While training for my first half marathon, I came across biographies and information on the Canada Running Series Digital Champions in a newsletter about the upcoming Scotia Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Although I was a social media user, most of my interactions were with my friends and family on Facebook (who were surely growing weary of my running posts!) I launched Twitter and Instagram accounts and started following several of the digital champions, along with some running magazines and elite runners I found inspiring. Following someone I didn't know seemed a little odd at first, but I got over it quickly when I saw what everyone was chatting about constantly--running. A dream come true! Many of my answers and motivation started coming from these tweeting runners. Several became friends who I saw at local events. I began following more runners and companies whose opinions or products I valued or who were there to provide inspiration or ideas to me as a runner.
Armed with tidbits of information from the running community, I tried things. Run gear. Races. Fuel. Training tips. With many of these trials I found myself wanting to share my recaps, reviews and photos on my blog and social media. I wasn't expecting to get anything in return for these comments, but I felt good thinking these posts may help others searching for answers.
A few non-running friends and family told me they'd been inspired by those same Facebook posts I previously thought might be annoying and asked me for tips on learning to run. The number of people following me on social media increased. I became a race ambassador, helping to try to increase fundraising and race support.
Suddenly I realized I was finding my voice. The voice of a runner with information to share. Opinions, reviews and knowledge. Not to say I didn't still have questions about running--I did--but they were fewer. And now, instead of having to research or ask someone else what to do, I often came up with my own ideas of things to try.
Realizing that people were listening, I wanted to make sure what I said reflected what I believed in and stood behind. I wasn't in it to increase my number of followers, get free gear or have my name appear higher in web search results. Although opportunities to use my voice have started to increase, if I can't get fully behind the product or event, I prefer not to support it or participate.
It has made me happy to be able to support the products and people I believe in. To use my runner's voice. For those whose voices I listened to, and those that are listening, thank you!