Running is often considered a solitary sport. Sure, there are great running groups you can join, but inevitably, at one point or another you will be out running alone. You might be an evening runner, an early morning runner or a lunchtime runner. Whatever time you prefer, or can fit into your busy schedule, it can be hard to find someone to run with you every time you go out.
It can be very difficult to motivate yourself to put in that five miler at 4 AM or log a ten miler after work. Who is going to know if you skip this one run? No one is waiting on you. Your run club doesn’t meet for two more days. Why not take an early rest day? I admit it. These thoughts have all gone through my head and at times I have surrendered to them. I’ll hit snooze and snuggle back under my warm sheets or just turn on the TV and sit down after work. It’s hard to go out and run when no one is watching or waiting for you.
A few years ago I set about to change this and my top way of staying accountable when no one in my community is watching is to reach out on social media. I have a tight knit group of running friends from social media that motivate me every day. Some I have met in person and some I have simply met in the digital world, hailing from New York, Montana, Texas, Canada, England, and Australia, to name a few. I can always look to these runners for some motivation at any time of day.
When I am in need of a push out the door I may send a tweet out for that extra motivation. Every time I have done this I get a positive response from my friends and can’t help but lace up my shoes and head out the door. I have even set virtual run dates with friends. We all plan to run at the same time around the globe and stay motivated via social links. A simple tweet before and after our run keeps us committed.
There are many ways to use social media to stay motivated. The beauty of the digital world is that you can mold it to best suit your training and someone is always online to push you to achieve your goals. Listed below are my top five ways to use social media to motivate you.
• Set a weekly or monthly goal and post it to Twitter or Instagram and encourage others to join you and be your accountability partners. Create a hashtag to share your progress and maintain accountability.
• Follow other inspiring runners for extra motivation. I recommend you follow @mileposts, @pavementrunner, @nycrunningmama, @nerissa_ann, me (@superwomankw) and all the other SF Marathon Ambassadors! I’ll always be here to give you an extra push, whether it’s training for The SF Marathon or any other race in between.
• Follow your friends, or friends of your friends on social media. Studies have shown that social media has a clear impact on our motivation to exercise. We are more likely to exercise or eat better if we hear or see our friends doing it. Social media makes us more connected to our friends and their influence is magnified.
• Use social media hashtags that are branded by races that you are training for to motivate you to move more and stick with your training. Right now The SF Marathon has a great one. You can use #TSFM2014 for sharing your training and participate in #tsfmlucky7 for a chance to win a special race weekend lunch with Bart Yasso! That’s motivation enough for me!
• Embrace #TweetUps at race expos. You can finally meet those people you have been training with virtually for months at the race expo by agreeing to all meet at a specific day and time at the expo. This allows you to make your social media motivators you real life motivators too.
Of course, remember to stay safe when using social media. Use common sense and never meet someone you don’t know alone. If someone is unsupportive of you simply unfollow or block them. Social media is meant to help you succeed and grow and there is no room for inappropriate users or negative influences.
Social media opens up doors where you can learn from runners around the world, not just in your immediate area. I have learned about new training programs, local and national races and virtual charity runs because of my involvement in social media and running. Running for me is enhanced by my connections in the digital world. If you haven’t already embraced social media and running I encourage you to give it a try. If you are on social media let me know how it helps you train and be a better runner. Let’s connect!