Whether a dedicated runner or not, most of us will have noticed the huge surge in the popularity of running. Is this a passing fitness fad like the neon Lycra clad aerobics classes of the 80’s or is it more a social rise in awareness of the importance of fitness and exercise?
Perhaps as someone who has reaped the benefits of pounding the pavements for many years you are a little perplexed and somewhat irritated by the new crowds sharing your favourite routes? One thing is for sure, we are in the midst of a running revolution.
The humble telephone has a lot to answer for in this great running boom. Gone are the days when one might consider taking a map or a compass on a trail run, these days our favourite running buddy is most likely the smartphone. With Apple and Google now offering over 700,000 apps each, we can check out maps and routes, track our miles, count the calories, take selfies along the way and instantly compare stats with our friends. (Click here to vote for your favourite app.) All of which give our running more meaning, and we can tailor the information to our own personal interests. Through our phones we have made what is considered quite a solitary activity into a very social exercise.
For those of us in the UK, the recent Olympics have no doubt added that extra bit of inspiration to put on our running shoes. With Mo Farah winning Great Britain's first ever Olympic gold medal in the 10,000m followed by another gold in the 5,000m, we were high on athletic success and Mo became a household name. Far from tailing off after the Olympics, the enthusiasm for elite runners and our hunger for celebrity sports personalities seems to have endured. In an era when following celebrities is the new religion, being a follower of Farah or Ennis is no bad thing.
One appeal for me over other sports or fitness crazes, is that it is free. All you need is yourself and the road ahead. We have all been feeling the pinch of late, so purchasing sports equipment or stumping up membership fees feels like a luxury. You can of course splash out on the latest gadgets and clothing if you wish to but you don’t have to. There is something quite appealing about the simplicity and purity of just running.
The health benefits of running for body, mind and soul have of course been very well documented. With the latest reports suggesting that by 2050 50% of the population will be obese, let’s make sure that this running revolution is here to stay.