Running in Sweden
Running is booming here in Sweden. You can read about the trend in newspapers and all kinds of health magazines. They even spread the running gospel on TV, referring to two very popular and usually full foot races: Stockholm Marathon and Göteborgs-Varvet (semi-marathon). Beeing spring and you see much more people pounding pavement than usual. Some of them even seem to appreciate running, while others doing the heel-strike-shuffle, unsuccessfully hiding their disguise, like it was some kind of punishment. These seasonal “masochist runners” weren’t making any tracks in the snow the past winter.
When they talk about a “running boom” taking place, it seems more about heel-striking pavement pounders (joggers) who want to participate in a spectacular mass event, rather than a lot of people suddenly discovering their love for running.
In various running blogs you find all kinds of runners: elite, road, ultra, sprint, jogger, amateur, beginner, trail, adventure, lifestyle, fitness, weight watchers etc. One of the most common type of runner is “the counter“, who’s running is all about measuring quantity: distance, time, heartbeat, pulse, calories etc. Without counting or measuring running just doesn’t make sense for this type of runner. A “blog runner” is a person who seem to write more about running than doing the actual running himself, a “theoretical runner” in other words. There are even a blog-running communities, where blog-runners and their readers get together a run together, a collective body of runners similar to the practice of running clubs.
Then we have the “gear runner“, who sport all kinds of products during a normal run: superlight running sunglasses, mp3-player, heart-rate monitor with gps, an advanced hydration system, flexible quick-lock shoestrings, buff and of course several compression items: socks, tights, shirt etc. The “gear runner” who always is updated with the latest in running gear technology actually believes his latest shoe purchase can help him become a better runner.
The most common type of runner is “the circular runner“, who usually run in a big circle, either on pavement or park trail. But among all possible figures that exist I think the circle is freedom killing as the square. Square minded people run in circles. Open minded runners draw their own figures, exploring hidden paths and following nature’s possibilities.
This park trail, or “motionsspår” as it’s called, is one of the reasons why trail running on gnarly trails and off-trail running never have become popular – still the biggest “real” trail races only attracts at most 200 runners. With groomed park trails in every little town nobody need to face the challenges of running in rough terring, rocky mountain trails, crossing muddy creeks or stumble upon slippery roots. Therefore sales of trail running shoes in Sweden have always been weak, compared to road shoes.
However, the interest in trail running seems to slowly awakens. The number of trail races are increasing, partly thanks to Salomon’s new Trail Tour adding 8 new (or even more..) trail races to the calendar. Hopefully the trail races will attract more than just a handful runners, and hopefully also some really strong runners. Today more or less any elite marathon or orienteering runner is likely to win any given race.