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Woman uses TikTok to build virtual community for beginner runners


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    YORK COUNTY, Pennsylvania (WPMT) — At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a York County woman decided to post a humorous TikTok to connect with fellow runners.

Alysha Flynn woke up the next morning to 10,000 followers. Now, she has over 300 thousand followers on the platform and continues to create TikToks to offer support for beginner runners.

Flynn, 33, is the founder of What Runs You — a multi-platform network that provides coaching for women runners. She offers training plans that include a run schedule, strength workouts, team calls and one-on-one coaching.

“I wanted to kinda differentiate my page on TikTok from other running pages that are more performance-based and really make it more experiential,” said Flynn. She says she strives to create content that resonates with runners and not videos that can quickly go viral.

The Long Island, New York native also says many people have thought about running differently, originally considering it as a replacement after the pandemic closed gyms. Now, people see the activity as an outlet.

According to a report, COVID-19 home confinement has resulted in a decrease in all levels of physical activities and about 28% increase in daily sitting time.

“I think it’s helped them during the pandemic with stress, it helps them prioritize themselves too when there is a lot of uncertainty,” says Flynn.”It’s also helped them to just kinda’ create routine as well for themselves when everything else is just moving parts and completely unpredictable.”

In addition to creating a network, Flynn has noticed how What Runs You is shaping into a sisterhood rather than an organization that connects on the surface. She says the group can even count on each other outside of running.

“This network of women around me has even replaced my own circle friends, and it’s been everything that I think I needed during the pandemic to just stay focus on continuing to make progress,” said Flynn.

Flynn says she will continue to help others progress by now starting a contest on Instagram that will provide free coaching to one person for the year to develop them from beginner runner to full marathon.

There are no bad days in running, according to Flynn. She says having this mindset is key.

“Trust the process, not push yourself in terms of speed and distance, but push yourself to trust the process and to just take your time and be patient, Flynn said.” It’s going to pay off if you’re consistent.”

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