I’ll start this by saying that I don’t care how uncool it is or how much better Instagram or Snapchat are, I unabashedly love Facebook. I’ve found long-lost friends from high school, stayed connected with family members from the other side of the country, and I get most of my news headlines there anymore. I also unabashedly love running, just like you do. I love reading about running and chatting about running and writing about running. I love to share funny or interesting things I think or read about running and I love it when you do the same.
But when it comes to running and Facebook, there’s a line in my mind that far too many people seem to be crossing. Lately, my feed is filled with data from my friends’ daily training runs: selfies with distance and pace printed on them, photo montages of your sweatiness and your post-run Garmin stats, or simply stuff like, Don’t you love it when you run 8 easy miles faster than your 5k PR pace? #blessed #runecstatic.
Not everything belongs on Facebook, and your daily run-brag is one of those things. Here’s why.
1. It’s quite possibly unsafe.
Let’s start with the practical stuff. Can you say without a shadow of a doubt that you know and trust every person who has access to your Facebook posts? If so, skip down to point #2. If not, I would venture to say that posting the details of your daily runs, particularly GPS data or photos with distinguishing geographic markers leaves you vulnerable. I’m not saying you should run scared! In fact, I agree with Cilantro and her eloquent post on the subject of run safety. In line with her post, though, it’s not complete strangers who are most likely to harm us but people we know … people like acquaintances on Facebook. While it is not our obligation as runners to change people who want to hurt or objectify us, if you’re posting a selfie of you running alone at the same trailhead every Tuesday at 6:00 a.m., or if you’re posting the GPS details of the same route you take every day, you may be putting yourself at risk without even knowing it.
Even if you don’t care about the possible safety element, there are more reasons you may consider chilling with the Facebook run-brags. Reasons like …
2. There’s already an app for that.
“Ugh, people who don’t run always tell me I run too much!”
“Haha, my well-meaning but ignorant uncle told me running is bad for my knees!”
These are two of the many complaints I hear from runners about their non-running friends and family. Non-runners just don’t get it, we say. You know who won’t criticize your need to run? Other runners. And do you know where you can find these other runners? On social networking sites specifically for sharing workouts. Strava and Daily Mile are two very popular social media sites and apps that exist specifically to allow athletes to compare workouts and brag about them in a place where everyone else is bragging about theirs. Boast about your running there; save your bragging about your kids, your amazing dinner, and your cat’s shenanigans for Facebook where they belong. Well, perhaps we can discuss those in another post.
3. You might be looking for approval from the wrong people
Allow me to dust off my psychology degree for a moment and discuss two different types of motivation. The first type is extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is when we do things to get external validation, or the approval of others. The second type is intrinsic motivation, which is when we do things to receive internal validation, or a personal sense of accomplishment. We all have some balance of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. But if you’re constantly boasting about your running, this could be a symptom of an inflated need for external validation, meaning you need others to be impressed to compensate for a lack of self-esteem.
And even if it’s not true, from the outside, it kind of looks that way to others. Dig deep and ask yourself before run-bragging on Facebook: what am I trying to accomplish with this post? If your answer is to fill the gaping hole inside or something like that, think twice. If it’s that you don’t give a flying fig what I or anyone else has to say and you just want to share your happiness with the world, well then by all means post to your heart’s content.
4. We know you’re an ambassador for ____, there it is in your post-run selfie again and no, we don’t want any of it.
There’s an art to guerrilla marketing that very few people understand and, I hate to break it to you, you most likely are not one of the people who do it well. We all see through what you’re trying to do there. We know you propped your phone on a fence post and used the timer to get the shot of you running while eating that cricket-protein bar and we also know that despite your hashtags to the contrary it probably tastes like poop. And even if you just loooooove a product, sell that product, or use the product all the time, telling us constantly about it, especially when simultaneously run-bragging, is actually backfiring and making us want it less than we otherwise might.
5. Bragging, humble or otherwise, is annoying.
We’re Facebook friends. I want to like you and I want to be happy for you, but when you’re constantly telling everyone what an awesome runner you are, you make it really hard. And also, when I’m having a bad day, seeing you bragging about this run and that run can make it worse and at other times I feel bad for you that you feel the need to do it (see no. 3). Basically, it’s annoying and if you keep it up, you’ll eventually have more unfollows and unfriends than likes in reaction to your posts.
Facebook is a great place to share the excitement you feel from a big accomplishment. Share those big running firsts, those PRs and goal races and even the silly or entertaining things that happen along the way and I’ll be first to give you a like or a love. But if it’s just bragging and it’s every time you run, few people will realize the momentousness of your big achievements when you have them.
Are you a run-bragger? Do run-braggers annoy you on Facebook too?