Running Through My Mind: The Digital Life of a Runner


Cross the finish line. Get your medal. Drink some water. Take a picture. Post on social media. Repeat.

Face it; we’ve all done it. This was my exact routine after the Chicago Bears 5K last Saturday. Whatever the reasoning behind the post, we all love to tell our followers about our run, especially if it included breaking a personal record or was done at an ungodly early hour of the day.

At this point, we know it’s obnoxious; the scrutiny for being “over posters” is old news, and runners alike will continue to post #sweatyselfies and #instarunners whenever we please.

As a result, Above Average released a parody video last year about the “first woman to ever run a marathon without talking about it.” The video went viral, as non-runners agreed with the point being made, and runners laughed at them self admittedly.

While you may lose followers due to excessive running-related posts, we should be free to put up whatever we want on social media, right? It may seem like an innocent action, but like everything else, it comes with benefits and drawbacks.

Often times, runners claim they do it for themselves – by posting about their daily workout or weekend run holds themselves accountable to their followers, whether the followers actually care or not. If Sally has been posting about her run everyday for a year, but is feeling unmotivated one day, the anticipated post may force her to get out the door.

It also can build a sense of camaraderie; by posting a picture from your Thursday night speed workout with your local running club, people will begin commenting on it, and those from other clubs will see it too. You can meet others with similar interests via social media, while also gaining training tips and motivation from coaches. Running in itself is already a community, and being present on social media only adds to it.

On the other hand, many runners have experienced setbacks due to others posting too much. By constantly seeing the results of other’s runs may lead to comparative discouragement – “wow, Joe ran 10 miles today? I only did 6.” A little healthy competition could push you to run faster or further, ultimately enhancing your training, but feeling inferior because you didn’t do as much as your Facebook friend is not what running is about.

This goes hand-in-hand with the overall perception of social media today: it’s overbearing, and people feel the need to share every breath they take. It’s often been the platform for bullying, shaming and discrimination, and even celebrities have used it to take a stab at an enemy. Along with our right arm, it’s become a crucial part of everyday life, and we’ll probably only become more dependent as more apps and technologies are released.

Much of this, though, goes with the fact that people aren’t likely to post “I went out for a long run today, but ended up walking half of it.” If they’re not proud of their work, they don’t anticipate many “likes” from others, therefore they just keep it to themselves. The reality is, everyone has bad runs, but like a bad day at work, you aren’t going to post a rant about your boss for the whole world to see (politics is a different story…) Like what one chooses to post, a lot can be said from what they decide to hide.

Personally, I think that if you feel good about your run or race, then go ahead and brag about it. There are people posting hundreds of pictures of their dogs and newborns anyways, and this is no different. But if you’re expecting others to give you the double tap on your bib-number picture, then you better return the favor.

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Holly's running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run many distance races, and is going for her first marathon at the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon this October. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism, and is working towards her Master in Arts in New Media and Marketing.