I #RunLA. Who Runs Your State?

14 Sep

In response to a recent klout article, I have been getting a flood of e-mails, Twitter DMs, and messages asking more specific questions about how I personally use social media to connect with other runners and triathletes. There really is no magic formula for it, but it really all began with #RunLA.

When I first moved back to Louisiana, I knew I needed to find my niche again. There was such an awesome running community in Upstate South Carolina (where we lived for many years) and I knew I needed to find that here. Always curious about trying new things, I decided to give Twitter a try. I added my bio and put up a photo…hard work done! I figured if I chatted up enough runners that I would eventually find someone in my town…or at least in my state (after all, its not like Baton Rouge is so no-name Podunk town) and we could go from there.

Through an odd twist of fate, I found a couple of other Baton Rouge runners, Brandon and Theresa. They were using the #RunLA hashtag to tag their run stats, discuss running groups, and talk about upcoming races. Woot woot! I had found just what I was looking for! The downside…there were only about 5 of us using the hashtag at first. Not being one who is easily discouraged, we kept on using it…religiously. Eventually, the word started spreading and as we found more road runners, trail runners, wannabe runners, triathletes, jogger moms, etc. we let them all know that the #RunLA hashtag was where the party was at! Before we knew it, dozens (I am pretty sure we are now in the hundreds) of people all over the state were on board and the #RunLA fam was born! Have I mentioned that we even made shirts so that we can find each other at events? Awesome, yes?

To see the kind of atmosphere we created (and are creating everyday), just search the hashtag. We exchange opinions on local races, share tips on local running stores, and get together for group runs or races. Most of the bigger cities in South Louisiana are all within one or two hours of each other, so traveling to races is not too big of a deal for us. To find a running buddy the next city over, all one of us has to do is search the hashtag, see who else is running that event and send a little Tweet. It is really that simple! Traveling for business or vacationing in a different city? No problem, find a local runner for tips on the best spots to run. Heck! You might even find a new training partner!

Over the last several months, I have gotten lots of messages from runners outside of Louisiana saying how they wish they had the supportive kind of network we have here in their area. My answer? You can!

STEP 1
YOU just have to start it! All it takes is one person to get it going!

You can #RunAL…
You can #RunAK
You can #RunAZ
You can #RunAR
You can #RunCA

Or, if you live in a bigger city, you could #RunDFW and #RunTX…or maybe you #RunATL and #RunGA! You see where I am going with this…

STEP 2
Pump your hashtag shamelessly! Well, okay, not totally shamelessly. Do not completely annoy your followers by tossing the hashtag on the end of every Tweet you send out. (Please don’t be THAT person.) But, if it is relevant, put it in there! As you find other runners in your area, or if some of your followers are runners you already know, direct message (DM) them to start using it too! Does your favorite local running store Tweet? Does your favorite local race Tweet? Do you have a weekly running group with a Twitter account? Get them all using your state’s running hashtag!

STEP 3
Help others. Some people who are new to Twitter or new to running might be hesitant or shy about just jumping into the conversation. If you are comfortable with the hashtag and know several people using it, politely introduce a newbie. For example, I will occasionally get a message from a runner in my area saying they just moved here or are new to the sport. If I ask them if they are familiar with the #RunLA hashtag and they say no, then I ask if they mind being introduced. If they are interested, I will send out a Tweet like…

“Hey #RunLA fam! Let’s welcome @_______. He/she is new to the area and is interested in training for a ________!”

Social media is about being supportive and building a community. Be nice to others and help them out when you can.

STEP 4
Give it time and do not be impatient. These things do not take off overnight. But, depending on your state, it might. You just never know! The internet is a funny thing and sometimes it can be hard to predict. So, if you start using your state’s running hashtag, and it does not seem to spread like wildfire, do not get discouraged. Keep trying. I promise you, eventually it WILL catch on. There are thousands of runners out there, and, obviously, they are looking to connect with others, or else they would not be on social media in the first place.

What state do YOU run? How do YOU connect with runners, cyclists, triathletes, and other fitness-minded people in your city or state?

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15 Responses to “I #RunLA. Who Runs Your State?”

  1. Renee September 14, 2011 at 8:54 AM #

    There were a few runners in Milwaukee that started #fitmke. It is for more than just running. They have a blog and facebook page where people post events and exercise related information, http://fitmilwaukee.com/wordpress/.

    I think it is great that you got #RunLA to mean something, although I totally thought it meant LA California at first.

