Thursday, January 6, 2011

Running alone, with my friends

I ran 14 miles last night in the dark, not getting started until 7:30pm and an easy 5 today.  The dogs were with me for all of those miles.  While I ran, I listened to podcasts.  Runrunlive, Stuff You Missed in History Class, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, This American Life, and Phedippidations were all on the iPod.  I like listening to podcasts while I run long, general aerobic, and recovery runs because they occupy my mind.  I enjoyed them all, but something Steve Runner focused on in his Phedippidations podcast really struck me.

He recently participated in the Mojo Loco run where 13 podcasters from around the world got together in Florida to run an unofficial relay from Fort Meyers to Daytona Beach.  Steve focused upon the significance of meeting and running with a group of people he had befriended via “new media.”  I could not help but feel a bit smug.

I have been participating in the Runner’s World Online discussion forums, particularly the Boston Marathon forum for more than two years.  I post every day, with few exceptions, and have made a lot of friends.  I have also met many of those runners.  The largest forumite encounter (FE) occurs the Saturday before the Boston Marathon (held on Monday, Patriot’s day).  Of course the weekend is full of mini FE’s as we group up to dine, hit the expo, run shake out runs, and wait in the athlete’s village for the start of the big event.  In addition to the festivities the weekend of the Boston Marathon, this group seeks each other out all year long.  People meet up at other races (including running Reach the Beach last year and a huge contingent at Chicago), and try to run together when forumites travel for work and pleasure.

Steve Runner is right, meeting the people that have become friends online, through Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, and discussion boards is great, but I think that he missed something important.  I run with those people every day.  Sure, I listen to podcasters and feel like they are with me on the run, but I think of my online friends every day as I prepare for, recover from, and, of course, when I execute my workouts.  I think about their successes and setbacks both running and otherwise.  They educate and motivate me.  I feel accountable to them and know that they support this crazy running habit of mine.  The meet ups are great, but the running is great because of the people that I have met through these social networking tools.
My dogs keep me company on my runs, but I am often accompanied by thoughts of my many friends and cannot wait until the next time we get to meet face to face.  Many people think that running is boring, but I have plenty of friends who help me while away the miles.  I hope that this blog continues that trend.

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