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Well apparently we can all give ourselves a pat on the back this week for our continued running efforts, as it was announced recently that participation in running across England is absolutely booming as a result of the combined efforts of many organisations and individuals across the sport, and yes I will include what we are doing with the Too Fat to Run campaign within that 🙂

Figures from Sport England’s Active People Survey which measures participation in a wide range of sports and activities showed a total of 2.162 million people aged 16 and over took part in athletics for at least 30min a week the year from October 2013 to October 2014. This was an increase on the figure of 2.016million for the previous year.

And I am left wondering how many of those were previously inactive or dare I say it overweight?

It might be just me being ultra sensitive to this issue but I swear I see bigger runners out and about more than ever now too, so I am assuming that it’s not just increases in runners in traditional running club settings that are responsible for this increase…well you only need to see the number of new parkruners at most locations to know that’s the case.

Chris Jones, Chief Executive of England Athletics, said, “It is fantastic news for the whole sport to see athletics and running growing. This year we have seen record numbers of registered club athletes and tremendous work being done by volunteers and organisations across the sport in taking running and athletics to an ever broader spectrum of people.

“We at England Athletics know that we must continue to work hard to support the club volunteers, event organisers, running group leaders and other partners in all their endeavours to ensure more people become involved in our sport and are able to enjoy all the experiences and benefits it has to offer. We are very grateful to the people we work with across the sport for the expertise, enthusiasm and innovations they provide.”

In the past year running and athletics have seen a number of notable milestones reached including:

  • parkrun celebrating its 10th anniversary on 2 October 2014 – after 10 years 5,135,983 runs had been logged in parkruns in the UK alone and the phenomenon had gone global
  • The Great North run saw its millionth finisher, Tracey Cramond, crossing the line at the event on 7 September 2014 – the first time such a milestone has been reached in any mass participation event
  • The number of club athletes registered with England Athletics currently standing at just under 135,000 for 2014-15, already more than 2,000 up on the previous record set in the year of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

And of course we must take note of our achievements this year too, whereby

  • The Fat Girls Guide to Running reached its 6000th follower on its Facebook Page a few days ago
  • Our new TooFatToRun website which went live in June 14 has seen over 250,000 hits to date
  • #OneBigFatRun our free monthly 5K has had well over 1000 participants in the past 12 months

Oh and we have found ourself in the last 12 running blogs in the up and coming Running Awards (PLEASE VOTE FOR US)

But anyway…

Don’t you think it would be interesting if there was further data on the gender split of the participants to support my theory that the increase quite possibly could be as a result of more women taking up the sport? Or simply more women are standing up and admitting that they are a runner? Remember this research consists of a randomised telephone conversation and if I had been called up a few years ago I probably would have left out the bit about me running because I didn’t consider myself a runner, and definitely not an athlete or into athletics.

But I have watched the sport of running change over the last few years with the image of running having a bit of a much needed make over. Concept races such as Colour Runs and Pretty Muddy are attracting a different type of runner and I think that there are generally changing attitudes towards health and fitness, with social media, mobile phone apps and wearable technology playing a huge role in dismissing myths about the benefits of simply dieting or going to the gym.

The virtual world has a lot to answer for too. Just look how many running blogs are out there these days and not just from ultra fit runners who cover hundreds of miles a week. There is so much more free advice and support available online now and there has definitely been an increase in support networks like ours over on Facebook and that of the fantastic Run mummy Run group, with these virtual groups supporting women whose lifestyles don’t always fit into the club runner format…although I’d love to see all those mummies turn up with their pushchairs to their local club.

Things are definitely moving in the right direction and I am so excited about what these figures might  look like this time next year what with the aftermath of the #ThisGirlCan campaign, and of course the exciting world domination plans that we have up our sleeves for the next few months…only time will tell I guess.

It is widely accepted these days that the sport of running is not just one thing for one set of people, we each take it up and stick with it for different reasons, we get off on different aspects of it, be it the social side of things, the competition, the racing, the health benefits, the kit (oooohhhh the kit), the bling or simply the headspace it affords us. once a week.

The great thing is there is room in the sport for all of us and plenty of additional room for the millions of people who are yet to discover it.

Exciting right?

So tell me have you seen an increase in your area? Is it more accessible as a sport? Is there the right kind of provision on the ground or are you still relying on support found in the non traditional places?

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