Liza Howard

Liza Howard

Liza Howard is a national champion runner with multiple records in distances ranging from marathons to 100 mile trail races.

June 2017
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Firgun Ho!


I got to write with Pam and Gina again this month for Trail Sisters.  We wrote about social media’s impact on our running and happiness.  Here’s the link to the full article and here’s my bit.

I take pretty regular breaks from Facebook and Instagram. That much success and happiness is strangely uninspiring. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy when I see that wonderful people are doing wonderful things. When Katie Grossman posts something like this:

Katie Grossman Facebook

All images are screenshots from the Internets.

I think, Woo hoo! Katie! And I am quite full of firgun. Firgun, a Hebrew word, is defined “vicarious and ungrudging joy for someone else.” (If you’re looking for the opposite of the German word schadenfreude, firgun’s what you’re looking for.)

It was total #firgun when I saw this from my friend Brian Ricketts, who’s on his annual summer pilgrimage out West.

Brian Rickett Instagram

Same with a race post like this from my friend, Sarah Grey:

Sarah Grey Facebook 1Sarah Grey Facebook 2


But the more time I spend looking at people’s adventures and successes, the more I start to compare myself to them. And I always come up short. So my joy for them is tempered with feelings of inadequacy.

Why didn’t I figure out a way to get to the mountains this summer? Why aren’t I racing more?

Pam Smith Facebook

Why the heck aren’t I taking the kids camping more? (Besides that it’s 104 Fahrenheit with the heat index.)

To be clear, I’m not jealous. My first thought with Pam’s post was, Yeah! Pam, Mac, and kids! But my second was, I’m not as good a mom as Pam is.

That’s when I take social-media break, when the firgun is gone, and I feel inadequate and small.

Then I turn to Twitter for affirmation and inspiration. (Definitely kidding.) It usually takes a good week away from social media to free myself from the comparison trap.

What brings me back eventually is the virtual running community. As a work-at-home mom with young kids, I don’t get to hang out or run with friends all that much. Social media helps to keep me feeling connected and makes me feel part of a running group. And I really value that.

My tentmates from the 2015 Marathon des Sables and I have kept a group conversation open on Facebook for over two years now. I love it.

And when I posted this picture of a tarantula from an otherwise dull, solo run around my neighborhood, the responses lifted my spirits for the rest of the day.

Liza Howard Instagram

(Those AH AH AHs are the Sesame Street Count’s laugh, not me freaking out.)

I also appreciate social media for the heads up to people’s blogs, podcasts, and video interviews. Those inspire. Maybe that’s because the more a person shares of themselves, the harder it is to think of them in broad categories. The more I recognize the differences between myself and someone else, the harder it is to compare myself to them, which clears the way for firgun. (Yes, if I get a tattoo, that’s what I’m going with.)

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

 The comments that followed and that were posted elsewhere made me feel like maybe I really should write about my chaos again.  For the good of others.  😉
May the Firgun be with you!  🙂

Comments 1
  • Gene Taylor
    Posted on

    Gene Taylor Gene Taylor

    Reply Author

    So many things to relate to; so many “yeah, I’ve been there” stories. This post really hit me. Thank you Liza Jane,