Previous Article WWWiz Home Next Article


The "Lonely Runner" May Be a Thing of the Past

by Tanya Wyr

Early crisp mornings, in all seasons and weather, the long-distance runner can be seen on the streets wherever you live, going about his or her routine. Running is essentially a lonely sport -- many take it up for that very reason. There's no need to join a team, buy expensive equipment and set aside many hours and weekends to devote to your sport. All you need is a good pair of shoes, some willpower, and you too can be a runner. But no matter how much the runner relishes his solitude, humans are essentially social animals. After a while the runner will start to seek out his own kind. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to search the Web. Runners, running clubs, and running-specific publications have, with great enthusiasm, successfully established a presence on the Web. Even non-runners can benefit from seeing how this subculture has used the Web to enhance its sport and team up. There's a wealth of information and club contacts on the Web, just waiting for the lonely runner!

The "big sites" of running are usually the best jumping-off spots for the Web-surfing lonely runner. For instance, Runner's World is primarily a mainstream runner's magazine. Runner's World concentrates on the mid- to low-mileage recreational runner (approximately 25-30 miles per week). The Runner's World site posts daily running news such as new running records, race results and interviews with the stars of running. There are also special sections especially for beginners and women, as well as specialized information on injury treatment and prevention, shoe reviews, and travel and running. Runner's World has also compiled a large links section that is subcategorized so you can easily narrow your search to the specific topic you are seeking.

UltraRunning Magazineis geared toward the ultrarunner -- one who trains extremely long distances for races that are over the length of a marathon. The collection of helpful information on this Web page is tailored for this extreme sport. The oddly named Dead Runner's Society -- a big nod to the movie, "The Dead Poets Society" -- is a starting point for the lonely runner to communicate with other runners from all over the world. At this site you can subscribe to the DRS list. Once you subscribe, you will receive emails in digest form that are essentially email conversations in which you can participate. The quality of writing on this list is very high; several list members are actually published writers for Runner's World. At DRS the lonely runner can gather tons of running information, enjoy the humor of his fellow pavement pounders and make connections with others in his area. Once he has joined this list, he can ask list members about DRS sublists that members have created for their local areas.

Runner's e-zines are also starting to make their appearance on the scene. For instance, Runner's Niche is totally free and emailed to you once a month. This zine offers training advice, running news, humor, book reviews, trivia and running history. According to the site, you won't see pictures, race results, or a babe or hunk on the cover (there's no cover!) -- just good running content. If you're looking for specific information on a running-related topic, check out Kick!. Kick! calls itself the "complete online resource for runners." Give it a try the next time you have a nagging running-related question plaguing you at two in the morning!

In a search for running contacts, the big sites are only a beginning. Clubs are now discovering the potential of the Web. A simple search through any of the search engines will deliver to you a myriad of groups with an online presence. The Web is an ideal home for running clubs. What better way to plan group runs than to email your club members and gather them together? A simple Yahoo search turned up a long list of club sites, but one such club for women is the Croydon Sisters Network . The Sisters Network has more than 5,000 members nationwide and is currently supported by Runner's World Magazine. It aims to put women of all ages and abilities in touch with other women in the same area who would like to run/jog together. The group that is actually from Croydon meets regularly at 9:45 a.m. every Saturday with smaller groups that go out at other times to suits everyone's needs. They're always looking for new members, and they have a beginner's section for people who've never tried jogging before. They also have links to the Women's Sportfoundation, and a women's Web directory for more information on women in sports.

The Palo Alto Run Club is a great example of an area-run club site. It lists information on joining the club, as well as activities and meeting times, member information and running links. Several of the members have home pages linked to the club site. More and more of these club sites are springing up as people gain access to the Web. They're great for the traveling runner, too! If business or pleasure takes you to a faraway city, a quick Web search can lead you to a run club for that area.

Some of the best Web sites that bring runners together are the personal pages of avid runners. Here a runner can find great personal advice, pictures and testimonials. This is also a great way to get to know fellow runners before you actually meet them! Personal Web sites often have fabulous links to follow to both major sites and other personal pages.

One such personal site is Big Mike's Running Page. Big Mike is a runner from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who specializes in ultra and trail running. His site will link you to local trail maps in his area, home pages of races, and home pages of fellow runners. You can follow links for hours through personal Web pages of runners, gleaning great first-person running information and advice.

Another great runner's personal home page that of David Horton. David has the third-fastest time in the world for running across the United States, and holds the speed record for running the Appalachian Trail (2,144 miles in 52 days). His page has lots of useful links to race information pages and other ultrarunners' home pages, as well as an interesting archive of pictures from his record-breaking run and other races.

Kevin Sayer's UltraRunning Resource Siteprovides extremely detailed information. His site may look very plain (no graphics whatsoever), but it's loaded with extremely noteworthy information for the ultrarunner, such as advice on ticks, trail hazards, being alone in the wilderness, and the age-old toilet dilemma that long-distance trail runners encounter. The site also provides advice for more advanced runners on race strategy, supplements, injury prevention and product reviews. Sayer also includes a helpful link, and instructions on how to subscribe, to the ultra list at

Ultrarunners seem to construct more running-specific home pages than the usual recreational runners do. Nevertheless, if you're more of the 5k-to-marathon variety of runner, you can still get lots of valuable information and inspiration from the ultrarunners' sites. Who knows? Maybe you'll eventually be inspired to become one of them! Runners have used the Web successfully to link up with one another, advertise their sport and simplify it through races online. If you're a recreational runner with access to the Web, getting to know your cyber-running community may be the best thing you've ever done for your training -- and your social life!

Tanya Wyr is a graduate student, freelance feature and copywriter living in Burlingame, CA. In her spare time she enjoys long-distance running, racing, and triathlons.


Copyright (C) 1998 WWWiz Corporation - All Rights Reserved
Phone: 714.848.9600 FAX: 714.375.2493
WWWiz Web site developed and maintained by
GRAFX Digital Studio

Previous Article Next Article
WWWiz Home