Destinations, Training & Racing, Travel & Gear

What’s Up With This Blog

12 Comments Posted by: Sarah Lavender Smith, February 25, 2011

Two months ago, I launched this site. The other day, I caught myself wondering what I’m doing and whether it’s worth my time.

I spent over an hour figuring out how to add Google ads to the sidebar column so that I could make a few bucks. And I really mean a few bucks, as in $3, if that.

Then I logged onto Twitter to hawk my link shamelessly to a bunch of strangers doing the same thing. My eyes ached while scrolling through the literary equivalent of a strobe light, and I renewed my pledge to help save those endangered species called paragraphs and punctuation.

Then I read a depressing but insightful column by David Carr in the New York Times, “At Media Companies, A Nation of Serfs,” detailing why writers, or “content providers,” make virtually no money in today’s new media equation.

What do I have to show for this? Who cares about all these frothy stories about running-and-traveling jaunts? How can I even call this ephemeral digital blather “publishing”?

Blog, blah, blech!

And then, out of nowhere, came this message from somewhere in Northern Virginia from somebody named Norah:

“I stumbled upon this site … and I absolutely LOVE it! All the stories are so interesting and inspiring. … The area where I live now is so boring, which makes my runs considerably less enjoyable and fewer and farther between. Reading this blog, though, lets me imagine myself running in these beautiful places and traveling all over the world to new races, my dream since I studied in Southern Spain sophomore year. This blog is giving me the motivation to keep running through this awful wall, so someday when I have the chance I’ll be able to complete more races in beautiful places, even if where I live now is hideous and boring.”

Norah, bless you. You made my week.

Norah from Northern Virginia splashed cold water on my face, reminding me why I started this and whom I hope to reach.

Two months after I wrote the welcome post seems like a good time to assess what The Runner’s Trip has accomplished, how I hope to develop the site in the coming weeks, and how I hope you will consider helping me. But first, here’s another great photo of Salt Wash, Utah, along I-70. (I didn’t have any other photos to run with this post, so I hope you enjoy these pics by Morgan from our drive to Colorado.)

What have I been doing, anyway?

I started this blog to inspire runners with training and travel advice. I want to help them (and me) run stronger and longer, discover more of the world, and avoid burnout. I put as much care into each blog post as I would for a real freelance assignment in an honest-to-goodness magazine, trying my best to write articles that are accurate, informative, thoughtful, and most of all: fun to read! (Friends and siblings, you must promise to write a comment that says “that was BORING” if ever I lose your interest.)

The articles so far have:

  • spotlighted great races and destinations in Europe, New Zealand, Central America, and California;
  • provided a forum for interesting and inspirational runners to share their stories—people like Tamara in Costa Rica, Renato in Portugal, Andy in Australia, and Ed in Spain;
  • given me a forum to share my struggles, accomplishments, and ruminations while motivating me to run, travel, and write—three things I love to do but often need prompts and encouragement to get started and follow through;
  • caught the attention of Arianna Huffington and Rodale Press. (I wish! Just kidding.)

Since the December 27 launch, I’ve posted 24 articles that attracted over 2100 “absolute unique visitors” in Google Analytics speak. The Facebook page has 149 fans. These numbers aren’t too bad for the first eight weeks, but I sure would like to multiply them by 10 at least.

What am I planning to do?

In the weeks ahead, I promise to produce:

  • more profiles and Q&As with notable runners. In January, I interviewed Bart Yasso, and in the weeks ahead, I’ll post conversations with extraordinary runners and travelers, including Lisa Smith-Batchen (50 miles in 50 states in 62 days) and Monica Scholz (25 100-milers last year);
  • more features on great destinations, with a special focus on summer trail-running camps and tours;
  • more reports from me as I tackle races such as American River 50, along with race reports from others;
  • more recommendations on cool gear and training tips;
  • more videos (I hope, anyway …)

How can you help?

If you’ve read this far, thank you! The average web reader has only 96 seconds of focus, according to Blog Traffic Exchange, so I don’t take your time and attention for granted. But that doesn’t keep me from being wordy. I write like I talk, and just as I sometimes get the runs on runs, so too do I suffer from logorrhea. OK, so my point is this: If you like The Runner’s Trip, I really hope you’ll help me by doing the following:

  • if you like an individual post, then share the link on your Facebook profile, tweet it, and email the link to your friends;
  • subscribe to the RSS feed to receive regular updates;
  • if you’re on Facebook, “like” the page;
  • send me comments in the comment box below with feedback, and let me know what types of stories you’d like to see;
  • click on the Google ad links and Amazon links if you’re interested in the products;
  • consider submitting a guest post if you have a story to share that you think would interest readers of this site.

Hey, look at that! Ryan Knapp of Kansas City sent me a note that says, “I just stumbled on your blog and thought it was a great idea! I get to travel a lot for work and got into running a year ago after playing competitive soccer and basketball for most of my life.  Running is such a great way to get to know a city. Look forward to reading more!”

No doubt I’ll stick with this, and I hope you’ll stick with this site, too.

