the state of blogging

I started blogging in 2008 – just over six years ago.  As I mentioned in my bloggiversary post, I started blogging to be part of a community that shared their running experiences.  The first blogs I followed were all running blogs – blogs written to talk about daily runs, how they felt about those runs, and some goals for the future.  Eventually, food blogs/healthy living blogs made a rise to power, and I got sucked into the vortex of reading about someone’s life two-three times per day – what food they ate, how they exercised, and, most importantly, how they fit all this into their work schedule.

Eventually, many of those blogs morphed into full-time jobs, leaving behind jobs outside of the house.  To me, this means one thing – you are no longer relatable.  I’d definitely have more time to eat healthy and exercise if I didn’t have to be at a job for 12+ hours three-four days per week…especially when I was working nights and had no idea what a normal sleep schedule was.  (“Don’t eat after 9pm!”  I’ll eat a full meal at 2am and raise you eight cups of coffee.)  But I still stuck around some of these blogs because I’d been invested in their lives, and they often got some cool opportunities to read about.

Very few running blogs managed to make it to “full time job” status (I can only think of one, correct me if I’m wrong), and instead I feel like the shift in the blog world kind of killed the traditional running blog.  Bloggers moved to monetize their blogs, adding ads, sponsored posts, and product reviews.  I do have an ad on my blog, and I make enough per year to cover my hosting costs…so maybe I’m guilty of this as well, but at least I don’t have so many ads on my site that you can’t figure out where the actual content is.  I’ve also done a few product reviews and sponsored posts, but I’ve turned down many more simply because I don’t feel I have a use for them in my life, nor would I want to review something that I don’t actually like just for the money.  I’ve been lucky enough to receive some cool stuff along the way – I ran Hood to Coast twice with Nuun, which is more than I have ever asked for, and Brooks has generously allowed me to be a part of their Brooks ID and Brooks Fanatics program for many years.  This has included discounts, but I’ve been running in Brooks since I was 17 and I don’t see that changing.

Instead of simply sharing about their running life, many blogs seem to have moved over to what I call a “magazine style.”  It’s no longer “omg my tempo run was SO HARD,” but instead it’s “10 tips for pushing through a speed workout.”  Instead of “this is my goal for X race, and here’s what I plan to do to achieve it,” the post is, “How to pace for your best time.”  Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t necessarily want or need generic running advice from random people.  I want to hear how YOU pushed through, how YOU learned to hold back at the start of a race, how YOU bonked and pushed through those final miles.

It evens seems as though people have ditched their blogs altogether and moved over to Instagram.  I always thought the point of Instagram was that it was INSTANT and you didn’t have five minutes of text to read under the picture.  It just seems to quick and fleeting and I’m pretty sure we all just have the minds of goldfish these days, unable to let anything hold our attention for more than ten seconds.  (Or maybe I’m just bitter because I don’t run with my phone and therefore lack pictures to share.  Opportunities lost…)

ha.

Perhaps I just hate change.  Some people have noticed that I’ve been blogging more lately – I kind of backed off last year because I felt sort of lost.  I switched over to triathlon training, and I had no idea how I actually felt about what was happening – do I like this?  Is this torture?  When am I going to fall off my bike?  When I got back into running (slowly but surely), I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about or, honestly, what people wanted to read.  Do people want to hear my top ten reasons for running without music?  Would people continue to read about my 1384th run around Central Park?  Do I even care if anyone reads it?

So many questions.

The ultimate question.

I never started this blog to make money, to grow my readership, or to dispense life-changing advice to others.  I’ve always been one of those “I’d rather have four best friends than 20 acquaintances” type of people, so I don’t necessarily desire 40 comments on each post.  (Fun fact:  I don’t think I’ve ever gotten 40 comments on a post.  Maybe once.)  My writing is much freer and natural when I’m writing about a run, my thoughts on a run, or plans for upcoming races versus trying to force some content that I think people might like.  Even after saying all of that, I can’t help but feel if I’m getting “left behind” in the blogging world.  Is my style a thing of the past?  (Like Nike Tempo shorts?  Because I still wear mine, poofy butt and all.)  Should I pack up and move out?  Should I stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and just do my own thing?  (The answer is probably yes.)

The truth is I’ve enjoyed my past few weeks of writing what I want to write, not thinking about what others may think about it or if it’s “good for the blog.”  So I plan to keep doing just that – I may get tucked away in the theoretical blog drawer under new, fresher blogs, but I’ll keep doing my thing.

What do you think about the shift in the blog world?  Do you like the magazine style or the “this was my run” style? 

And always taking recommendations on running blogs…

nine years with my garmin

To make a long story short, I’ve been running for awhile.  I started running in 1997 – yikes!  I ran my first marathon in 2006 as a senior in college (Go Terps!).  After my first marathon, which happened to be the Marine Corps Marathon, I asked for a Garmin for Christmas.  Prior to this, most of my running loops had been figured out using Gmap Pedometer, or software quite like it since I don’t actually remember when that emerged.  I definitely remember using a car to measure miles at some point in my life!  Anyway.  I found a deal at CostCo to purchase the Garmin Forerunner 205 for about $100, and I put it on my Christmas list and hoped for the best.  My parents Santa is quite awesome, and I got my wish.

