Races Only or New Material?

When I started this blog in November 2010 (though it technically started as a series of Facebook “Notes” in January of that year), I did so with the intention of keeping the material consistent: detailed race recaps, and little else.  I wanted to do that because that’s how I like my websites.  I like them for one reason and so I follow or visit them for that reason alone.  In fact, that’s how I am with most of the running blogs out there – I will rarely read or comment on a post that isn’t specifically related to a race because that’s what I care about.  I know that runners (maybe more than most) have layers to them – hang-ups, dreams, frustrations and desires – and they want the world to know about them.  Most of the time, these underlying currents fuel their mileage.

Call me an ogre, but I don’t always read those posts (and yes, I recognize the irony of writing this post in the first place).  However inspirational or poetic as these stories might be, I’m more drawn to tales of the struggle to get through a specific distance.  Very often these parallel battles make their way into the race-day narrative and that, I think, is the perfect balance.  For the purposes of my blog specifically, I felt like adding anything else besides race recaps would dilute the content.  As a fan of consistency, I like the idea that anyone following me knows that a post from me means a detailed story of a long distance race and little else.  So any anecdotes of my athletic origins or subtexts on running would be made manifest in races themselves.

However, a few months ago I broke that commitment by doing a product review for Motorola, mostly because I felt obligated to do so.  I felt like Jerry in the Seinfeld episode “the Soup” where he receives a free Armani suit from an annoying comedian and then spends the episode being guilted into buying him a “meal,” the exact definition of which is nebulous and therefore hilarious (“I gave you a free Armani suit and you give me soup?”).  Don’t get me wrong, if companies deem me enough of a Connector (to borrow a term from Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point) to send care packages full of running freebies, I will review them ‘till kingdom come.  Wait a minute, did I just sell out?

Anyway, I digress.

I’ve been successful at keeping this blog interesting by lining up a lot of races in a short period of time.  However, there will definitely come a time where I find myself with months between running events.  By no means do I assume that there’s a huge audience out there glued to their computers, waiting for my meandering recollections.  If two months go by and I don’t post a recap, literally nothing about anything changes.  So this is mostly just about me, wanting to write because I love writing.

That’s when I got the idea.  Perhaps my site can expand to other realms of the running universe, revolving always around reviewing something.  As it stands right now, I’m focusing strictly on races, the people that put them together and those I meet along the way.  But would it kill or damage the “point” of this project of mine by adding some book reviews?  I recognize that it’s a slippery slope.  It started with the MOTOACTV review, now I’m thinking of adding books, and soon I’ll decide to be a celebrity news aggregator, relegating my 50-states stories to a tiny footnote in the corner, where it will get lost or worse, forgotten.

That is not my intention.  As of this writing, I have averaged a mere 1.4 posts per month, which is hardly a productive (or proactive) endeavor.  With that tiny number in mind, I am thinking of increasing that average to a still meager 1.8 or, hell, let’s go crazy, 2 posts per month.  I would largely stick to books that talk directly to the sport of running long distances and how they helped or supplemented my race experiences.

But first, I’d like to know what you think.  Should dans-marathon.com stick to its guns and review only races?  Or should I garnish the experience with my thoughts on some running books?  I promise I won’t be insulted or offended if you say I should stick to just races.  After all, I mentioned my affinity for consistency earlier, so we’d see eye to eye in that regard.  But I’m sure I’ll get one or two thoughts on this (mostly because most posts where the author asks for comments, he/she usually ends with very few responses), so whatever you say might be the only opinion I get.  Watch your wording.

And now that I think about it, this post is largely aimed at the people I would affectionately call my “regular” readers.  That’s right, all four thousand of you.   After all, who else would reach the end of such a boring post?  Even I wouldn’t have even clicked on this if I were browsing through my reader.  Is this is what happens when everyone at work takes summer hours but me?

Ok, I’ll end this here as my mind is clearly falling apart.  I demand that you tell me your thoughts.

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About Dan
Running a marathon in all 50 states because there's no better way to explore the world around you than on your own two feet, for as long as you can, until you hate yourself and everything around you. Then you stop, get a medal, and start over.

13 Responses to Races Only or New Material?

  1. Just like we often do during our races, the runner/writer must adapt. He must adapt to what is happening now, what his body is telling him, what the conditions are dictating, what the pace calls for, the inner voices saying ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ or ‘I NEED AN S-CAP, STAT!’, etc. The internet is awesome because it can be whatever one wants it to be, so I say, if you’re feelin’ it, do it! Your readers will adapt along with you, or not, depending on what you decide. I’d love to hear what else you have to say on the limitless world of running. Go for it!

  2. tootallfritz says:

    Please review some books because I’m married with children & reading doesn’t make the cut. I skim blogs on my phone, if they offer email subscription…..that’s the most “informative” reading which I can manage at this point in my life.

  3. Otter says:

    MOAR UPDATES PLZ. People will deal.

  4. MedalSlut says:

    As long as there is an easy way to weed out race reports/ book reviews, I don’t see how people can complain (ie, publishing them in separate categories or just adding a link at the top for reviews).

  5. Laura says:

    Agreed! I’d love to read more posts (altho granted I use the blog to keep tabs on you from Africa so I may want more gory details than your average reader). But if they’re still a) reviews and b) linked to running I think it’ll enhance rather than dilute the blog. And distinguishing between types of posts will help avoid annoying the people who aren’t as pumped to read anything & everything you have to say.

  6. glenn says:

    Write away, man! You write so well. I don’t know how/why people would be angered if you wrote entries that weren’t just race recaps. I, for one, think you bring a lot more than that to the table when it comes to running.

  7. Dan says:

    Thanks everyone for the encouraging comments. I will definitely move forward with a few “extra” posts in the future. I appreciate everyone taking their time to read and chime in :)

  8. trexrunner says:

    Sadly, pretty much the only thing I read is running books so I would totally be down for reviews of them. Also, I’m one of those bloggers who writes about plenty of things unrelated to running just because I like to hear myself talk. I find that some of those posts are more popular than the race reports. I don’t know what this says about my audience, but it is what it is.

    Furthermore, sorry I’m not sorry, but I just facebook stalked you and we have a mutual friend, Samantha Beerman. She was my best friend in high school. I’m going to her wedding in September. Small world!

    • Dan says:

      Laura (who commented above) is also going to that wedding. Fancy that!

      • Laura says:

        This is some crazy small-world stuff right here. Danielle, I totally remember Sam mentioning you during college, especially since you went to Maryland– I’m from Silver Spring. Looking forward to seeing you at Sam’s wedding & Dan at… Dan’s wedding! Thank goodness I’m running a marathon in August so I’ll have something to talk about with you crazy runners :)

  9. G-Tang says:

    I’ve always been annoyed with the sports columnists who digress into their personal lives and pop culture references. In this case, however, I would prefer that you write about other things because your insights interest me more than running.

  10. Jessica says:

    Funny you would post this now Dan as I’ve been having the same thoughts. My blog was just supposed to be about the same goal as yours but seeing as I’ve only done 10 states in 2 years it could hardly sustain itself. I found myself naturally writing more about training runs but even those have become a little mundane. I appreciate blogs that allow readers to get to know the writer a little and am currently working on expanding my personal project.

    I say go for it! Good luck and can’t wait to see what new topics you branch into!

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