“Do you know anyone going to this conference?”
“Yeah, all my friends are going”
“Well, at cat underscore simpson underscore and at lazy girl running will be there”
“So… they’re internet friends?
And that’s where I’ve usually lost people.
When I lived in Vancouver I had friends from school, friends from Girl Guides and friends from skiing. All of these people became friends on Facebook, but were always friends-from-something-else first. It was all pretty simple and easy to understand.
Now I have friends I know better by their twitter handle and profile picture than what high school they went too. I talk to them a couple of times a week and share similar interest to them, but when we attend the same events we still have that awkward in person meetings where we know what each other ate for breakfast but have to go through the, “nice to meet you” motions.
Last Sunday, I met a lot of friends at the UK’s first running bloggers conference Write This Run. Held out near the lovely Hampton Court the day was promised to be a chance to meet fellow running bloggers and learn a bit about blogging and running.
The day started off with a panel of experts on social media and PR. How to get noticed by brands and journalists is always a hot topic in the world of blogging, and the panel did a good job in presenting the basics. I’m not sure some of the information was at the right level though as the majority of the room gasped at the idea of 10,000 twitter followers and writing only on running, not diluting your blog with unnecessary topics (pies. what?). That said the panel ended with words of wisdom from Rhalou Allerhand, “If you count riches by experiences, places seen and loves met then running will make you rich.” (eek sorry Rhalou if I minced your words, I can’t remember your exact wording)
The second panel was inspiring stories. There is no shortage of inspiring stories when it comes to runners and marathoners, but Liz & Laura did a great job finding unique stories that were interesting and inspiring to even the hardest bloggers out there. From 52 Marathon Man who ran 52 marathons in a year to raise awareness about depression and mental illness so people will not suffer like his Father did, to Donna, a paratriathlete whose pledge to get stronger when faced with a Doctor telling her to stop has lead her to the highest levels of competition. We also heard from Mrs. Badass Ultra Runner Extraordinare Mimi Anderson. I’m not even going to try to put her experiences into words, just check out her blog before you attempt any world records, she’s probably already got it. It was from this panel that the motivation #whatwouldmimido came from.
After a stellar bbq lunch in the sun with Chobani that tasted JUST like cheesecake. We were back learning from bloggers themselves about how to tell stories. We all know the best blogs are the ones where you feel like you’re sitting in the pub with the writer, listening to their stories and Laura, Phillipa, and Stuart gave their tips to creating that vibe in your own way. A clear message that came from this panel was that you shouldn’t hide behind your blog or an online character. Be transparent and tell your story – people will like it and follow or not and (hopefully) leave you alone.
The last panel of the day were the experts. I loved the energetic talk that Karen gave. As a run coach she presented us with (seemingly) simple and easy techniques to work on that will improve our running efficiency. We heard from a sports scientist on how to fuel up for big races, although I thought this might be targeted a little too much towards elite athletes and not necessarily bloggers who are out for a jog or two and/or trying to maintain fitness rather than peak performance. Finally, Scott Overall, who runs really fast 5ks and competed for Team GB in the Olympic marathon, told us about his training from being a kid at camp with Mo Farah to suffering setbacks at the highest level. His story was inspiring but also realistic in that you can plan and train all you want for a goal, but sometimes it just doesn’t result.
Then we ran. We grabbed shoes to try from On Running and tried to keep up with Scott around the Hampton Court Park. The trails were lovely and the deer thought we were slightly insane. I clipped along at a quick pace trying to keep up with Cat and Karen and suddenly exhausted at 4k but having such a nice conversation I couldn’t drop back!
After the run we grabbed goody bags, which considering what some races consider goodies (a leaflet to 20% off a local running store? No thanks) this was epic in the truest sense of the word. SOCKS! WE GOT SOCKS! While the socks may have been the big-ticket item, the surprise of the bag was the mini banana loaf soren bars. Holy mother of god they are two-bite deliciousness that I cannot stop eating.
All in all it was a stellar day with even better company. The organisation of the conference was perfection by Liz & Laura and judging by the hints on the Write This Run website, they are more than capable to be organising some amazing getaways in the near future.