The State of Salty Running

Think Snails are Slow?
This is one cute snail, a cute snail at a crossroad.

Hello Salty readers!  Our 2013 winter break has come to an end and it’s a new year.  For many of us, that means new goals, new commitments and re-commitments.  It means a fresh start.  And for Laura (Salty) and me (Cinnamon), that’s no different.  We both have big goals for ourselves in 2014–and we’ll get into those in future updates–but we also have some goals for Salty Running, and we want to share them with you.

But first, I want you to know that our winter break from posting new content wasn’t exactly an off-season, we’ve been working hard, talking it out between each other, talking about it with others, examining strategies, and considering new directions.  Since it’s inception two years ago, Salty Running has become something completely different–bigger and better and more inclusive and more rewarding–than our expectations, and for the last year or so, Laura and I have been looking at this wonderful thing we’ve created with a singular, perplexing question bouncing back and forth between us:

Where do we go next?

I confess, it’s a little terrifying to admit to you that we don’t know where this train is headed, but it’s the truth, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from working on Salty Running, it’s that sharing my truth with you makes me better, stronger, smarter and more open to ideas I hadn’t considered.

In great part, this problem is due to an Internet’s worth of possibilities.  We could be anything!  We could be a wear-testing lab!  We could be a coaching service!  We could be a magazine with ad space and product placement!  We could be a message board community, a race review site…

The question brings me back to the root of why we started Salty Running in the first place, and while it’s on our “About” page, I’m not sure we ever really spelled it out here on the site in a post.  There are many running blogs that tell us “we can!” and it’s a great message.  But often when “I can!” becomes “I did!” we find ourselves wondering what’s next. And if you’re a runner, the natural goal is to try again and improve your time.

At a post-run brunch I had an interesting discussion with Glen Andrews, director of the Cleveland Elite Development team, in which he laid out his training theory for me.  “You want to qualify for Boston?” he said, “That’s not a goal.  You want to become the greatest runner you can be, and I guarantee that’s better than a 3:40 marathon. Qualifying for Boston is just a stop along the way.”

There are plenty of places people can turn to find out how to run a marathon faster.  But you and I both know that it’s different for women.  We have babies.  We menstruate.  But that’s only the beginning; we’re constantly under pressure to do it all.  We’re preschool moms and doting wives, the tentpoles of our families when they need support.  We cook dinner and do the laundry.  If we’re not moms, we’re constantly made to feel our success as women hinges on being married and having babies.  We’re community leaders.  We have demanding careers. We’re expected to take care of our health, to keep ourselves happy and relaxed, and also to measure our worth in pounds, sometimes to look good and feel good or sometimes for better performance.  And we’re supposed to be pretty and smell good while we do it all.

Somehow, we still run.  We love it.  When we’re running, all the rest is just noise.

And yeah, sometimes that can feel selfish, with all those other obligations.  And while it may seem innocuously funny, jokes at the expense of our gender are indicative of a pervasive lack of acknowledgement out there for women who are serious about their running and the sacrifices they have to make for those PRs.

Nevermind. Pushing a two and three year old in a stroller while 27 weeks pregnant is totally easy. Photo by Jeff Forman/
Nevermind. Pushing a two and three year old in a stroller while 25 weeks pregnant is totally easy. Photo by Jeff Forman/

So while there are hundreds of places you can go to read about running, our core value is to be a place where women who are serious about their running can feel comfortable talking among themselves and sharing information and support for one another.

But where do we go next?

Well maybe it’s enough, for now, that we’re here.  We’re here when you need a running buddy at 2 am.  We’re here when you aren’t sure if you’re late or just training too hard.  We’re here when someone snidely asks how you have time to train for a marathon.  We’re here when you want to try to break a 5k time.  We’re here when your hands are shaking because you signed up for your first 50k.  We’re here when your big plans are shattered by a tiny injury.  We’re here when your coach tells you not to miss a workout.

But we want to know how we can be more here for you. This transcript of a chat I had with Laura the other night sums it up well:

That keeps being the question.  What do we want to say? Who do we want to be? What is this thing?
I want to explain our mission – to be reader centric …
to provide the truth as we see it …
no gimmicks …
no hustlin’ for readers …
no schillin’ for the man …
I want to hustle FOR readers, just don’t want to hustle the ones we have.
We are straight up here because we love it and want to share our love of running and writing about it with our readers to make their running and lives better … period.
But we will not resort to cheap gimmicks and the usual blog nonsense to do it …
Hrm.  Okay.
We don’t try to sell anyone sh*t so we get free sh*t ..,
We had a contest to reward our readers, not to hustle for Twitter and FB followers or comments or hits or whatever
We don’t do click bait titles
We don’t tell people what they want to hear
We tell the truth

But where do we go next?

