by Cathy Engstrom

I found Another Mother Runner in 2008 after Dimity and Sarah ran the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco and wrote about it in Runner’s World. I bought the books, listened to the podcasts, and joined the training programs.

I stayed with Another Mother Runner because I have found it to be the most inclusive, encouraging, and real group of women on the internet.

The BAMRs I know are genuine cheerleaders who want the best for me. The fact that a 14-minute mile is valued and praised right alongside a 7-minute mile is everything you need to know about this tribe.

Most of my social media running friends come from the AMR community. Their posts bring me joy and let me peek inside their days. Also, they tend to be the ones who inspire me to get outside and move.

But I do follow a few people outside of the AMR bubble. And while I manage to remind myself that social media posts are not real life, I’m only human. Like a cat who expends all its energy over a laser pointer light, I can be distracted by a version of reality that doesn’t actually exist.

For your viewing pleasure, I’d like to offer visual proof that what you see isn’t always what you get when it comes to social media running pictures.

social media running pictures

What you see: an amazing post-run jump shot, on the trails of Colorado, feeling fast, frisky, and fine. All is right with the world.

social media running pictures

Reality: my bladder emptied a little during this picture.

1. I’m wearing a Garmin, but I’m not showing you my Garmin. If I did, you would learn I walked a good portion of my “run” because my knee has been hurting lately and I’m trying to baby it.

2. I’m smiling on the outside, but on the inside I’m seething. Right before my run, my teenage son decided to “bring out the flavor” (his words) of his tortilla chips. He put them in the oven at 500 degrees, then walked away and forgot about them. Our entire house (and my hair) smells like greasy corn, and the rest of the day will be spent trying not to gag as I air out the fumes.

3. My armpits stink. Like, really stink. I haven’t had time to do laundry and I recycled this shirt. I shouldn’t have.

4. I look like I’m in the woods. I am not in the woods. I am at a spot next to our house, at the top of our driveway, where our dogs go to the bathroom. I’m lucky I didn’t land in poop.

5. Just off to the right, not pictured (obviously), is a stool. I can honestly say I lurched more than jumped off the stool get this shot. Also not pictured is my husband, who took 429 shots of me until we landed on what you see here. Most of them turned out like this:

social media running pictures

Lovelies, why have I shared all this with you? Because 2020 has been hard enough without the struggle to compare ourselves with others. Whether it’s family holiday photos, an elite athlete’s post-workout glow, or a friend’s fresh cut and color at a salon–just off to the right there is some version of a driveway, a stool, and burnt tortilla chips. A photo is just that: one photo. Hidden in their camera roll there are 428 others that capture a more accurate representation of the whole story.

I have long since given up waiting for life to be perfect. Rather, I have learned that no one’s life is perfect and we’re all just doing the best we can with what we’ve got. This seems like a good time of year to take a breath, keep things in perspective, and check out of the comparison game. Just be the best version of you there is—smelly armpits and all.