I’ve been pondering the fine balance between being inspiring and being intimidating recently. The thing is, I think as we improve and smash our targets, as we progress in our health and fitness journeys, we often become intimidating and unrelatable without really meaning to. What we need is more and more people sharing their successes at all levels.

One of my passions is helping inactive women to become active. I wrote a quick post about running 19 miles at the weekend. I was so relieved that my longest marathon training run was done. It was tough and I quickly dashed out a social media post during an after-run high. Normally when I post about my runs I don’t usually say how far or fast I’ve been. It’s not often the main focus of my runs and I consciously want to be encouraging to all levels of runner. However, this time I did shout about the 19 miles. When I looked at it again the next day, I considered for a moment how I would have felt if I was a new runner reading that post. I would have immediately thought, “I could never do that”. Rather than being inspirational, I would personally have found that out of reach, potentially off-putting and perhaps intimidating. It would certainly have made me feel that my run/walk 3k or whatever I was up to, was insignificant. Perhaps that’s just me? I know now that the physical and mental effort required for me to get to 3k at that point in my journey was just as much as for me to get to 19 miles on Saturday.
When I enquire about other people’s exercise they often say something to diminish their efforts. “It’s not anywhere as near as far as you” or “I’m not up to your standard of running.” I always make a point of saying you don’t need to justify or put down what you do. If you are out there and working hard then just be proud. To some of them, sharing publicly that they’ve just run 30 seconds without stopping is something they’d never do but I really feel it would help others so much.
At the start of my running journey I was more motivated by someone else who was also a beginner encouraging me to run, than I was by someone who was knocking out a 20 minute 5k (I’ve never done that myself by the way!). When we want to make a change in our lives, it really helps to have someone else alongside us, someone with a goal which closely matches our own. Whether it’s exercising more, losing weight or building a blog, having someone to check in with to motivate and encourage us is such a great tool and can make us more likely to succeed. I think we’re often attracted to people who are at the same level as us, someone we see as a team mate in the same playing field. Someone we can share our journey with, the ups and the downs; someone we can relate to.
So, what does this mean going forwards? Well, I think finding your tribe is hugely important. Finding others who share your goal, to champion you and keep you focused is crucial. Remember that if you are a beginner then you have the same right to shout about your achievements as a high performance athlete does. The success is just as big and someone somewhere will be at the exact same point as you. Your celebrations and cheers, or even your shouts for help, will be the perfect match for them, they may even be the stimulus for change and success in their life. I bet you’ll be amazed at how many positive replies you get, from all levels of experience. (If people reply with anything negative then ignore or block them!) We should never underestimate the power that our words and actions have to inspire others. Don’t hesitate to share your journey as a newbie, don’t think your actions are insignificant and not comparable. We’ve all been there, we know just how hard it is and we want to cheer you on and celebrate with you and your words could help someone else just when they need it.
For me personally, as someone who really wants to help inactive people become active, then it’s just a reminder to keep it real, take out the performance factor and just share the joy that being active brings to my life. I want to be inspiring, not intimidating and I’m most certainly proud.
Are you hesitant to share your endeavours? Do really performance based social media feeds put you off or inspire you? I’d love to know, do leave me a comment …
Featured image: Gratisography. Others: drjulietmcgrattan.com

Similar Posts


  1. This is really interesting! I’ve just started learning front crawl as an adult (being a head up breaststroker for my whole adult life) and I’m currently celebrating /small achievements’ such as increasing my length of time between rests from one length to two. I very nearly posted this on Instagram last night, but felt it was too small an achievement to shout about. I do follow a lot of very good triathletes which doesn’t really help I guess, but next time I will shout about it and not be ashamed!

    1. What a perfect example! I’m a terrible swimmer and like to put my feet down at the end of each lap. So if I’d read your accomplishment it would have made me think perhaps I could manage two lengths next time! Well done, I really need to work on my swimming so you’ve encouraged me! I bet the triathletes would have praised you too! Thank you for reading and commenting.

  2. Love this! I think we should definitely celebrate achievements at all levels – other people’s and our own. I follow a couple of elite local athletes on social media and I am in awe of their achievements (and the work they put in), but I’m also in awe of anyone who pushes themselves to cross the line at parkrun in 40 minutes, because they have worked so hard for that and probably had to overcome a lot of barriers to get there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *