that darn feather-stuffed comforter didn't feel so cozy.
Of course, runners love to run, but many days, we just don't want to run. We know that we'll feel better after we're finished. We know we'll be filled with regret if we skip it. We know that we will be happy once we get moving. But, some days, knowing this doesn't make it any easier to brave that first mile.
The first is always the worst.
Sometimes, as we sip our coffee, hoping for a caffeine-injected jolt to get us out the door, our thumb, scrolling through social media almost involuntarily, will pass the exploits of another runner. Perhaps they've already completed pre-sunrise 10-miler. It is in this moment that we're faced with a decision: Do we allow a little Instagram envy to become a source of discouragement or motivation?
In reality, social media can work for us or against us—depending, almost entirely, on how we choose to see it. If we fall into the comparison trap, another runner's speed or distance—or even the simple fact that they're already finished while we're still at home, sipping our coffee—can undermine our own run before it begins.
On the other hand, should we choose to harness the positive power of social media, we can turn our timelines and newsfeeds into tools for inspiration, motivation, and a clear path to a sense of belonging within the running community.
Here's how to achieve the latter:
Be You1 of 9
Social media is a place for sharing ourselves in a way that we normally wouldn't for fear of annoying our friends. Be authentically you and there shouldn't be anything stressful about it. When you share your real life—the ups and occasionally the downs—you create a space where you can both celebrate the highs and feel less alone during the lows.
Find a Community2 of 9
It's up to you to create the life you want. This goes for social media as well. What do you want out of it? Do you want to feel good about yourself? Learn new things? Make new friends? Find a community of like-minded people? When you hit the follow button you are allowing that person or business to influence your life, so choose wisely. Pick accounts that motivate you, make you feel good about yourself, make you laugh, or offer up relevant tips and information. For added inspiration, pick someone who's a little farther along in their journey but started with circumstances and challenges similar to yours. Last, but not least, don't forget to socialize on social media and find (or create) a community you want to be a part of.
Practice Positive Reinforcement3 of 9
You've just returned from the greatest run of your life. Ok, that's a slight exaggeration, but it was really good. You hit all your paces and even tacked on an extra cool down mile because you felt so good. As you sit down to take off your shoes, you realize that the only one around to tell is your dog—and he's pissed because you forgot to feed him before you left, so that's out. You call your significant other and they unsuccessfully feign an enthusiastic response. In runs Instagram to the rescue—pun intended—with your tribe of fellow-runners who will be excited to hear about your run.
Push Harder4 of 9
Speed workouts are hard. Even the ones that are supposed to be "comfortably" hard can leave you wondering why you run. While it's not a good idea to simply run fast times for the Insta-post, it can help you push through a hard repeat when you think about how fun it will be to share the triumph with your friends. If you are someone who finds it tempting to run too fast on the easy days, then make a commitment to yourself to only post your paces on your speed workout days. This will keep you in check by removing the temptation to post something for likes or comments.
Vulnerability is the New Black5 of 9
You had a bad race, but all your friends and family are congratulating you anyway. While their comments are nice, you feel like a failure because you didn't run the way you wanted. If you shared your inner-thoughts with your non-running family members they might be confused at your dismissal of merely finishing a race of that distance. And, while we can agree that any and every finish should be celebrated, failing to meet personal expectations is still a bummer. The community of runners you have on Instagram or Twitter may better understand where you're coming from. Sharing what you feel are your shortcomings with them will make you feel better—and may even make another runner with similar circumstances feel a little better, as well.
Make Friends All Over the Country6 of 9
Long gone are the days when you run a race in a different state and don't know anyone there. If you create an online community, you're bound to know someone at many of the races you run. Social media is a fantastic way to make and see friends that don't live near you and build support systems for races that aren't exactly in your backyard.
Access Trusted Race Reviews and Recommendations7 of 9
When I started running marathons there was only one major website that had any sort of information about what a race course was like. If you didn't personally know someone who had run the race, you were left trusting the words of total strangers. Nowadays, it's easy for runners to find someone on social media who has run almost any race. You don't need to visit the race website to see their fancy edited photos, you can scroll through Instagram and see what the race is really going to look like. Interacting with other runners who have run a race you're unfamiliar with can be an invaluable part of your training—complete with tips and information you'd be unlikely to find elsewhere.
Happy Moments8 of 9
One of the complaints that plagues social media is that it's essentially a highlight reel. But what's wrong with that? On a day when you're lacking motivation or feeling particularly down and out, scroll through your photos and reflect on all the happy times and wonderful memories you've made along the way! Your highlight reel might just make it a little easier to drag yourself out of bed in the morning.
At the end of the day, social media is what you make of it. People who wrestle with insecurity may struggle with feelings of inadequacy. Keep in mind that the majority of what's posted is, in fact, someone's best. Don't compare their best to your worst. If you find yourself feeling insecure, reassess who you're following or take a break altogether. When used appropriately, social media can be a fantastic tool to help make you happier and healthier—and maybe even faster.