We runners provide endless entertainment on social media, I admit! Posting our run timings, our improved timings, our this year’s timings versus last year’s timings, this year’s timings versus last 3-4 year’s timing, flashing our medals, certificates, our hill runs, flat runs, running poses of all types, things we saw on our runs, butterflies, ants, mountains, people whatever! And really what’s wrong in this? Nothing wrong with craving attention and appreciation for staying fit! If social media can keep people motivated to stay up with the fitness side of life, then I see no bad in it! The psychologists can say or call us whatever the hell they want! We are staying healthy, having fun, looking good – how wrong can that be????
The point however is that I have often wondered whether posting my run/ race timings on Facebook or my Whatsapp run group have any negative effects on the people who read them, apart from forming an image of me in their minds.
I am very proud of my run timings. I earn them through months of training. The amount of commitment, pain, planning and agony is takes to stop the entire house at 9.30pm before a run morning and the 4.15 am waking up part at least thrice a week is grueling to say the least. It’s a non-monetary hobby. But I cannot underestimate the energy, focus and strength it gives me – it’s hard to explain what it means to me some days when I am tired to the bone and still ready to go for a run! Then why not tell the world that I clocked in my first sub 2! Or proudly announce my PB! Or rant about how I have improved by a whole 60 seconds you! You cannot separate running from timings. It’s no fun to not track your improvements, your best runs or even the worst ones. PBs are meant to be broken!
Coming back to the impact, something that happened on my big race day made me think about how announcing my race timings impacts then. My first big official race in India was the ADHM 2015 and I clocked my first half marathon timing of 1.54.39. You would imagine how kicked I was! At the same, I also get a hearty kick helping new runners and inspiring them to go out there and run. But after my euphoria of my first Sub 2 celebration settled, I realized that many of my runner friends started feeling uncomfortable discussing their run timings with me. They thought they complimented me by saying I wasn’t their league now! Sure, I was becoming a better runner but hey I like to be out there for runner friends and there I see I demotivated a few by announcing my timings sounding a bit arrogant at times!
I have now learnt:
- The first time I meet someone who is a runner – Avoid asking the first question – What’s your half/ full marathon timing? It breaks people in many ways. They know they are getting judged as a runner. I feel mentally it spoils the fun of their run and of course, my budding relation with that person too!
- Discussing timings on the Whatsapp Run Groups creates tremendous pressures on beginners especially. We all began somewhere and we needed that nice runner who could keep us motivated! Who could make us believe I can! There is nothing wrong being competitive with yourself or even another person. But just watch out on how many people are getting inspired and how many are getting demotivated! If you don’t care how many are getting demotivated anyways, then you shouldn’t be reading this piece anyway.
- It is better to discuss your run/race timings to show how your training and planning has helped you to get there and achieve the target. Everybody wants to get better as a runner and everybody likes to know that there was a method in getting the madness right. So do that apart from flaunting!
I love the competition. I work hard for it, I enjoy collecting my PBs and I won’t give up till I really have to! However, part of maturing up as a runner is accepting that there is always a better runner than you - In the same group, in a different group, on the same road and in the events. And the PB is your own Personal Best!
But what really makes me feel like a complete runner is when I get out for a run with a new runner. It feels even more amazing when she finishes her first long distance because I slowed down for that one run for her! It feels awesome when someone who couldn’t run 3 kms two months back, does her first half marathon and credits you for helping out with a couple of ‘I believe I can’ runs!
Yes! That’s what makes me feel like a complete runner!
By Tanya Agarwal for Wellthy.Fit
(Running since September 2014)