I quit Facebook, canceled my subscription to Runner’s World, and erased my training log. Here’s why.

Several months ago, I deleted my Facebook account. It was the best decision I’ve made in a while.

A few weeks later, I canceled my years-long subscription to Runner’s World magazine.

Then I threw my training log out of the window.

Looking back, it’s clear to me that these three actions—among many other smaller, subtler ones—are not unrelated. However, at the times when I made these decisions, they seemed independent of one another.

It all started with my decision to bow out of social media. Or at least, with whatever drove that decision.

I’d toyed with the idea of removing Facebook from my life for years, even deactivating my account for extended periods of time, but was never really too serious about committing to a Facebook-free existence. My Myers-Briggs personality type is strongly INTJ, and as such, the logical side of me almost always wins. And it’s logical to stay on Facebook: it’s practical, it’s efficient, and it can be a great resource for information—both regarding the world at large and our most intimate and innermost social circles. As one of my mentors is fond of saying, “Evolve or die!” So logic kept me in the game—kept me checking faraway cousins’ profiles for updates on their lives, kept me relegating my status updates to only what I believed to be the most high-impact and high-yield commentaries, kept me scrolling through “fan pages” of respected authors, scientists, and athletes for the latest scoop on science, sport, and global happenings.

The thing about being an INTJ—or any __NT__, for that matter, is that while the “T” (for “Thinker”) encourages logic to win out, the “N” (for “iNtuitive”) has an equal pull. And here’s a case where intuition trumped logic, overturning the precedent social media has set on my life once and for all.

I recognized that while it was logical for me to stay on Facebook, intuitively it just didn’t feel right anymore. Increasingly, I have found myself looking back upon the “good old days” when Facebook was first piloted to a small cohort of East Coast colleges back in ’04, right here in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It provided a simple means of organizing contact information for friends; it was really nothing more, and nothing less. As Facebook evolved into something far more complex, and thus transformed the way humans interact with one another, I found myself progressively more uncomfortable with the new paradigms it unveiled every few months.

When being completely honest with myself, I was surprised to encounter that one of my biggest motives for leaving Facebook was my desire to eschew the competitiveness, one-upmanship, and self-comparisons that have become rampant on social media—and of which I myself am as guilty as anyone else. While I don’t see myself as competitive, I am definitely overly ambitious, and Facebook is a great place to a) feel like you’re in fact not nearly as ambitious and accomplished as everyone else in your news feed, and b) trumpet your ambitions for the whole world to see in one of the least classy ways possible. No thanks.

In fact, plenty of social and psychology research has emerged in recent years regarding social media use and its correlation with, or even direct effects on, psychological and emotional well-being (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10). Not surprisingly, those with the most social media activity reported the lowest levels of self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, sense of satisfaction with their lives, and overall productivity, with Facebook use in particular serving as the biggest predictor of mental health outcomes. Sure, one could easily argue that these may be correlated rather than causative. However, even randomized intervention studies have shown that for a discrete period of time after which an individual views his or her Facebook news feed, he or she will report subjectively lower levels of happiness and self-esteem. The investigators’ hypothesis? Too much comparison of ourselves with what we perceive as the “perfection” of others.

While I freely admit that I went through a little bit of Facebook withdrawal for the first week of disuse (my habit of randomly clicking onto my Facebook homepage while bored at work, or while waiting for the subway, was now to be replaced with…what exactly?), this quickly diminished. In time, I’ve seen a distinctive return of a certain quality of life that’s been missing for a while—a quality of life that is built upon small efforts to connect with loved ones in real time and in more intimate, personalized mediums. And the time I spent on Facebook is now being more creatively spent…literally, on Instagram. ;] (ha ha ha…)

Several weeks into my Facebook-free experiment, I received my trusty monthly copy of Runner’s World magazine in the mail—an occurrence that has been so regular during the past seven or eight years of my life, that I could probably set my clock by its arrival. Runner’s World has been a staple of my diet since I first started running cross-country in high school. Admittedly, the scope and overall culture of the magazine has shifted dramatically in the past five or so years to accommodate the recreational running boom and all of the commercial bells and whistles that have accompanied it (Color Runs, neon sneakers, fad-ish training plans). But I still always enjoyed taking a glance through my copy, if for nothing other than Marc Parent’s hilarious spreads, or Peter Sagal’s witty editorials.

But when I received my February copy of RW, I was not so excited to peel apart its pages. For some reason, I hit a mental block just by looking at the cover: yet another overly-airbrushed photo of a lithe, lanky woman with impossible abs and quads of steel; a woman who looked like she could definitely, certainly, tear me apart both on the track and in the dojo.

