Social Media is Changing Running

23 Aug

It is no doubt that social media is changing everything these days. Very few people are able to hide from Twitter (or “THE Twitter” if you are my mother), facebook, YouTube, myspace, etc. As runners, social media is having a huge impact on our sport, whether we even realize it or not. As a person who enjoys the use of many social media outlets (see sidebar), I view the impact that social media is having on the sport of running as a positive thing! 🙂

Sites like Twitter and facebook allow us to feel thisclose to runners and coaches that we admire. It is easy to send out a Tweet to our idols like Bart Yasso, Amby Burfoot, or Ryan Hall and the interaction almost seems intimate. If we ask them a question and are lucky enough to get a Tweet back, we feel like a million bucks! And all hell breaks loose if they follow you or “friend” you back! All of these people used to seem so far away, but thanks to Twitter and facebook, “meeting” those we admire most is as quick as hitting the Send button. We are no longer light years away from getting training tips and advice from coaches and elite runners. Updates on social media sites also give us the chance to gain a little insight on what they do when they are not training or coaching. Social media makes world-class athletes feel approachable.

Once upon a time, contacting a company to ask questions about a product, offer it praise, or offer advice on improvements meant hand-writing a letter or picking up the phone to call a 1 (800) number. (The Dark Ages, right!?) Then, with the advent of e-mail and website forms, it became even easier. You could be even more anonymous or contact the company on hours when it was convenient for you. Social media has heightened this experience and made it personal again. Often, we are more aware that companies are listening to what we think of them (because they are!) and getting feedback on our issues seems faster and done with more care because it is done in such a public way. They can see our names and our profile photos. They can see that we are real people, with real concerns, and that we want real answers. When we receive quick and honest feedback from a company, we are often eager to share information about that product with others we think would like to be “in the know”! It’s a win-win for everyone! Some of my favorite companies that take advantage of social media are Bodyglide, GO Sport ID, Altra Zero Drop, Zensah and Brooks Running!

As we all know, race day information can change with the drop of a hat. When changing information, race organizers would often rely on mass e-mails for relaying important information. While this was good for reaching a large population, there are always people that miss the information for whatever reason (email sent to spam, didn’t get the e-mail, didn’t think to check e-mail, etc.) Sending out race day changes via social media sites in addition to mass e-mails allows pertinent information to get to racers at several levels. Before the big day, social media allows races and multi-sport events to hype the big day and get participants excited about the experience. During the event, we are able to quickly share updates of how much fun we are having at the race, photos of neat things we see, and up-to-the minute stats of racers. And, of course, if we set a PR, we are quick to share our stats and show off our race bling! In the days following the race, blogs, Tweets and other site updates allow us to share more details about our experiences and give feedback to race organizers about what we loved and what might need some improvement. It also gives us the chance to encourage others to try a new event that they might enjoy! This year, the Boston Marathon and The San Francisco Marathon (#SFM2011) are two events that really stand out as having utilized social media in a powerful way to entice, engage, and support racers and race fans.

There is no shortage of advantages of using social media to interact with other runners. Social media sites give us the chance to talk about training strategies, find training buddies (whether we link up with local runners or make virtual training partners), give each other tips on nutrition, and offer support and encouragement to reach our goals. We can also get quick advice on healing injuries, finding great running routes while traveling, or finding information about events we might want to add to our bucket lists. Running-specific social media sites like GoGazella, Just Finish, and Daily Mile offer a forum for walkers, runners, or multi-sport athletes to link up and support each other. Think of them as facebook specifically for runners! Cool!

Social media is definitely here to stay. Why not get on board and join the social (media) revolution! C’mon…all the cool kids are doing it! Peer pressure is a beast, isn’t it?

What social media sites to YOU use? How do you use them in relation to your running? What advantages/disadvantages to you see with social media’s influence on the running community?

20 Responses to “Social Media is Changing Running”

  1. meanguyrunning at 9:45 AM #

    Great post. It’s all so true. When I’m not running, which is many hours during the day, I’m pretty much in front of the laptop with twitter and facebook open or constantly checking the phone for updates.

    All of the immediate feedback, encouragement, and guidance is amazing!

    • katieRUNSthis at 9:51 AM #

      Me too! I enjoy so much everything about running…whether it is being supportive of someone looking to try it out or if I am picking up training tips and tricks from the pros! The amount of information out there is amazing! It is so easy to reach out to people!

  2. Libby Jones at 9:45 AM #

    Great post, Katie!!! I was a San Francisco Marathon ambassador this year (their first year to have ambassadors), and I thought their staff’s social media efforts were top notch. I’m also a race director in my local region, and I’ve noticed how much people appreciate being able to “chat” by Facebook or Twitter with the Race Director, although I wish people sometimes realized that we have our own lives and can’t be at their every bec and call. 😉

    • katieRUNSthis at 9:53 AM #

      Very cool! The SF Marathon did a great job this year of keeping people up to date on happenings of the event. People like to feel “in touch” (I mean, I know I do)…especially for big events or events they might be nervous about. They just like to feel like someone is listening.

      I can see your point too where sometimes it might make you feel “too accessible”. 🙂 I guess that’s what happens when you are big time race director, Ms. Jones! 😉

  3. Heidi L at 9:46 AM #

    Twitter has been a total game changer for me. While I follow some of the greats, the most benefit I have received is talking with other runners. I have found that twitter is the most supportive, amazing group of people. I would love to meet (and hug) everyone I interact with.

