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The Dos and Don'ts of Using Social Media to Become a Better Runner

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    DO Follow Inspiring People

    There's no definitive list of who you should or shouldn't follow on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and beyond. If you're inspired by professional runners like Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher, do that. Or maybe you're inspired by your friends, your teammates, your coworkers, or bloggers you follow online and don't actually know IRL. All that matters is that when you see their #seenonmyrun or #tracktuesday pictures, you feel inspired to go crush your own workout.

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    DON'T Hate-Follow

    We've all done it at some point, right? Maybe you started following someone you really liked online and then she changed or you changed and soon you weren't quite so into her posts. Or maybe there's that girl who's always in your starting corral at races and you kinda can't stand her but you follow her to fuel your hate fire. (Um, whatever works for you?) Avoid following people who give you rage or make you feel unnecessarily competitive. A bit of friendly competition is cool—or a lot of it if you're a professional runner!—but try to keep your feed as positive as possible.

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    DO Use it To Find Running Buddies

    Raise your hand if you have at least one friend you first met online. What was "weird" in the early 2000s is now not just acceptable, but awesome, encouraged, and so cool. Search location tags of the places you run regularly and see who else is running there, or find similarly-paced runners on apps like Strava. Hit up a free running club like November Project, The Rise, or Lululemon's running clubs, then friend the members afterward. Consider it online dating for running buddies! (We love running buddies!)

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    DON'T Fall Into the Comparison Trap

    Oh, the comparison trap. You run a half marathon and are so sore you can barely walk the next day. Meanwhile, 10 of your friends—who ran that same race—are all out running 6.2 "recovery miles" the next morning. Suddenly you find yourself questioning your own recovery plan and why you feel the way you do. It's so easy to fall down this dangerous path of comparing our workouts to everyone else's workouts. It can be helpful to use other peoples' workouts as inspiration, but it isn't helpful to constantly measure your own success and progress as compared to theirs. Listen to your body. You do you.

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    DO Feel Comfortable Sharing the Highs and Lows of Your Life on the Run

    If you choose to share your running life online, it's tempting to want to only post the beautiful sunrise photos or the glorious post-race me-and-my-medal shots. But that's not real life, is it? Some runs are terrible! It's OK to share those, too. Sharing the highs and lows of your miles makes you seem more humble, relatable, and approachable. (Though we do love those sunrise shots...)

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    DON'T Feel Like You Have to Post About Every Run

    If you go for a run but don't post about it afterward, did the run even happen? Yes! Share as much as you want, but feeling like you have to post every time you go for a run can start to feel debilitating and can get in your head. It's no fun to be out for a run wondering, "What am I going to say about this on Instagram later?" It's OK if you don't have a profound takeaway or beautiful photo to show for every single workout.

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    DO Use Apps Like Strava or MapMyRun to Help You Find New Routes

    Whether you're looking to explore your local roads a bit more or you're traveling and want to know where to run, social sites like Strava and MapMyRun can help! Just search for local routes and you'll be able to see who's run there, what the elevation profile is like, how long it takes the users to run that route, and more.

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    Don't Be Shy About Sharing Your Successes and Accomplishments

    Maybe you ran a personal record at your race this weekend or you raised a buttload of money for charity for an upcoming race. Tell the world!

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    DO Wait Until After Your Race to Take and Post Photos

    Snapping a mid-race photo can be tempting, especially on super scenic courses or big-name events. But stopping abruptly to snap a selfie is dangerous to other runners on the course, and racing while Snapchatting can be discouraging to the racers around you. (Think about it: You're at mile 11 of a half marathon and you're seriously struggling to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Meanwhile, the runner next to you is having a blast Snapping away, seemingly struggle-free. That just doesn't feel good.) And always check the rules of the event you're at: selfie sticks are banned at many races, so think twice before attaching your GoPro in hopes of snapping some sweet mid-race snaps. (But once you clear the finish line? Happy posing and posting! That post-race shot is a classic.)

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    DON'T Let the Social Media Aspect of Running Ruin Your Love for the Sport

    If you're constantly worried about earning likes for your running photos or seeking validation for posting about your race times, you're probably going to burn out a lot faster than you would if you were just running for the fun of it. Don't let internal social media pressure get you down. If you find your running is suffering on account of not enough people double-tapping your photos or watching your on-the-run Snapchats, it may be time to take a step back and remember why you started running in the first place.