Today I read a blog post from a runner named Justin that was fairly critical of the online community of runners, and ironically it made me want to start blogging again. I give Justin mad props for this post, because as runners, we can be a bit of a loopily positive crowd, high on endorphins and adrenaline. So to post something that isn’t all rainbows and sunshine about the way things are going in the run blogging world is pretty dope of Justin, according to me, who likes to keep it real to a fault.
Ironically, as a communications professional, I don’t like to play by the “best practice” rules when it comes to my own blogging. When I first started blogging in relation to picking up running, it was indeed because I was so excited about having found something that made me happier and more optimistic than any anti-depressant pill, I wanted to share it with the world. But I’ve never really blogged like those runners with the giant online following. I go past the 500-word limit, I think I’ve done like a grand total of 2 product reviews, I’ve never been asked to be a brand ambassador.
And to be honest, it kind of started to feel like blogging about running wasn’t fun anymore. I had no free stuff to tell you about and suggest you should spend your money on. I didn’t have enough to say about fitness or health specifically to keep to a daily or even two-or-three times weekly blog schedule. And I’m wordy.
2016 has been an incredibly hard year for me. I made a very complicated decision to leave what started out feeling like a dream come true — the job I had in Texas. I started to realize it just wasn’t what I wanted to do where I wanted to do it for the long haul. And when my lease was up, I thought maybe I’d better get back to DC sooner rather than later. And since then, I’ve been temping, but I also picked up a weekend gig at my local Fleet Feet Sports. At first I hung my head a little at needing to pick up a part time job.
But it’s turned out to be the best thing that’s happened to my 2016.
Local running stores offer community, affordable events, clinics, fun runs, and customer service that no online shoe navigator or startup Etsy brand can provide. It’s reinvigorated my love for running, being around people who are sweating out on a sticky Saturday morning doing a 12 minute pace for 3 miles and being thrilled about it.
Which means while I am still no one’s brand ambassador, I don’t fly to Disney every weekend, I’m not training for a marathon… it does mean I have a lot more reason to talk about and care about what’s going on in the running world again. Running has become organically enjoyable for me again.
I have had to ask myself why I write this blog and why I let other people read it. I suppose I don’t really care if anyone reads it, hence, why I don’t bother too much with best practices. I do write it because I love, and have always loved, to write. I have been wanting to write more lately but have been facing down writers’ block.
But the other day I had a customer at Fleet Feet who came to me looking for shoes he could go walking in with his wife. Pretty standard. Except that he had MS. Multiple sclerosis. At first I was really nervous and worried I would put him in a shoe that would totally mess him up. I consulted with my manager and we found him a great shoe, and the smile on his wife’s face made me forget all my insecurities about leaving my salaried promotion with a 401(k) to work part time at a shoe store.
Even better? The next day – THE NEXT DAY – I had another customer with MS, looking for a shoe for the same reasons.
It was a combination of their stories, the way they carried themselves through what many would see as a good reason not to bother with making time for exercise, and being grateful to a specific company for making a really terrific shoe that was right for these two guys moreso than any other shoe we carried, that made me want to start sharing again. If there’s one thing I’ve learned working at Fleet Feet, it’s that every brand has at least one shoe I’d be happy in. (Okay, I have yet to meet an Under Armour shoe I’d spend money on, but they get a pass for their excellent affordable apparel.)
So when I saw Justin’s post I thought about the power of these athletic companies to do good in people’s lives, to give them a product they need. Not everyone’s first choice is going to be a Mizuno, not everyone’s first choice is going to be Brooks. But there are people out there who NEED what Mizuno is doing, who NEED what New Balance is doing.
And being in a position to test them ALL out and not be beholden to have to say good things or compete with any others puts me in kind of a unique position to share a little. Now, there are people who work at stores like Fleet Feet who’ve been doing it years and already have blogs specifically for product review after product review and are much smarter on how to describe something or address a certain feature.
So it’s a good thing that’s not all I plan to be doing.
My hope is that in blogging I accomplish a few things:
- rediscover an outlet that kept me motivated to work harder and improve as a runner,
- become a better writer,
- offer my own experiences running using different methods, workouts, races, gear as an unbiased source with access to trying out EVERYTHING,
- offer some tales of how I get to watch a local running store offer community and solutions to people who want to take their lives back, whether from a health issue or a stressful day-to-day,
- make you laugh
So at the moment I hope to update at least every Friday or Saturday. If I have something I fervently need to say it’ll be more often. But I plan to make a point to, as Carlee would say, grab a snack and get my reading and writing on- staying current on what other runners are dealing with, and offering my take. I hope I keep it fresh for you.
But good luck getting me to stay under 1,000 words.