Now more than ever we need to be focusing on our social connections with others. Seems a little ironic, right? Luckily we are living in a time when it is easier than ever to connect with others virtually. Even a few years ago this type of lifestyle would be significantly more challenging. Over the last month as COVID-19 has caused cancelled races and solo runs, a virtual running community has become more important. However, having a virtual running community has always been helpful for me, even before all of this started. Let’s talk about why it’s important to have a virtual running community and how it can help your running.
Thanks to some of my blogging friends for sharing their photos and experiences for this post!
Why It’s Important To Have a Virtual Running Community
As someone who prefers to run alone, I’ve never joined a running club or run with a group. Back in 2010 or so I discovered that there were running blogs where I would read about others’ running journeys. I enjoyed reading the details about what other runners were experiencing, especially as I started training for my first marathon. I remember Ali on the Run was one of the first running blogs I started reading. Her first marathon was two months before mine. I loved being able to follow along with her training. (And then 7 years later, she had a baby two months before me! So once again I got to follow along on her journey of pregnancy and new motherhood!)
Back then I felt the need to share my own story, which was why I started a blog in 2013. It wasn’t because I necessarily had a unique story to share, but it was a way to connect with others. To know that you’re not the only one feeling a certain way. To relate to others’ experiences. To learn other ways to do things and to share what worked or did not work for you. To complain about the good, the bad, and the ugly runs. We often have common themes in our running posts- the hot weather, the cold weather, racing season, running during the quarantine. It somehow makes you feel like even though you may run alone, you are not alone in what you experience.
It’s been awesome staying connected with my online tribe! I’ve had some FaceTime walks & chats and ZOOM calls. We’re all coping with this unique situation differently, so it’s great to have so much support and encouragement from my fellow fitness friends.
Kim from Running on the Fly
Here are a few specific ways that I have found a virtual running community to be helpful:
Whether I am training for a race or dealing with an injury, I always feel supported by the other runners I have connected with through my blog and Instagram. It’s easier to share my experiences with others who can relate, and they can offer true support because they know what it’s like to have these experiences. No matter what injury you are experiencing, there is a pretty good chance you will be able to find someone online who has had a similar injury, experience, or comeback story.
Jenn, who is currently coming back from an injury, shared a little about her experience:
I’m so grateful for the virtual running community because it’s a way for me to stay motivated and connected through injury and Safer At Home mandates. There is so much support and encouragement and I wouldn’t be able to keep moving forward without it.”
Jenn from Runs with Pugs
I easily find motivation when I am reading other blogs or scrolling through Instagram. Seeing other runners achieve their goals makes me think that my goals are within reach as well. I’ve learned that hard work pays off and that we need to stay focused and eventually good things will happen. I don’t think I would have ever felt so motivated without being able to follow other “everyday” runners who share their journeys.
Shatiso had a good example of this:
I have always felt really supported and encouraged by the online running community. But never have I really needed that more than now. One of the biggest reasons I’m able to run at this difficult time is because of the energy, the support, the enthusiasm and the motivation from the online running community. There are so many days when I dread getting onto my old treadmill that malfunctions every 3km but I remember how others are struggling too but making it happen. So I really am indebted to this community.”
Shathiso from The Gaborone Runner after a run shortly after social distancing started
There’s nothing like going for a run, posting about it on Instagram, and getting feedback from others. When I have a tough run or I am feeling like my training isn’t going well, the other runners who have been following my journey are able to encourage me to keep going.
Laura from Team Norris Running
By connecting with other runners virtually, we can get a lot of different perspectives on things. Every day I read about other people’s runs and what they are doing and what is working on not working. It helps to give me some insight into my own running and training. There is not necessarily one right way to run/train, so it’s good to see things from different angles.
Marcia from Marcia’s Healthy Slice
New Workout Ideas
There are also plenty of workout ideas to be found within a virtual running community. This includes both running workouts and other kinds of workouts. I’ve learned so much about what else is out there, like Orange Theory, Pelaton, and other workout programs just from reading about them online.
Deborah from Confessions of a Mother Runner
Not only do I learn about what others are doing specific to running, but there are other things to learn about people as well! We all end up sharing more than just our running. How else could you follow and connect with runners from all over the world? Just in our Sunday link-up alone we have runners from Botswana (Shathiso!) and Switzerland (Catrina!)
Catrina from Keep on Running during her virtual half-marathon!
Some run in cities and others on trails or in the mountains. Some run on treadmills more than others, some are early morning runners, some work out every day, others do crossfit. I’d say none of us follow the same routine which is why it is so great to see what others do! It doesn’t mean we need to change what we are doing, but we can learn from them and maybe try something different if we find that what we are doing isn’t working.
Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home during a winter trail race
Here are some ways to connect with a virtual running community
There are so many running blogs out there! If you are looking for information, you can go to Pinterest. However, if you really want to connect with others, you should join one of our weekly link-ups. Here are a few to consider:
Runners’ Roundup (this one!) hosted by myself, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, Running on Happy and Organic Runner Mom
Weekly Rundown hosted by Confessions of a Mother Runner and Running on the Fly
Tuesday Topics hosted by Kooky Runner and Zenaida
Runfessions hosted by Marcia’s Healthy Slice (last Friday of each month)
Friday Five hosted by Fairytales and Fitness
Ultimate Coffee Date with Confessions of a Mother Runner and Got2Run4Me (first Saturday of each month)
Follow any of the runners above or look for runners using hashtags! (I can be found at @milebymile)
To be honest I am still just getting started on Strava and haven’t completely figured it out. It’s a great way to share your specific workouts, with paces, distance, etc. Once you are following people you can give “Kudos” on their runs.
[Tweet “Having a virtual running community is more important now than ever! Join us for the Runners Roundup this week! @milebymilerun #runnersroundup #runchat”]
You can also look into Facebook groups. The biggest running group I am a part of is Running For Real Superstars. You can ask questions about running, connect with other runners, and share race experiences.
There are probably plenty of other ways to connect virtually but this should be enough to get you started! Even if you have a running group in real life, connecting with other runners virtually can really give you a different experience. There is so much we can learn from others and there is a lot of power in social connections, especially during this time of social isolation.
How long have you been a part of a virtual running community? (If you are new to the world of virtual running communities, welcome!)
What is your favorite way to connect with other runners?
What have you learned from other runners who you have met online?
Now it’s time for the Runners’ Roundup! Link up your running and fitness posts below!
Welcome to Sandra who will be joining us as a co-host!
Join myself, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, Running on Happy and Organic Runner Mom to post your favorite running tips, experiences, race and training recaps, workouts, gear, and coaching ideas.