One of the biggest reasons I struggled to become a runner was because I didn't feel like I belonged in the running community. I wasn't involved in a single sport growing up. I missed 70 something days of senior year PE because physical activity made me miserable. I'm not kidding when I say that I am the former President of the "I f*cking hate running club".
That was until I was just desperate enough to myself. I had just graduated from college and I was lost. I started gaining back the 75 pounds I had worked really f*cking hard to lose after my 16 year old brother tragically passed away. I was having trouble sleeping and then on Thanksgiving I felt like I needed to move so I got up and tried to run. It hurt so badly that I didn't have space in my brain to feel sorry for myself. So I kept doing it. And I would take a selfie and put it on Instagram to show my friends that I was doing something I could be proud of instead of sitting on the couch watching Bravo after getting home from my 9-5 receptionist job. The selfies kept me accountable when I didn't want to struggle through an impossible 2 or 3 mile run. And my friend's supportive comments motivated me to keep going. Running and running selfies helped me find myself.
I was mentioned in a New York Times article titled "Ready, Set, Hold That Pose! Have smartphones ruined racing?" The piece (besides having a ridiculously dramatic and suggestive headline) raises a really important point, the problem isn't the mid race selfie, it's the fact that runners rarely look around and take other runners around them into consideration before taking their selfie. So yes, collisions happen and people are understandably frustrated.
Look, I love a running selfie but my advice has always been and will always be do not take selfies during a race while you run. BUT KELLY, YOU DO IT. This is true. But I've never once collided with another runner, caused a collision, dropped my phone, or gotten in someone's way taking a selfie during a race because safety ALWAYS comes before a selfie. I am incredibly aware of who is around me before I get my phone out. If it's congested, the phone is put away. And in my defense, I spent four years working on spacial awareness when I was in college studying theater. It's the reason I can run a sub 4 hour marathon taking selfies, captioning them, and uploading them live while I run. Is it fun to edit selfies when you run a marathon? It is for 2 hours, then it loses its distracting charm and becomes a hell of a lot of work. I don't suggest it. (And you better believe I won't be on my phone snapping selfies during the Chicago Marathon if I hope to BQ. You can't run really fast and snap selfies because that's dangerous.)
So why do I do it? Social media has 100% made running more approachable for people like me. When you see your friends, family members, and colleagues training or running their first 5K, 10K, half marathon or maybe even marathon, you can't help but think, If they can do it, maybe I can too. I know it's true because I've gotten hundreds of emails from people who tell me that my selfies or Run, Selfie, Repeat made running seem doable, fun or rewarding enough for them to want to try.
I can't believe it happened. I can't even tell you how I feel right now but it's the best feeling in the world. It's been my goal since my first marathon back in 2013 to break 4 hours and it just happened. My body hurts so much right now but my heart couldn't be happier. I did it. I fucking did it. Screw looking for a boyfriend, I'll take this PB any day. #tcsnycmarathon #RunSelfieRepeat #nycmarathon #BAESoftheNYCmarathon
When I was a new runner, I wanted to laugh at the traumatizing fact that I discovered what runner's trots were for the first time. But there wasn't a blog or online running publication that talked about the struggles and the odd quirks that come with being a new runner. No one was making fun of running at all. They all took themselves very seriously and I had a really hard time relating to anything I saw online.
After I went viral for taking selfies during the New York City Half Marathon, I was encouraged to put a blog on its feet and share my story. Suddenly I had a platform where I could talk about running in the way I had always wanted to see it when I was a new runner. I could joke about the struggles of running your first half marathon or the 14 stages of having to 💩 on a run. Run, Selfie, Repeat became a place for runners to laugh and feel inspired to chase impossible goals.
That's the reason I continue to do what I do. Not because I love taking selfies of myself but because I love getting to share the running lifestyle with people like me. People who think they aren't athletic. People who hate the gym or who feel like physical activity is something they have to suffer through so they can look a certain way or hit a number on a scale. Running is about empowerment and seeing what you're capable of. It's about setting and chasing impossible goals and putting your strongest foot forward. Running changed my life and getting to help other people fall in love with running as well is something I will never take for granted.
I understand why people don't think we should be taking selfies while we run. I'm right there with them. A lot of people work months or even years to toe the line of a race and it's all of our responsibilities to look out for one another. If you want to capture a mid race selfie, look around, signal that you're pulling over, make sure that no one is behind you before you stop, and then take a selfie smiling your face off, capturing your incredible accomplishment. Selfie all you want, just make sure that the coast is clear before you do. Always be mindful of your surroundings.
I think we can all agree that looking out and supporting one another makes a lot more sense than this --
Have smartphones killed running? I think the hundreds and thousands of new runners who completed their first 5K, 10K, and half marathons in the past few years, myself included, would agree that this couldn't be further from the truth. Smartphones have helped so many people around the world fall in love with running. The fact that we're wasting our time even suggesting otherwise is disappointing.
I can't wait to see your running selfies sharing both your successes and your set backs. NEVER be afraid to share your journey. Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.