Social Media is a necessary evil these days. On one hand it’s a great way to keep in touch with old friends (although at my age this appears to be through the medium of baby photos), yet on the other it’s following odd arguments, often ill-informed, between two strangers you don’t know that appear in the comments section of the local newspapers Facebook feed. One thing that highlights the good of social media is finding groups of people with the same hobbies*, and following their journeys.
(*for the purposes of narrative, I’ll include running as a hobby here, even though it’s obviously much more than that…)
My personal favourite slice of social media appears on Facebook and goes by the name Running the World. It basically does what it says on the tin. Started by Marc Dobson a while back, the group has now amassed over 18,000 members, who are spread across the entire globe. So what makes this group so good? Well……
(photo by Marc Dobson, featuring Nicky Lopez)
Marc Dobson and Nicky Lopez. Two people I have never met, but two people I think I may actually love. Marc, an exiled Geordie in Liverpool, and his partner Nicky, from Liverpool – with an accent like a young Paul McCartney and a vocabulary like a gutter (and that’s not a criticism). Nicky is a cancer survivor and in the 18 months I have been following the group has documented her journey with refreshing honesty. Nicky has just announced that she has completed a book and I can’t wait to read every single foul-mouthed page of it. You can, and should, order it here. My favourite running quote is also from Nicky, who wrote earlier this year that “Running is my celebration of the good times, and my therapy for the bad”. And she is bloody right.
Each week Marc (a paramedic) and Nicky upload details of their runs along the canals and seafronts of Merseyside and they are so detailed that you actually feel like you have been on that run with them.
As mentioned, there are over 18,000 members, with more joining every day. These people are spread across every stage of the running spectrum. Over the course of the week you may get someone who has just completed their tenth 100 mile ultra-marathon, to someone who has joined because they are in week one of Coach to 5k.There are people who run competitively, people who run for ‘bling’ and those who want to get or keep fit. No one is excluded. Each member is spoken to politely, gently encouraged and as a result, inspired to keep on going. There are even RTW meet ups at events now.I
In a word, stunning. With global members you get to see where people are running. Incredible pictures of autumnal English woodlands, boulevards in America, snow tracks in Canada, neverending skyscrapers in Dubai and virtually everything else. It really can inspire you to pull on your trainers and head out. There is even a trend for the ‘Flying’ photos. Now, all my race pictures show me in various states of gurning pain, with a posture that I didn’t think possible. One day though there will be a picture of me ‘flying’ This is when you get one of those photo’s back that show you with both feet off the ground, eyes focussed on the run. This could be mid-race or hurtling down a home straight. I think that it’s an unwritten rule that if you get a picture of you flying, you have to post it.
The race reviews:
Every day people are doing races. Every day these races are reviewed honestly with details of the course, the atmosphere and the achievements of those who have participated. You get to see the medals that are on offer, along with other goody bag items from a banana to bottles of beer. Recently I went to watch the Abingdon Marathon and came home to see that many members of the RTW community had ran at the event, including some that I had unknowingly shouted at down a quiet country lane on that very morning.
Got an injury? Thinking about entering a race? Worried about your training plan? On the look out for new gear? Join the group and ask. You will get replies, often with great detail, with advice on what the best option may be for you.
If you love a good debate, this group is for you too. The London Marathon ballot, the best pre-race meal, the race with the best medal, the best trainer. You name it and people are debating it!!
I could go on and on. There is much more to the group than what is detailed above, but this is something for you to discover. Head over to the group here and join in the fun! If you are a member of Running the World, thank you. You may not know it, but you have inspired me. I look forward to sharing my marathon journey, and pictures, with you.