We considered opening up the floor to you, to ask what you want from us, what you’d like to see, but I have to confess, that makes me afraid that we’ll only hear silence.

We try really hard to make our site different from regular blogs.  We work on being inclusive and informative, “reader-centric” writing as opposed to the self-centered blogging (which is just as good, just not our format).  We work so hard to create an atmosphere where you feel welcome to discuss and comment on what you see, we ask questions at the end of our posts to encourage you to respond and even have a feature that rewards those who comment by lauding their awesomeness (and we do believe they really are awesome!)…but the numbers of comments we get don’t even come close to matching the numbers of readers.  We want to hear more of your perspectives, and I don’t know what more we can do to encourage that.

So tell us, what can we do to make you feel more welcome to share your thoughts and your stories with us? What do you love about Salty Running? What could be better? Anything you’d love to read here that we don’t already have? Please, give us all you got.

We’re all ears (eyes?)

Cinnamon made Salty Running, works on movies and TV and drinks lots of coffee. She is on a quest for zen in the 10k. Her writing is an eclectic mix of finding wholeness as an average runner, celebrating her faster peers, curious reactions, satirical humor and more.

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  1. Well, thanks for staying a safe place for those of us who don’t (and never – far as we know) menstruate but also cook and do the laundry (but don’t smell as good, and aren’t as pretty) and once in a while get in a run or more.

  2. One of the things I love about this site is the Salties’ interaction with the readers. When we comment on a post, there’s ongoing conversation; with readers and with the other Salties. Some of the other sites I visit will post a topic or a question, but the original poster never returns.

    As far as the question of how to encourage more comments, I’d say just keep doing what you’re doing and posting interesting topics. I don’t hesitate to comment when I feel the need, or if I can add something to the discussion. Sometimes I just read and absorb. Personally, I’d love to see more posts about training/racing shorter distances, i.e. 5 and 10k’s. It seems like everyone is marathon-minded, but there are some of us who feel the need for speed more than the desire for distance.

    Thanks for doing what you do, ladies!

    1. Thank you, Janet! I you’re right–we were almost all training for a marathon or two last year, with the exception of Licorice, who had her own marathon of sorts and became a parent.

      I’m with you–I definitely want to try again for a BQ marathon, maybe even this fall, but right now I want to go fast! I’m in a 5k state of mind!

  3. Hey guys,

    I am *very* new to running, and I have already found a welcome safe place. It’s tough for people who are new, and also older, and female to get into something like running which can be so competitive.

    I also love this place because while it’s obviously for running (athletics) and women: it ISN’T what a ton of other fitness publications for women are about: looking HAWT… oh and here is also a side of athletics.

    Bottom line: running is scary (it is… really it is) you make it feel safer.

    I also love how accessible you are. Salty answered an email of mine about being new, older and overcoming a TON of injuries. That gave me a big push to keep going.

    BTW Salty you asked in your email to keep you posted: In all this ice I’ve decided to walk a TON, running is for the spring, summer and fall months for time being. I’ve read that book you suggested (Anatomy for Runners) and it was great. My goal for this year: 3Million steps… stretch goal is 4 million. That is a lot of activity for me. I continue to be excited to some day call myself a runner.

    But a question for you guys: Anything I can do around here to help?

    1. Thank you, Marcie!!!

      Running Salty Running is a lot of work – not gonna lie. But we certainly don’t do it for money or fame – it is a true labor of love. You can help by participating, spreading the word, commenting and sharing your story and experiences with us! If you have friends who might also enjoy the site, spread the word!

      Haha! You nailed it re women’s “running” magazines. I am so glad we provide the support you’re looking for to use running/walking/whatever to be the best person you can be. It’s totally ok to be a female athlete and care about performance, no matter what your race times are. Competitive running isn’t just for the menz!

      PS So glad you’re figuring out what works for you and getting a handle on your body’s limits. Good luck and keep keeping us posted!

  4. Oddly, I spent the weekend trying to figure out what to do with my blog, wondering if I should keep going in the same style or if I should try something different. More than anything I too would like more interaction with my readers. I’ve no answers for myself yet so I guess I can’t be of much help. I will tell you though that I very much enjoy the format of Salty Running. I love the fact that within one blog I can read a variety of experiences and opinions. So from my pint of view, just keep doing what you are doing 🙂

    1. For personal blogs I think commenting on others blogs and finding blog “friends” is the way to go. Way back in my personal blog days I had a handful of good blogger buds and we’d all comment on posts and generally support each other. It was so nice to have virtual training buddies, especially because back then I mostly trained alone. Mint was one of them, actually! I think the really successful personal bloggers spend a lot of time commenting on other blogs and participating in things like #runchat on twitter. Like anything, it takes a lot of work. I don’t have the time to do that kind of outreach and run this site, so I think we miss out a little in that regard. Thanks so much for your feedback!!!

