Geek Chic of the Week: Running

Okay, so running itself isn’t really geeky, but stay with me: how I started — and kept up with — running is.

First, I knew that if I was going to start running I wanted to get good running shoes. I put out messages on Facebook and Twitter asking for advice on where to get good running shoes and was bombarded with suggestions. Most were split 50/50 between two local running stores. I picked one, went on a Saturday, and left with a pair of running shoes I’m incredibly happy with. I spent more than I was planning to, but I felt good about buying from a source that was so well-regarded by the people in my social networks that I trust.

Second, I was (okay, still kind of AM) out of shape. I knew I wanted to ease into running. Years ago, I had started trying to run with a gradual running program that was okay, but not great. So, I checked iTunes and lo and behold — some guy in California had taken up running for his 40th birthday and had created 9 weeks worth of training podcasts (with music and cues on when to run and when to walk). Which meant all I had to do was bring along an iPod and wait for him to tell me what to do. AWESOME.

I tend to be a very goal- and deadline-oriented person. So, I gave myself a deadline by signing up for a 5k on I picked a date that was roughly 9 weeks from when I started training, and signed up. Boom, easy.

They say that people who exercise with buddies are more likely to stick to it. My problem was that, with a full-time job, a blog, speaking gigs, two kids and all the other peripheral life craziness, I didn’t want to commit to meeting a person at a specific date and time. I was going to have to squeeze in my running sessions wherever and whenever I could. Twitter to the rescue. A Twitterpal of mine (@maisnon) saw my tweets and Facebook posts about running; when I shared the link to the iTunes training program with her, she decided she’d train in tandem with me. Over the next few weeks, we would direct message (DM) each other on Twitter with our training status (like, “Just finished week 3, not too bad!” or “OMG, week 7, I just ran 20 MINUTES?!”).

I think my favorite part of this story is the fact that I met the long-distance running buddy I mentioned earlier in the comment stream of a Bollywood blog. After trading favorite movies back and forth with each other, we somehow realized that we were kindred spirits. Even better? She happened to swing through Minneapolis last weekend and I got to meet her face-to-face after a couple of years of trading digital messages (and the occasional Christmas card). I mean, really, in what world — other than this crazy social digital landscape we live in — could I have met a random person from San Francisco over a shared love of Indian cinema and become running buddies with her?

My point is this: once you start putting yourself out there (and seeing what’s out there), you might be surprised at the ways social media can enhance your life both personally and professionally. In my case, I gained qualified advice on gear, a free trainer, a virtual running buddy, a real-life running buddy, encouragement from those around me, and a newfound sense of what I can accomplish if I put my mind to it.