How Social Media Skewed My Thoughts of Running Fast
When I first started running I had a blog. I created my blog about a month after I decided to run for my college team. It was not big by any means nor did I have the connections and friends I do now from it. My blog allowed me to vent about my new found love for running and meet people who also shared a love for running and working out.
When I first started running I was also in my own bubble. I watched countless races where amazing local heroes in my area crossed the finish line in 17-18 minute 5ks. I was in shock of how people could run that fast. To me they were my only inspiration. They were people I strived (and still strive) to be like. The only athletes I came into contact with were athletes that I saw in road races. It’s funny looking back because now I routinely talk to these people rather than oogle over them at races.
Now as I continue to blog it’s different. I have raced in several states and seen several athletes that I strive to be like. Then there are also the athletes I have never seen that strive to be like. On twitter I’ll read a race recap weekly about a female (or a few) that I’ve corresponded with that has ran a sub 1:20 half marathon like no big deal…15 minute 5k…that is their time. Each result will impress me whether I am near to someone or far. When reading race recaps and reports the version of “fast” becomes skewed.
When I first started out running, fast at a local race would be winning. There may be one or two females that run a 1:20 half marathon at a single race. But then if there are a few half marathons that weekend, you can broaden that horizon and 10 females that I have chatted with have run a 1:20 half marathon. To me 1:20 is simply incredible. (let alone those running even faster…) Is it within my reach? Maybe one day…maybe in a few years.
It often makes me think of my own personal records. Am I selling myself short saying that I won a half marathon when I ran a 1:29? Or once that I ran a 22 minute 5k and got 3rd overall? Before getting on social media I would have no problems bragging…I won this race in a 1:29. Now I don’t want to be showy because I know if someone else had shown up they would have won. The fact of the matter is they didn’t show up and I won.
I see this in a lot in races and on social media. People are afraid to say I won or got a place in my age category. Instead of saying I won and my time was X, it is said I won and my time was X but no one “legit” showed up. Stop fooling yourself if you participated in a race you are legit. Whether that race is a mile or 100, you are a legit runner.
So while local races give you a glimpse of a single group of fast athletes…social media connects you to thousands. It’s almost overwhelming.
Where do this all connect to me? I have to personally remember that I am still running for myself. A sub 19 minute 5k is still an amazing race for me. Though it might not be the best for someone else, it’s a great time for me. My times and personal bests are for me and me alone. How much I run, what I do, is only benefiting me. It’s hard to keep your own personal training at the forefront of the mind when it’s so easy to compare and connect with other faster and more elite runners. The fact of the matter is there will always be someone better or faster. You should use them as a role model and inspiration rather than comparing.
Question for you: Who are your inspirations and role models?