Your Comments

12 Comments so far

  1. Molly says:

    Great post, Sarah! It’s hard writing and posting, wondering who’s going to read it and what the long-term goal is. Good for you to revisit that for yourself and your readers. There are lots of other Norahs out there who just haven’t found you yet!

  2. Jeffery says:

    Hmm. Why is there no tip jar linked to a Paypal account? Often I read a good blog or writer and dropclick a quick buck or two in the tip jar. I think this is a great way to support the writers we read.


    p.s. I don’t know if there is a fixed cost to setting one up, just that I like the feature and the ease in supporting those writers I like.

    Love the blog, and I’m hoping to contribute something in late March.

    • Sarah says:

      Jeffery, thank you! Gotta check out that tip jar idea :-). I would love to share your story of Coyote 2 Moon in Ojai later in March. Good luck with your training and thanks for your ongoing encouragement!

  3. Ernesto says:

    Keep writing… You have an audience of readers. I love to read your blog.

  4. Martha says:

    Hang in there, Sar… I’m not a runner in reality, but in my mind I’ve been everywhere you’ve been – running along side you – and I’ve enjoyed these runs immensely!

  5. Christine says:

    I owe an article on running in Paris and now you convinced me that I better do it before someone else does it!

  6. Andy Bowen says:

    Hey Sarah,
    I think this is something that we all experience when starting up a site. Every now and then you get comments which make you realise that others are getting value from what you read, and occasionally you hear of the inspiration of someone to get out a run as a result of your writing, and that for me is what it is all about.

    Have to agree on the Adsense thing, I think in 12 months I haven’t even covered the cost of the domain name! It really is a labor of love when you consider the many hundreds of hours I spend on composing and writing articles – it’s not just a log of training activity like so many other bloggers out there do. I use this media as a means of sharing what I learn out on the trails, a place where I think most clearly.

    Keep at it. It is worth it even if you are inspiring just one person to get up off the couch and improve their life.

    Andy :)

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks, Andy! I appreciate your perspective. To others: I hope you check out Andy’s blog from Down Under. He wrote the post about training during Queensland’s floods, and he’s doing some great running for charity.

  7. Monica says:

    Hi, I’ve just come across your blog and think its great. I understand everything you said from the beginning of this post. I blog about travel but because I am actually travelling, I rarely get the chance to sit down and promote my blog. But then, out of the blue, I’ll get a lovely comment every now and again that reminds me why I’m blogging and how much I love to share my stories.
    Considering you’ve only been blogging for 2 months, you’re doing amazingly well!

  8. Joanne says:

    Just wanted to add a note of encouragement and thank you for sharing your concerns. It’s definitely tough being a writer in this time of changeover from print media to online content. However, your site is exceptional and your honest, inspiring posts and gorgeous photos will certainly attract more readers and keep those of us who are already reading hooked.

    Think of it like running. You’re on the right path and it will be interesting to see how far you go and what new places you discover!

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My 2014 Race & Family Travel Calendar

Lake Chabot 30K, Feb. 22. Race report.
"Uncool 50K," March 8
Night Sweats Marathon, March 24. Related post
Diablo Trails Challenge 50K, April 19. Race report.
Miwok 100K, May 3. Related article
Pacing at Hardrock 100, July 9 - 11. Report
Family trip to Honduras and Costa Rica, late July. Costa Rica report
Crystal Springs 50K (pack training run), Aug. 9. Report
Grand to Grand Ultra self-supported stage race, Sept. 21 - 27 Race report.
Rio Del Lago 100M, Nov. 8 - 9
North Face Endurance Challenge 50M, San Francisco, Dec. 6

Proud to race on the team of Inside Trail Racing. Check out their calendar of great trail races.

Recommended Products

I use Honey Stinger waffles, chews & bars for long runs.

Wear Road ID for safety when you run,

This Fenix flashlight is perfect for nighttime running; see this post on the lighting system I recommend.

I recently discovered the Nathan Quick Shot Plus 10 oz. hand-held bottle with a pocket, and I really like it for shorter races when all you need to carry is a gel, your car key and a small amount of liquid.

My 2013 Race & Family Travel Calendar

mid-February: Telluride
Way Too Cool 50K Mar. 9. Race report.
Oakland Marathon, not racing but volunteering as leader for the 3:40 pace group, Mar. 24
Lake Sonoma 50M Apr. 13. Race report.
mid-April: exploring Vancouver for Spring Break
East Bay Triple Crown Series: Tilden Tough 10M May 19, Lake Chabot Half June 2, Woodminster 9M June 16. Short recap.
Marin Ultra Challenge 50M training run, June 22. Story & pics.
6-day Maine biking trip, trip report.
8-day Colorado River rafting trip! Trip report.
Aug. 11: Skyline 50K in the Oakland hills. Injured.
Pine to Palm 100M Sept. 14 Injured.
Berkeley Trail Adventure 50K Sept. 28. Finished 1st F!
Rio Del Lago 100 Mile Endurance Run Nov. 9 Injured.
Quad Dipsea, Nov. 30 Injured.

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