Posting, publishing, and publicizing your running life isn’t for everyone, but it can keep you accountable and driven
February 12, 2020
I started seriously running in 2008 and writing about it a few seconds later.
Keeping a blog, building a website, posting all over social media and back again ain’t for everyone. I’ve opened myself to the internet on every possible topic over the years, though much of that is now locked away in private archives, and I’ll be the first to tell anyone, don’t start unless you want it. Need it. Crave it. Don’t start unless you feel a compulsion to write and document it all that won’t go away without the satisfaction of fingers tapping on a keyboard.
As may still be peppered around this site —feets.ca— by the time you are reading these words, this site has had many incarnations, but the latest, the 2020 version, is an accidental resurrection driven by a need to learn a new piece of software.
I needed to learn Drupal for work.
I abhor learning abstractions.
Running is something that is not abstract and something upon which I had written much in the past and could draw on.
This site blossomed from that.
Not everyone is going to have either a twelve year archive of personal running writing from which to pull or an extensive working knowledge of technical content management systems to drive the construction of a site, so let me write this: I started small. My first writing about running isn’t even worth resurrecting from my archives. It was me noting in a sentence in a trivial sort of post about how I’d signed up for a running clinic and that it had made me tired. In other words, just like running is one step at a time, writing about running is one word at a time. How fucking cliche is that?
I honestly hadn’t expected to do much more than putz around with a new version of this site but it has now grown. It is amazing what (not abstract) building of something that is both personally interesting and professionally important can result in. As I stumble through this post — content item number ninety-nine, in fact — it occurs to me that at some point I hit a critical mass and have compelled myself to keep writing, building, and posting.
Would I recommend it?
Again. don’t start unless you mean it.
Putting words out there creates accountability, spurs goal-setting, organizes plans into action, and is just as like to record failures as it does successes. Unlike my previous approaches, I’m not structuring this much like a blog. Drupal is not a blogging platform so much as a website building tool. I’ve gathered up a bunch of articles that seem worthy of reposting —my race reports forming the core of that body of work— which includes things posted at a time in my running career that are worthy enough of adding a date onto. One might fumble through a topic on Winter Running, say, and see some words I wrote recently followed by a couple videos, followed by a post I wrote longer ago. I’m attempting to group and categorize and inter-weave my words into something interesting as well as useful. But just a warning, the useful may come later as I hone and write more.
And with that, I don’t know how much will wind up in each category yet. When it occurs to me to write something, I’ll write it. When it is important to me and I’m thinking on it, I’ll document. If I feel like spending a quiet evening writing a post about writing a running blog — like tonight — it will end up sorted on this page and shared in the appropriate place. And until I’m done learning this tool, things are apt to change and shuffle and focus a little more as time passes.
After twelve years of writing, posting on multiple sites and platforms, the only guarantee I can give is that I won’t stop writing about it until I’m well done running it.
In this post I start off a little on the meta side of things and ponder the question: do you, my dear reader, actually want to read a series of posts about marathon training? Maybe? Well, then what are…
6 Blog Posts People Will Actually Read About Marathon Training
1 : Glimpses of Everyday Obstacles
I’ve been blogging a long time and I’ve been running a long time too, it seems. And while it would be easy enough for me to share many of those not-so-thrilling tales of distances I’ve shred and paces I’ve surmounted — territory into which I’m guilty of straying on occasion — it’s the story of the everyday obstacle that seems to get the hits. When it comes right down to it — and while it’s important for me, personally, to log my klicks and my times — the story is not even hidden in the numbers so much as it is hidden in the wry observations of the trails I’ve tracked and the barriers I’ve leaped. Let’s face it, there are trails I’ve run times uncountable and rarely do I mention those dusty roads. But, when we replace the dust with fifteen centimeters of snow, the obstacle becomes a story the hits on that post double.
2 : Writing from the Heart
Admit it. You read “writing from the heart” in the heading title there and you immediately thought of those “Chicken Soup for the Anthology Writer’s Soul” books, am I right? But writing from the heart isn’t just about penning out countless drab sappy tales of feel-good-ery. Heartfelt stories are baked full of some kind of ineffable… something. It might be a story of raw emotion, or fueled inspiration, or mixed companionship… or maybe just a few words about getting out of bed a little earlier than is rationally conceivable. Or just possibly it’s a story of all of those things baked together with a classy photo to tie it neatly into a warm-cup-of-jo tale that gets nearly a thousand eyeballs reading it before you even realize it’s popular. People like those stories.
3 : Tales of Indecision
To waffle is human. And as much as I like the kind of waffles defined by bready-breakfast goodness drizzled in maple syrup, herein I use the term waffle in the OTHER sense… as in to waver in a state of indecision, to sit on a metaphorical fence, or to just be plain unable to make up your darn mind about something. I waffle frequently. Waffling can be a sign of a rational mind, a mind that is still open to multiple possibilities and has not be cemented into a single focus — at least it is rational as long as one is waffling prior to that vague point in time when a decision SHOULD be made. I waffle on this blog occasionally, too. I waffled about marathon training, in fact, a few months ago, writing about the balance sheet of rational decision making that needs to go on about choosing to do something big or difficult. It helps me decide things, I know that for sure. And people read it, too, so it must be moderately entertaining.
4 : Stories of Epic Failure
While I flaunt the term “epic” as if it will soon be out of style, putting a pin on a firm definition of the word is a little more tricky. Failure is an odd topic, and perhaps a dirty word in the spotlight of inspirational tone I often strive to embody. But right now, failure means admitting mistakes or owning up to shortcomings. And these failures of our heart or our soul, on the long road of marathon training, can come and go before we even realize they were failures. For example, pig-headed determination to run in a snow storm can be an epic failure, particularly when that training run results in a mild injury a couple weeks before a race. And a blogger’s attempt at justifying failures — be those silly failures of rational thought or unfortunate failures resulting from injury or illness — have proven to make good blog fodder.
5 : Tips on Simplifying Difficult Tasks
Here’s the rub. I try very hard not to stray into the fast-fix, easy-answer department of blog-writing. I’m not that guy. And that kind of thing gets my back up, particularly when folks do it for profit and to take advantage of desperate people looking for easy answers to hard questions. I’ve written many posts on “simplifying” tough objectives. I wrote — still am writing, in fact — a whole series called “hackable me” where I explained the moderate level of gamification I added to my life to take some of the edge off of a weight-loss decision I made. It worked… for me. And people read that stuff, ask me for solutions, and email me questions about it. I don’t have “easy answers” — but I have tips on how to take the edge off of tough tasks. But those tasks are still tough, and as much as everyone likes reading them I like writing them, too. Just… don’t be evil if YOU write them too.
6 : Lists of Nearly Anything
Of course sometimes you just gotta put a list together. Case-in-point: you’re reading this. But those kinds of list don’t even need to be useful or serious. Perhaps all that training has granted you, the writer, some kind of pointless or eclectic insight into an almost academic line of pondering the universe and — hey — you never know when it could give somebody a chuckle… or even a bit of potentially live-saving advice. Lists are just cool. And who would I be to argue against THAT point?