This is not a new thing for RW mag—they’ve been boasting disappointingly unattainable and unrealistic physiques both on their covers and within their pages for years now—but it was new that I was so turned off by it. I didn’t even open the magazine; I tossed it straight into the recycling bin. Just like that, I’d decided I was through with it. My decisiveness shocked even me. Shortly thereafter, I logged on to my RW online account and canceled my subscription.

Now that I’ve removed two things that constantly tempt me to compare myself to others (and constantly, consistently come up short), I feel a heck of a lot better. Life is good! I’m a worthwhile human being! I am doing stuff today, and it’s good enough! In fact, it’s bad-ass!

All of this has culminated more recently in my foray into distraction-less, record-less training. In other words, I have completely abandoned my training log, my half-iron training plan, my GPS, my watch, and to some extent, my iPod (yes, I still use one of those…circa 2007 and still going strong). What does this have to do, if anything, with quitting Facebook and Runner’s World? It may not seem obvious, but a huge take-away from quitting Facebook and Runner’s World, for me, was also relearning how to be completely present. Eliminating those distractions from my life—and the distracting thoughts they encouraged within me—removed a significant amount of mental clutter. Free from this, I have begun to experience a new clarity of mind and ability to be mindful in the present, one which I am experimenting with both in my day-to-day meanderings and my approach to exercise.

Abandoning all of the gizmos, gadgets, bells, and whistles that quantify my training has also eliminated a source of self-comparison—both with myself (“I ran so much faster two years ago!”) and with others (“But Meb Keflezighi runs a 1:01 half-marathon!”). Also noteworthy is that I’ve dug myself deep into some serious trouble with overtraining in the past, and this is probably largely reflective of my desire to train to my journal rather than to what my body, mind, and spirit are desiring on any given day. This “naked” approach to running, cycling, swimming, and all other sport has also encouraged me to tap into that complete presence of moment, and use it as a tool for honestly and objectively-as-possible gauging my intensity by degree of perceived exertion. Ironically, being completely in the present moment makes upping the intensity easier for me. And suddenly I am becoming keenly aware of that mind-muscle connection (especially in strength training and yoga, but even in running and cycling), which is the coolest feeling ever.

So far, this is my favorite self-experiment to date. That’s really saying something, as I have been known to tinker quite often. I ran these ideas by a good friend recently, and his response was priceless. “Wait, you’re an INTJ?” he asked. “Yeah, I know it’s unusual for a girl,” I replied, feeling special. “No,” he said, “It’s just that, this all sounds like a really great way to cater to the Introvert in you!”

I admit, this is entirely possible. ;]


12 thoughts on “I quit Facebook, canceled my subscription to Runner’s World, and erased my training log. Here’s why.

  1. This post makes me happy. I recently quit FB, instagram, twitter etc – all social media is gone and I love it. Sure, hanging out at the metro station is boring, but that just means I have to read the news, which is infinitely better for me, right? Also, I hate RW. It just seems to pander to the lowest common denominator, while subconsciously making us feel bad for not being that woman on the cover. Ick.

    Good for you for making these changes!


  2. This is brilliant! I’ve never seen the Myers Briggs personality types and think I’m an INFJ. Although I could be an INTJ. I can totally relate to this article as I threw in the Facebook towel for the same reasons. I run with a GPS watch but I’m pretty relaxed about my goals. It helps me right now though because I’m starting out and trying to get more familiar with my running speeds and distances.


  3. I loved this post! I too found more enjoyment in running by disconnecting. I quickly fell victim to self-comparison andbecame so stressed and burnt out when I didn’t run as many miles as I planned to run that week.

    Thanks for sharing and congrats on the positive changes!


  4. I’m an INTJ as well! And I resonate with each and every argument in this article. I’ve abandoned my FB (I never enjoyed it, I just used to rationalise it the exactly same way as you described) and now consider ditching my smartphone and actually not buying a GPS watch. I think I’ll get me a Kindle ebook instead… Thank you for the article, it really helped me to make up my mind!


  5. As an INFP….I congratulate you on the move. I quit Facebook 5 years ago because of the huge distraction in created in my personal family relationships. I saw your comment on the No Meat Athlete post about the Smart Phone-free life. I think after 9 months of “smart” phoning it, that is the next move. While I’m not a runner (walking is my passion), I sure can appreciate getting lost in a more healthy habit than gadgets and gizmos. Anyway, Congratulations!


