If you’ve laced up your first pair of running trainers recently or noticed a sizeable upswing around you in conversations about the best tracks to do a couple of laps on or recommendations about the most effective moisture-wicking ensembles, then congratulations, you’ve picked up on the latest in the exercise zeitgeist. Running’s popularity is on an uphill climb and showing no signs of breaking a sweat.
Just last December the Australian Bureau of Statistics found the number of Australians jogging or running for sport or recreation has almost doubled since 2005-2006. It was found that nearly eight per cent of those aged 15 years old or over ran or jogged in the last 12 months, up from just over four per cent in 2005-2006.
Rebecca Wilmer, Race Director for City2Surf and all other Fairfax running events, says she’s also noticed an increased interest in the sport – particularly from women. “We’ve seen huge interest in longer distance runs with people progressing through from fun runs to half marathons and then marathons,” says Wilmer. “We’ve also seen a marked increase in women running in events such as the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon and The Sun Herald City2Surf. For the first time last year, there were more females which ran in the City2Surf than males.”
So why is running on such an uphill climb? It has obvious health benefits, particularly in the areas of cardiovascular fitness, stronger bones and respiratory health. There can also be an emotional component to people‘s enjoyment of the sport. “There’s an amazing sense of achievement in having completed a run and people get hooked on that feeling of euphoria. There’s nothing like crossing the finish line knowing how hard you’ve worked and trained,” says Wilmer. She also believes Australia is particularly runner friendly. “In Australia we’re blessed with some amazing courses. Coupled with the great weather, we’re spoilt for choice. It’s also a relatively inexpensive form of exercise and accessible to everyone. You’d be mad not to get into running in this country!”