In the United States, running first gained popularity outside youth programs, schools and competitive sports in the 1970s. It was an amalgam of events that led to this boom: a dramatic win by Frank Shorter in the 1972 Olympics, the media’s increasing coverage and interest in the sport, and Nike’s innovations to the running shoe and corresponding aggressive advertising.
This was not a mere health fad, this was a movement. Its advocates based their arguments on scientific studies and journals to support their claims on the evolution and benefits of the sport, making them credible and newsworthy. Government and major corporations funded programs, nationwide events and activities to entice athletes and amateurs to take up jogging as their sport, main physical activity or as an integral part of their training. Prominent athletes and public officials, including President Jimmy Carter, became closely linked with the crusade.
The campaign remained popular well into the 1980s but like previous health movements, the fervor died down and popular culture moved on to new health crusades. But the gains and paybacks from jogging have been firmly established and continue to be updated as new studies are conducted. Today we enjoy a wealth of information about this ubiquitous activity, making it easier and safer more than ever.
Why take-up running now?
The sport gained traction once more in the recent years. Running clinics mushroomed, fun runs became a go-to fundraising activity and seeing hip, urban professionals jogging at nearby parks after a hard day’s work in the office became de rigueur. A fundamental reason for the resurgence is the battle cry of better health and overall wellbeing of the previous crusade still rings true to this day and with the significant advancements gained, today is the best time to take-up or rediscover running.
- Better environment. Have you noticed cities, business districts and the newer master planned communities all seem to move towards having more dedicated green spaces in them? They are bringing back parks and sometimes, these parks come with trails dedicated for jogging. As for existing trails, efforts have been made by the local governments and immediate communities to improve and make these trails safer for runners. Try walking around in your neighbourhood or your office, you might be surprised that there’s a perfect path or trail for that morning or evening run you’ve been planning. If you’re moving or traveling and would to know the best places to run in the country, click here to help get you started.
- Technology has come a long way. Activity trackers, smart watches, GPS and mobile phones can help shape any beginner into a serious runner. Sure, clinics and their coaches can provide proper guidance and personal service but sometimes you just don’t have the bandwidth or extra money for them. This is where technology comes in to bridge the gap. A good start is downloading a free application like MyFitnessPal to help you track your calories, steps and progress. You can then download the corresponding application for your activity tracker to track your activities, distance covered, calories burned and heart rate. Some applications even offer challenges you can join and results are posted on a weekly basis. A number of applications link directly to MyFitnessPal, such as Garmin Connect. With these two, or similar applications combined, you have your trainer, coach and nutritionist in your mobile phone at virtually no cost. Whether you’re running for weight loss or health, the level of technology we have today can help keep you engaged and achieve your goals as if you were working under the supervision of expensive trainers, minus their costly fees.
- It’s easier to run more safely. Most have no qualms about investing in expensive jogging shoes with the latest technology, or the latest tops and bottoms that are cute but still tasteful. One important gear you may overlook but can significantly impact your performance and recovery after a run is socks. Wearing compression socks helps control muscle oscillation or the vibrations produced in your body when your feet hit the ground repetitively. They help restore blood circulation and reduce lactic acid build-up, which can cause fatigue. The cotton compression socks from SocksLane in particular are proven to encourage optimal blood circulation. Being made from natural cotton fibers, runners do not have to worry about rashes even after completing a long distance run.
While you may need a MasterCard (or Visa) for everything else, running doesn’t require expensive gym memberships or bulky equipment. A quick search online can get you a wealth of information you need to start. A good activity tracker and your mobile phone, two things most people have these days, go hand in hand in tracking your progress and supervising your runs – with timely reminders and analytics to boot! Now all you need are the right pair of shoes, socks, comfortable clothing and your doctor’s approval before you start. So create your music playlist, pick your favorite path and start pounding against the pavement.