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It was mile 5 and I wanted to quit. The sun was blazing, the air was heavy; remind me why I do this again? I started to debate how I could walk off course and then make my way back to the start/finish line.
If I had let my body quit that day, the adventure of finding my way back to the start/finish line may have just taken longer than completing the race. That isn’t what kept me putting one foot in front of the other however, it was Instagram.
I joke at times that “I Ran It For The Insta” but sometimes Instagram really is what keeps me running. I don’t run for the head pats or the virtual cheers, but I’d be lying if I said that Instagram doesn’t keep me accountable. I didn’t want to post a picture that said I had DNF’ed my second race. I wanted to post a happy finisher’s photo and I did just that.
If you are in search of accountability, motivation or a community of like-minded people—Instagram is the place to be!
Starting a “running” Instagram is easy, but getting started may be a little confusing at first. Who do I follow, what hashtags do I use, and where do I find other runners who are looking for the same friendship, accountability and motivation?!
Here are my tips for getting your running focused Instagram up and running:
- Pick a memorable username. Dorothy41182 isn’t as easy to remember as simply @MilePosts or @irunthisbody. Pick something that’s easy for your future running friends to remember. Numbers may be meaningful to you but all those dashes and numbers are not easy for others to remember. Here are some examples of easy to remember usernames @irunforcoffee, @fueledbyfrosting, @nutbutterrunner, @livefreeandrun.
- Decide if you want to have two Instagrams. One Instagram can be for family and friends that isn’t running focused (and is possibly private) and another that you use just for running and fitness-focused photos. If you have two accounts, you can suggest to your friends and family there is no need to follow you on your running-focused account if that’s not what they are in to. Trust me on this one, after having one of my good friends tell me that she didn’t care what I ate for lunch—in not so nice terms—it’s easier having two Instagrams where you are free to post whatever fitness, running or healthy lifestyle photos you want (while not annoying others)!
- Post a profile picture of yourself. If the goal is to make new friends, other runners want to know that you are indeed a real person and not a spambot.
- Don’t make your account private. The goal is to make friends and that’s much harder if your account is private and someone has to request you in order to see your photos. The nature of Instagram is that people creep around and look at other people’s photos that they don’t know. Though people creep, it’s not creepy. Unless someone follows thousands of people, they aren’t likely going to request you right off the bat to see your photos. If you are worried about privacy, make sure not to post your location or geo-tag when you post.
- Search relevant hashtags. If you are new to Instagram and aren’t sure what running-related hashtags are popular, check out this post. If you are looking for runners who live close to you, I recommend searching to see if there is a hashtag in use for your favorite place to run or your local running store.
- Get social. Running takes work, and so does making friends. Once you create your account, get social. Comment on other runner’s photos and follow people who you find interesting, funny, helpful or motivating. Virtual friends make the world seem that much smaller. Bonus is that next time you run an out-of-town race, you may just have friends you know with you at the start line.
- Don’t get discouraged. You might not find a local friend or someone to run with; that’s okay. You may find something better, a virtual friend who one day will turn into a best friend. I haven’t been successful at finding someone to run with on a regular basis but what I do have is a core group of women who are there virtually when I finish that run. They lift me up—and I try to do the same for them. It took years to develop these friendships and that’s okay, that’s the way it is in the non-virtual world too!
- Be yourself. Post photos that make you happy. Don’t fall into the trap of worrying about likes or comments and posting what you think people want to see. Social media should add to your life, not take away from it. The best person to be in life is yourself, so while you may love an account and want to post similar pictures, if those pictures take you away from who you are as a person and a runner, don’t post them.
Have a question about getting started on social media or Instagram? Tweet me at @mileposts!