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Don't Give Us Clout

Every year on New Years Eve, I sit down and craft an "end of year" open letter to our readers.

Going into 2019, the theme of my message was that I wanted The Stride Report to take that next "big step". I wasn't satisfied with where we were at, even if we were just beginning to show signs of promise. We had been working so hard, but the results felt limited.

Going into 2020, my end of year note was all about the stunning progress that I had aggressively targeted just a year earlier. I talked about our thrilling rise and how, for the first time, we felt legitimate. But I also talked about the unexpected obstacles, the things that I never realized came with the new territory.

Of course, little did I know what was right around the corner...

Going into 2021, I detailed how we overcame our greatest challenges yet. In spite of a global pandemic and our sport as a whole coming to a collective pause, we still found ways to build our brand and establish our identity.

But even with this massive level of growth, that didn't stop me from shutting down The Stride Report six months later. In a sick twist of fate, the site had grown far too large for me (and my team) to maintain.

Sometimes you gotta be careful what you wish for...

Going into 2022, I didn't make an end of year open letter. We had been out of commission for half of the year and the announcement of our relaunch felt like a more-than-adequate replacement for that annual note.

But as we approach 2023, I find myself reflecting less on the past year and more on the entirety of The Stride Report's life cycle. To see where our mindset was five years ago and to see where we're at's exciting, but humbling.

* * *

When Streamline Athletes first approached me about an acquisition and a full-time job, I was super hesitant.

Yes, on paper, their offer was everything that anyone could have asked for.

But the stress, the hours, the work, the lifestyle changes I would have to make...I was nervous. So much of my 20s had been consumed by something that was now entirely off my plate. I was living like a real person again.

However, as I reflect on the past year, I'm realizing that I probably made one of the single greatest decisions of my life. It's not even close.

Streamline Athletes has been BEYOND generous and supportive. I can't begin to tell you how easy they've been to work with.

And just as a reminder, without them, this site does not return.

At all.

But what I didn't expect from our Canadian friends has been their willingness to go all-in.

Over the last year, our numbers have looked really solid. It's going to take some time before we can properly scale, but the growth and potential is very clearly there.

And when we reach that point where we can truly begin to build this out, we're going to be a really dangerous force in the media landscape. I truly believe that.

However, before even reaching that point, Streamline Athletes has made sure that we'll be great and that I won't burnout.

We crafted a new plan that allowed me to leave my freelance job and begin covering high school track and cross country. Wyatt Barnsley joined our team to help with our podcast production, something that quietly took up a significant amount of my time. Streamline Athletes even hired TSR veteran John Cusick as a part-time editor, an addition that has made my life dramatically easier.

In other words, I've gone from working three jobs and editing a podcast to now working just one job and simply talking into a mic for one hour every week -- all while having another legitimate editor alongside me.

I can't remember the last time in my life that I had this much balance.

And to Brett Montrose and Alex Paré, I am forever grateful.

With all of that being said, I want to make a very important distinction: Balance and satisfaction are not synonymous. I've never been so hungry to make this work.

* * *

My team of writers work so. damn. hard.

I am so proud of all of them. I really am.

When we came back from our relaunch, they could have all said, "Nah, we're happy not having to deal with you on a weekly basis." And if that happened, then it didn't really matter what Streamline Athletes was offering. We just wouldn't be able to bring back the site at all.

But every single writer returned.

Sure, not all of them have stuck around throughout the year, but most of them have. And the people who we have added since then have turned out to be unbelievably valuable to our site (and just great human beings).

My team is why I've been so motivated. Since mid-September, we have only missed a total of three days of posting something new on the site (which includes Christmas). That's a ridiculously impressive streak if I do say so myself.

A lot of this push for more content is because I want to give my crew legitimate careers as soon as realistically possible. I want them to be rewarded, not just for their hard work, but for their loyalty.

They are the reason why this is so much fun and why I feel so fulfilled.

* * *

Earlier this month, one of my friends sent me a screenshot of a tweet. The tweet read, "in my perfect world people would stop giving flotrack and thestridereport clout."

And I kinda chuckled.

I don't think we've ever done this for "clout". That's never really been the goal. If that was the objective, then I would have written about basketball or football.

While some people would take offense to a tweet like that, I couldn't help but view it as a win.

Someone was putting us in the same conversation as an organization as established as Flotrack? And a pro runner was saying it, nonetheless? Say what you want about Flotrack, but that was some nice unintentional validation.

And sure! Maybe we aren't the underdogs that we always used to be. Maybe the narrative has shifted. Maybe there is a new level of expectation for us (there definitely is).

But isn't all of that a sign of growth?

I think so.

When I reflect on 2022 five years from now, I'll remember it as the year when The Stride Report truly became a legitimate media platform.

Our content offerings expanded. We got sponsored for a month by one of the biggest shoe brands in the sport (thank you, HOKA)! People were legitimately hired to help run the site. My writers got improved pay. The site's growth is showing tremendous potential. For the first time in forever, I have a life that is balanced enough where I want to do this non-stop.

And I'd trade every ounce of what little "clout" we have for all of the above.

* * *

So many of you have been reading our content since day one (shoutout to my mom) and I just want those people to know how appreciative I am for helping us reach this point. Especially our subscribers! Your willingness to join us on this journey has been special.

Now, as we venture into 2023, I'm going to do everything in my power to ensure that you will continue to get the best content possible -- and then some!

Just make sure you don't give us any clout...until we deserve it.

Your loyal admin,

Garrett Zatlin

The Stride Report

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