December 3, 2010

Help Wanted

Yesterday was a bit of a rough day for me on several fronts. Work wasn’t going so well – we had a few meetings that just didn’t go as well as we hoped. Meanwhile, I had stayed up super late on Wednesday night in order to get caught up on my Thanksgiving Half Marathon race report so that I could then follow up with the subsequent posts I’ve been writing in the meantime. I didn’t get to bed until 2am, and then had to get up at 6am – not to work out, but to finish up some more work before heading to the office by 8am.

I know that comments on the blog have been dwindling, and it’s probably in large part due to the fact that I am doing a terrible job of updating on a regular basis like I used to do (remember those days, long long ago?). But it still really hurt when after trying so hard to get up a complete race report and also publish some stories from the last busy holiday week, I instead got one lone comment reminding me how terrible I am when it comes to updating, and telling me that they didn’t want to read my blog anymore because of it. Trust me, I am well aware of this flaw, and I’m trying to work on it and post more often… but it’s a lot easier said than done.

There are just not enough hours in the day for everything I’d like to do (I haven’t even made it to the gym since my Monday tabata post!), and writing thorough race reports takes an inordinately long time. I used to try to write these the same day I ran the race, but that was a lot easier back when I was doing shorter races, worked shorter hours, and had more energy. Now, I tend to fall asleep after I run a marathon! As for why it takes so long, I like to write down as much as I can remember about a race – partially for your sake, but also partially for mine. It’s really neat for me to go back and see that a few years ago, I was really scared to do my first half marathon, and all the thoughts that went through my head while I was doing it; now, I run full marathons like they’re just another workout. I hope you enjoy reading that kind of stuff too.

I really miss all the comments I used to get, and the camaraderie I used to share with so many bloggers around the world. I am still valiantly trying to keep up with my Google Reader, but even with many of the writers I “grew up blogging” with eventually closing down their blogs, there are still a ton of posts to read. Plus, I always try to visit the blogs of those who have left me comments – and I’ve discovered quite a few new favorites that way.

So – what to do? I have been trying to get race reports up in a more timely manner, but they just take so darn long to write. It took me longer to write about my Thanksgiving Half Marathon than it did to actually run it! I don’t want to sacrifice the quality of my race reports, both for my own personal reasons (above) and because so many of you have told me that’s what you love about my blog. Before my first marathon, I read a race report of the Vermont City Marathon that described every mile in detail – and it really made the marathon special to see the descriptions I had pored over come to life. I hope that my blog helps some of you out there to do the same thing.

This isn’t a post telling you that I’m going to shut the blog down – on the contrary, I want to recommit to updating it more often and having more content for you to read. But I’d like to get your thoughts and advice on how I can avoid problems like today. For example, if I can’t write a full race report within a day of running the race, would you rather I:
-Hold off on posting it for a few days, but date it with the proper date (i.e. the day I ran the race), then mass-publish the posts from subsequent days all in one bunch, but dated properly? In your readers/RSS feeds, this will result in a slew of new posts hitting the feed all at once, but they will be dated and in chronological order.
-Or, if I can’t finish a report right away, should I continue posting other things in the meantime, then publish the race report on whatever day I finish it? This will mean that the date of the post won’t correlate to the day of the race, so I always assumed it would be more confusing to do it that way – but maybe not. (Note that if I can’t get a race report up for more than a week, I’ll default to this option – I wouldn’t want to go that long without an update).

Finally, I’d love to hear your thoughts about whether you’re still finding my content interesting now that I’ve passed my 50 state marathon goal. What do you think – is the drop off in readership simply because of my own drop off in posting, or is my content less interesting nowdays? Why do you read my blog and what keeps you coming back?

Please respond if you can – it would really mean a lot to me to hear your input.


42 thoughts on “Help Wanted”

  1. I would opt for the “continue posting and then publish when you finish” option. I don’t see why it matters if the date published matches the race. Just incorporate the date into the title instead!

    I still read your blog – I’ve just never commented! I’m not really a big blog commenter in general, as I am not a blogger myself and tend to think of it more like reading a book, and less like an interactive experience.

