How to Find Virtual Running Buddies
We are lucky to have so many ways in which to share and enjoy our running comrades. Gone are the days of your running community being limited to those you know locally. The internet and social media popularity have connected those of us who are geographically challenged. They’ve allowed a hobby to become a full-time part of ourselves. The benefits to this are countless, yet having other runners to converse with when you are sitting anywhere, seems to be the best part.
Any runner worth their PR will probably admit that they talk about running more than most others can politely handle. We can’t help it. Running can be full of trials, challenges, successes, joy and we need to share. In the ever changing sociality landscape, a sizeable portion of our personal running community has grown outside of our physical location – and that’s a great thing. These virtual running buddies add many dimensions. They are a guaranteed positive impact, unlike those new shorts that chaffed in all the wrong places.
Maybe the thought never crossed your mind to seek out and embrace people who can’t actually run with you on a weekly basis. Luckily, there are plenty of places to find them.
Instant In-Person Connection
You met someone, you sort of like them and they run! The only downside? You are miles upon miles from home. It could be at a race, on a plane or hanging out in a pub on vacation. Go ahead make the first move. This is not dating. There are no “rules.” Get their name, number and Twitter or Instagram handle. The praise of a fellow runner wanting your information feels pretty good. My best virtual running buddy has only ever pounded pavement with me once- at my third marathon as my pacer, years ago. I was a young runner, early in my career and was focused on a goal. I was naive and had never run a race to meet a goal other than crossing the finish line. I might have met my goal had he not been there but still many years and many races later, I’m not sure. A few weeks after the marathon and soreness passed, he sought me out on Facebook. To this day, he is always the most encouraging of all of the comments. I will forever be grateful he reached out. Having support, even from afar, is crucial. An added bonus: you can reach out to seek advice that isn’t embedded in the local thinking. It’s easy, it’s really fun and it’s like having a permanent cheerleader.
In a world where we can pick and choose who we follow and who our followers are, choosing to follow a random person we don’t know can be a pretty big compliment (if we aren’t selling them something). Even better if the favor is returned. The internet can be a defeating place full of faster, leaner and seemingly better runners. Find someone that truly motivates you. Someone whose post will push you a little. Maybe their memes make you truly “LOL” or ring a little too true. Alternatively, there is that one follower you have who always posts words of encouragement. Don’t lie. It feels pretty nice.
Discussion Forums or Pinterest
There is a saying somewhere out in the universe that roughly goes “Based on your Pins, I want to be friends in real life.” I believe the same thing can be said for forums and comments on online articles or blogs. There is a nice release finding another who voices your exact same thoughts. Sometimes we can be too entranced in our own running persona and image to broach a subject. And sometimes full honesty in your running group isn’t exactly happening for fear of hurting feelings or running people off. In these internet venues, you can ask and advise kindly and honestly. Have some rare combination of scoliosis along with a heel spur that causes insanely painful plantar fasciitis? I can almost promise you, there is a thread with people encountering the same issue.
GPS Tracking Websites and Apps
This one can have some negatives if you are uber-competitive, but it is also the best suggestion for the folks who are of the mind-set “I ain’t got time for that.” Sync your watch and be done with it. On days you want to participate and analyze, do it until your heart’s content. And on days you don’t, at least you know your runs are logged.
The Joy of the Distance
A buddy who isn’t around all the time, or ever, won’t get too embedded into your running. The virtual running buddy relationship is the best type of running buddy you can have – a customizable buddy. You can over-share, under-share, embrace an issue openly you’d rather not around your running regulars. You can even vent about your running regulars! And there is a high likelihood they have advice and are empathetic, unlike your co-workers.
Adding elements to your running toolbox is a continuous task for all of us. Fostering your current visibility on any of these platforms will allow some of the tools to come to you. You no longer have to type “Marathon Quotes” into Google because your virtual running buddy on Pinterest posts 4 a day. Or as real motivation, you see the neighbor down the street beat your seven miler by 30 seconds on Strava, maybe tomorrow you pick it up a little. That guy you met on the plane to San Francisco ran the race you’ve eyeing for months? Reach out to him. These virtual running buddies can be as low maintenance as you want. It might make your life a little easier and your runs a little better. And after all if they change their focus, you can unfollow them with a simple click of a button.