My favorite type of blog posts to read are the ones where you feel like you’re having a cup of coffee with the person, just gabbing about life. The ones where the blogger writes freely about how annoying their sister-in-law can be, how they accidentally ate an entire box of girl scout cookies, or how they dream about quitting their job. It’s just REAL. It’s THEM.
I used to write filter-free in the early days of this blog. I started writing “Run with Kate” (version 1) as a way to share my obsession with running. I was brand new to San Diego, didn’t know a soul and had zero friends here. I entered the blogosphere because who else would listen to me drone on and on about running? I had no idea what I was doing and if someone told me you could make money from blogging, I would’ve laughed at how ludicrous that sounded.
Fast forward a year or so and I was sponsored by Brooks for three years through their “Inspire Daily” team and once that wrapped up, I started getting paid to write posts for all sorts of big and small brands. Before I knew it, this little blog was bringing in a helpful (albeit modest) side income. I was so grateful considering I’ve worked strictly for non-profits for the last six years. Any extra money is wholeheartedly appreciated.
But with sponsors and paid campaigns also come expectations and requirements and a “code of conduct” of sorts. I suddenly found myself censoring so much of what I would’ve shared years ago in fear of not getting chosen for a campaign or turning a brand off from SoCal Runner Gal – my brand. AKA, Me!
I tend to be a very positive person and I felt like that was part of the reason people read along and kept coming back. I wanted to keep it that way and make sure this was always a sunny corner of the internet. I started to leave out anything negative or difficult I was going through and highlight the blue skies and warm days instead. I essentially put a filter on my words the same way I did on my Instagram photos. I toned down imperfections, erased dark spots, and completely cropped out the ugliness.
What brand would want to associate themselves with some runner girl who was struggling with life? That’s not sexy or inspiring. That does not sell running shoes.
I’m in a really great place right now but that was not the case for awhile there. Not even close! I was a mess. But I was also getting offered some really great opportunities so I had to keep it together on the blog. Plus the more people reading, the higher the risk of criticism … and that is the last thing I wanted.
But what is the point of writing a blog if it isn’t 100% authentic? If you can’t be real and raw on your own blog, where can you be? I’ve never been fake on this blog and my opinions were always honest – I just didn’t delve into the tough times I was having for awhile there. I never really wrote about the depression, the insane amount of partying I was doing, the super toxic relationship I was in for a short time (but also painfully too long), or the fact that my mom had to fly 2,000 miles to San Diego, intervention-style, before things got even worse.
During those times, I was still running. It was the one constant and stable thing in my life so I wrote about that. I focused solely on running when I sat down to write a post and left the “real life” stuff out of it. I would say things like “I had a crazy week” and “I was really stressed” but I never, ever dove into what that actually meant. Who wants to hear that someone is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and making every bad decision under the sun? That’s just depressing.
What I’m realizing, however, is people actually do want to hear it! People want to know the truth. They want to read the bad with the good. They want you to include the rainy days with those magical, beachy sunsets. They want to know you’re human and your life sucks sometimes, too. Maybe not everyone, but the majority of blog readers would rather see the whole picture than the glamorized version of someone’s life. Or maybe it’s just people like me who shamelessly watch The Bachelor and Keeping Up With The Kardashians every week.
Either way, here I am, prepared to bring it back to the beginning when I was truly an open book. I was way more honest back then than I have been the last couple of years. I wrote candidly about my political views, my relationships and even some personal family stuff. This blog was meant to be an outlet and a way to relate to other humans and damn it, that will continue! While sponsored posts and brand partnerships are nice, I don’t depend on them. If a brand doesn’t want to work with me because I talk openly about having a girlfriend (as in LIFE PARTNER, not GAL PAL) or my dislike of Donald Trump, so be it. I should be able to write about heavy topics like depression, anxiety and addiction without fear of criticism or disapproval. These things should be fair game. This is, after all, MY blog.
You’re asking yourself, “isn’t this a running blog?” YES! But running is SO MUCH MORE than just the act itself. Running is a massive piece of who I am and it’s a beautiful and perfect metaphor for life. It’s a reminder that life is full of ups and downs that will take our breath away and that we shouldn’t fear the hard and the unknown and the “impossible.” It teaches us that growth happens in the most uncomfortable of places. That pain, exhaustion and struggle can lead to pride, peace and total freedom. When life throws a sharp curve ball your way and gets unbearably rocky (because it most certainly will), running will be there. It will carry you through the craziness. Running will always return to you what you give to it, and then some. The ROI on running is unbeatable.
So many lessons. So many metaphors. So many reasons to love running and keep writing about it. And so I will — as honestly as possible. I hope you will stick around through the blisters, blood and ugliness that come with it because on the other side is usually a finish line, a medal and an ice cold beer.
Before I chicken out, I’m clicking publish.