Running is booming online, and the burgeoning community of bloggers, podcasters and posters could even be to blame for running's current surge in popularity. It seems the supposedly sedentary online world is in fact stimulating more of us to get out, get fit and get running.
Find out how blogging about your training or discovering the blogs of other runners can transform your training - whether you want to fundraise, meet likeminded runners or just get a motivational boost.
Take Neil Lock, for example. Lock is the creator of his own running and training blog, neillock.co.uk. Far from being a grizzled pro, grittily churning out 80 miles a week, Lock was a completely new runner who had signed up for the London Marathon as a way of turning his fitness around.
"I started the blog as a way to encourage people to sponsor me, to let them see how I was doing and how my body was changing," he says. "By the time I reached the start line at London I had lost three stone."
Lock's blog grew from here in ways he had never expected. "It's become my training diary now - something I previously thought was only for serious runners. And better still, it motivates me to keep running because people do follow it. If I don't post for a few days, my followers start asking if I'm OK. Knowing people are reading makes me get out there, when otherwise I might not."
For Joanna Sayers, landing a place in the London Marathon for the first time this year was the starting point for her website, too. She needed a way of telling people she was doing it, so she didn't back out of the race as the training grew tougher and the miles got longer.
Just as with Lock's site, Sayers's took on a life of its own. The first big surprise was the donations that came flooding in as the big day in London got nearer.
"What amazed me was the reaction I got from people I'd never met, and probably never will, and who not only got in touch but donated because I was running for a charity they believed in. They weren't only giving small amounts either; some were giving as much as £50. In the end, approximately 20 per cent of the total amount I raised came from complete strangers."
For seasoned ultra-marathon runner Bryon Powell, blogging about running allowed him to raise his game to the next level - and it completely changed his life.
"I had a personal running blog like many people," says Powell. "Then, when I was at a 100-mile race back in 2007, I met a journalist who was writing about ultra-marathons. She interviewed me on how to choose your first ultra. I wrote up my thoughts for her and then decided to add them to my blog. That was where it changed from a personal blog to more of an informative one, and that was also when it really started to grow.
"At the time I was a regulatory attorney in Washington and earning very good money, but I had no personal fulfilment. As I saw my website, irunfar.com, grow, I realised I had a chance to make a living out of it.
"Early last year I left my job as an attorney. I'm the most risk-averse person you could imagine, and that decision was scary. I gave myself two years to see if I could make a decent amount of money from the site.
"My two years is nearly up and I can't see myself ever going back to law. My girlfriend and I are moving to Utah, US, just so we can have endless trails on our doorstep, and thanks to the site I'm now a full-time member of the running community. It was the key that opened the door to a world I love."
Setting Up Clubs
In London, Tim Navin-Jones was amazed that he couldn't find a local club, despite living in one of the busiest capital cities in the world. So he began his site City Runners last year to do something about it.
"It took a while before people I didn't already know found the site, and in the early days I even recruited people by accosting anyone I saw out running and asking if they'd be interested in joining," says Navin-Jones.
"Then a mate gave me advice on how to raise my site's profile on Google using social networking and adding my link to all the running directories I could find. That was where it turned a corner, and when I set up a Facebook page for the club things really took off. The club has 219 members on Facebook, and our runs are really busy now."
Back in the real world, his site is a serious motivator for his natural ambitious streak. "I am bloody competitive, and that was a driving force in starting the club: to have people to run with and who push me. I get such a buzz from it; every week I can't wait for Tuesday."
The club is unaffiliated, which not only allowed him to start it with little more than a domain name, but it also means overheads other than his own time are so low he needn't charge a membership fee.
"We're very relaxed," he says. "No one pays to run, they all learn from each other and there's a social side too as we have a non-running get-together every couple of months."
Find out all you need to know about joining the online running community here.
Extract taken from Blog On in the January 2011 edition of Runner's World magazine.