On Posting Workouts to Facebook
I'm nine weeks into training for the 5K race and it is striking to me how much has changed since February.
In a chat with my sister-in-law I joked that I feel like all I talk about these days is running and recipes. When I talk to people in the hallway, they mention my running clothes, ask how it's going and I smile, excited to share my progress of going from being unable to run a mile to running 3. I talk about the clear headspace, the focus running gives me. And sometimes, I talk about how it's helping me become a better person, a better listener, a better teacher. Maybe people are just being polite and maybe they really want to engage. I'm happy to take a high five, a word of encouragement, advice, or a "keep up the good work" without a lot of discussion.
A few years ago, I got this idea that I might want to run a marathon. At the time, I was very overweight, trying to change some of my habits and I was even exercising and running, but I had to stop because my weight was too much strain on my knee. This time around I lost 60 lbs before I even started running. I started slowly, and am still pretty slow, like 45 minutes for 3 miles slow. Pretty much everyone I know runs faster than I do. Just nine weeks ago, I struggled to run a mile, despite the fact I'd been doing cardio 4 or 5 times a week for months and months. Running was completely different than what I'd been doing in the gym. And it was hard. I wanted to give up on the first night. I wanted to cry.
Instead, I just kept moving.
When I got my Nike plus watch to track my runs, I was ecstatic because I like records. I like to gauge how I do from one run, one week to the next. The Nike site has a share button to Facebook and I started sharing my progress with my Facebook friends, many of whom are runners.
I know that seeing people's workout routines plastered over Facebook can act as a kind of white noise the same way memes, news stories and other kinds of likes do. And that's okay. I get it if you're not interested in what I'm doing (and if that's true why are we Facebook friends?) but recently someone mentioned to me that it made them feel depressed to see various people posting their physical activities and exercise logs. A few days after our conversation, I saw someone (a friend of a friend) post on facebook about how annoying such statuses were.
To which I want to say the following: This is not about you.
If you want to unfriend me or hide my workout updates, okay. I'm just curious about why this is such an annoying thing to post. I think part of it is related to something I've been reading a lot about on various blogs and posts about what we post on Facebook and pin on Pinterest and the ways it leads us to compare ourselves to one another. And I do understand that impulse. Believe me. I fight it every single day, especially in running club when I am the last person to finish every single week because I'm the only person who is new to running. So yeah, most of the people I run with on Mondays run 5 or 6 miles before I can run 3. But I just started running in February. I have to cut myself some slack. I have to be proud of where I am. I have to appreciate my body, what it's able to do now. I try to remember that when I'm tired and frustrated, when I want to be faster, run further. It takes time to change and I'm asking my body to do an awful lot.
I think we have a dangerous problem in this country regarding obesity, nutrition, and health, in general. Part of me wonders if part of the issue isn't embodied in the annoyance factor of celebrating exercise. I recognize that new converts of any kind of workout plan or diet or change of any kind can be a bit overzealous about what has worked for them or about the things they're discovering because we get excited when we have success at something.
If you can't celebrate my success, that really is your problem. But don't ask me not to do so. After all, I suffer through albums and albums of your cute kids, and your puppies and/or cats. I don't ask you to filter your check-ins to gas stations, restaurants, or stores where I do not shop nor do I say anything when you post political leanings with which I do not agree. I am not very good at baking and I only try it a few times each year but I don't get furious when my friends post photos of the amazing stuff they're baking or when they are excited about a new recipe that turned out just right. I applaud them; I like their status. I long for a piece of that cake but I certainly don't begrudge them their own piece.
I guess I'm ultimately sad that we can't celebrate one another even if we aren't interested in doing the same things. So if you can't celebrate with me, at least don't begrudge me my success. And you should probably just go ahead and unfriend me because I plan to be doing a lot of running, and a lot more cool things, and I may fail at some of it and succeed at others. That's just how life goes, how we learn and grow and evolve as human beings. When I do succeed it isn't a commentary on anything else except my hard work or luck or stars' alignment or whatever. One person's success doesn't have to come at the expense of another's failure. And the idea that it does, it's truly what's wrong with our culture today.