On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Monday, August 1, 2011

Don't feed the trolls

Last week, I wrote what I thought was an innocuous post entitled "I'm calling you out." It was geared toward a preponderance of blogs I'd seen lately, full of (relative) beginning runners telling their (even less experienced) readers exactly what they should be doing.

I thought it was pretty obvious that this post was written with a hefty dose of tongue-in-cheek. I mean, for goodness' sake, I write a running blog. I read running blogs. I participate in running forums. I read running books. I go to running classes. When I'm not working or sleeping, I spend probably 75% of my awake time either running or thinking about running. I love getting running advice. Some I take, some I don't. Some I take and then later discard. Some I don't take and then later wish I had.

So, on Friday, someone posted a link to this post on the Runner's World online forums. I'm flattered that she wanted to share my post. But the response! Here are a couple of highlights:

Ah, the internet. Gotta love the trolls. (To be fair, both of these runners later admitted they were being harsh.)

It's generated five pages (and counting) of discussion. I love that something I wrote has caused a lengthy discussion. But... much of the discussion has nothing to do with my blog post at all, and even the people who try to take me to task for what I wrote aren't always basing their critiques off my words. I weighed in twice, against my better judgment, and a few people do take my side (thank you, Aron!!).

My point in the original blog post was that many blog readers consider bloggers to be experts regardless of their experience - and I think this came across to the handful of you who are regular readers of my blog. Unlike what some on RWOL inferred, I don't think that credentials or a paycheck are a guarantee of expertise. However, simply having a blog does not guarantee expertise.

For the record, here is my running advice to you. Write this down, it's good: There's a lot of advice out there. The best thing to do is to figure out - through trial and error - what works for you. What works for you will be different from what works for me. That's it.

Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to tell myself that "any press is good press" and return to doing what I do well, which is running - slowly. Back tomorrow with a lighthearted and inane post that is decidedly not full of advice.


  1. I took your original post as a reminder that advice is an opinion/recommendation, not a mandate, and to consider the source of any advice. I didn't see it as a slam on bloggers in general (your rants about the oatmeal-photo-listen-to-your-body bloggers appear in other posts, of course), a demand that everyone hire a paid coach, or a rejection of any advice from anyone. Listen, grain of salt, you make the decisions.

    Whether you are the fastest runner on the planet or not, you ARE an experienced runner -- much more so than I am -- and your perspective counts. Thought it was interesting that the forum veers into a discussion of what makes a "qualified" coach....and there's not a singular answer.

  2. OMG! Your blog probably got a ton of hits, I'd be curious to see the stats, ha!

    And I got the tongue-in-cheek since my comment was a tad tongue-in-cheek back, no? (Which you were also not 100% sure that it was, so it shows that sometimes what we write doesn't clearly shows.)

    By the way, you know that that's been going on in the running blog world? Now you know what your most controversial post is! :)

  3. (for some reason the word "questionnaire" got deleted between me writing and posting. So put that in between the "that"s in the last paragraph!

  4. For the record I think a lot of the trolls are just d-bags in general and will think of something negative to say about anybody, any time. So it's not personal, at least. But that would have upset me!!!! Jerks. (frowns).

  5. Yeah, the one thing that this did was IMMEDIATELY remind me why I barely spend time on the RWOL forums. In theory, they should be such a good source of advice. In practice, some of the people are just so freaking mean. Lame.

  6. OMG, I had no idea this was occuring (I never visit those forums though!). People love any excuse to be huge douchewads, I guess.

    I do like hearing what works for different people, but at the same time totally agree that thinking all bloggers are experts is kind of insane.

  7. We have a local running forum and it amazes me how freaking mean people can be on it!

    I loved the post and the first thing I thought of was the "know it all's" in running. Drives me insane. I don't mind advice, but I don't like people who preach their advice like it is a new religion.

  8. Yuck. Some of those comments are awful! But some bring up interesting debate. The things they were saying about you hurt my feelings because I know how fun you are... but I know you don't give a shit. LOL. It's all kind of funny.

  9. Thanks, Kim! I had a really crummy weekend for other reasons, so having mean things said about me on the internet was a low point.

  10. a crummy weekend?! even with a sweaty froyo date in the mix?