[With my older son in the midst of his high school cross-country season, and both sons gearing up for their next seasons of indoor and then outdoor track, running has become a huge part of this AmericanStudier’s life these days. But it’s long been part of both my life and America overall, so this week I’ve AmericanStudied different sides of running, leading up to this extra special Guest Post from one of those aforementioned youthful AmericanStudiers!]
My name is Aidan and I am a distance cross country and track runner for my high school, now in the beginning of my third year. As my grandiose father, AmericanStudier, noted in his last post, social media is and increasingly continues to be relevant to the running world, from professional athletes to high schoolers. Social media is crucial to much of teenage life in today’s world, and running is no exception. The most popular runner’s social media app is Strava, which I and most other runners I know use.
I got Strava about a year ago and have only grown more, admittedly, addicted to it ever since. Strava is similar to other social media, composed of different posts on different accounts, except these posts are either runs or about running (among some other, less frequently used sports). People can like each other's posts, by giving kudos, and cannot dislike. It has become both popular and a bit controversial on my team and in the world. A number of my teammates have denounced the app, claiming that it leads to self esteem issues, as most all social media do to some extent. They also argue that knowing a run is going to get posted online can lead to pushing oneself beyond what they should for the day, which can certainly be detrimental and unhealthy.
While these claims may be true, I have only ever experienced the opposite. When I got Strava, I had already been running for a year, but I was not very committed or passionate about the sport. Strava gave me positive peer pressure to always do what needed to be done on every run, which did not always mean killing myself by the end (although it did in races). Strava drove me to improve, and pushed me to train hard this summer in preparation for the current cross country season. I’ve gotten much faster in the last year, and I know that social media played a positive role in that.
On top of speed advantages, Strava is simply useful and fun. First of all, it allows me to check the statistics of my runs, like looking at my heart rate and stride length which are very important measurements for runners. Second, the people I follow and I often make jokes in our posts, and just always have a blast. I can certifiably say that Strava has strengthened my bonds with my teammates. I also have been able to meet new people and runners online, and see all kinds of new training methods and workouts that I would have never known of otherwise. I highly recommend Strava for any runners, cyclists, nordic skiers, or other similar sports, as well as for people looking into running.
Strava may be criticized by some, but for all it’s done for me and my running career, it deserves only the utmost kudos.
[Next series starts Monday,
PS. What do you think? Running connections or contexts you’d share?]