    I think it would be great if you posted more often, but I understand that you have a life outside of the blog, and am happy to read whenever you do post. And frankly if people have a problem with that, it’s their loss.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. I still read! Just rarely pop out of Reader comment. 🙂

    I’ve found I get more comments on my blog when I make the rounds and comment on others… a little more time consuming, but like all relationships, a two-way street. 😉

  3. I still read too Laura, I just don’t always comment. I have enjoyed reading all about what you have been doing – like the half marathon on the cruise ship. I think just posting about your life is what this blog is all about and you completed the 50 states, now we just follow you as you complete whatever else you want!

  4. Laura, I read your blog, but rarely comment. I love reading about all of your Marathon adventures, and I am impressed and inspired by your fitness accomplishments. And while I enjoy your blog for the most part, I feel disheartened when I read some of your body-bashing posts / commentary, because I think that you are strong and gorgeous, and you “are amazing just the way you are” (as Bruno Mars so aptly sings).

  5. I also echo the “continue posting and then publish when you finish” option. This way you will feel less pressure on the race reports (which I love btw) and can also update with shorter posts more often or however often your schedule allows for, I love reading them!

    Also, I just wanted to add if you ever want company for week or weekend runs I would love to join – I am also an UWS-der, I run at a 7:45 -8:30 pace depending on distance as I am training for a BQ at Tallahassee in Feb.

  6. REALLY hope I didn’t make anyone feel guilty for not commenting – point wasn’t to complain about my wonderful readers (though of course it is great to know that you are out there).

    I am REALLY going to make an effort to post more, and as long as you don’t mind whether the publish date matches the race, I think that’s a good approach (my concern was that some have commented that it’s confusing when I post a race report way after the fact).

    In fun news, I am just about done with my race report for the New York City Marathon – lots of excitement in that one! I hope to get it up next week.

  7. I do read, I rarely leave comments on any blogs. I completely understand the time thing. I never seem to make the time for my blog any more.

    I would prefer that you keep posting about other stuff and post the race reports on the day you finish them, more because I hate to see several posts in a row from the same blogger in my reader. Honestly, I usually only read the most recent one when that happens.

  8. Also read don’t comment here. I totally agree with continuing to publish as you go instead of waiting for race reports – in fact, I’ve been a bit confused until you just explained it why I all the sudden get tons of posts from you at once! I think your content is just as interesting as ever, maybe your readers tend to be quieter? And I also agree I’d love to see a bit less of your “must lose weight and burn calories” body-bashing, but I do appreciate honesty, so I’ll read either way.
    PS. Taking word verification off comments might help – maybe I am just lazy but it often dissuades me. I hate to have to sign in too.

  9. I still follow along your journey, but I am just too slack to comment. I don’t mind a race report with several parts and don’t ever pay attention to the dates.

    Speaking of race reports in parts: Have I just missed NYC marathon part 2 or are you still working on it?

  10. I read, but never comment because I’m using Reader. I read for the Race Reports, mostly, because they motivate me to get out there and run on the days when I’d rather curl up with a book and a cup of cocoa.
    Post when you can and when you want – Reader lets me know when you have content available.

  11. Kathrin, I am almost done with part 2 of my New York City Marathon race report, which will be the whole race – should be posted within the next week. However, I think I am going to add a part 3 just to talk about the after parties! 🙂

  12. Tammy, thanks for letting me know that – it’s VERY different from how I go through my reader, so it’s very helpful to hear how it works for other people! I’ll try to avoid the mass posting from now on.

  13. I usually get 5 comments or less on each posting on my blog. Yet when I look at the stats of readers the numbers are large. I would venture to say that most of the people reading your blog for the pure pleasure of reading it, don’t always comment. I also think that the blogs that have 213049823049823 followers, don’t really have great readers who appreciate their blogs….the comments/followers don’t always go hand in hand with the success of your blog.

    Another great blogger I like “The Running Laminator” always reminds me that it’s quality over quantity.

    Keep up the good work and do what makes you happy – not everyone else 🙂

  14. Count me as one of your avid readers, but hardly ever commenters. I find your blog very motivating-if you can find time to exercise with your busy schedule, I should be able to, too.

  15. Yes, sorry your blog morale is low!

    A couple thoughts from a long-time blogger: (1) now that almost everyone’s reading through Google Reader, comments are much rarer than before – it doesn’t mean people aren’t reading and enjoying; (2) I have often toiled to write a longish ‘real’ post (a book review perhaps) and then belatedly realized that readers enjoy my one-sentence post-with-link quickies as much as the long ones! Funny bits and pieces, anything that catches your eye online – like, not a restaurant review, but a link to the place where you ate’s website and then a “most delicious”/”least delicious” of what you tried – total of 15 words, takes about 2 mins, your readers will enjoy it…

  16. I feel the same way as some of these other folks! I really never comment on blogs, but I enjoy hearing about your running and your life! Keep up the good work and who cares when or how often you update. It’s supposed to be fun right!?