I’ve been running with a Garmin ever since.  I’ve been through the 205, upgraded to the 305 (only because it was red, not because I wanted the heart rate monitor) when my 205 bit the dust in 2011, and upgraded again to the 220 for my birthday this past year, compliments of Eric.  I know some people love their Garmin-less runs, but I love the data, so I can probably count on one hand the number of runs I’ve done without a Garmin since Christmas 2006.

I don’t what everyone else uses to keep track of their Garmin data, but I’ve been using Sport Tracks the entire time.  It was free at first, but at some point they required payment for use of the software.  I believe it was no more than $30, which seemed like a lot at the time since I was still in school.  Considering that I’ve been using it for about nine years now, I think I’ve gotten my money’s worth!  (For those who are interested in a review of Sport Tracks, DC Rainmaker does a better one than I could ever do.)

This was all good until I tried to upload my run yesterday…and my logbook seemed to have disappeared.  Every time I opened the program, it asked me to name a new logbook, and an error message occurred whenever I tried to open my normal logbook.  I panicked.  Did I just lose NINE YEARS of data?  All my marathon splits?  All those easy runs around Maryland’s campus?  My first run in New York?  I googled the issue, but couldn’t come up with anything that seemed to fit, so I did what any smart Windows user does…I shut down and restarted my computer.

Unlike the sound issues I face every couple weeks, restarting my computer didn’t do the trick.  I panicked even more.  I realized that I hadn’t backed up my log book in a looooooong time.  At least that I could remember.  So I went digging through some documents, and luckily the logbook has self-backed up (didn’t know that was a thing…) earlier this month.  HALLELUJAH THANK YOU TO THE POWERS THAT BE.

I wiped the sweat off my brow and uploaded the lost data, thankful that nine years of running didn’t just go down the drain.  Of course, almost losing the data made me go back through the years – I did a quick overview, but it’s interesting to see patterns based on what was happening in my life.

MY FIRST GARMIN RUN

image 3.69 miles in 31:05, avg pace of 8:26

image And I ran around Maryland’s campus.  I lived in South Campus Commons, in case you were wondering.

they warned me about nursing school…

When I interviewed for the accelerated BSN program at Rush University, they asked me how I handled stress.  I told them that I run.  When they asked me how I would handle stress when I didn’t have time to run, I wanted to tell them that I didn’t understand the question (hello, good nurses have good time management skills!), but instead I told them I would find a way and said something about having good support systems.  (Thank you to my mom for doing my laundry.)  However, nursing school wasn’t so bad…for the most part…

image Grey squares = days that I ran.

For the record, I commuted about three hours per day to get to and from school, plus this winter was one of the worst winters in Chicago that I can remembered.  (It snowed in May.  I may have cried.)  We also had a test or quiz every single day, except for two days, in February.  I suppose I didn’t run much at that time…

imageThe rest of the year…

Luckily, the rest of the year went quite well, and minus a few bumps in the road I ran more than I didn’t!  I won at nursing school.  I did ponder running the Chicago Marathon that year, but I was smart and played it safe – I worked on the weekends, so my long run time was limited.  I graduated in December 2008, and then BQ’s in Spring 2009 – hooray!  Let’s contribute that to nursing school base building…

MY FIRST RUN IN NEW YORK

I didn’t know a single person when I moved to New York, but I knew I’d be able to meet some runners.  On my first day alone in New York (after my dad left after helping me move – thanks, Dad!), I searched for a running group.  I found an NYRR group that was meeting at Engineer’s Gate (before I knew that’s what it was called), so I met up with them.  Instead of an NYRR group, I met up with Achilles and helped to lead a blind man around Central Park.  Little did he know that that blind (metaphorically…) was leading the blind.

image Oh, that loop…

I’ve seen that loop many, many times since that first run on September 7, 2010.

over the years…

image 

Since I’ve had my Garmin, I’ve recorded 9,618 miles of running.  If you included the biking and swimming I’ve done, the total is 11,047 miles.  I’m oddly proud that the avg. pace for running 7:59 – just under 8 minutes!  :)   I know some people run many, many more miles than I do.  My record for annual mileage is 1713, which was in 2011…also the year of my marathon PR!  Imagine that.

I know some people love running “naked,” aka without a Garmin.  I’m a science nerd at heart and love the data.  Sometimes I let the Garmin pace dictate a run, but many other times, I’m just…running.  I would love to go back and analyze when I ran my best – in college?  In nursing school?  When I worked 3-11pm?  When I was on orientation/jury duty and did the 9am-5pm routine?  Night shift?  (lololololol)  Day shift?  It would be interesting to see, and it’s all right at my fingertips!  One of these days…

and the now

After my long run yesterday, my legs were a bit tired.  Since I’m working the next four days, I probably won’t get any more mileage in after today….so I headed out for a longer-ish recovery run, if such a thing exists.  And oh man, were my legs tired!  I did eight miles, which may have been biting off a little more than my legs could chew.

I got passed by what I can only imagine is the Columbia Men’s Track Team, and otherwise slogged along.  It felt a lot worse than it looks, and I promise I tried to hold back!
 image

And definitely got slower over time!  Oops…

I’ve heard that women tend to peak in their 30’s, or after a baby (sorry Mom, not happening yet!), so I hope to have some good years ahead of me…and I will certainly have it all recorded by a little computer on my wrist.  (My right wrist…even though I’m a righty.  It confuses so many people.)

Do you use a Garmin/other GPS device?  How long have you been using it for?  Do you wear it for every run?  What program do you use to keep track of all your data?

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