Recent Running Culture
Runners Who Ran Through the Pandemic
Running, one of the most accessible sports, is perfect for combating winter inactivity, and many runners can be seen on the streets.
In 2020, amidst the pandemic and the restrictions on indoor activities, a running boom emerged. According to a report released last year, 28.76% of runners started running during the pandemic.
As per a report by STRAVA, a globally widespread sports community platform, the number of running records posted by users doubled from 2021 to 2022. Even in 2023, after the pandemic eased, there was a 4% increase compared to the previous year, showing its continuing popularity.
Various studies have highlighted the physical and mental benefits of running. An article in the New York Times mentions research showing a correlation between running and increased lifespan and reduced disease risk. Running 2-3 times a week for about 3 km each time contributes to health. Furthermore, adults who engage in moderate exercise (2.5 hours per week) have a 25% lower risk of depression.
In the following opinion section, we will explore the roles and evolution of running communities that have gained momentum in recent years and new services and products that enhance the joy of running.
More Than Just Running: Reconnecting Through Running
Last month, the new NIKE rise concept store opened in Ginza. NIKE rise, as a flagship store, offers not only sportswear but also lifestyle apparel, and provides products and services needed by active sports enthusiasts.
At NIKE GINZA, adjacent to major running courses in Tokyo, the ‘NIKE RUNNER’S HUB’ started as a base for runners. It serves as a community hub connecting Tokyo and the store, offering regular running sessions, ‘TRY IT ON’ for trying Nike’s latest shoes, ‘EXPERT SESSION’ for personalized item recommendations, and ‘CLOAK SERVICE’ for storing items while running.
On the other hand, Adidas has been developing its global running community, Adidas Runners, in over 70 cities worldwide. Adidas Runners is not just about enjoying running; it’s a platform for initiating change through running. Last year, highlighting the issue that many women cannot run safely at night, Adidas collaborated with L’Oreal Paris Japan to organize a running event aimed at eradicating street harassment during running.
Running, which regained popularity during the pandemic, seems to play a significant role as a hub for reconnecting communities and creating substantial movements.
The 100th Hakone Ekiden, a New Year’s tradition in Japan, might have inspired many to start running. However, making running a habit is not always easy. Reasons like ‘feeling tired’ or ‘reluctance to go outside’ can lower motivation, leading many to give up. This article introduces new ways to increase motivation and enjoyment in running.
Enjoy Running with Apps / Strava
There are various apps for recording running data, but Strava is not just for runners; athletes use it too. Its precise features, including training plans based on the user’s heart rate data, stand out. Also, users can virtually race with other runners based on the massive data on the app. It’s highly recommended for those who are competitive by nature.
Start with Style
Recently, the fashion industry has been trending towards fitness, especially running fashion. Storefronts are lined with a wider variety of clothing and shoes for running than ever before. Just as wearing favorite clothes boosts your mood in daily life, running in gear you love can significantly motivate you.
This year, I noticed brands like On and HOKA making their debut in the Hakone Ekiden. Both brands, relatively new (On founded in 2010 and HOKA in 2009), offer innovative designs. On, founded with the mission to make running fun, and HOKA, established to make downhill running in mountains easier, showcase the diversification of running shoes. I’m excited to see more innovative shoes catering to various needs in the future.