A Very Meta Post On Why and How My Blog Has Changed And Where It's Going From Here

by - Thursday, January 11, 2018

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you've seen it go through many iterations: New designs, different writing styles, different posting cadence, super oversharing to zero oversharing and everything in between.

The world of blogging has changed a lot since I first started back in 2006, and as my life has gone from college student, to navigating my first job in my early 20s, to going back to school for my MBA, to hitting my career stride in my early 30s, what I've used this space for has changed so much.

Untitled design (1)
Me in 2006 and me in 2017. Digital photo quality also improved in the last 11 years.

The Early Days

When I first launched this blog back in 2006 (how has it been that long), this space was basically my virtual training journal. I wrote about every run I did in excruciating detail while training for my first marathon.

Baltimore Marathon finish line 2006

I analyzed the weather and the distances. I questioned my really slow pace (at the time I was running around 12-minute miles). I wrote about when my motivation waxed and waned. It was all running all the time with maybe the random post thrown in about how college or my internship was impacting my training.

And then I ran that first marathon and basically stopped blogging for three or four months because I didn't know what to write about anymore. This space had served its purpose.

The Blogging "Boom"

Blogging -- especially health and fitness blogging -- wasn't "the thing" back then that it would become sometime around 2009-2010.

There was certainly a community of people back on those old blogger blogs doing the same thing I was -- training for races and tracking their progress -- and we built a little virtual running support community. Many of those people stopped blogging or moved their adventures over to other platforms. I sometimes miss that little community (Wes, Jess, CJ, Marcy, Lisa, you all know what I'm talking about). It was easier to sit down and write about the trials and tribulations of training when you had your people virtually cheering you on.

When health and fitness blogging blew up a few years later, the landscape changed and my writing style changed too. I was trying to crank out a post every day, which led to some really crappy posts. Food pictures became super popular so I tried that too, and quickly learned that was not a thing I was any good at or cared about enough to become good at.

As confusing as it was to figure out what to write about, it wasn't all bad though. Blogging blowing up this way earned me some fun blog friends that became IRL friends.

Megan and I when we met in-person in 2011.

Then again at her wedding this past June.

Life was busy and full. I was racing a ton and didn't have a bunch of injuries so I had plenty of things to write about in this space.

The 2011 Slump

Then there was the backlash against lifestyle blogging and the emergence of the school of thought that bloggers should only churn out useful content (similar to what the health and fitness magazines were writing) because that would make your content show up in Google, which would drive pageviews and earn you more money (if you were running ads or had corporate partnerships).

Around the same time, in the summer of 2011, I had the natural inclination to pull back on some of the random life updates and personal content anyway. I had gone through a traumatic breakup, and I had no desire to share the details of that publicly -- even though up until that point, I'd shared a lot of my life pretty publicly.

It was a stark pivot, and I knew readers could tell something was up, but I had no interest in figuring out how to share any of that story in this space.

So I just pulled back and refocused my writing on health and fitness stuff.

It was a weird, tricky place to be, and it left me super confused about what exactly I should be writing about here.

Grad School, Injuries and the Future

Somewhere after that slump in 2011, I rebounded and found a somewhat normal writing groove again. But when I went back to grad school in 2014, my free time tanked. Trying to balance work, classes and homework didn't leave me a lot of extra time to write. I was barely publishing a post once a month.

Snow day, homework time. #mbalife
Flashcards were my life.

When grad school ended, I seemed to battle an on-going series of injuries. Since I had pretty much eliminated my random life updates, I didn't have a lot to write about. It's hard to write a running/fitness blog when you can't actually workout.

At some point, I introduced my book reviews, which seem to be super popular, even though they have nothing to do with the main subject matter of this blog. I've re-introduced a random life update post here and there (most recently talking about some holiday stuff), and I really enjoy blogging about my travels when I go fun places.

One of my goals in 2018 is to better figure out what to do with this space. It's evolved and changed so much over the years. I want to write more and hopefully find a good balance of things worth sharing. There are some new topics I'm interested in writing about and maybe some former features I want to bring back.

I'm sure it will take me some time to settle into a new groove with this space. I like the focus that running and fitness bring to my writing, but I also like having the flexibility to write about other things.

If you have thoughts on what you'd liked to see me blog about feel free to leave a comment below or drop me a line (jess@jessruns.com).

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  1. how did you lose weight?

    1. I didn't do anything special. I just had my dermatologist changed the medicine that I was on that caused me to gain weight.

  2. Jess, I've been reading your blog for a long time and have always particularly enjoyed your posts about goal-setting, balancing workouts with work/a social life, and travel. We were in grad school at the same time (hooray for being done!), and I always enjoyed hearing about time management challenges and tips from someone in a similar situation. I also enjoy your posts with various personal life updates, but I completely understand the desire to pull back on those.

    As a recent transplant to Bethesda/DC, I'm now especially interested in DC-specific things, like the Embassy Fun Run. In the future, I'd be interested in hearing more about workout-related things nobody ever seems to talk about, like the logistics of swimming (sharing lanes is intimidating, and pool-commuting is time consuming), getting the best bang for your buck when it comes to fitness classes (ClassPass is appealing in theory, but also expensive), which yoga/fitness studios you've tried and liked/disliked, etc.

    Overall, I can only speak for myself, but I like your writing style and have always enjoyed reading whatever you decide to post. I'm sure that will continue to be the case, whatever direction you decide to take.