    Anything that brings runners together in a community is good.

    • katieRUNSthis September 14, 2011 at 9:31 AM #

      Ha! We get that a lot. I think that girl on Oxygen’s The Bad Girls Club tried to sabotage us on the whole RunLA gig. 🙂 Nope, RunLA definitely means Run Louisiana…well, at least to us it does! And it wasn’t just a “me” thing…it was an “us” thing. A group of us got it going and its really growing into something pretty special! That’s pretty cool about #fitmke! I like how it encourages all active people to connect. That’s important too!

  2. Valerie Reed September 14, 2011 at 8:55 AM #

    BGR-Atlanta has grown. There’s over 2000 on the FB page (I think it was only a few hundred when I joined). And now at the large group runs 70+ women come out. We get stopped all the time while we’re running. I went out on a run with the group last night at Atlantic Station and the look of shock and amazement on people’s faces was funny. Finding this group is absolutely the best thing! It’s kept me going and I have something that I look forward to. The support and encouragement of a group of supportive people who all have a common goal is wonderful!

    • katieRUNSthis September 14, 2011 at 9:29 AM #

      Valerie, I am SO glad you are getting so much out of group/social running. The level of accountability is so important and the encouragement you receive from others is invaluable! You can’t PAY for coaching like that! That is amazing that the group has grown so much, so quickly. I have been eyeing their Tweets and I know they have been saying they have been growing a lot, but those are some big numbers!! That’s fantastic! The next time I roll through ATL, this white girl wants to go run with BGR ATL! 🙂

      • Valerie Reed September 14, 2011 at 7:12 PM #

        You’ll definitely have to come to a run when you’re in town! White girls welcome!! LOL. They don’t discriminate against race but they do against gender–no boys allowed! 🙂

      • katieRUNSthis September 14, 2011 at 7:18 PM #

        Yay for white girls who run too! 🙂 I’m so silly. Please, like Brent would ever be invited (Sorry, Hubs!). Besides, *someone* will have to watch Baby Key. 😉

  3. heather September 14, 2011 at 9:22 AM #

    Great post girl! I have been trying to use #runMS more lately. Need to connect with other local Runners!

    • katieRUNSthis September 14, 2011 at 9:23 AM #

      You are doing a great job! I actually searched it earlier this morning just for kicks and was like, “Hey! Look at them go!” All it takes is a few people to get started!!

    • Rivers Hughey September 14, 2011 at 10:10 AM #

      Heather – a good group of people to connect with in MS and get the #RunMS hashtag going would be Rod’s Racers.

      Web site: http://www.rodsracers-ms.net/
      Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rodsracers?sk=info

      I’m originally from Starkville, MS. It’s great to hear about other people in MS running!

      • katieRUNSthis September 14, 2011 at 10:15 AM #

        Great suggestion, Rivs! Rods Racers is also on Twitter –> @RodsRacers!

  4. Concrete Runner September 14, 2011 at 11:15 AM #

    Thanks for this! I follow more runners in other states than I do in my own, but I think this is a great idea to get to know local runners and get info about races. I might chat up some local running stores to see if they would be willing to get the word out!

  5. Melissa September 14, 2011 at 12:52 PM #

    Ugh. I feel so dumb when it comes to twitter discussions! I don’t really understand how they work. 😦

    Mostly, I’ve found local running groups and running clubs by just looking them up via google. Most cities have some version of a running club, so I can usually find groups that way.

    • katieRUNSthis September 14, 2011 at 1:16 PM #

      Don’t feel dumb, lady! It’s not hard at all! You live in VA, right? (Yes, I blog stalk you.) 🙂 All you have to do is this…on your twitter page, go to the Search box and type in “#RunVA”. You may or may not see anything come up. If nothing comes up, good news! You get the chance to start a hashtag! (This is where you do a happy dance.) From then on, when you put out a running Tweet, just take #RunVA on the end of it! Tell your other running Virginian friends to start using it too! Before you know, it all the cool kids will be using #RunVA and it will help you find other runners in your area to connect with! Voila!

  6. Maggie September 14, 2011 at 2:53 PM #

    I’ve found a few people through Daily Mile but I have yet to actually connect with any of them beyond Daily Mile/blogs/Twitter.

    • Maggie September 14, 2011 at 2:55 PM #

      Also I keep online stalking local running clubs but have yet to check any of them out in person. I need to get over myself and just go to a group run already.

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