Why everyone in their twenties seems to be running - and why I’m one of them

20 May 2024, 17:36

Why everyone in their twenties seems to be running - and why I’m one of them
Why everyone in their twenties seems to be running - and why I’m one of them. Picture: Alamy
Lucy Bacon

By Lucy Bacon

You’d be forgiven for thinking everyone you follow is a runner when you open instagram on a Saturday morning.

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Selfies in head-to-toe Nike, screenshots of running routes, and perfectly positioned photographs of a cup of coffee and a croissant with the caption “post-run treat.” It’s me. You’re looking at MY Instagram.

Guilty as charged.

Running parkrun (the free, weekly timed 5k held in over a thousand parks across the UK) on a Saturday morning has become my weekend ritual.

Every week at 8.30am I pull myself out of bed and trudge across to the nearest park, to run for 25 minutes alongside 700+ people, at the end receiving a place and an official time and a real sense of achievement that I got out of bed for this.

And I’m not alone - Google data shows that at the end of 2023, searches for “how to get into running,” “how to start running,” and “running route near me,” have all risen by 50%, and according to Strava - the run tracking app - women under 25 are the fastest-growing community on the platform, and the most likely age group to be tracking their runs.

What’s behind this boom in running, and why does it seem to be booming among women - and men for that matter - in their twenties?

I can only speak for myself but running has provided me a safe haven to unwind from the day or week at work.

For the 30-90 minutes that I’m running, I’m able to switch off from the world, listen to a podcast, audiobook or Beyoncé’s latest album and my worries melt away.

Running is the only form of exercise I’ve done - and trust me I’ve tried most - that makes me feel on top of the world afterwards.

The feeling I get after a run I cannot compare to anything else, I feel unstoppable, my mind feels clear, and I feel energised.

It’s also a form of exercise that I don’t do to change my body, whether that be out of vanity or insecurity. I was an an avid weight lifter for nearly 10 years, but I quit the gym earlier year as I realised I was only going to try to make my body look a certain way, rather than out of enjoyment. I actually realised that I find the gym pretty boring.

Running with other people also provides a huge sense of community and belonging.

I was lucky enough to run the Wizz Air Hackney Half marathon on Sunday alongside 20,000 other people - including Bridgerton heartthrob Jonathan Bailey and elite London Marathon runner Anya Culling - and I shed a tear as I crossed the start line to begin the race.

Lucy ran the Wizz Air Hackney Half marathon this weekend
Lucy ran the Wizz Air Hackney Half marathon this weekend. Picture: Lucy Bacon

I felt proud, not just for myself but for the thousands other people who decided to show-up that day and run, whether it be to set themselves a challenge, raise money for charity, or just do it for fun.

I did it for the former and was pleased to cross the line with a personal best, despite the 20 degree heat.

Pounding the streets of east London there was never a dull moment - the roar of the crowds didn’t stop from start to finish and they were complemented by brass bands, steel drums and DJs blaring out dance floor anthems.

The community was out in full force, and you were never short of sweeties, energy gels or fresh fruit handed out by kind local residents to keep you moving.

And that’s why I love running, everyone has their own reason, their own why, but you’re able to come together for a race, for parkrun, a run club and share with the collective spirit.

Gen Z has the running bug, and I’ve certainly got it - but there are worse things to catch.

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