Running With Benefits

TORONTO. May 15th 2014. When Digital Champion Andrew Chak ran his first 10K three years ago, he felt like a hero. The city streets were closed just for his run. People cheered him on like he was an Olympian. He got a sparkly medal that he could keep wearing for days. And he had all-you-can-eat bagels at the finish. He was hooked. Fast forward to present day and Andrew has completed over 45 races and just finished his 6th marathon and he’s looking forward to being a part of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon this fall. You can read about Andrew’s running obsessions on his Obsessive Runner blog on iRun.ca or follow him on Twitter @AndrewChak.

Running With Benefits. By Andrew Chak.

Andrew Chak Digital Champions

One of the unique experiences that I’ve had as a blogger and socially-connected runner, is being a Canada Running Series “Digital Champion” for #TYS10K, and this year for #STWM. In this role, CRS features myself and other Digital Champions in their social media postings as we engage in conversations and share our training tribulations with other runners.In other words, we overshare our tweets, photos, postings and hashtag everything!

Canada Running Series is currently recruiting Digital Champions for the upcoming Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, taking place on Sunday October 19th. Here are 10  great reasons why I think you should apply to be part of the team:

1. Connect with runners from another mother
A big part of being a Digital Champion is to share your training progress and linking it to the #STWM race hashtag so that other participants can discover your posts. This introduces you to other runners who are sharing the same race and it’ll feel like you’re discovering long lost family members.

2. Never train alone again
When you get up at dark o’clock and hop onto social media, chances are someone else is already up and at it. Waking up and knowing that someone else is up too reminds me that misery does indeed love company and that I should just get after it.

3. It’s schwagarific
Becoming a race ambassador often comes with the commensurate duty of being a human billboard for the race via gratuitous free training schwag that you can wear over and over again for those training selfies (see next point).

4. Taking selfies with a purpose
Those shockingly exciting pictures of yourself going on exotic running paths are no longer just for your own viewing pleasure – they’re actually sources of “run envy” where deep- seeded run yearnings drag others out for a dash.

5. Find your twinsie
As you get connected to more runners, you’re more than likely to find your running twinsie – you know, that runner who runs all the same races as you do and is at your exact pace. Finding your twinsie means finding an awesome partner to run with on race day.

Andrew Chak Digital Champions 2

6. Run more than you ever thought you would
The more runners you connect with, the more likely you’ll run more. You’ll hear others heading out for a run and you’ll want to head out too. You’ll hear about new trails and routes that you’ll just have to run through. You’ll sign up for more races because you
know others will be there. Just make sure you let your loved ones know where you are or better yet, have them join you.

7. Stretch your inspiration
As a Digital Champion, I’ve had the privilege of learning about stories about how runners have comeback from addiction, dealt with sustained injuries or are just struggling with doing the next workout. Connecting with a wider gamut of runners has stretched the spectrum of life experiences that I am exposed to and I am awestruck at how inspired the human spirit can be when it faces adversity.

8. Live a more cheer-filled life
One of the best parts of being a Digital Champion is how much more cheering there is in your life. My tweet-cheers often turn into real life cheers and it has definitely come full circle back to me. Best. Feeling. Ever.

9. A guaranteed PB on race day
When race day comes, your social media feeds will light up with pre-race rituals, last- minute wardrobe changes, medal-wearing selfies to race recaps. And because you’re connected with so many more runners, you will definitely be celebrating someone’s personal best that day whether it is their first race, a triumph over injury or a faster finish time. So even if it doesn’t turnout to be your best race day, you’re more than likely to still be able to celebrate someone else’s.

10. Build a healthier community around you
When you start sharing your running journey, others around you will inevitably notice and consider joining in. I’ve seen many friends and family members start to take up running and I’ve often been told that I helped to encourage them just by seeing me doing it. By becoming a Digital Champion, you’re given a larger platform to share your running journey with others and to truly be a part of building a healthier community around you.

If these benefits are of interest to you, you should consider applying to be a Digital Champion for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon this fall! Canada Running Series is accepting applications here until May 30th! In the meantime, connect with myself and other runners training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon using hashtag #STWM on Twitter.

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