The Price Of Being Original: Let's Talk About Plagiarism

One of my missions here at Run, Selfie, Repeat and honestly as Kelly Roberts is to not conform to what works for everyone else and to take risks by being different. When I started running, I rarely found content that mirrored my experience. Running was awful. I was in so much pain and I felt like a total and complete fool the entire time. I ran a 12-15 minute mile (yes 1 mile was all I could do), I was red in the race, and I felt like my legs were made of lead for weeks. I never finished a run and thought, "There it is! There's that runner's high! This is the best!" I thought, "This is impossible. Why am I doing this?" But I kept with it because I was drowning and I needed something to help me feel good about myself. I had my best friend Irene encouraging me, promising me that if I stuck with it, eventually I'd get strong enough to feel good about my accomplishment. Luckily, I listened to her and I pushed through the pain and discomfort long enough to let running change my life. 

A pretty large percentage of the running community takes itself very seriously and that's not something I relate to. I take myself seriously enough to set intimidating goals but I find motivation in the funnier aspects of running. I love an inspiring quote just as much as the next person but I choose to focus on the wackier and funnier aspects of running, or the hardships I'm facing, in lieu of talking about my negative splits or impressive pace. The most impressive aspect of my running is that I can run a sub 4 hour marathon while taking selfies and uploading them to Instagram in real time and I think my blog and the content I create reflects that bizzare feat.

I work really, really, really hard creating the content I publish. It isn't easy opening up and sharing all of my fears, struggles, reservations and shame with the entire world. It is really intimidating talking about what it was like to grieve for the loss of my younger brother, gain over 75 pounds, feel utterly lost, and then struggle to lose the weight and become a runner. Being vulnerable and authentic is a choice I make every single day. It's not something that comes easily for me. But I think my content reflects that and I'm very proud of everything I create and share with all of you because I put so much thought and care into my mission and corresponding message.

Run, Selfie, Repeat and my social channels, for the most part, focus on the funnier and crazier aspects of running. I create memes that make me laugh like what you get to eat after you run a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon and I made up with words like "Runhole" or "Runch". But there's a darker side of being original, plagiarism. After publishing "Runhole" on WomensRunning.com, I noticed a new follower in the beautiful "@TeamRunhole" and their website Runhole.com. Should I have trademarked "Runhole" or gotten it copy written before writing about it here on Run, Selfie, Repeat or on Womens Running Magazine? I don't have the time or money to wait around to get every single silly idea that may or may not perform well online copy written or trademarked. It's discouraging how quickly people not only steal your ideas but how they have no shame in taking credit for your work.

Gross Running Bug

But here is what really broke my heart, I started getting tagged in a graphic on Facebook and on Instagram published by the website and app "The Running Bug". Harmless right? It's emojis! Well, my article was published in the December Issue of Runner's World Magazine so yes, I care when a brand with over 100,000 likes on Facebook steals my published content and calls it their own. That graphic and article was a huge accomplishment to me. It took me hours to create so having someone steal my idea and my work, that's upsetting.

I received an apology from the Running Bug but here is what really frustrates me. They say, "We often take inspiration from trending topics around the web that are great and relevant to our audience. In this case we were completely unaware that you had previously produced such a similar image. We absolutely didn’t mean to cause any offense." If you are (excuse me while I omit the phrase "take inspiration" and replace it with steal) STEAL ideas from trending topics, then you stole the inspiration from my graphic. I understand that you do this often and that you don't take the time to see who you're stealing from but that's on you and the damage is done. Their graphic will never disappear from the internet regardless of however many copyright infringement complaints I complete on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

For every viral graphic, article and video I create, dozens of terrible and stupid ideas came first. I pride myself on the fact that I take risks and often fall flat on my face. Not everything works. I'm taking chances and risks and learning from everything that doesn't work. When you take only the trending topics, you're cheating every single person who cultivated their original creative idea. This is why I love Dorothy Beal at Mile Posts, she creates her own interesting and original shareable content. She cultivates her own work. She doesn't just post graphics or images that are trending, she takes the time to be original and takes risks. It isn't easy coming up with viral ideas and it's really frustrating when someone just downright steals your original work.

I know that this isn't a battle that I'm ever going to win and even though I'm frustrated and hurt, it's not going to stop me from creating content that speaks to the people like me. At the end of the day, all I want to do is make running and getting active feel less intimidating and impossible for anyone who can't figure out how to take the first step. I know what that's like. I was there for so long. I had Pinterest boards devoted to getting active and I couldn't do it. I felt hopeless and by creating original, shareable content, I like to think I'm giving voice to the people out there kicking their own asses so that they can put their strongest feet forward and at the same time, make running approachable to anyone who doesn't think they can do it.

Just remember to give credit to whoever created whatever graphic you decide to share on your own social media accounts and never blatantly steal someone's idea. Someone worked really hard (and fell flat on their face many times in the process) to create that silly graphic and they deserve credit for creating something that you felt compelled to share. Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.

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Kelly Roberts

It all started when a silly joke made headlines back in 2014 when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the New York City Half Marathon. But ironically enough, I haven't always been a runner. As the self-proclaimed former President of the "I f*cking hate running club", I spent most of my life finding ways to avoid physical activity. Growing up, I missed over 70 days of PE my senior year. Working out was something I thought I had to suffer through in order to lose weight. 

Then, in 2009, my younger brother passed away unexpectedly and struggling to manage my grief, I gained more than 75 pounds. With the weight gain came a new fight to regain my sense of self and learn to love the body I saw when I looked in the mirror. Then one Thanksgiving morning, drowning in grief and self doubt, I decided to go for a run. I didn't make it half way down my street before I had to stop to walk but for some reason, struggling forward made more sense than getting back into bed. It turns out that running is a lot like grief, neither ever really get easier, you just get stronger. 

Over time, I realized that while some people are in fact born runners, others are made. I created this blog Run, Selfie, Repeat and my new podcast by the same name with the hopes to inspire others to say yes to themselves while making them laugh hysterically because laughing, in my opinion, is the solution to everything. 

Named by Women's Running as one of twenty women who are changing the sport of running and by Competitor Magazine as one of 12 Influential and inspiring runners under 30, my mission is to inspire others to get embrace a healthy lifestyle and pursue the strongest version of themselves possible.