  6. Hello from another female INTJ! I’ve been toying very seriously for a while with abandoning Facebook. I wish I had the self-control to keep it around for very limited use (sharing photos), but I just don’t. I’ll keep your thoughts in mind as I continue to mull it over…


  7. Ha! I was going to subscribe to RW, but recalled (while reading your blog entry) why I canceled some years ago. The comparisons! The impossibly fit cover models who run times that I could never touch (as fast as I am!) The feeling of inadequacy as a really fast 40-something athlete who just doesn’t quite have youth or speed on my side anymore (perhaps not that I ever did have the speed…) and must now accept the limitations of an aging body.

    I, too, have been considering parting with Facebook and my “smart” phone for awhile.

    Your blog entry has provided the motivation I need to try to make similar improvements to my wellbeing. Blessings!!


  8. Great post. 🙂 Glad I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way. I initially discovered running by “accident” when I was just looking for a way to spend some time alone listening to my new ipod (this was a decade ago.) Gradually I pushed myself more and more, and enjoyed the challenge of seeing how far and fast I could go. I stumbled (literally) upon my first 10k race when I ran into a sign that was stuck in my usual trail one day. I entered it- not even knowing anything about the world of running or racing- wearing crappy shoes and a cotton sports bra that barely held me in. I was fast, and I loved it, and I had no pain, and although I placed closer to the top than I ever would again, I didn’t even notice at the time. I gradually got more serious, for lack of a better term, about my running, and subscribed to Runners World. Suddenly reading the articles, I realized I knew nothing except how to put one foot in front of the other. I had no idea what all of the different terms meant and what the different types of training days were (ie long run vs. tempo run.) I felt like a complete idiot, and my confidence and joy plummeted. I tried to adapt and learn all of the terms and try new training ideas, and I ended up listening more to strangers in a magazine than to myself and my own body, and started feeling inadequate if I couldn’t complete certain distances or finish in certain times. This results in injury, frustration, and guilt (if I couldn’t stick to the plan on the page I’d torn out of the magazine.) It took me years to find my personal equilibrium which involves: running when I feel like it and for whatever distance and at whatever speed I feel like, and wearing my garmin (sometimes, not every time) but only mentally tracking results, rather than keeping any type of log. I’m happier than I’ve ever been and am getting fast again.


    1. Wow, Ingrid, thank you so much for sharing this. You have easily made my day–probably my week and if I keep your words in mind, my month. I can relate so well to what you’ve expressed. I love hearing about the intuitive, carefree runner you were in the beginning. Sometimes I think that going on a little journey with ourselves–one in which we devolve, take note, and then bring ourselves back to joy and centeredness–can help us become more aware and compassionate, even if it ends up being a more difficult journey. I felt the exact same way when I first started reading Runner’s World–and I was a cross-country and track runner in high school and college! What the heck was a Yasso 800? A fartlek? Was I not a true runner because I had never run a marathon?

      Recently, I’ve had a very similar experience to yours in my yoga practice. I’ve been practicing yoga for almost 15 years and when I first started, I was a teenager looking to just have some fun and explore where my body and breath could bring me. Yoga brought me so much joy and healing during my first 5 years of practice, however once I began advancing my practice physically, I started telling myself things–things like, “You’ve been practicing for years now, you should be able to do this or that.” Suddenly it no longer was fun, and became all about trying to force my way into complicated postures and transitions. I was miserable because I always felt like I was inadequate–like I still had so far to go. Of course, none of this was really helped by the yoga equivalent of Runner’s World (Yoga Journal) or social media posts by famous yoga personalities, depicting them effortlessly flying into complex handstands and arm balances. I injured myself several times during this period, as I forced change, let my ego get in the way, and came at the practice with a clenched jaw and shallow breath (definitely NOT what yoga is all about!).

      More recently, I’ve found a middle ground between the two. I recognized that my newer attitude was not serving me, and that my more innocent, original attitude was a much better approach. At the same time, striving to improve and expand the possibilities of my practice contributes to my quality of life off the mat, as well as my enjoyment of the practice itself–which is, after all, a practice! I picture this as being somewhat like you, coming back into balance with your intuitive approach, yet still using a Garmin.

      At the end of the day, I am so much happier blocking the entrance of media into my life and just going with the flow–with what my body, what my energy levels, and what the weather are all pulling me to do on any given day. Living this way is liberating and joyful!

      Thanks again for sharing your story! You’ve brought a huge smile to my face!! :]


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