I remember when I decided to quit smoking. I attempted to quit smoking several times over 20 years. I just wasn’t a very good quitter. I thought long and hard about what a smoker CAN NOT do; I decided that a smoker could not run. “Anytime I want a cigarette, I have to run.” I decided.
But how would I truly enforce that? “I will run the New York City Marathon,” I said to myself. If I signed up for a marathon, I would have to run.
Between you and me, I had no idea what a marathon was. I thought a marathon meant that you just ran for a few hours. I had no idea it meant you ran 26.2 miles until you completed 26.2 miles. But, shoot… I told my entire network of friends on Facebook and every single one of my followers on Twitter that I was quitting smoking and running the New York City Marathon. Yikes, I can’t back out now, right?
I am obviously not a good quitter. The truth was, after I realized what I had done – I was too embarrassed to quit.
I decided to join the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation endurance team and commit to raising a minimum of $3,500. I began a series of posts on my social networks. I started this blog to document my training. I used RunKeeper to track my runs. I was completely plugged in every step and every mile.
Any time I ran, my RunKeeper would auto-magically post to my Facebook page. What if I didn’t run today when all my friends knew I would be running? The public accountability constantly kept me in check.
Eventually (I like to say because of my social prowess), Pix 11 news decided to cover my story. Who is this overweight woman who thinks she can run a marathon and raise funds for the American Cancer society? That would be ME!
After that interview, social accountability for me went through the roof. There was no way I would fail my marathon. I remember when I finally was running my first marathon, I hit a wall at mile 17. I didn’t want to complete it. But what would all of my friends think? I ran, and ran, and ran, AND RAN for nearly 7 hours. Finally, I completed my marathon.
In a way, social media (read: my network) was my accountability. Technology (think: RunKeeper, GPS watch, videos, blogging) was my motivator.
I am grateful for media and technology. Together they have helped make my new life possible. I’ve completed 3 marathons, 6 half-marathons and countless smaller races. Now, 4 years later, I am embarking on my 7th half Marathon (Detroit in October) and my 4th Marathon (New York in November).
And now that I’ve posted about these races, I’ll make it so.