LOLZLetter 74 | Differences Between the Running Social Media World and Running Industry


Just a heads up, this newsletter has a lot of thoughts about a lot of things.

It's been a rough couple of weeks on the life front. I can't stay silent about the events that happened to George Floyd and about Black Lives Matter. I wrote a short blog post about specific organizations that you can contribute to and support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color).

Last Tuesday, on Instagram, people called for Black Out Tuesday. People were encouraged to mute their Instagram feeds, educate themselves, and share black content for the rest of the week.  I read a few books, including White Fragility

I also have a few more articles at the bottom of the newsletter. My time and my internet space were spent doing more important things than posting running pictures, even for Global Running Day. It isn't as if I didn't do those things. I ran, biked and hiked, but how I chose to occupy my time on the internet was different.

This led me to think about the differences in running between "social media" and the "real world."

Don't get me wrong; I've blogged for years.  Though not entirely, these days, social media and real-life blend together. One of the things I've found interesting in the running world is the difference between social media and the running specialty industry. If social media was all you knew, you might assume that everyone is training to break 3 hours in a marathon OR that a 12 min mile is "slow." It's not. 

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Social Media Running Versus Run Specialty Running:

When I first started running in 2010/2011, there wasn't a lot of social media with running. In 2011, there was dailymile, but most people didn’t take selfies, and GPS watches were the up and coming thing. For the first few years of my running, I didn't have a GPS watch. Things like Instagram running shots, Strava, and all of that good stuff didn’t exist.

I knew about local runners that I saw at races. I didn’t know about people in California, “crushing it.” I knew about the same 20 people who lived in Upstate, NY, crushing it. In the last decade, running and social media have exploded. Now, if you didn’t post about your run, did you even do it?

Recently I joined Strava.  For the last several years, I've only used my GPS watch for races and workouts. Now I use my watch most days to upload to the Strava.  Recently someone said, "Wow, I didn't know you ran so slow." They didn't mean it as a bad remark, but they were generally surprised that I ran 9:45 miles.  9:45 isn't slow.

In fact, I log 2-3 runs a week, especially in the summer, around that pace. If you only follow fast or professional runners, then yes, it might seem slow. If you follow people that are training to break 30 minutes in a 5k, that's about PR pace. A topic for another day, but everyone can benefit from running easier.

I Found Some Interesting Research About Marathons from Runners Goal:

This information is based on 2,195,588 marathon results (the largest study in history).

  • The global average marathon finish time for men and women combined in 2014 was 04:21:21.

  • For men, the global average marathon time was 04:13:23

  • For women, the average was 04:42:33.

Here are a Few More Stats (taken from RunnerClick):

  • The world average of female participants in a race is 34.82%

  • The US has the highest proportion of female runners at 45.7%

  • The overall participation rate of a marathon has decreased by 3.02%

  • The world’s average finishing time from 2014-2017 is 4:26:29

Median Marathon Times in the United States:

  • Men: 4:19:27.

  • Women: 4:44:19

How Does Age Play a Factor?

These Age Group Results are from the Chicago Marathon and the New York City Marathon.

Working in running specialty, there are very few people (maybe…1 per week), that come in and say they are training to break 3 hours in a marathon.

A few years ago, I wrote a post about how social media skewed my thoughts of running “fast.” Social media makes it easy to compare yourself to someone else running faster, stronger, or further.

But you’re looking at a subsection of runners. You are looking at who you follow.  I've always thought it's important to follow people of all races, times, and abilities. People that aren't like you, including people that are better than you, faster, slower, or training for different things.

So yes, it can be easy to think “everyone” is training for a sub-three marathon, OTQ, BQ, or is crushing it, but that is far from the case.

Finally, I wanted to add this little tidbit of information about running shoes in run specialty versus social media.

From social media, you would never guess the most sold shoe in the industry: The Brooks Ghost. In the current industry, Brooks accounts for nearly 40% of sales. In a loose order it goes:

  1. Brooks

  2. New Balance/Hoka

  3. Saucony /Nike

  4. Asics, Mizuno

  5. Altra, On, Underarmour

  6. Other brands are dependent on the location (trail shoes sell out west, Diadora sells for us in the Philadelphia area)

From social media, you would think brands like Altra, Sketchers, and Newton were the most popular brands in the industry. When I polled Twitter, there were about ten people who loved the Saucony Kinvara, but in run specialty, I think I’ve sold maybe 5 (out of fitting thousands of people).

When we brought the Nike 4% at the height of the launch, we had many of them sit for weeks. People didn’t “rush to the store” as they did online.

Just remember this, social media is only one subsection of running.

Not everyone who runs has an Instagram.

Not everyone or even half of the population is training for a marathon, BQ, or OTQ.

All of those goals are incredible, but they aren't the goals of the majority of the population. 

Article and Podcasts: 

Racing to Stay Alive Marielle Hall

Ali on the Run Show Episode 244: Peyton Thomas, 2:42 Marathoner

How to Talk to Your Family About Racism

Brown University, If You Were Actually Serious About Racial Justice You Would Not Be Cutting the Men’s Track Team

Trail running isn't as diverse as it could be. Yassine Diboun says it's not because of a lack of interest.

Sara Hall sets a World Record in the Half Marathon on a Treadmill.

How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change

Altra Torin 4 Plush Shoe Review

Giveaway Winner:

Thank you, everyone, who shared the newsletter last week. The giveaway winner for the Aftershokz Aeropex is Ellen E, who shared through email. Last week had the most amount of email shares of any newsletter (34).

One again, thank you to everyone who reads, shares, and subscribes.

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