What Is #RunChat, And Why Should You Try It?

© Dreamstime.com

© Dreamstime.com

Hundreds of messages awaited me at the finish line of my first marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA in Washington D.C. Most of them were from people I’ve never met.

When I decided I wanted to run my first marathon over a year ago, I read everything marathon-related I could get my hands on: books, magazines, blogs. Anything in the realm of marathon training — I was all ears.

Then I found #RunChat on Twitter.  I started following the hashtag on my Tweetdeck, next to a few of the news lists I monitor for my work as a news reporter. Quickly, the hashtag began to mean more to me than just a way to collect tweets.

Camaraderie for runners online

#RunChat is a community of some of the most amazing people I’ve never met. Of course, I hope I have the chance to meet them, but even as far away as London, they offer constant support.

What you’ll find when you use the hashtag is a collection of runners — old and new, couch-to-5kers and ultra runners all looking for the same thing: camaraderie.

The hashtag, chat and website — all founded in June 2010 by David Hylton (@RunningBecause) and Scott Miles (@irunnerblog) — stemmed from a Q&A Twitter chat about running.

The chat is held on the first and third Sundays of each month at 10:00 PM ET and the second and fourth Sundays at 8:00 PM ET. Fifth Sundays are announced a week ahead of time, according to the #RunChat website.

Everything you wanted to ask about running, but didn’t know who to ask

But it’s not just about Sunday nights. Anytime I have something to say that’s running related, I make sure to include my #RunChat community by adding the hashtag. Quickly, they respond with advice, support and humor.

The day after my marathon, I tweeted: “Never been in so much pain. I look like a sick penguin waddling around the beach in Puerto Rico. Marathon recovery tips please! #runchat”

The advice came pouring in — as I knew it would. These people have seen me through my ups and downs with training, by answering questions like:

  • Why am I getting a fever after my long runs?
  • Can anyone else not sleep after runs over 17 miles?
  • Does anyone know any cheap half marathons happening in November?
  • Where are all my toenails going?

They’ve supported me through the toughest roadblocks and the simplest new-to-marathoning quandaries. When I finished my fifth marathon in 2014, the same year as my first marathon, they — along with my in-person running partner — were the only ones who really understood what I’d been through.

Without them, without knowing that any hour of the night that I wake up with a pre-race concern, I have a community to go to — I don’t think I would have made it to the starting line of 26.2 long miles.

Support from people who don’t even know you

No one is irritated with questions. No one is judgmental about times. It’s only support. Support from people who don’t even know you.

Of the people I tweet with every week, there are many that I couldn’t tell you their age, I couldn’t tell you their gender, occupation or even location.

But I bet I know what race they have coming up. I bet I can tell you how they’ve lifted me up when I was at a low point in my training. I bet they’ve impacted my life in a way they’ll never fully understand.

So to all of you out there who tweeted with me as I made my way to become a marathoner, and those who will continued through the next four and onto my first half Ironman in 2015, thank you.

Thank you for the countless tweets, constructive advice and heartfelt encouragement. You are all so important to me. I wouldn’t be here without you.

For those who have never tried out #RunChat – give it a shot. Just toss in #RunChat to your next running tweet and you’ll be amazed what friendships it can start.

1 comment… add one
  • Scott January 8, 2015, 10:27 am

    We are going to start following #RunChat more closely on your recommendation. Twitter chat communities have been great for me in the past to connect with people with varying levels of skill and experience in a given pursuit. As newer runners, I think we still have so much to learn from an active running community.

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