The Business of Running: What I've Learnt Owning A Running Brand
If you're like me, you've probably been running your whole life in some capacity.
For me, running was a tool to improve my sport. Footy, cricket, basketball, soccer - you name it.
Of course, like thousands of others, I also participated in Little Athletics. I was good, but I wasn't the best, like ever. No one ever turned around and said 'that kid's got something'.
And then as you get older, you run a little bit less formally. You run for fitness. You run because you enjoy doing it.
There was a time when you might have even pictured what a 'runner' looked like.
Probably something like this; skinny, athletic-build, all the gear from head to toe. A smart watch that costs more than a plane ticket around the world.
But that's changing.
Running is changing.
In the last 2 years we've seen an incredible cultural and social shift in the running scene.
We've seen the explosion of running clubs, running events, popularity of trail running and an influx of independent running brands.
At my local running precinct, I think there's about 7 different social running clubs. It's astonishing how quickly it's grown.
The evolution of running culture spans centuries, reflecting shifting societal attitudes and perceptions towards the sport, but let's not get too deep here.
Historically, running was often viewed as a utilitarian activity, primarily associated with military training or competitive athletics. It was seen as a means to an end rather than a recreational pursuit in its own right. Traditional stereotypes depicted runners as elite athletes with a particular physique – lean, muscular, and often portrayed as solitary figures pounding the pavement.
However, in recent years, these stereotypes have been challenged and reshaped.
The modern running community embraces diversity, welcoming individuals of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. Runners now defy the narrow definitions of athleticism, showcasing the inclusive nature of the sport and emphasising personal enjoyment and well-being over rigid performance metrics.
This evolution reflects a broader cultural shift towards holistic health and fitness, where running is celebrated as a accessible and empowering activity for people of all walks of life.
And, we're here for it.
Runners will likely tell you that the sport has always been inclusive. But it hasn't always felt like that from the outside.
Now, with social running clubs on every corner, social media personalities breaking down stereotypes of what the average runner looks like and new independent running brands on the scene it's a perfect storm for change.
The Rise of Social Running Clubs
The rise of social running clubs has transformed the running community, shifting from solitary endeavors to vibrant group experiences. These clubs provide more than just exercise; they foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie among members.
Since the C word (Covid) people are hungry for experiences.
A lot of us spent lockdown running around our local streets and connecting with other people only through Strava.
But now, runners are not only connecting, but creating social experiences.
Joining a running club offers numerous benefits beyond physical fitness. It creates a supportive environment where runners connect, form friendships, and motivate each other to achieve their goals. Group runs, training sessions, and social events organized by these clubs further strengthen the sense of community.
For example, my local running club for Valentine's Day is doing a 'traffic light run'. Where you wear red, orange or green. Green if you're single, red if you're taken and orange if you're, I'm not sure actually, 'it's complicated' maybe?.
But it's not just about going out and running a PB, or even running fast. It's the social aspect that people thrive.
A sense of purpose and routine.
Many social running clubs do not offer any kind of advice, technique review or feedback. And you might be thinking, well, that's not very good.
But that's not what people want.
Many are not there for performance reasons.
They don't care about getting one second faster per lap. They want to get fit, stay fit and be part of a social group.
Social running clubs enrich the running experience by promoting community, motivation, and friendship. As their popularity continues to grow, they play a pivotal role in shaping a vibrant and inclusive running culture.
The Popularity of Running Events
Now, I don't want to be a sensationalist here, because running events have always been popular.
But recently, it's gone to another level.
Traditional races, such as marathons and half-marathons, continue to draw large crowds, attracting runners of all levels seeking personal challenges and accomplishments.
However, the appeal of running events has expanded beyond competitive racing to include more casual formats like fun runs and themed races. These events offer participants a chance to enjoy running in a festive atmosphere while promoting fitness in a fun and accessible way.
Running events also serve as platforms for socialisation, bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds to share a common experience. Whether it's bonding with fellow runners during a race or connecting with spectators and volunteers along the route, these events foster a sense of community and camaraderie that extends beyond the finish line.
The popularity of running events reflects a growing emphasis on health, social connection, and giving back. Whether it's through traditional races or newer formats, these events play a multifaceted role in promoting fitness, fostering community, and supporting charitable causes, making them a cornerstone of the modern running culture.
The Changing Face of the "Typical" Runner
The perception of the "typical" runner is undergoing a serious and worthy transformation, as the running community increasingly embraces diversity and celebrates individuals who defy stereotypes.
Gone are the days when runners were narrowly defined by a specific physique or athletic background.
Today, runners come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities, challenging outdated notions of who can participate in the sport. From recreational joggers, jalkers (it's kinda' like a walk-jog thing) to ultra-marathoners, from beginners taking their first steps to seasoned athletes pushing their limits, the running community encompasses a rich variety of individuals united by their love of movement and socialising.
Behind every pair of running shoes lies a unique story of triumph, perseverance, and passion. These stories deserve to be celebrated, as they inspire others to lace up their own shoes and embark on their own running journey.
We've all got our own story, our ability to overcome our own challenges. Whether it be injuries, body size, health, self-confidence or just routine.
In celebrating the changing face of the "typical" runner, we embrace the diversity that makes the running community so vibrant and welcoming. Whether you're fast or slow, young or old, able-bodied or differently abled, there's a place for you in the running world. And as we continue to challenge stereotypes and celebrate the stories of all runners, we pave the way for a future where running truly is a sport for everyone.
The Emergence of Independent Running Brands
The emergence of independent running brands, like Runly, marks a significant shift in the running industry, offering runners a diverse array of options beyond the offerings of larger, established companies.
It is fitting, that in the face of a changing landscape in the world of running, new independent brands are challenging the established big name players.
Unlike their larger counterparts, independent brands often operate on smaller scales, allowing them to be more nimble and responsive to market trends. This agility enables them to innovate quickly, introducing cutting-edge technologies, sustainable materials, and unique designs that resonate with today's discerning runners.
Independent brands are often closer to the cultural and social changes that are happening at the grassroots level.
Authenticity, community, and purpose.
Many of these brands are founded by passionate runners who seek to create products that they themselves would want to use. This genuine connection to the sport and its community infuses their products with a sense of authenticity and credibility that resonates with consumers.
To summarise, the evolution of the running community reflects a shift towards inclusivity and diversity. From social running clubs to independent brands, every aspect of the sport is changing. Running is no longer confined to elite athletes; it's a sport for everyone, fostering connection and support. Moving forward, let's embrace change, challenge assumptions, and continue shaping a running community that welcomes all. So, lace up your shoes and join us on this journey as we run towards a more inclusive and vibrant future.