Runners Appreciate Social Media’s Contributions to Trail Running

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Highlights from the May 2013 Trail Runner Blog Symposium


The May 2013 Trail Runner Blog Symposium topic of discussion was: Social Media—Bane or Boon to Trail Running?

Many bloggers argued that social media was more boon than bane to the sport, citing benefits like inspiration, workout accountability, a growing trail-running community, ways to more easily find running partners, and the ability to experience others’ trails adventures vicariously. On the other hand, many also discussed the vanity inherently involved in posting about one’s own runs and training, as well as the dangers of posting or Tweeting about runs getting stealing from the in-the-moment experience of running … and universally, most people didn’t seem to care much for their friends’ GPS records of workouts being automatically posted to Facebook.

Our Editor’s Choice, Unplugging from Social Media,’ by Vanessa Rodriguez at Vanessa Runs, discusses both the risks and the rewards of using Facebook and other social media to share her trail runs with the world. Below are other highlights from this month’s Symposium.

Taking a break from the usual hot-button-topics and opening up the Symposium to more personal stories, next month’s topic is: Tell us about someone awesome you’ve met through trail running. See here for directions on how to participate.

*Editor’s Choice
One second I was running, and the next second I was eye-level with the dirt, and still slipping. I threw my arms up, and Shacky caught my hand before I disappeared completely. He pulled me out with nothing more than a few scrapes on my ankle. We took a couple of photos of my wounds and the Vanessa-sized hole I left in the bushes, but they didn’t look gruesome enough to post on social media. So I didn’t. This decision was followed by a strange sensation that my fall, if undocumented, didn’t really count.
—Vanessa Runs

Trail runners still post frequently on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social media platforms I don’t really know about. Similarly, many now share the details of every run on sites like Strava, GarminConnect, etc. So is that a harmless outlet for vanity, a mutually motivating revolution or something else?
—Ian Sharman

Social media apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can be both beneficial and ruinous to the sport of trail running, cultivating a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde atmosphere where community built on camaraderie, equality and shared suffering grows along with those based on showmanship and sponsor-grabbing, rewarding desirable rank and status with more views, followers, “friends” and comments.
—The Chosen Fast: Boog Ferrell

Trail runners tend to seek adventure and challenge, and spontaneity often adds to the excitement. The internet, with its wealth of information on the “best” places to run trails, and the “best” trail running gear and apparel to buy, makes it easy to forego any desire to be spontaneous and succumb instead to online recommendations.
—Go the Extra Mile with WOOT: Jannine Myers

Many event websites are so poor in content I wonder why they bother. Even the good ones … are no substitute for a verbose, segment-by-segment writeup by a good blogger.  I want more than a description, I want to read the experience.
—Ed Mahoney

I’m just your average amateur endurance athlete who aspires to something more. Being able to ‘follow’ or read about or get updates on anyone faster than me is a huge thrill. How can giving people what they want the way they want it when they want it be a bane to trail running?
—Martin Criminale

Because of social media, I often have company on long runs now. Even if I don’t know my companions before the run, I’m able to quickly see that they are already valued members of their communities. I’m less frequently out on the trails alone, as I was when Sarah was murdered.
—Heather Runs Too Much: Heather Wiatrowski

Personally I think its great to be able to live vicariously through the web of some of these races in exotic places that I may never be able to run myself. Also on the more personal end of the spectrum it is a blast to follow your friends’ progress at their own race efforts, or drool over Facebook pictures of places your friends have run.
—Cruising the Mountains: Brandon Williams

Suddenly, there was meaning to my senseless running. Not only I ran, but also started to exist. I trained harder; tracked every mile, broadcast every step. The social network had to be fed. I won’t lie; knowing someone, anyone, was interested in my training made the strenuous work easier.
—Stephane Rodriguez

Trail running invites you to become a minimalist, to focus, to test your personal limits in ways you never dreamed of before … and that kind of place, compadres, has no room for Tweets or Instagrams.
—Straight from the Scullery: Hillary Danaher

I don’t need or desire to have people knowing where I went, how fast I ran, whether the sun was in the right spot on the mountains for the photo op, who I was with, etc.  If you want to enjoy the trails, come run with me, don’t just admire my photos.
—Runner Chick

To the purist, It might seem as if the social media movement is bringing too many “roadies” to the trails. They might think runners don’t know trail etiquette, don’t care to learn it and are crowding out races they used to love (and possibly even dominate) – To us though, we feel different – We say: YES!!! JOIN US! RUN TRAILS.
—TrailsRoc: Eric Eagan

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