An Online Community

I admit it. I'm a social person. While I'm not a pure extrovert, I do absorb a lot of energy through interactions with others -- especially during training.

For me, a group run or ride usually helps me to get into the zone. A little conversation, a lot of camaraderie, a few moments ofnsilence and perhaps a pinch of competition. Taken together, the social aspect of training with friends helps me push a little harder, drown out inner doubts and go a little farther. It also allows me to give back, because depending on the group, I may be able to support others in their workout.

The mid-point of a 14 km run with the Runners Shop club last winter

So perhaps it's not a surprise that one of the many things I appreciate about running and multisport is that our communities extend beyond "in real life" and into social media.

For me, it was a natural extension of what already interested me, having been on Facebook for several years and Twitter for awhile too. More recently, I created this blog as part of my role as an Ignition Fitness team athlete. (Side note: follow Ignition on Twitter for all the comings and goings of team athletes.)

The online community is a space for athletes, from aspiring newbies to wizened veterans, to learn from one another and support one another in this fitness journey. As I decided to get serious about the sport of duathlon, I found Stuart A Blair, South Australian duathlon, triathlon and aquathon champ, on Twitter. He is passionate for the sport, rigorous in his training and an all round friendly guy - lots to learn from him.

Stuart A. Blair of Australia

Closer to home, Larry Bradley and Jesse Bauer have made it their mission to build and energize Ontario's duathlon community. They co-created the web site and its sister Twitter feed. Their pre-race reports contain course profiles and tips, and occasionally place friendly odds on which athletes will make the podium.

Ontario duathlete Larry Bradley

Ontario duathlete Jesse Bauer

In the running community, the hashtag #runTO brings together our city's runners and event-based tags like #TYS10K and #STWM collect tweets from athletes training for some of our larger races, the Toronto Yonge St 10k and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Earlier this year, when I volunteered as a digital champion with the Canada Running Series, I connected with so many runners, including Laurie Ann March, an endless source of inspiration, Mahnaz, in the process of training for her first marathon, and Andrew Chak, a crusader for the support and also the Obsessive Runner blogger for iRun magazine.

You really see other community members, sharing the ups and the downs, the breakthroughs and the breakdowns, along their journey. The digital champions helped lead the dialogue, openly journalling the joy of their early morning runs and the pain of hill repeats.

Update: I was perhaps somewhat remiss to not mention the ambassador teams representing two of Ontario's triathlon/duathlon organizations. The Toronto Triathlon Festival created Team TTF this year, encouraging them to "use their wit, humour and sarcasm and to let loose generally, as they document their journeys." Fellow #TYS10K digital champ Jennifer Wilson made the jump to triathlon this year and candidly shared her experience as part of the team. She's since competed in her second triathlon and is building strength - watch out competitors!

Over at MultiSport Canada, the race series has for three years sponsored an ambassador team. Its members - two of them are Ignition Fitness athletes and quite the speedy guys: Jesse Bauer and Mikael Staer Nathan - share their experiences online and in-person at races throughout the province.

Back to my original post: And finally, while the Twitter-verse is great for short and quick conversations back-and-forth, I think many of us still pine for contemplative, long-form narrative. To satisfy my desire to read content in more than 140 character bites, I visit the blogs of a handful of athletes, some of whom I've already mentioned. Click on the "Blogs I Follow" tab above to learn more.

I personally think there's something a little different about running and multisport, the way that the members of these communities support one another so generously. And as we do that, in-person and on social media, we in turn welcome many more people to these sports.

See you online and hopefully IRL at an upcoming race.