Global Running Day. What is it? Why does it exist? And why is it important? Okay, I’ll give you a bit of a lowdown. Starting in 2009 and originally called National Running Day over in America, Global Running Day is a celebration of (as you probably guessed) running. The inaugural international event in 2016 saw various activities popping up, including one in Boston and a 24 hour event in Atlanta. The campaign is also focuses heavily on an initiative called The Million Kid Run, which aims to get young people across the word to start running. According to Wikipedia 672,030 took part in 2016. So, not bad.
“But what’s so important about another artificially created special day?” I hear you shouting. Well, sure. I get that national events like popcorn day or cheesecake day are pretty lame attempts at either getting people into restaurants or buying stuff from supermarkets. Running is a bit different though. Well, a lot different in fact.
Every single person out there running, whether they’re an athlete or your average jogger trying to burn a few calories, is benefitting in some way from running. For the most part it’s not costing much, if anything. It’s not causing pollution, and it’s probably having massively positive effects on mental and physical health. If you could get more people to do it, that’s only going to be a good thing. Unlike those 10 million people who’ve just spent the night eating premium tubs of ice cream.
Every single runner out there also has a fundamental reason for why they originally started running. It may be that they did it at school, it may be that they signed up to a parkrun to stay fit, or, like me, it may be because they were a bit overweight and they wanted to burn off some calories.
I remember vividly the first positive association I had with running. A 5k race in central London as part of a work social event. I’d been running around the streets of my house for a couple of weeks, desperately trying to get my self to the point where I could make the distance. I’d bought myself a load of new cheap kit from Decathlon, I’d read up on “things to eat before a race”, and I’d even started carb loading. I was your classic newbie racer.
I remember the race perfectly. It was the most nervous I’ve ever been before a running event. I was terrified as I stood behind the start line. Would I even finish it? Would I come last? I really didn’t know at all. The whole thing was tough. I pushed myself all the way and it felt like ages. But finally I crossed the line with 23 minutes. Was that bad? I didn’t have a clue at the time. I was just ecstatic for it to be over. I leant against a wall at the end coughing heavily and saw one of my workmates cross the line. A workmate who was a pretty seasoned runner – the kind of runner that actually wore expensive running kit. Turns out 23 minutes is actually a pretty damn good time.
That moment when I realised I’d done well. That second when I was actually proud of myself for running has been etched into mind ever since. If it wasn’t for that day, I’d probably have never got into running. Considering I’ve probably done over 400 races now, I’ve made loads of friends through running, I’m considerably fitter and healthier than I’ve ever been before and I’m an ambassador for running brand Iffley Road, those first experiences of running were pretty damn important.
So if an initiative like Global Running day manages to get 100,000 people more running for one day this year, and as a result just 5% decide they like it enough to carry on, that’s 5,000 people in the world that are better off in some way. And that’s just me making a low estimate for the sake of a statistical analogy.
All you need to do to take part is head over to the website here and sign up to make your pledge. It can be anything you like, as long as you’re active and just maybe push yourself to do something you’re not used to.
See you at a start line some time.