Last week I celebrated my Runniversary – nine years since I went for my first run. Over the weekend I’ve been thinking about what has changed in the past nine years and how running is a lot different now. Here’s what changes I’ve seen…
More runners! There really has been a big growth in the number of people regularly running int he UK. And this is great. When I first started running, I didn’t know any other runners. I’ve made friends with a lot of them over the past few years but I’ve also seen some of my pre-running friends take up the sport.
More races. As the running boom has continued, there’s been a growth too in the number of races catering to the blossoming population of runners looking to get a PB or just grab a medal after an enjoyable run with like-minded people. If I wanted to, I could race pretty much every weekend in London alone such is the shape of the race calendar in the capital. Of course, this isn’t without its downside as some long-established local races have ceased as a result of the competition.
More ‘club’ options. I put of joining a running club for a long time because I didn’t think I was ‘good enough’ to join one. I thought you had to be a ‘proper runner’ to join a running club. Once I got over that and signed up, I realised they can be very welcoming places. But a lot of runners are intimidated or put off by the traditional running club, and so we’ve seen a growth in the number of other options.
My own running group, catering specifically for women, focusing on beginners and those looking to improve, is one such option. ‘Running crews’ are another option. We’re not all the same, we don’t go to the same restaurants, do the same jobs or read the same books. So to think that everyone can be served by the same run training option is silly. We all want different experiences and these are being offered more widely.
Better bras. Probably only useful for half the running population but there has been a great improvement in this sort of running support. My first running bra was from M&S, it looked very much like a functional bra and was available in only black or white (I bought both). Fast forward nine years and I now have a drawer full of bras in different colours and patterns. I have four Brooks ‘Moving Comfort’ bras and they look a lot like crop-tops so I’ll happily wear them with no shirt on top when I’m hot on the treadmill or in the peak of summer.
(Brooks have a ‘Run Signature‘ tour doing the rounds of the UK at the moment where you can test out a sports bra for a 3-5k test run before buying. This would have been unheard of nine years ago – I had to make do with jumping up and down in M&S changing rooms!)
Shoes. My first pair of running shoes did the job, but looked very nerdy and weren’t something you’d want to be seen in. They were white and light blue and the size and shape of a small mini-bus. But again, my cupboard if full of different colours, different materials and shoes that I’ll happily wear on non-running days. I don’t know if it’s just me though, but I feel like running shoes have got more expensive in the past few years.
Kit. Gone are the days when the choice of women’s kit was either black or pink. And not a nice pink either, a garish, high vis pink. It was boxy and functional without much though about the style or fit. Men’s kit wasn’t much better – guys had the choice of black, blue or green. Both have improved a lot and (as famously mocked in the Activewear video‘) so much so that we’re choosing to wear kit when we’re not working out.