As much of our lives - working, socialising and even exercising - have been forced inside in the wake of the pandemic, running clubs in the local area have swelled. Children especially have found that running is an effective way to socialise, boost confidence and reduce anxiety.  
Joseph Sutherland - an 11 year old competitive runner - has noticed this trend, saying that “more people” - “more kids” in particular - “are running since lockdown”. It seems that the accessibility of running, coupled with the strains of lockdown and the growing opportunities offered by schools and running clubs are at the root of running's surge in popularity. 

Running is a sport that “everyone can do” (in the words of Joseph), and - unlike cyclists - runners don’t need to spend money on buying and maintaining bikes. Runners can simply “go out and run”. 

During lockdown, people wanted to ensure they still had a way to experience nature, get some “fresh air” and “lose weight”. Running proved to be a good option, because it was so accessible. 

As more and more turned to running as their preferred sport, Joseph describes how more “opportunities” opened up for “smaller people”, including “tons more competitions” and “junior Park Runs”. Even in schools, the number of “competitions” and “running clubs” has “grown”. 

Yet, this does little to explain why this running craze has stuck. 

As Joseph explained, running offers a chance to exercise, boost your confidence and socialise. These are the essential ingredients in running’s growing acclaim. 

It is widely known that running is one of the most demanding sports when it comes to calories burned each minute. It may not be surprising therefore that running increases cardiovascular health, builds muscular strength, and increases bone density. 

But what is less known - and, to Joseph’s mind, one of the most important and self-evident impacts of running - is its ability to reduce anxiety and increase confidence. Runners are encouraged to “push [themselves]” and, running proves the principle “practice makes perfect”. When you’ve achieved one of these goals, “the feeling [...] is just amazing” - you can’t help but feel “proud of yourself”. It’s easy to see how these feelings boost your self-confidence. 

But, more importantly, Joseph describes these as a “good metaphor” for other parts of life - whether that be school or work. Running teaches you that, by pushing yourself incrementally, you can achieve goals you never imagined were possible. Indeed, the “pacing” that runners have to practise, will instil many with a sense of discipline. It teaches runners that patience is an important part of reaching one’s goals. 

Whilst Joseph initially felt “really nervous” about his first running competitions, running gave him a sense of confidence, allowing him to manage these nerves. This, too, is a skill that could help other aspects of runners’ lives: in Joseph’s case, helping him manage exam stress. 

In fact, the act of running itself can help lower stress levels. Joseph explained how running makes stressful “thoughts fade away”. However, this is not just an anecdote, it’s been scientifically proven. Running reduces anxiety by lowering the stress hormone cortisol. 

Running is also an effective way to socialise, further enabling participants to distract themselves from day-to-day stresses. Joseph described how it allowed him to “relate a lot” to many of his friends, many of whom he met “through running”. 

Getting up and running is a way to resist the urge to stay at home. This wave in popularity is not only a product of lockdown, but also the product of science and experience. It’s a wave I’m sure you’re keen to ride.