Wednesday, February 27, 2013

On the Meaningful Running Blog

 Average Guy with his above average family,
a few years ago...I can always date it by the shoes I am
wearing (Brooks Cascadia 3!)
Let’s just get this out of the way right now...this blog gets the lion’s share of it’s traffic from seekers of shoe reviews. Running geeks united around the world have wasted countless hours surfing to find the next big thing in running shoe hardware, and I am lucky to have been the beneficiary of all that interest and traffic. It is largely rewarding, but (poor me, I know) it actually gets a little bit slow when reviewing another running shoe. To be honest, running shoes are so awesome across the board now, I rarely find something I don’t like!

Once I read an article with the Boss, Bruce Springsteen. While he said that all his work was rewarding, he looked most forward to those more somber albums between his great, radio-friendly stadium-fillers. For example, after “Born to Run” with the mighty E Street Band (6x platinum), he released “Darkness on the Edge of Town” as a solo album (only 3x platinum, and mostly because of sales later in his career...Darkness had no hit singles). Later, he’d release the angry and stark “Nebraska,” a stripped down solo acoustic release that *only* achieved 1x platinum status even through today. “Nebraska” was followed by “Born in the USA” (15x platinum) and his legend rose to mythical status.

Basically, what he was saying was that the stadium albums made him, kept him whole financially and with regard to his fame. It was those personal projects, though, that so few people bought and listened to, that were his passion. Of course, millions of people have found his little solo gems and, if you are like me, consider them his greatest work.

Running Fit Trail Half Marathon
Obviously I can’t elevate my Saucony Kinvara 3 review (even though it IS my most-read post ever) to the same level as “Born to Run,” I can certainly make the case that shoe reviews are the bread and butter of the modern running shoe blogger. So here we are, and we need to find my “Nebraska” in the pages of this blog. I want to remain passionate about my readers and my writing, so I want to try and get into some new areas. If 90% of my readers still come to Average Guy because of the shoe reviews, I am hoping that some of you stumble onto my archived posts about our cancer years, my first marathon, the Stumpjump, and my conversations with the top talent in ultramarathon running.

This post itself isn’t like to get much traffic, but I hope it garners a few “shares” and “likes” and “tweets” from some of my like-minded blogger friends. Writers like Pete Larson of Runblogger, who could rightfully be called the Head Honcho of the running blog game, has really grown his enterprise to cover running mechanics, theory, and has hosted serious debates on the modern running business. Amazing. Bryon Powell of iRunFar left his career as a lawyer to track down ultrarunners at rest stations in between putting up killer gear posts from trade shows. All the best bloggers have truly taken advantage of this freeing platform to express themselves, while still providing some nuts-and-bolts shoe gear content that, frankly, keeps us all in free gear and provides a service to the running community.

I am not the only former-fat-guy-turned-long-distance-runner, nor am I am the first cancer-stricken-family-member-supporter guy either. I am also probably not the first day-job environmentalist to blog about trail running. I am, hopefully, still an average runner with some unique stories and a unique voice to tell those stories. While my running is largely average, I have accomplished some pretty neat things...if I can do it, anyone can do it!

Grand Island Trail Marathon, 2011
I want this blog to be more and more a reflection of who I am as a person and a writer. I want to evoke my readers to get outside, to embrace life, and to challenge themselves. While I am no saint, and even now I struggle with training and weight and the work/life balance, I hope that I am perceptive enough to provide meaningful Nebraska...that truly strikes a chord with you and helps you feel like you are not alone out there.

Don't worry, fellow gear heads...I'll still be cranking out the "Born in the USA" content that you rely on (Saucony Virrata, Mirage 3, Inov-8 F-Lite Natural Series, Merrell running apparel, Skora Phase...all are reviews in the works!)

Today I spoke via email with Patton Gleason, natural running advocate and the owner of Optimal Run. His fantastic business is all about empowering people, and he and I had a great conversation in a few short sentences. It was his words that provoked this post today, words about empowering people to be the best version of themselves. He is already doing that by providing access to unique products, but taking extra care in informing the public about natural running.

I feel like Patton hit the nail on the head for me...using my platform to help others. I guess the very best thing I can do for my readers is just keep telling my up-and-down average story, and help others feel like they are not alone. The fitness journey can be a lonely one, and there is no one right way to get it done. Maybe by making mistakes, as well as by having success, I can share a little bit of myself and find a few more kindred spirits like Patton out there.

I hope you read between the lines this summer, I am eager to see where my “Nebraska” will be found.


misszippy said...

Anyone who likes Springsteen's "little songs" is alright by me. Got here via Peter Larson and glad I did!

Zak said...

Ha! Thanks, misszippy! Nothing beats "rustic" Boss for deep motivation for me!

MR said...

This is a great post, and one I can definitely relate to. I post some reviews on my blog ( a lot of it is just race reports and training updates from a top 1/3 of the pack kind of runner. I do hope that, through my posts, some runners will find a source of inspiration/motivation. To some extent, the writing itself motivates me to do more things so I can have material! Keep doing what you're doing!

aprille said...

Such beautiful people...
and all looking so happy.