ASK THE COACH Tim Crosbie is an accredited Distance and Recreational Running Coach. He has helped develop and deliver the Recreational Running Coaching framework in Australia and is a full time employee at Athletics Victoria. He is the founder of the Crosbie Crew. Follow the crew on Twitter or Facebook.
Take a deep breath and relax into the current, running boom.
Look around any bush track, beach path or running trail and you’ll notice one thing for sure – we are in the midst of a running boom that outstrips the halcyon days of the late 70’s and early 80’s. What Jim Fixx’s “Complete Book of Running” did then, the world wide web is doing now… educating, promoting and drawing a like minded bunch known colloquially as “Recreational Runners” into a movement that is shaping early 21st century attitudes, thinking and government policy towards health and fitness.
For those of us involved in the ‘sport’ of running for the past 30 years, the signs that the phoenix was arising from the ashes were there – increased activity around popular running venues, more beginner enquiries and quite obviously the growing popularity of organised events. Field limits, sold out races and the rush to secure a start are a phenomenon of the new boom non-existent in boom no.1. Why?
Fortunately the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released a timely report into the recreational choices of Australians in late 2012. Focussing on sporting activity, the ABS figures reveal that 8% of us over the age of 15 consider ourselves ‘runners’ by partaking in some level of running activity at least two to three times a week. In raw figures that equates to 1.65 million Australians getting out for a run each week.
With the growing urbanisation of our nation, now translate that into the cities running scenes and you can understand why 85,000 line up in Sydney’s William Street each August and why places like Scarborough Beach, the MCG and Glenelg are alive with runners at least once a year.
Interestingly though this boom has also seen the advent of non traditional running races that in some cases are outstripping the conventional models in terms of uptake and growth. Trail races such as the Six Foot Track in the Blue Mountains of NSW and the three year old Two Bays trail run across Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula sell out in a matter of days or weeks, while the inaugural Colour Run was a runaway success in a number of states.
Go figure – an untimed event where you splash colour over yourself and friends across a 5km circuit sells out and gets rave reviews… what’s next, oh yeah – the Glow Run! Throw in races like Tough Mudder, Spartan Races, Urbanathlons, Stadium Stomps and Trailwalkers and the Australian running scene in 2013 is as distant from 1983 as Gotye is from Cold Chisel.
As a coach and sports administrator, these changes present both challenges and exciting opportunities as we come to terms with the changing face of “Recreational Running” and the role we play in this dynamically moving world. And to steal a line from Gotye, when I look back to where the sport was just a few years ago it certainly feels just like ‘somebody that I used to know’…. Rock on running boom.