By Yuri Artibise
Runners are social people. We may not all be talkative – especially in the middle of a run – but we are supportive of one another’s goals and enjoy motivating and being motivated by each other. Some of us even enjoy a competitive rivalry. This social aspect is why nearly 50,0000 of us participate in the Vancouver Sun Run each spring.
It is also a main reason why so many people return to the Sun Run InTraining Clinics each year. For many of us, the Sun Run InTraining Clinic is a ‘support group’ to help meet our running and fitness goals. InTraining participants know there is more to running than being alone on a road. We have discovered that our sport can be a social and supportive community.
This social community is now extending online. An increasing number of runners are using social media to help connect the community beyond the weekly clinic sessions and annual run. We are learning that applications like Facebook and Twitter are valuable tools to inform and motivate participants to reach their training gola and cross the finish line injury free.
When I joined my first clinic in 2012 at Creekside Community Centre, I quickly learned of the Creekside Sun Run Facebook group set up by one of the leaders. This group was a great way to connect with other clinic participants to schedule mid-week runs. It was also useful for sharing training tips, news about other races in the Sun Run Series, and – most importantly – encouragement with fellow runners.
Last year, as a clinic leader, I took over much of the updating of the Facebook group. I found that, in addition to allowing participants to communicate with each other directly, Facebook provides leaders an opportunity to share more information. While our clinic’s weekly email newsletter provides all the ‘need-to-know’ details about the clinic and the training schedule, the Facebook group is a useful forum to share supplemental information. This information includes SportMedBC videos, Vancouver Sun news about the event, and other inspirational posts.
In addition to our clinic’s Facebook group, the broader Sun Run community is flocking to Twitter to share training updates, running advice and event news using the hashtag #VanSunRun to connect with each other. Twitter users are also following the official Vancouver Sun Run Twitter account to learn about event updates and information from sponsors.
Facebook and Twitter are just the tip of the social media iceberg for runners. Sites such as dailymile offer a virtual community of nearly 750,000 runners of all ages and abilities – from people just getting off the couch to ultra-marathoners. Other popular online running communities are Strava, RunKeeper, MapMyRun, Nike Plus and Athlinks. By sharing their runs, routes and training goals with these communities, runners are able to encourage and inspire one another.
If you or your clinic are not using social media, I invite you to give it a try to enhance your training for the Sun Run. Chances are many clinic participants are already on social media and would jump at the opportunity to connect with you and others. For some participants it may be the extra bit of encouragement needed to get them across the finish line. If you would like any advice on how to get started, please contact me. I’d be glad to help you get up and running.
Yuri Artibise is a leader with the Creekside Community Recreation Centre Clinic. He shares his running insights on his blog Yuri in a Hurry.