Social Media: A New Community for Runners in Training

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(Credit: iStockphoto)

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Apps and social media platforms provide a way for runners to not only post achievements and share tips, but also to garner support from the running community, fans, friends and family as they prepare for difficult races like the Boston Marathon. Running is often a solitary sport, but there has always been a sense of community around races and marathons, so it’s no surprise that that camaraderie has poured over into social media sites.

Running apps

Because marathon participants in training are virtually always on the go, phone apps are a popular way to stay connected. Some of the more popular phone apps include Nike+ Running and RunKeeper, both of which allow users to track and share their stats with friends via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

There is also a new app from the Boston Athletic Association called Boston Marathon World Run. This app allows users to upload their runs, use interactive maps and post pictures of training. It invites “people from all around the world to participate in their own Boston Marathon” from wherever they may be. 

The Boston Marathon World Run app has a list of “Global Ambassadors” who are largely elite runners. It is easy to find their names and click on their profiles to see if they have uploaded anything. For examle, Desiree Davila Linden of the United States has posted a few photographs of training and other running related fun. Linden competed in the 2012 Olympics and set the female American Boston Marathon record in 2011 when she finished with a time of 2:22:38.

Social networking

There’s a plethora of social networking sites designed specifically for runners. These include Runner’s Lounge, a site dedicated to hardcore runners; Breaking the Tape, perfect for runners in training, and even Running Singles, a dating site that connects single runners. All of these sites allow runners to connect with others who share similar passions, post about milestones, gripe about setbacks and offer information for fans and even the media in the months leading up to the Boston Marathon.

Don’t rule out broader interest social media sites. Twitter is a veritable hotbed of elite running activity. Jason Hartmann (USA) was the first place American male finisher in 2013. He likes to tweet about training, friends and running in general. He is a Colorado resident, so the photos he posts of his runs are often stunning.

Ryan Hall (USA), who set a personal best in Boston in 2011, tweets about races, training, ASICS sneakers and how “President Obama has some bounce in his legs. I’d like to take him for a jog.”

And it’s not just the American elites who are tweeting. Lanni Marchant of Canada tweets often about family, races and training. She is also an avid retweeter of funny celebrity tweets for followers who want more than just training updates. Wilson Chebet of Kenya, one of the fastest half marathon runners of all time, just started tweeting a few weeks ago. His first message back on February 28, 2014 reads, “first tweet, in process of getting #BostonStrong. :) Happy and honored to test myself in Boston. See you soon!”

From avid runners looking for training tips to race day crowds looking to support their runners, Boston Marathon participants and onlookers can find a wonderful, supportive community online. Moreover, it is not likely to fade once the marathon has passed. There are always more races and more miles to train.

Shelly Barclay is a professional freelance writer and amateur author. She writes on a variety of topics from food to mysteries. She loves to share the culture and rich history of her birthplace and home, Boston, with the rest of the world. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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