If you run alone all the time it can be all too easy to slip into a rut. You might plod round the same route at the same pace every time. It can also make it easier for your motivation to be undermined and overwhelmed. The demands and attractions of non-running people and pastimes can be compelling.
A recent study published in Nature Communication confirmed that logging runs on social media definitely tends to push people to run more. This in itself is probably a good thing. Interestingly, male runners were motivated by comparing their results with both men and women. Female runners seemed to ignore the men and were only really interested in the runs of other women.
The research also showed both men and women runners tend not to compare themselves to the very best. They don't even pay much attention to runners who are just a bit better than them. They were much more likely to be getting satisfaction by just staying ahead of the pack.
This suggests to me some causes for concern:
- If you are only striving to stay ahead of the pack, are you really running to your full potential?
- Could your fear of ‘falling behind’ online drive you to push too hard at the wrong time, risking injury and reduced long term performance?
- Are you to busy looking at your stats rather the enjoying the scenery, checking your form and going deeper into your own running experience?
- Does comparing distances and times with others leave room for cross training, flexibility work and other necessary activities?
If your answers to these worry you, consider leaving your monitoring device at home for a few runs. It’s like giving up alcohol for a month to check if you are addicted.
Lifelong running is about exploring your own potential. Comparing and racing can help, but make sure it’s all about getting the best out of your running, not just getting one over somebody else.
A bunch of strangers posting unverified running times is no substitute for a qualified coach and a well motivated team to train with.
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