Back in the days “running” was well known by “jogging”, there were a group of freaks wearing very short pants or very tight leggings in winter. The running movement came from the east part of the United States: Boston and New York.
In 1972 an American Frank Shorter won the gold medal in the Olympic marathon of Munich, changing the minds of the US citizens and putting very important status to running. The term jogging was now known as running.
During the running boom of the 70s jogging was just an activity to improve the health with no competitiveness involved. Jogging became a slower, with no effort version of running.
During the Vietnam crisis in America, the percentage of runners increased considerably. The first marathon took place in Boston and later in New York and Chicago. In 1970, in New York with 127 runners the first course consisted of repetative racing around Central Park. Today, in the 45th edition, the NY marathon has the biggest participation of runners of all the marathons around the world – 50,229 people.
For the last ten years in Europe, running started to increase slowly every year, booming in the last couple of years. In Spain the number of races started to grow, seeing more people training on the streets and participating in the races during the weekends. The running business became extremely successful in a short period of time. The world marathon majors have their own fairs where all the big brands make an enormous profit selling new products to faithful customers.
A very good example of this, although in a small scale, happened in a race here in Malta. The race Mdina2Spinola of 10.2 miles has been taking place since 1979. In that year only 17 runners took part in the starting line and I was surprised the running time they were doing 36 years ago: the last participant did 1hr 30 minutes as compared to the last one of this year`s race it was 2 hrs 46 minutes.
In 1979 the winner did 57mins and this year 56mins. In 1979 there were 17 athletes and this year 870. So my conclusion is that this type of events are now open to anyone and before it was a small society. Also there was a change from only running clubs back in the seventies to a much more social running in the last years.
In the 90s running or jogging was a lifestyle and nowadays it is becoming a running fashion show on the streets. It´s very common to see people running with very technical clothes when they are only beginners. The backgrounds of running were very minimalistic and simple.
But I do not want to make a negative point in this topic, my biggest concern is that we are losing the respect to this sport. Some people want to run a half marathon (21km) or a marathon (42km) straight away, that is a big mistake and is very dangerous. When we are talking about marathon we are talking about maybe a type of race that you need to be trained for at least one year. Also it is very important to have a good personal trainer or someone that guide you to this race.
Nowadays running has turned into a very social sport or routine. You will find many clubs in your hometown easily or running apps, like runtastic, endomondo etc. But i hope we will not lose the magic of running in the future. Just you and your running shoes along the path listening to your breathing and controlling your natural pace. No music, no gadgets, no watch, just yourself. Try to do it once a month and feel the difference in your training.
So my inspiration for this post is coming from this old “fellow” that I see every morning running, he is in his mid seventies. I know that I will be like him for sure and I will still enjoy the pleasure of running.
For sure many people that are running right now or will start running in the future will find this as a hobby, sport, therapy, way of living, passion… the same good feeling of relief and happiness that these solitary athletes found back in the seventies in New York.