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Should You Post Your Workouts on Social Media?

You've dragged yourself to the gym or out for a run, and you've put your everything into a brutal session. Now you want to share your accomplishment with the world. But should you be posting about it on social media?

Alright, I'm going to caveat this post with the fact that I'm a 35-year-old man now, my days of using social media at its full potential are probably behind me, so there may be a part of me that's stepped over the "good old days" fence, warmly looking back at simpler, halcyon times when the internet used to be about downloading Simpsons wav. files and searching for people on Friends Reunited. OK, that may be going a bit far. 

As a blogger and just a general digital type person that lives in 2018, I use social media a fair bit. I use it to speak to my friends, I use it to post updates from my website and I pretty much use it to find out what's going on in the world. I'm fairly ingrained in the whole thing as a rule. On the flipside, I'm also fairly introverted. It took me a long time to be happy posting pictures of myself without thinking "does this just look like I'm showing off?” Over the past few years that mentality seems to have dissipated though. When people started doing selfies I couldn't even imagine a time when I'd actually do it. What could be more unnecessarily self-promoting than taking a picture of yourself and publishing it online? Now, it's just normal, I've even done a few myself.

Running selfie

I've always been sceptical about posting about my running on social media. Any fitness in fact. Why would anyone care if I've just been out for a run? I barely care about the fact that I've been out for a run. Why would I post an update about it? To be honest I still think, possibly with a level of scepticism, that social media has created a community of social validation. People feel that they should receive positive feedback on things they do that they deem to be unnecessary effort "I've just undergone pain and hardship, I really should receive some sort of praise for that."

Looking at it the other way round I can see the benefits to the running community. Social media forces ideologies into the social mindset, which, in the case of fitness, is a good thing - other examples are far from positive. If everyone in the community seems to be running or getting fit, it becomes normalised. People who previously ignored fitness due to the fact it just wasn't something within their social circles are forced to realise that it is normal. Their thought process starts to include it as a necessary part of life. Sure, they don't want to do it, but it still something that's normal, so they probably should. They do a run, they hate it, they post an update on social media and people give positive feedback. As a result they go running again. It's a very good thing. An example of the social media echo chamber promoting an aspect of humanity that can only help in the long run. 

Instagram feed

So why am I dubious about social media and running updates? Surely I've just argued myself into the positive aspects of it? Well, I think that positive validation on fitness is a good thing to an extent, but it only goes so far. Let's say a new runner takes to the street, they're unhealthy and unfit. They run a mile and hate every second of it. When they get home and post about it they feel a rush of pride as people commend them on a job well done. They take that euphoria with them the next time they run, they post about it, and they receive positive feedback again. The relationship with running is a bad one. They're forcing themselves to do something they hate for the praise at the other end.

Yes, they may learn to love it. If they get fit and lose weight the positive association with running may be because of how they feel and not because fifty people have clicked a like button. They may simply just enjoy the feeling of running. They may become ambassadors for running simply through the enjoyment of it. These are the social media posts that we should be aiming for, posting because of enjoyment. If someone posts on social media about running, they should get the same feeling by doing the run whether they post or not.

Heading to the gym

Photo Credit: Unsplash - George Pagan

So when is posting a run on social media okay? Well, I know people that run once a week and post an update every time they do it. I also know that they aren't really pushing themselves when they do it and hate every second of it. The posting on social isn't really serving any purpose other than to prove that they've done something. On the other end of the scale I know people that love running and post pictures of their routes of things they've seen during the run. They post about training for races, how they feel about runs they've done and generally how running is making their lives better. These are the kind of posts that have a positive effect on the running community. These same people don't always post about their runs, they just go for runs anyway, what they're posting about is things that they care about, not things they really don't like doing.

So what am I saying? Well, obviously anyone can post what they like on social media without some grumpy (almost) middle-aged man moaning about whether it's okay or not (apart from things that really aren't okay), but when it comes to running, there are good and bad posts. If you're a newbie and you're proud of yourself, post away. If you're training for a race, go for it. If you're doing a race, spot on! And if you just love running, go crazy. If however you're posting the same picture of your trainers overlaid with the same running stats that haven't changed for the past eight months, I really don't want to see that. Sorry. And I love running.

The same goes for pictures of your cat with phrases like "someone's happy" or "looks like a lie in is out of the question" written over the top. You know who you are.