    • katieRUNSthis at 9:54 AM #

      Agree! Agree! Agree! I find my virtual running buddies and the people who I have met online through Twitter, facebook, and Runner’s World forums to be so much more supportive than even some of my real-life friends. They “get” it…the sport, the dedication, and the drive we all have to want to do better.

  4. Great post!! I have really enjoyed the connection I’ve made through Twitter, Daily Mile and my blog. The support and encouragement from the running community has been awesome!

  5. {meg} at 10:13 AM #

    Such a great post, Katie! In my day job, I am a social media marketing strategist who works on behalf of brands to build relationships with online influencers so I loved your section on how SM has improved how we interact with our favorite brands. Without social media, I don’t think I’d have the love affair with Lululemon, LARABAR, and even Zappos that I do now.

    Nothing really beats the online running community, though. It’s so amazing to be a part of!

  6. Marina at 10:36 AM #

    Great post Katie! Facebook has been an amazing way for me to connect with the running community (I’m not tech savvy enough to do “The Twitter” yet ;-}). I learned about a retail training run where I could win a spot for the Nike Womens Marathon through FB (which I did… yay!)… I signed up the first day for the Big Sur Marathon and through sharing our excitement for the race on the FB page ended up becoming “friends” with a runner in England and another runner who actually lives less than a mile from me. It is so great to post my training runs and have a simple “like” from someone across the world to cheer me on :). I love that many of the editors and writers from Runners World have been so accessible, through social media… it really shows what an open, generous group runners are!

    Thanks for the links to the running specific sites, can’t wait to check them out!

  7. Jeni @ stepping out at 10:36 AM #

    Great post! I just ran the first half of the San Framcisco marathon and loved all the social media connection. That’s actually how I found out about the race (I live in SC) and now I’m hooked!
    I also guy started using dailymile in July and I love it! Not only do I love it for the social connections/interactions but I’m a numbers nerd so I love all the charts/graphs/stats!

  8. Laura at 10:38 AM #

    I think the biggest influence social media has had on me is motivating me to run! Either I see that my friends are running so I feel motivated to get out there too, or I’m motivated to try something new. I’m not sure if I would have become a marathoner had it not been for facebook. I always thought that marathons were completely unattainable, but when I saw my friends become marathoner, I realized I could do it too!

    I use facebook, am new to THE twitter, and I’ve started a blog.

    Great post!

  9. Amanda @FancyOatmeal at 11:24 AM #

    I love how social media has opened up the world of running to me. Without it, I wouldn’t know how to train, products to choose from, or get advice when I simply have no idea what’s happening to my body. Also, the term “ice bath” would still be what players do to their coaches after winning a big game.

  10. DawniesLife at 11:47 AM #

    Great blog entry! I love utilizing Facebook and Twitter so I can read inspiring quotes, connect with companies and and athletes. Being on my weight loss journey I have been trying to get started with running and have found that through social media outlets I have been able to find the products to buy the ones to skip because they are a waste of money and discovered so many helpful tips! Even on my weight loss journey there has been such an outpouring of support from complete strangers that I have been able to connect with, some through my blog, some through Facebook and some through Twitter! It is great so many of us can come together and really help each other out on our journeys in life.

  11. Can’t agree with you more. In addition to interacting with our running idols like Bart Yasso, I love the interaction with other runners. If I’m struggling, there’s always someone out there I can talk to who’s experienced or experiencing what I am. And seeing people post their mileage is encouraging and challenging.

    As Bart Yasso told me when i got to meet him in person, “I really do believe Twitter was made for the runner.” And Katie, you’ve further stressed that point in this post.

  12. I love using daily mile. It is easy way for me to connect with my old X-Country team and have them see how I’m still running.

  13. Erin at 7:31 AM #

    This is great. Most of my local friends don’t run, so I can communicate with other runner friends via Facebook. And one of my favorite Facebook pages is I ❤ To Run. Lots of motivation there. And I am new to twitter so I'm following a lot of running stuff there. And when Bart Yasso followed ME on Twitter, I was so excited! He's been a great encouragement! 🙂

  14. liverunloveyoga at 11:02 AM #

    Great post Katie! You are so right. I’ve been on twitter and up with my blog for a week now and freak out with excitement when Bart Yasso follows me or Lululemon subscribes to my blog. It’s an amazing feeling and makes you feel like a valuable part of the community. I feel like I’m beginning to connect with some amazing people via twitter to share advice and training tips! This post is spot on!

  15. katiewisdm at 11:06 AM #

    being that i work in the communications industry and am a child of the Internet age, i absolutely adore social media and cannot herald the benefits of social networking for a brand enough! unfortunately, i feel like new york running groups, especially the megalith New York Road Runners, but even my own running team, have yet to figure out just how to harness the power of the interwebz! hopefully, with enough coaxing and encouragement, they’ll step their game up! (is there a a cowbell audiofile that can automatically sound off every time an organization takes a step forward in social media?)

  16. Samantha at 4:29 PM #

    I think social media and running fantastic! I’ve learned so much by following awesome blogs (like yours!) and twitter. I use youtube and facebook less to connect with runners but I have joined some running groups in my area via facebook. Like you said, it’s like a little community, which can be very reassuring to beginners.

  17. 4gfarms at 2:44 PM #

    great post katie!

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