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"

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Let's talk about something that's not NYCM.


OMG WHY DIDN'T NYCM TAKE PLACE EVEN THOUGH I TRAINED SO HARD??
WHY IS THE CITY SO SELFISH???
DIDN'T WE NEED IT FOR RESILIENCE???

Don't care. I've stated my non-opinion, and I didn't have a horse in this race (by which I mean that I'm the horse and NYCM was the race and I wasn't running regardless).

Now, what I do want to talk about it is this: the intersection of running, young women, and social media. Specifically, why are running/fitness/food/weight loss blogs written by young women so popular?

My former cyberfriend until she had a baby Marie tweeted something last week that caught my eye:

Following up on it, I discovered that the irritation that provoked her tweet was a twitter list that RW had put together of the runners that you must follow on twitter. Specifically, they are the "Running Twitterati." (I can't even type that made up, fake word without making a scrunched up, grossed out face.) It first appeared in the print edition with the subtitle of "Elite athletes, science nerds, funny runners, and others to follow."

Here's the list. Yes, there are some runners whose names you recognize (I'm not going to argue with Ryan Hall, Meb, Nick Symmonds, or Lolo Jones). And, of course, there are some gimmes: Bart Yasso, Hal Higdon [ed: I love you, Cousin Hal*, but I just unfollowed you as you are not interesting on twitter], and RW themselves.

But then... Then the list breaks down into a hodge-podge of "healthy living bloggers," newbie runners, and twitter self-promoters. I'm not calling any of these people out individually, but if you followed this list, you'd be under the impression that twitter runners had barely a basic understanding of the sport of running and were fascinated by taking pictures of their oatmeal each day. What could have been an excellent resource for valuable - yet casual - running information instead reads like the dream twitter list of a 14 year old blogger fangirl.

It's not a coincidence that the RW list is young, affluent, and white (and heavily skewed female). That's the demographic of running, at least as RW markets it. Because guess what? We like to spend money. Here's a novel idea: what if all of my female runner friends, as a block, vowed to stop caring about Lululemon, Oiselle, or Nuun and instead looked for the best product instead of the sassiest marketing. We won't fight for the right to join a company's relay team or be on their advertising team. Instead of giving companies free advertising, we can spend our money on products that help our running - trendy or not.

Excuse me now while I go read some LRC - at least they'd never use the term "twitterati." (I'm gagging again.) But not to leave you on a bad note, how about this: here's a heartening story that has nothing whatsoever to do with overprivileged runners.

*True story: Hal Higdon's wife is my paternal grandfather's first cousin.

19 comments:

  1. I don't read RW anymore but that list still pissed me off.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This. I got the issue last week and hated that feature. And that word. Gah!

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Twitterati"? Seriously?

    I have unsubscribed to RW a couple of months ago. For this very reason. Funny enough, we seem to be dead to RW - at least blogs by 'real runners' seem to be not worth mentioning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes yes! I didn't want to bring up the whole "real runners" debate, because - I mean, I'm not even sure most days whether *I* count as a "real" runner. BUT, when several people on that list don't even mention running in their blog headers or about me pages, I mean, really?

      It is interesting to me that RT brought it up in their May editor's note: http://www.runnersworld.com/rt-columns/may-2012-editors-note
      I know that RT is also owned by Rodale, and I'm not surprised that they've just blatantly decided to split the running demographic into "serious" and "other." It's just sad to me that they can't find a balance.

      Delete
  4. I knew it was only a matter of time before you took another shot at Lululemon. Glad to see you blogging again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, it's shooting fish in a barrel at this point.
      I have blogs lined up for every day this week! Guess I've been annoyed about running stuff lately.

      Delete
  5. Thanks, I'm pissed all over again. Seriously, you would think even RW could put together a more legitimate list of runners than that. It diminishes the ACTUAL runners on that list to be included alongside the joke ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed, agreed. And there are so many good runners - and sources of news for runners - on twitter, that including so many HLBs and so *few* runners is just mindblowingly odd.

      Delete
  6. With the exception of The Beer Runner, and the elites, I agree, that list was barf-worthy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Related, look at how many of them are #FitFluential. Which further cements my knee-jerk reaction to NOT follow any bloggers or Twitter people who ARE "FitFluential."

      Delete
    2. Yeeeeees! #FitFluential is something that I don't understand. What are they even advertising? Where does their money come from? And WHY?

      Delete
  7. Yeah, I was unimpressed by a lot of that list. I also noticed that several of those listed, in addition to being FitFluential HLBs, are also "blogging" members of the Brooks ID (amateur sponsorship) team. It seems that social media numbers are overriding actual knowledge, which does no one any good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What bothers me in part as well is the herd mentality of it all. How many people who have hundreds/thousands of followers also never say anything interesting? But then they attract more followers by sheer virtue of the number of followers they have. At least the RW list only has 70-something people following it, fwiw.

      Delete
  8. Wait, if the bloggers don't tell us what the best product is, how will we know??

    I don't personally care if somebody is a fast or slow runner, but some of those people don't even LIKE running or even really run very often. NOT HELPFUL.

    ReplyDelete
  9. eh - I don't find the list so offensive. And this is coming from ME who still despises the idea of running skirts :p I think a lot of people's lives have been changed positively by running, and a lot of people get really jazzed about it. different voices speak to different people. If one of the twitterati keeps someone interested in a running, regimen - good for all involved.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I subscribed to Runner's World as a newbie runner. My subscription ran out and I didn't bother to re-subscribe. I'm not surprised their list is so young and white. Last December they published the a story titled "Why is running so white?"

    I follow a few of the gag worthy folks up there, but it's only for snark value. My favorite runners on Twitter the ultra runners who post gorgeous photos on trails. They make me jealous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What were their conclusions for why running is so white?

      I love following runners on twitter for the aspirational aspects of it - seeing the workouts/races that people pull of with ease, or (better) seeing the work people put into their training - it motivates me. I agree with Hannah above that a lot of people on that list don't like running.

      Delete
  11. I first saw a bit about this list from a blogger I follow for amusement... she was excited to be on it. That is when I knew the list would be crap. Of course, I am not on twitter, so what do I know.

    ReplyDelete