Warning: Posts in Blogosphere May Be Rosier than Reality

MirrosI love blogging and even more, I love reading other running blogs. There’s something about reading someone’s first hand account of training, of racing or even of life as a runner that makes the running community feel even more tight knit. Increasingly, however, I find that reading other blogs causes me to compare myself to other runners and not always in a positive manner. For example, with so many people in my speed-clique running Chicago this year (which is the same weekend as Albany), I’ve found myself anxiously comparing workouts and progress. When I have a bad workout or rough run, it’s not many steps to a total running meltdown. Granted, this can happen on in-person teams too (I see it as a coach all the time), but sometimes I suspect the digital component heightens anxiety and comparison because we just have to believe what people are writing.

I went on a big unfollow streak this week after reading one too many disingenuous and borderline dangerous blog entries from a fairly big name blogger. I never should have followed that blog as long as I did; she complains about extreme exhaustion but keeps hammering 10 miles a day, runs through stress fractures and serious injuries and generally sets a horrible example of what it’s like to be a runner. After unfollowing her blog, I started to go through my Reader and remove other blogs that didn’t feel like brothers or sisters of the road. If you truly love running every single day and always have perfect workouts, my assumption is that you are either lying about them or you aren’t actually doing them. Everyone blows workouts once in a while. Everyone has days where they just really don’t want to fucking run.

Laurel has written about this before, as have others. It’s not that most little bloggers like ourselves try to be cheery all the time, it’s just not as fun to write about bad runs or races and no one wants to be the Debbie Downer of the Interwebs. The reality is, however, that running is hard and sometimes not that fun. We still get out there and do it every day, but we’re not exactly skipping down the sidewalk. As I go forward with this blog, one of my goals is to find the balance between inspiration, motivation and reality.

In the spirit of honesty for anyone else who finds themselves playing the comparison game, last week SUCKED for me. My mid-week workout was slow and I felt like I was dragging concrete pins and on my Sunday long run, I only did one section of tempo running when I was scheduled to do two. At 7 weeks out, it was disheartening and terrifying and I cried to Will more than once that I didn’t know if I wanted to step on the start line in October.

Am I alone in this? Anyone else find their perspectives swayed by what they read on blogs?

 

11 thoughts on “Warning: Posts in Blogosphere May Be Rosier than Reality

  1. misszippy1

    I’m glad I found your blog–I’m all for keeping it real. And for unfollowing the growing number of sites that set really hideous examples of health. It boggles my mind how much crowd support these sites have. It’s not inspirational–it’s unhealthy. I’ll stop there b/c I could go on and on…

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  2. Ryan

    I think you are really on to something about the digital aspect of reading a blog leading to higher levels of comparison anxiety. When you run with or talk running with people in real life it is pretty clear when they have had a bad run or streak of bad runs. When you read blog posts you have to take the writer at their word that everything running related is truly fantastic – you want to believe them at first because if you are initially skeptical of their training reports you wouldn’t bother reading the blog. I think it takes quite a while of reading everything is awesome posts before you fully realize/suspect the blogger is purposefully ignoring the rough spots to look like a better runner.
    I tend to find blogs by searching for race recaps of races I am interested in running. If the writer seems real and relatable I am likely to keep reading. Posting the negative side of running is just has helpful as posting when things are going great. It sucks you had a bad week of training, but seeing that other runners (even absurdly fast ones) hit rough patches helps give some perspective when I am struggling and swearing to quit running after each run.

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    1. runnerunderpressure

      Maybe there are people out there who never have a day where they consider sitting down on the sidewalk and quitting running, but I haven’t met many of them. Thanks for a thoughtful response.

      Reply
  3. MILF Runner

    When I first began running again after a long and painful hiatus, I found running blogs. I was definitely swayed. Prior to reading these blogs, I was content to just run/walk a little bit and had my mind set on trying a 5K or maybe the 12K Bay to Breakers one day. The mileage junkies sucked me in and before I knew it I had entered a few half marathons and a distance relay. Not that any of it had anything to do with my ultimate need for surgery but the mentality…ugh. I’m glad I was able to gain some clarity and return to reality.

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    1. runnerunderpressure

      It’s so hard not to get sucked into what other people say they are doing on the internet. I know that I couldn’t (and wouldn’t want to when I step back) run a marathon or half marathon every weekend, but somehow my intelligent, careful race planning over 18 months just seems so…lazy. Glad you’re back to reality too.

      Reply
    1. runnerunderpressure

      AH! Awesome race for you this morning, glad to see the humidity didn’t draw you in. Were you wearing american flag shorts? I had an emphatic post-race conversation with someone and then ditzed out because food…

      Reply
  4. carlb40

    I look at blogs like I look at a race. There are going to be people that write and run way better or faster than I ever will. If I just run my own pace and write my own way, then that’s good enough for me. I’m still new to both things, so I haven’t unfollowed anyone yet. I probably would if I thought that they were being disingenuous.

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