  17. I read too but figured my comments would be stalker like since I don’t ‘know you’. I am in awe that you ran 50 marathons esp as a consultant. i work in finance in nyc and know how demanding the schedule can be.

    i prefer continue posting and publish when finished.

    i keep coming back because i dont have a lot of friends who run and need the added motivation/commaraderie!

  18. I’m a fairly new reader (and runner!), and I know I enjoy reading your blog. I can relate to your work schedule, and your determination to fit in workouts while on the road is inspiring.

    I’m going to +1 the second option: continue posting and publish the full race report when you can. (I can also +1 doing most of my blog reading via Google Reader, so I rarely comment on anyone’s blogs.)

  19. I love reading your blog! Don’t be so hard on yourself. If it takes a while to publish/write a race report, I would just write a short – I finished/here is my time/brief sentence about if it was a good or bad race and a picture.

    I never know when you are going to run a race, so maybe some content on upcoming race schedules, your training, what your daily life is like, your favorite blogs, your goals (running or general), what running apparel you like the best, tips (running or career), how you like traveling (I traveled for my job for 5 years until about 2 months ago – so would love to see how you like/dislike it), what it’s like to run in NYC, how to re-motivate yourself to get back into running (what I’m currently struggling with). Your blog is great and just know that if you don’t post everyday then that is ok. I’m positive that you have more loyal readers than you know =)

  20. Ahhh, I feel like a bad reader (or lurker more appropriately). I read your blog every time there is a new posting and sometimes I reread old posts if there aren’t any new ones out there. I heart your blog! Keep up all the hard work and great writing and I will become a more active commentor!

  21. Hey Laura…I definitely still read, but as the demands of my job and other life responsibilities increase, I have less and less time to leave well thought out comments.

    To answer some of your questions, I wouldn’t hold your content just so you can get a race report up first. Just keep writing about whatever, and publish the report when you can. I don’t care if it’s dated the day of the race or not.

  22. I vote too for the continue posting and get the race report up when it’s finished.

    I have to admit to preferring your other posts to the race reports, since I’m in Cali and unlikely to do most of the marathons you do (except I vow to do NYC someday). But I’m sure they are GOLD to anyone looking to do any of those particular races.

    I wish I could commit the time to blogging about my running, my last blog post was from a Half in 2009. But I love reading your blog (and other running blogs) and have to content myself with posting on DailyMile and other much shorter forms for my short attention span.

  23. I always thought that when I got a bunch of posts from you in my reader it was something weird going on with your blog, didn’t realize you were dating them differently 🙂

    I vote, post when you can! I don’t find that confusing at all. I don’t think its necessary to change the date of the race report to match the date of the race!

    And I, as a lot of people have said, often just read in my reader. But will try to comment more 🙂

  24. I’m still reading too! Found your blog about 5 months ago or something and have been hooked ever since. I used to read like 20-30 running blogs, but then life got busier and I’ve got back to a core of my 3 favorites, and yours is one! I’m also reading through google reader, so you’re not getting my traffic.

    I don’t care how often you post, or whether the dates are accurate. I was pleased as punch to see 4 new posts from you in my reader yesterday, because it came at the end of a really long day for me, and I needed to relax and read something. I read your blog like a serialized novel, and am happy whenever new posts arrive.

  25. I agree with the continue posting — I’m not that concerned about the dates. I also LIKE to hear about your life in general – although I enjoy your race reports, I do find myself getting a little bored when it is ONLY race reports every time there is something new. I like the variety of every day happenings mixed in with the races!

  26. I def still read the blog and am interested in your activities. I will say that your posts tend to be *very* long, and that is likely a reason it is so hard for you to publish frequently. Maybe try shorter posts more often, and you’ll get that interactivity back???

  27. Hey Laura

    Just wanted you to know that I follow your blog put rarely comment.

    For NYC I assembled the first ever running team for a charity. For 12 weeks, along with work I felt drawn and quartered in every direction. I took 2 weeks off from all socializing to recover.

    Do whatever you need to keep your joy for running and writing. And know that you inspire people.

