I am oddly proud of the fact that I’ve had my first haters on my blog.
I had several Facebook comments criticizing my post about why I have no interest in running the Boston Marathon. One commenter in particular wondered why anyone would care about my opinion regarding something I “didn’t have the dedication to achieve myself”.
Projection and Useful Rumination
I am fully aware of the fact that I am totally projecting a million things onto this commenter. I don’t know her. Her comments weren’t even that mean or hateful.
I have projected onto her the characteristics of half a dozen people I’ve met over the years that see running (and the world) in a way that is totally opposite to the way I see it.
A world where winning is all that matters. Where pushing yourself to exhaustion every day takes priority over being happy. Where hitting a pre-defined target takes priority over listening to your body and finding balance.
But this projecting of mine has (I think) led me to a good place and resulted in a fair bit of helpful and useful thinking, so I’ll continue to roll with it.
While I don’t like the idea that someone hated my work, considering these comments has helped me clarify my thinking about my blog, my audience, and the attitude I want to have and encourage others to have.
She Was Right, But That Was My Point
In the most literal sense, she was right. I don’t have the dedication it would take to run a 3:30 marathon.
I’m in awe of runners who comfortably run 6-minute miles and knock out a marathon like it’s no big deal. I don’t know if I could do it. I also know I’ll never try.
I’ll never want to try.
To do so would require so much time, energy, and focus that I would have to remove every other thing in my life that brings me joy. No movie nights, no drinks with friends, no junk food, no spare time to sit and read.
I’m not willing to do that.
Running is a part of my life, and an important part at that, but it is not the only thing that brings meaning to my life.
Why Running Is Important
It also made me consider and focus in on what I enjoy about running.
Why My Blog Is Important
This negative feedback also reinforced to me the importance of speaking to (and for) my audience.
The expectations this commenter laid out (or at least the expectations I’m projecting onto her) could easily intimidate beginning runners. Few could live up to the vision she has for what ‘runners’ are or should be.
That beginning runner may hear that, get discouraged, and give up on running.
And that idea makes me profoundly sad.
What I’m Trying To Do With My Blog
When I started blogging, I had a general idea of my target reader.
Basically, they were people like me. Middle of the pack runners who likely will never win their age group and will never qualify for Boston.
Runners who set goals for themselves and sometimes achieve them and sometimes don’t.
Who occasionally struggle with self-doubt.
Runners who sometimes wonder why they ever thought they could accomplish whatever it is they are trying to accomplish.
And who keep trying anyway.
My Blog Manifesto
With this blog and with my posts, I can only hope that I will encourage and support others to:
- Define what success means for you and to go out and strive towards that success
- Be your best, even when you will never be the best
- Focus on improving your life and your body, which may or may not involve how fast you are or how long you can (or want to) run
- Figure out what motivates you
- Ignore the goals or priorities that others say are important if they don’t inspire you
- Have balance in life and in running
- Look beyond finish time, age ranking, or the completion of a specific distance as the only indicators of worth
- Celebrate every victory, however large or small
- Have fun and enjoy running
Everyone is driven by something unique to them.
If you aren’t inspired by the idea of running a marathon, you hereby have my permission to ignore every post of mine that focuses on running or training for a marathon.
Pick a distance, event, time or whatever else inspires you and go forth and strive to accomplish it.
Running In My Life
A few years ago, I drafted a personal manifesto based on my personal and professional values. It helps me focus in on the priorities for my life and how I want to live.
In considering what I want to accomplish with my blog, why I enjoy running and to counteract the negativity that was represented in these comments (projected by me or not), I was inspired to also draft a manifesto for running.
The goal of my manifesto is to help me keep in mind what is important to me.
My Running Manifesto
- There is no single definition of
- a runner
- a successful runner
- an accomplished runner
- Everyone is welcome to run if it will bring satisfaction, accomplishment, and inspiration into your life
- Thin or fat. Fast or slow. Ultra-marathoner or non-racer. Everyday runner or occasional jogger. All are equally worthy of being called a runner
- Running is a good thing only when it stays a healthy and positive force in your life
- Running should never become an obligation or something you dread. Sure, there will be individual runs you dread (everyone dreads the occasional run). But the idea of running should remain a positive force in your life.
I will keep both of these manifestos in mind whenever I am running, coaching, writing, or just living in the world.
These manifestos will hopefully keep me focused on my priorities and motivated to do good.