This was the image that greeted me last month – the news that I’ve now been blogging for five years. Five whole years of posting content on my own little corner of the Internet! Although sometimes it can be tough fitting in time to write posts, especially at crunch points during the school year, overall I really enjoy blogging and think that there are a number of benefits not just to blogging, but to blogging about running. So with that in mind, today I want to share some of the things that I enjoy about being a running blogger (or blogging runner!).
Blogging is a wonderful way to connect with like-minded people. Before I began my blog I was regularly reading one or two others, and I was always struck by how fellow runners often had very similar experiences, fears and goals to me. By starting my own blog I guess I added my “voice” to the discussion and really enjoy connecting with “real” runners, people just like me fitting training in around work and other life commitments; people whose goals may very well be just like mine; people whose journeys I like to follow. Running can be a very solitary pursuit, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s nice to know that thoughts and experiences can be shared with those who will just “get it”. By writing my posts and reading those of the many others I now follow, I feel part of a connected community with which I can celebrate, commiserate and converse. There’s always a supportive voice to be found and it’s lovely when that connection extends into the real world. I feel really lucky to have met and chatted to people from all over the world that I found through blogging and I look forward to that continuing. I’ve even, on one or two occasions, been “recognised” as The Running Princess which is really cool as it’s lovely to know that someone other than a partner or parent might be reading what you have to say!
“Every day’s a school day,” or so they say, and writing a blog can be a great learning tool as well. Not only does it allow me to hone my writing and put into practice some of the skills I teach my pupils, but it also gives me the opportunity to learn from others. Sometimes I might have to do a little research for a post, or read interesting articles to share in Friday Finds. Sometimes I might learn from a reader who comments on a post or offers advice. Even just working on the mechanics of the blog has been a learning experience – at first I had no idea how to link to other content and it took a few posts to get to grips with tags and categories. I tweak some bits and pieces from time to time and try out new ideas to see what works. Blogging helps to clarify my thoughts and I do think a lot of what I’ve learned about various disciplines comes back to being part of this crazy, connected world we call the Internet.
Related to learning is discovering. I discover new things all the time through blogging. I discover new ideas for posts, I discover different approaches to training or nutrition and I discover new blogs to read and people to connect with. When someone new interacts with my blog, I usually take a look at theirs to see if it’s something I want to read regularly. When I post about books or podcasts or music I consider the suggestions people make and often find something fantastic to read or listen to. When someone writes a review of an event I might add that event to my wish list or perhaps even sign up for the next one. Sometimes when I complete a survey or respond to a message asking how I came across something, I find that I actually don’t know. Even today, I was reading a blog I had just discovered and saved, yet I no longer remember how I came across it! The world is just full of new things to discover, and maintaining my blogging helps me to find some of them.
When I first started writing the blog, probably the only person reading it was Steve, and maybe one or two friends who felt obliged to. Even now I sometimes find it strange to think that other people might actually be reading what I post. But even with no readers whatsoever, I would probably still keep writing. Why? Because my blog has become a great place to document my life. It can be a training log, a record of races and a snapshot of my life at any given time. What was it I thought about that book? There’s a post on it. How did I structure my training for that race? There’s an online record of it. How did my experience of that race compare to previous years or other races? There are past posts to check. Some people keep a training diary, some people journal about their lives, I keep my blog. Five years generates a lot of content and I do go back and look at it from time to time.
I suppose we’re all a bit narcissistic these days and platforms like blogs and social media allow us to share a great deal. Sometimes we’re all guilty of sharing unimportant or, dare I say, boring details, but blogging can also present an excellent opportunity when it comes to sharing. Writing a post can allow me to share my knowledge or experiences; it can open up a converstation or even debate with others; it can help me to encourage others or receive encouragement in tough times. Blogging also helps to keep me accountable. If I set out a goal then knowing I’ve shared it publicly helps to keep me on track. This year I shared some goals for the year and have been updating my progress as the year goes on. And not only can I share what I’m up to, I can also share in the experiences of others by engaging with them via their own posts to share advice, commiserate when things haven’t gone well and congratulate when they succeed. We’re all quick to complain about the sharing of pointless details online, but we must remember that this can also be a force for good and allow plenty of positive sharing. By connecting with others and sharing in their lives, we must surely help to improve our own.
So there you have it. I’m never going to make my fortune through blogging, but over the past five years it’s become an important part of my life. Here’s to the next five years…!
What do you enjoy about writing or reading blogs?
If you write a blog, what inspired you to start?