    Ran the Thanksgiving Half as well. Hope to run with you someday.


  28. Now see, everyone came out of the woodwork to say – hey, we’re here!!

    Truthfully, I hate Blogger and I especially hate the Blogger commenting interface. It sucks big donkey balls.

    But that doesn’t mean that I don’t read you – I LOVE your recaps. Even though I never run, I feel as though I am right there with you! You have a great writing style and I would miss it terribly.

    Angela/Pretty in Orange

  29. I think your blog needs a few more pictures – it’s pretty text heavy! But I do love the detail you put into the race recaps. Also, your constant weight chatter comes across as immature and annoying and I think really takes away from your awesome accomplishment. I want to read about women who run for the joy of it, not because it burns off dinner. I love that you’re honest about your life but I think you should also consider that you could be a really powerful voice in the running community and for young women and you’re undermining yourself by making it hard to take you seriously.

  30. Another non-commenting reader here! I too read your blog through Google Reader (while at work, lol – so I can’t easily get out of Reader into the live blog to comment). But I really enjoy your blog and your perspective on running and living in NYC. I lived in New York City for several years and really miss it, so a lot of your ‘city’ posts bring back good memories.

    I’ll read whatever you write about, in however order you post. keep it up!

  31. Just wanted to add on to all the encouragement- I LOVE reading your blog. I’ve been a follower since ’08, but I’ve never commented (sorry!). I also just wanted to add, PLEASE don’t listen to Chelsea. The stuff you add about your weight and other struggles makes your blog SO relatable. I’m also a marathoning, single, twenty-something living in Manhattan, and it’s so fun to read about someone who is going through the same things that I am. Anyway, change the format all you want but NOT the content!

  32. Well you have at least one reader in Tokyo. Keep up the good work.

    Running is going through a boom time here in Japan…we had almost 400,000 applicants for the Tokyo Marathon in Feb 2011.

    Keep writing/running. Good luck.


  33. Ok, first. Whoever bashed your blog & told you they weren’t going to read it anymore is just plain mean. That’s not how you respond to someone’s writing. When I didn’t post for a while and came out of silence with an apology, I got a nice “Welcome back!” greeting from an old blogger buddy, which was a pleasant surprise that made me realize people like reading my blog. It’s the same for you, but maybe people aren’t actually using the words “welcome back”. Know we are out here. Shame on whoever said that to you.

    Second. I still read your blog and have for years! I might not comment as much as I used to, but that’s also because my blog list of things to read is growing longer and longer! it’s hard to comment on everything.

    Third. I undersand that posting often is hard — you simply run out of content! Well, maybe YOU don’t, but my life is too busy with boring non-running stuff that I don’t want to write about. Don’t feel obligated to post more often if the quality isn’t there. My favorite posts of yours are ones related to running, racing, goals, weight loss, working out, how you do that while traveling, and the whole fitness realm. If I had my way, I’d like to read your race reports as soon as they happen, rather than reading a few other posts in the meantime (until you post it a few days later), but I’m seriously not that picky and I love reading what you write, whenever it publishes!

    You need to do what’s best for you because, obviously, this is your life and your blog. 🙂

    Be well.

  34. I still read but find it tough to comment on my phone when I’m reading waiting for a flight (when I usually find time to read blogs!) keep up posting whatever works for you!

  35. Laura, I am a regular reader and have been for the past 2 years, but am guilty of only posting occasionally. Don’t get discouraged! I am still a loyal reader and look forward to more posts!

  36. The best way to think of comments is like a pod of dolphins you only ever see 10%

    Have you looked at scheduling posts, you can tee them up and them concentrate on the race reports when you need to, although getting ahead of the curve can be the hard thing!

  37. I’ve been reading for ages and haven’t commented. I guess I’ve always approached blogs like books, like another reader mentioned, and always felt odd commenting on blogs of people I don’t actually know.

    I do enjoy your blog very much. I don’t particularly care how you post because Google Reader lets me know when you have, so I don’t visit the blog without purpose. My one piece of feedback would be that if you are gone for a long time, please post just a hello or something. It’s odd to be following a person and have no way of knowing anything about them and how they are except through their blog and then have them disappear. I worry!

    It’s great that you sought feedback from readers. I’d encourage you to remember (especially when you’re very busy) that your blog is yours and while it makes sense to please readers, you should please yourself first.

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