  5. How about this?

    Training plans.

    Perhaps once per month one of the Salties would invent a hypothetical runner. Let’s say there’s someone who has been running for 10 years and who’s marathon PR is 4 hours and 25 mintues (last year). This person wants to run the next marathon in 4 hours and 10 minutes (or faster).

    Do you tell that person that this amount of improvement is too much to ask? Or do you say, “Yes, you can do this but you will have to follow this training plan.”

    OK. Maybe the runner doesn’t have to be a hypothetical runner. Maybe you can ask Salty Readers to put in their lottery ticket and if they win, one of the Salties will develop for that reader a custom training plan. And the training plan will be posted and discussed on the web site.

    This way all of us Salty readers can understand why training plans require this many miles or this much speed work or this much taper.

    Also, other Salties could get controversial and say, “I like that training plan, but I would add more mileage in week 10” or “That’s good, but there’s too much speedword for someone who isn’t a very experienced runner.”

    I imagine that some Salties are “conservative” in the development of training plans. You know. Not too much mileage and/or speedwork because you want to avoid injury.

    I imagine that other Salties are more “agressive,” going for high mileage and as many speed sessions that can be squeezed into an 18 week time frame, to shave some extra seconds off of that PR.

    That’s my idea. I admit that it would require a lot of work though.

    1. This is great. We’ve definitely considered doing something like this. We had a newbie in our first year and we (well, I) wrote a newbie training plan and she followed it and reported on her training. I’d definitely love to do it again, maybe with someone a little more advanced. It is a little extra work, but it’s fun and very rewarding to help someone reach her goals. I’ll think about a way to integrate something like this into the site. Thanks!!!

  6. I like the “extended story” nature of this site. The training logs and the posts in between give the sense of connecting with friends over time. Each writer has her specialty/area of interest/expertise and I like to see how the things develop with each person.

    I live in central Ohio, and I confess I like the local nature of many posts. I’ve run the same races as some of you, and that is just sooo kewl! I like the posts from people who live elsewhere, don’t get me wrong! But I do like the local ones.

    I hardly ever comment on blogs. I never quite believe I have anything useful to add, and I feel shy about asking questions. But I do comment on this site quite often, for me.

    1. Thanks, Valerie! That’s exactly what we’re going for, so glad it’s coming through. Thanks for all your comments and the great feedback!

  7. I think you’ve really got it right with the “reader-centric” style. I read the race reports, but I really mostly enjoy the posts where I learn something new about running that I can incorporate into my training. I really love it when you dive into science and I can understand what is happening in my body while I’m running. As far as reader interaction…I very rarely comment even in other semi-private forums (like facebook) among my circle of friends that I’ve actually met face-to-face at least once in my life, let alone comment on a blog post written by strangers-who-feel-a-lot-like-friends. So, given that I have posted several comments previously, from my perspective you are already doing something right about reader interaction, too! I think that comes down to being “reader-centric”, too.

  8. I LOVE this blog 🙂 And I love telling my female running friends about it.

    The eclectic nature of the blog keeps me coming back. The variety of female running voices allows me to connect with runners across speed and disciplines-all in one place! One of the things I love most about running is that you can flow from different labels throughout the year, be it “trail runner,” “marathoner,” “speedster,” or even “injured reserve.” and when I move from one category to another there is a voice here for me to relate to.

    The tips and tricks have provided me with answers to questions I have struggled with. I now have a bottle of white vinegar sitting next to my washing machine, ready to remove the stink from my clothing. And two weeks ago, when the roads and trails were covered in a sheet of midwest ice I headed onto the dreadmill, and actually enjoyed it thanks to A Salty “rule of 5” workout, and I hadn’t run on a mill in years because I hate them so much.

    Now that I look over it, I don’t think I really answered your original question, as much as confessed my love to you 😉 I’m not really a comment-gal but wanted to tell you to keep up the good work.

  9. I just happened across this blog a few weeks ago and have read at least 100 articles since then.

    I am a beginner runner and just started training for my first half-marathon (and after that I’m planning on training for a marathon)! I have fallen in love with this blog and even though I pretty much am always a lurker, never commenting on any posts, I wanted to comment.

    I love this blog because it has opened my eyes to possibilities and dreams I never considered. I run at a pretty slow pace right now, but this blog has inspired me to try for faster miles, a marathon, and maybe even try to qualify for Boston or run an ultra some day in the distant future! For someone who hated running in high school (I was a soccer player and running really was always our punishment!), I’m now slowly falling in love with it.

    I love that any random questions I have as a beginner have answers here. I love reading the stories of people who run for 26.2 miles at a pace faster then I could run 2. I love it, because it makes the impossible seem like a possibility for me. (Or at least far off in the future me!)

    Thanks to all of you for writing. 🙂