You don’t need me to tell you how amazing the internet is.
You can plan an amazing racecation, find new routes in your neighborhood, join thriving social media communities and make lots of running friends around the world.
Runners: Step Away From The Internet
But there are a few situations when the internet can be the worst thing that could ever happen to a runner. Times when runners just need to step away.
When You Notice An Odd Twinge
Maybe you are injured.
Maybe you aren’t.
In either case, Googling your symptoms will not make you feel better. I’m yet to meet anyone who can spend any amount of time on Google or WebMD searching symptoms without coming away from the experience convinced they aren’t dying of something.
In my experience, most odd twinges aren’t significant and go away with a few days of rest.
If you are really worried or aren’t sure what is going on with your body, make an appointment with a qualified professional (be it a doctor, a chiropractor, or a physical or sports therapist) to get checked out and diagnosed by someone who is educated and trained.
No good has ever come from self-diagnosing on Google.
When You Aren’t Privacy-Aware
As a runner and a map lover, I love Strava.
The default view of your run is a map of your course that is visible to everyone who follows you, as well as the general public.
While that’s great for people like me who enjoy seeing the everyday running routes of my online running friends in Finland or Thailand, not everyone who has access to those maps may have such innocent intentions.
There have been recent stories of Strava runs revealing the location of ‘secret’ military bases (oops). If you run the same route every day from your front door, it doesn’t take too much of an imagination to see potential dangers. But then again, I watch a lot of Discovery ID, so my mind tends to jump to stalkers and murderers pretty quickly.
But this is easily addressed – a few tweaks of your privacy settings and it’s all good.
I am most familiar with Strava since that is the app I use, but other running apps like Garmin Connect, Map My Run, and Nike Run Club have similar (potential) concerns (and fixes).
When You Are Looking For A New Training Plan
Have you ever Googled ‘marathon training plan’?
You’ll get millions of results.
Some are really great plans developed by qualified coaches. Others look really great, but whose legitimacy is unknown.
Some sound completely wacky. Others sound just wacky enough to work.
If you are going to scour the internet for a new training plan, at the very least:
- Consider the source. Can you tell who developed the plan? Do they know anything about running or training?
- Consider what you want in a plan first. Do you want to do track workouts? Cross training? Two-a-day workouts? If you have an idea of what you want (even if it’s a vague idea), it can make sorting through the results a bit easier.
- Look at the substance of the plan, not just the design. Don’t get suckered into a horrible training plan just because it looks amazing and has a good color scheme. Pinterest is ground zero for amazing looking plans -from a design perspective – but with some seriously questionable substance.
When You Are Looking To Buy A New… Or The Best Way To…
Reviews, ratings, and advice abound.
Who knows who wrote them, if they are genuine, or how one person’s experience could relate the experience you may have.
I’ve always found shoe reviews particularly odd. Shoes seem so personal to a runner – what they want, their body type, their foot type, their running mechanics. How can one person’s experience with a shoe in any way reflect the experience I could have with it?
There is also confirmation bias – chances are you’re looking for reasons to buy this thing or do that thing, or for a reason to NOT get it or do it. In either case, you’ll gravitate to posts/articles that support that preference.
Read all the reviews and advice you want, but:
- Know when to stop reading and act
- Remember that not all opinions are created equal.
(And before anyone points it out, yes, I see the irony of me writing a blog giving running advice advising people to not read too much running advice)
If You Are Prone To Comparison And Are Already Feeling Kinda Down
The Instagram running community is amazing. I (usually) find it to be supportive and inspirational.
But there are some times when you may want to stay away. Times when scrolling through Instagram will only create a negative cycle of comparison or jealousy.
If there is some weekend when you can’t race (but you wish you could) going on Instagram will only give you FOMO and make you even more depressed about missing out when you see everyone else’s race posts.
If you had a terrible run, seeing someone else’s ‘That was amazing! My 5 mile run at a 7 min/mile pace felt sooooo easy’ post will only upset you even more.
Know when you should stop (or not start) scrolling through running social media.
Selectively unfollow people if you find yourself getting angsty about their posts.