Why The Internet Needs More Running Selfies

Six months ago, I decided that I wanted to become more active. After years of waking up late on Saturday mornings only to scroll through Facebook and see friends running races, I succumbed to peer pressure. I started a 5K training program. And, just like the friends that had unknowingly convinced me to start running, I posted about it on Facebook.

First Running Facebook StatusThe app I was using to train had a built-in sharing function that would post how long I exercised, how much of that time was running, and what my longest interval was. I used this function to share every single run from that training program. I wasn’t doing it for attention, but for accountability and encouragement. I read every comment and looked at the name of every person that clicked “like.” I also secretly hoped that if I didn’t share a run for a few days, people would ask me what was going on and get me back on track. I received a lot of advice, and tons of encouragement during this time.

Five weeks into training, after finishing a Saturday morning run that made me feel pretty amazing, I posted my first running selfie.

First Running SelfieI stuck with status updates until my first 5K race. Of course, I needed a finish line photo…but mom had to take it because I was too tired to take a selfie.

First Race SelfieAnd then the deluge began. I found the photo function on Nike Plus, and my post-run sharing routine now included a photo. It became a way for me to show that I was enjoying this (or feeling tortured, depending on the day). I wanted to visualize my improvement as my distance progressed. I liked seeing these photos of myself after being active. I could see that I felt a sense of accomplishment, and some part of me probably knew I needed to remember that feeling on days I was feeling completely lazy.

A friend suggested that I make a collage of all the selfies some day, and I think I will. But even here, I can quickly see a progression from a 2-mile run to a 5 mile run.

Counting Down Miles

People comment and click like, and it makes me feel good. It also makes me feel like I have something to prove, not just to myself, but everyone on whom I’ve unleashed the endless stream of selfies.

Turns Out The Selfies Aren’t For Myself

A few months ago,  things came full circle. Remember, I started running because my friends (Ed, Tim, and Lisa, among others) were posting photos and updates from their runs and races. Then Karine told me that she got back into running because I inspired her. I. Inspired. Her.

Yesterday I visited the farmers that I like to buy eggs from, and they said they enjoy watching my progress and Facebook and they’re cheering me on. They even asked if I ran to their house (running back home with eggs was not something I had planned on doing, but it would be an interesting challenge). My mom feels like she’s been watching me run, even though she hasn’t seen me in person in months.

It turns out the selfies aren’t all about me.

Displaying Your Victories & Struggles Inspires Others to Try

Today, Katie (another runner that has motivated me) posted this on Instagram:

Bart Says You're A MentorIt’s totally true. I know so because others had that effect on me. But the people that made me think I could run—the girl who didn’t run a mile until after her 31st birthday—weren’t on my block. They were in my newsfeed. And I never want to see them leave, because they push me to try harder. I didn’t hesitate to set a half marathon goal because I knew so many other people that had done it. I’m proud to be one of those people.

So yes, you’ll see a running selfie two or three times a week if we’re Facebook friends. Because I’m damn proud of the fact that I can run for over an hour. That I’ve lost 45 pounds. That I’m working every day to be a little bit healthier than I was the day before (some days more successful than others). If you’re on this journey too—particularly if you’re older, or overweight, or disabled, or have another good excuse for people to think you can’t get fit—put it all out there. (Well, not all of it. Please keep your clothes on). Show the world what real people look like when they’re getting healthy. Chances are, you’ll be leading a crowd you didn’t know was following you.

9 thoughts on “Why The Internet Needs More Running Selfies

  1. Ok, so I got all teary-eyed reading this, guess that’s because I’m so damn proud of you.
    A year ago I would never have believed you would take up running as a hobby/fitness regimen, and now you’ve completed the 5K Drumstick and are moving onward and upward to the Pewaukee half-marathon in May. Will wonders never cease! Of course, your Dad & I always said you had a stubborn streak in you a mile long, & if you set your mind on something, you never gave up until you “owned it”. I no longer doubt that a runner you will be, and you can count on me being on the sidelines cheering you on & congratulating you at every finish line!

  2. Heck yeah the internet needs more running selfies!
    You know what else the internet needs? More images of women, REAL WOMEN, running. I hate to see pictures of people looking perfect while they run. I’m sure even sueprmodels get red faced and sweaty when they work out.
    I am beyond impressed with your dedication! It’s tough training during the winter months when you really, really want to hibernate. Looking forward to following you on this running journey!

    1. What made me think I could do this was pictures of bigger women running. And by bigger, I mean 200-300 pounds, which was almost where I was when I started. During my first 5K I was running very close to a woman who probably weighed about 220…and she ran the entire distance without walking. We can do it. Most people probably don’t think they can because all the pictures in the magazine and commercials are of women with gazelle-like bodies….but we were born to walk/run on our own two feet!

      I can’t wait to run in nice weather. I’ve never done more than 5-minute run or so when it was actually temperate outside.

  3. Your running selfies always work as great reminders for me that it’s time to run. You look so happy on them, so they work as a fantastic invitation. 🙂

    Last Sunday I even ran longer than planned to make it to 7 miles after reading your post. As I was on the treadmill, I kept thinking how much dedication and will you must have had to run against the wind — and I had no reason to quit as I was lucky enough to run in a windless environment. Inspiring for sure you are, Liz!

    Now, time for my lunch run 🙂

    1. How about 8 miles this weekend? That’s my plan 🙂 Although I’m splitting it into two runs so I can do a 4-ish miler with a group. I’ll do 4 miles before I go to meet them. On the shores of Lake Michigan…here’s hoping it actually feels like spring.

  4. I love the running selfies! I’ve been following your blog since you were on Runs for Cookies and you have really inspired me. I have recently been doing the C25K program and can’t believe how far I’ve come from the beginning. The first week I thought I was going to die after running for just 30 seconds and now I can run for 20 minutes without stopping. You are a part of that though – so keep it up! You are kicking butt!

    1. Thanks so much for the comment, Carmen. It’s crazy (and awesome) to think that the selfies/blogging serve a purpose for people I don’t even know. Congratulations on your running! You’ll knock out a 5K before you know it!

  5. Bravo! I love when people share their workouts and accomplishments in my newsfeed, although I don’t do much of it myself. Maybe I should start… =) I do have people at work coming up to me asking if that was me running in town though, haha (it always is me).

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