I have been trying to write this post for weeks. Actually months. This unwritten post is one of the reasons I started blogging in July. I'm struggling to express this in words- it makes perfect sense in my head so hopefully, maybe, it will make some sort of sense here :-)
If you know anything about me, you know I'm a social person. Extremely social. So it's a little odd that the sport I chose and love is pretty solitary. In reality, for me at least, running is not solitary. Ok, so the act of running when you're alone is solitary but the sport of running is really about community.
Let me tell you a story to illustrate my point. Before I started blogging, before I joined Half Fanatics, before I joined Team #runDisney, I used to visit the run Disney facebook page pretty frequently. I would read the posts that fans of the page would submit on the page's wall. I'd feel connected to these other people who loved to run and loved to participate in run Disney races. This felt like a group of people I wanted to belong to. Then, on July 2nd, Dopey Challenge training officially started. I posted on the page that I was excited to start training for this event- I think the post was something along the lines of, "Who else is excited to start training for Dopey Challenge?!"
Someone commented that they, too, were excited to start training even though they were coming back from injury. I commented on the thread that I was also suffering from some wicked plantar fasciitis but was looking forward to training. Then the notifications started popping up on my home screen. It seemed that a lot of people that follow that page had a lot of opinions on what I should and shouldn't be doing in my training. Against my better judgment, I tried to defend myself and stated that I had cleared my training with my doctor and podiatrist. This only made it worse. The amount of negative feedback and just plain nastiness my simple post stirred up caused me to finally (after multiple negative comments) remove myself from the notifications so I wouldn't see any more of the vile, hate-filled words that these self-proclaimed "experts" were spewing.
But here's where this story ends happily. I had a few people, strangers really, reach out to me and private message me in support. One of those people is a wonderful woman by the name of Rhonda. Now, we've never met in person but she and I have become virtual run Disney training partners and keep up with each other on facebook. She even sent me the cutest Dopey Christmas ornament- she is awesome. We have plans to get together when we're both in Disney in January and I can't wait to meet her.
Shortly after this experience with the run Disney facebook page, I started looking for other ways to engage with like-minded individuals- and people that thrive off positive energy, not negativity and hatred. I found the #Team run Disney blog and then stumbled upon their facebook page. I can't begin to tell you how much more rewarding my training miles have become now that I have a community of people to share them with. Seeing this group support, inspire, and help each other has made me so proud to be part of the running community.
Tonight I had the privilege to run with a brand new runner. While we ran, we talked about why I loved running so much. To be honest, it's not really the actual running I love. I love the people I run with; both literally and figuratively. I love being part of a community that believes in each other, that pushes each other, that inspires and supports each other to be the very best version of themselves. To me, running is so many things- a confidence booster, a way to stay in shape, a way to step out of my comfort zone. I wouldn't be able to experience all of those wonderful benefits if I hadn't been inspired/motivated/supported by other runners.
I guess what I'm trying to say is this- there will always be haters. Every community contains some folks that just enjoy being Debbie Downers. But if you seek out the positive, you'll find it. And it will change your life, for the better. :-)