Once upon a former internet life, I had a small blog about running and training for my first half marathon.
Of course, that half-marathon got stalled once by the onset of my chronic pain condition and a second time by the pandemic, but that’s a story for another time.
I did, eventually, run the half marathon — virtually and in a totally different city than I expected to, but I ran it. And I did so with the words of Mindy Kaling’s most recent audiobook release, Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes), in my earbuds.
One of the not-so-secret truths about being a book nerd on the run is that running is great audiobook time. If I’m listening to a particularly gripping book, I’ll use it as the soundtrack to my run in place of the usual Spotify playlist.
But there’s another reason I love being a reader who runs, and it’s the amazing online community known as Fanthropy Running Club. What is fanthropy? What is an online running club? Well, my friends, I’m glad you asked.
Fanthropy is a term coined (probably) by the folks at Random Tuesday, Inc, who started a little club known once upon a time as Hogwarts Running Club, which later rebranded as Potterhead Running Club (PHRC) for legal reasons.
The term combines the words “fan” and “philanthropy,” neatly encapsulating the things that this community holds at its core.
PHRC, Fantrophy Running Club (FRC), and the broader network of fandom-based running clubs and events is a community of fans who love to nerd out about their favorite (often bookish) properties while also contributing to a good cause.
Each virtual race supports a selected charity partner with its proceeds, and runners receive gloriously nerdy medals and race bibs to mark their accomplishment. For instance, the current FRC race is the “Build Your Own 5K” with a lego-themed medal and bib.
Because the races are virtual, folks complete the distance on their own time and can even break up the longer distances in smaller chunks if they aren’t able to do, say, a half marathon in one go.
Personally, I think it’s a pretty sweet deal, which is why I’ve been a member of PHRC and the FRC network since I first heard of their existence in late 2017. My fiancé can attest to the impact this has had on our interior decorating, which includes two medal hangers laden with the fruits of my run/walk efforts.
If you’re curious to learn more about the mission and how it all breaks down, you can get the deets on their website.
Nerdy Fitness Community
Obviously, fandom encompasses much more than books alone. Nevertheless, for me, the biggest draw of my community of active fellow nerds is having other humans to geek out about books and running with. In the same place.
I came to the Fandom Running Club by way of Hogwarts Running Club before the name changed. This fandom and the community that grew up around it was a massive part of my childhood, and meeting a ton of fellow runners who shared my love for these magical books marked a massive change in my relationship with running.
In fact, it cemented it. While I had been running off and on for a few years before I came across PHRC, these wonderful bookish runners are the people who made the sport click for me.
Traditional, in-person running clubs have always intimidated me for a number of reasons, including the fact that I’m not what you’d call a “fast” runner and my social anxiety, which makes me terrified to meet new people and/or enter into unpredictable social circumstances.
Coming into PHRC and knowing that if all else fails, you can throw down a reference to a shared book-related lexicon made it easier for me to connect with my fellow runners.
It also helps that many members of this community, like me, do not look like what we stereotypically consider a runner to look like. Some of us are slow, many of us take walk breaks or even earn medals exclusively through walking great distances. We move because we love it and we like earning our virtual race swag, not because we’re breaking world records (that I know of). PHRC also strives to be inclusive, offering alternative ways to earn medals and participate in live racing events for those who may not be able to walk or run.
With the support of online friends like these, it’s no coincidence that my first full year participating in this club also happened to be the first year I kept on running consistently, marking off new distances and setting formerly impossible goals.
The joy (and curse) of the internet is that you can find just about anything here. Including online community with fellow runners, fellow book nerds, and even fellow book nerds who run.
Being a runner and being a reader aren’t the opposites that we can sometimes imagine them to be. In fact, trading doesn’t even have to be a stationary activity if you partake in audiobooks (or if you’ve got good balance and can walk with a book in hand).
Are there other hobbies or activities in your life that have been shaped by or informed by your relationship to books? I’d love to hear about them, if so!
If you’re feeling extra generous, consider supporting my book buying habit by throwing a tip my way via Buy Me a Coffee.