Friday, April 09, 2010

Why Do You Blog?

It’s time to sit down on Dr. Nitmos’ couch and look deep inside you. Get comfortable; relax….have a glass of wine. Let’s do some real introspection here. Forget for a moment that the couch is in the back of this windowless van and that I insist on listening with my shirt off…You’re falling into a deep (queue mirror ball), deep (Barry White), sleeeep.

Alright, that’s pretty creepy so forget I said that. In fact, I’m taking this clown make-up off right now.

The question is…why do you blog about running?

Have you ever really thought about that? There are so many interesting topics in the world: politics, sports, religion, books, scholarly research, Tiger Woods’ infidelity. Why running? We all complain about how Runner’s World seems to dust off the same stories year-in, year-out. If they’ve run out of topics, what makes us think we have more to say?

Of course, blogs are personal stories. Some folks use them as a shared training diary. Others like the social networking aspect. Some gather or suggest tips for better running. And some – yours truly – appreciate a forum in which the timing of a bowel movement can be the start of Act III in an exciting three part race recap. It’s hard to work something like that into a political discussion.

Maybe the better question is what do you hope to get out of your blog?

As I read (but not comment*) your blogs, I think the reason runner’s blog usually fall within a few general categories.

1) Social connections. Going against years of widely accepted warnings, some of you are looking to meet other runner’s (or “internet strangers”, let’s be honest) to become friends. If you take running out of the equation, doesn’t this have the makings of an after-school special? No, No, NO don’t go to the park. DON’T GO TO THE PARK TO MEET YOUR INTERNET FRIEND. This is definitely not me. I’m pretty sure most of you are figments of my imagination. The few of you I’ve “met” have been after I ate a basket of shrooms and washed them down with mescaline. Right after I met you, I met Jim Morrison and we did a Native American dance in the dessert. (<-Not a typo.)

2) Information seekers/givers. What better way to avoid snapping your own hamstring than to hear the story about how someone else did it, right? And then leave one of those ‘listen to your body’ comments everyone hates afterwards to really twist that frayed hammy end on them. This isn’t the reason I blog but I think this is the smartest and purest reason to do so. There is a lot of useful information out there with firsthand accounts from other runner’s. Whether it be race details, training successes (or failures), or nutritional ideas, there is a stream of data flowing for the curious runner. The trick is to identify the wheat from the chaff. Find a good source, hook it to your vein and settle back and let the info flow. Find a bad source and you just might be mainlining the guy who answered ‘c’ to every multiple choice test question to “improve his odds”.

3) Puffery. Most of us think running is pretty special. That’s why we do it. And that’s why we spend extra time blogging about it. We all like to proudly trumpet our accomplishments just as we delight in sharing our tales of personal defeats. There’s a lot of exaggeration, metaphors, and the occasional biblical allusion deployed in this area. Highs are described as orgasmic and lows can be organ-grinding. A unicorn makes an appearance. There’s a truthful story in the kernel but it is surrounded and served with midgets atop polar bears fighting an army of Ben Affleck clones. It’s fun. It’s light-hearted. It’s a lot better than Daredevil.

4) The Diarist. I don’t know if it is lack of imagination or lack of motivation but some blogs I read are like a recipe: 3 miles at track; ¼ mile repeats; 2 cups Gatordade, stir, serve cold. Nothing more. The blog is more of a training log like the one I keep in my nightstand. Nothing wrong with that but awfully dry and bland for the rest of us. It doesn’t need explosions and trampled llamas but would it kill you to include at least one tasered Affleck? Most of the diarists seem content just to log their runs, remain guarded and secretive, but still seek some validation from other anonymous runners. I usually view the Diarists as pupae, budding bloggers, in which some will develop into promising laser shooting butterfly bloggers. Keep your eye on these guys to see what comes out of the cocoon.

5) Motivation seekers. This one I really don’t get. Do you read running blogs? I’d say about 2/3 of them are filled with excuses for why someone ISN’T running. Hell, I even posted one earlier this week. If I relied on running blogs for motivation, I do believe I’d quit running altogether. But some of you claim to get motivation from reading them so…bully for you!

So which one are you? You all know me. I’m pretty serious and fact-based around here so I’d have to fall into the Diarist category. Besides, I normally pick on Schwimmer not Affleck.

Happy trails.

* Some may have noticed that I've severely cut back on my commenting over the last few months. I still read quite a few blogs while I'm "paying attention" at teleconferences but I don't make the extra effort to respond as much. Sorry. I'm expecting a full shipment of witty, but juvenile, comments to stock up my comment whorehouse soon.


My first 20 mile training run for this marathon session comes....tomorrow. Hooray!

CONGRATULATIONS to Hello Kitty Mystery Runner and fellow Steers LDP team member for completing the Croom Fools 50 miler in 9 hours last weekend. Enjoy your award.....a coffee mug. (Queue sad trombone) You've always been a Fool in my book with or without a coffee mug.


Ian said...

All of a sudden I'm sitting here dumbfounded thinking "Why DO I blog about running?"

saundra said...

ANYTHING is better than Daredevil. Possibly even Alvin and the Chipmunks.
I know why I started blogging, just not sure why I continue...

Lauren said...

