As the economy lags, runners have picked up the pace, and the recession may be a motivator.
According to a piece aired this week on the radio program Marketplace, more people ran marathons in 2009 and the average runner got faster.
“Perhaps because people who’re out of work had a lot more time to train,” reasoned host Kai Ryssdal.
Reporter Gregory Warner featured Laura Pizzuto as an example of someone who turned the economic downturn into a physical uptick.
Out of work in the mortgage and finance industry, the Philadelphia woman found something positive in hitting the street on two feet.
“Running is something that I didn't have so much trouble succeeding at,” Pizzuto said. “My hard work paid off, which, my hard work did not pay off at a lot of my jobs. You know, promotions, raises were not available. Running was, running, I put a lot of hard work in, and then I became faster.
Statistics from the national clearinghouse RunningUSA provide more evidence to support the theory that the recession paid fitness dividends.
Total participation in the sport increased a record 10% from 2009 to 2010, and the total number of self-identified runners hit 49.4 million. Over century’s first decade, the growth has been more impressive: 51% more people finished a road race in 2010, compared to the number in 2000.
Those reaching the finish line totaled 13 million last year, according the RunnningUSA figures.
Like Pizzuto, at least some of them were likely to have found an investment in themselves to be a smart one.
Ryan Lamppa, media director for Running USA offered his take on the bullish running market:
"Yes, this country is experiencing a Second Running Boom, and 2011 looks to be another record year of participation," Laampa said.
"Why? Not one main reason, but running is convenient and inexpensive compared to other activities such as golf; running helps blow off stress and makes you feel good (who doesn't want to feel good during hard times?). Unlike the stock market, running is something that you can control - when to run, how
far, how fast, what race to enter, etc. - this sense of control is empowering; finishing a road race gives you a sense of accomplishment; charity and non-charity training programs for the new runners; fun,
family-centered community events with a positive vibe and energy, and finally, as healthcare costs rise, more Americans are starting fitness programs that include running and walking."
If you have a tale of running through the recession, please share it. Post your story in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org.