I blog because I love talking about running, complaining about running, reading about running and I find that my "real life" friends get sick of hearing about my runs pretty darn quick. Other bloggers however never get tired of hearing about my same 4.5 mile run every week (at least I tell myself they don't').

And every now and then I think of something funny that only another runner would get so I post those and it's nice to hear feedback.

Also, it's nice to know there are other insane people out there too :D.

Pam F. said...

I am 100% with Lauren. I vent, rant, boast, whine, and cry to you people so that my friends and family that DON'T run don't get sick of me.

Jamoosh said...

Since there was no category does this mean I am NOT the Master of All Time, Space and Dimension? Dammit - I guess I need to re-evaluate my blogging priorities.

Seriously though, I wanted to say Puffery, but for me it's more of an outlet. So perhaps I have taken a bit of each category and morphed into a monster.

Viper said...

Didn't I have to start a blog to post smart-assed comments on blogs?

I didn't? Well, shit a strawberry!

Sun Runner said...

I write because the blog is just the most recent permutation of something I've been doing since I was 13. Only now with less adolescent angst (most of the time).

TCHusker - Nate said...

Puffery, pure puffery. A 5 mile run in the snow becomes an expedition to the South Pole. A hot 10 miler is a trek across Death Valley. A dog barks at me and my life flashes before my eyes. Puffery.

SeeGirlRun said...

I have no idea. To get to the other side?

Al's CL Reviews said...

Mostly to remember what I've done because I have a terrible memory. And what Lauren said.

Elizathon said...

I am with Lauren and Pam F. above. I am obsessed with running and LOVE talking about it but no one around me in the "real" world seems to want to hear about how I got diarrhea cramps at Mile 10 or that I shaved .001 seconds off my 5k. The blog world, on the other hand, is seemingly filled with runner geeks like me who love to talk about black toenails, and blisters, and how this run sucked or that run was the best ever. I feel very validated now.

BrianFlash said...

I'm totally with Lauren. And because I want people to say, "Wow, you rock."

They don't even have to mean it.

Jess said...

If I didn't blog about running my real life friends would probably hate me because it would be the only thing I talk about.

Razz said...

Work on my writing skillz. And my more gooder grammer.

RunnerinLV said...

I blog about running....I don't know why I do, I just do.
It's a free country..isn't it?
Eh, I do it because I like talking to myself, and I'm the only one that reads my blog anyway.

Barefoot Johnny O said...

I blog so that you'll know I'm better than you. Why else?

lawmonkey13 said...

I'd have to say that I blog as a combination of all of the above. According to my wife, it is socially unacceptable to constantly talk about myself and running. So blogging becomes my outlet to talk endlessly about things that interest me.

Adam said...

I'm 50% diarist and 50% puffery. My blog started out as a log, and honestly still is, but the rest is an outlet for humorous running exploits.

To be honest, if I didn't have the readers it wouldn't bother me in the slightest - I blogged for over a year without a comment!

jen said...

I'm 25% social and 75% ego (puffery).

You never comment, do you? A-hole! Good thing you're so cute.

Vava said...

Good post. I'm definitely a "Diarist" since I started, and continue to blog, so that I can go back and see what the hell went wrong in hopes of avoiding the same mistakes. Of course I could do this in a less open manner, but I do know that a few family members, some overseas, actually follow my progress and, therefore, feel somewhat compelled to continue with the blog. Also, it does serve a motivational purpose in that I hate not having any running related updates to post and it keeps me running when other motivational sources are seemingly dry.

And lastly, I choose to perfect my procrastination post grad school, where I believe it reached a peak. One can always improve, right?

Adam Culp (Crazy Floridian) said...

Hmmm, good question. I am NOT funny, so can't be for the humour. I suppose I do it for numerous reasons, and each post really carries its own definition and purpose.

I like to hear the experience of others after they read my post, so that is social.
I try to give or ask for information.
I enjoy talking about my accomplishments, and getting the occasional pat on the back.
I post my summaries of races and training that are like a diary.
I guess I do all of this to gain motivation of some sort.

Irene said...

Currently, I'm blogging about not running.

I blog just to get what ever it is out of my head, bonus points if any one comments, although not necessary, is good for the ego.

Since the advent of Daily Mile, I'm less of a diarist. The social connection is aspect is major. I've made so many new friends since blogging, and not in just the blogging sense, we actually get together in real life. :) Puffery is also good for the ego, and I'll toot my own horn if need be, because if I don't believe in me, who will?

Great post.

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Nitmos! I've missed you (and cool words like puffery) I guess I was all of the above? Little bit of diary, little bit of puffery, seeking motivation from others (which isn't hard when you are the slowest person you know). I loved the creative outlet and somehow I was more positive than I've ever been while blogging. In fact, when I needed to start complaining, I quit blogging! Sadly I'm still not able to run, but I think I'm going to start blogging again. Glad you are still diarist-ing!!

Morgan said...

I blog because my family and friends don't give a damn if I ran 5 miles today or 20 over the weekend or if I picked up some killer race swag at an expo or made a run date for when I visit some random place. I blog to learn about running, to inspire other to run and to have a place to visit when I want to be in my happy place (i.e. read race recaps)

Great post!

Java Joggers said... my students say, "how many points is this worth?" I'm not sure exactly which blogging reasons fits me best - I'll have to go with social/puffery. And please don't ask me why I run, because I ask myself that on a weekly basis :)