Ian Mountford returns with a heartfelt broadside aimed squarely at the traditional running press.

When you first start to run, you stride up to the counter at your local newsagent and slap down your copy of Runners World with pride. “Look at me, I’m a Runner! The Mars bar? Oh, it’s just extra carbs, honestly. It’ll only take me 1.3 miles to burn it off. No problemo.

Do all runners really look like this?

The running press has many merits, and as a beginner there’s a heap of useful and practical information contained in those glossy pages, but after a few years of running you see that expensive cover price as a couple of protein shakes. You also get extremely fed up of the airbrushed ‘runners’ on the cover, with their tanned and toned limbs taking centre stage. Maybe I’m a bit unlucky, or just hang around with the wrong crowd, but the runners I see on the road couldn’t be further away from what we get in the pictures. It all gets a bit much after a while. Where are the real runners?

The annual content cycle within these magazines is also rather annoying. In the UK, all roads lead to London Marathon in the spring, and the US sees a splash for Boston and NYC as they approach. Every now again there is a new track session to try out or an interesting recipe to have a crack at. But I don’t find it all that motivational to get a breakdown of the latest 400m starlet’s weekly routine as it makes my own lowly level of output seem just a wee bit worse than it did before. What about adding more on race routes?  Overseas race information, maybe? More promotion of real runners and their racing antics?

I do like the gear reviews, especially when there is someone we can all identify with who gives their honest opinion on a product. The upcoming race calendars also provide the key resource we all rely so heavily on. I do admit that I pick them up every now and again, but it’s rare nowadays that I head back to the newsagent the following month, dying for the next issue. I do wish they’d try a bit harder.  Do you?

Ian Mountford




3 thoughts on “Why the running press should try harder

  1. I've long held the view that the vast majority of material that appears in the running 'press' is overly safe and regretably predictable. As you say, once you've gone through one cycle of what these magazines have to offer there are few enough reasons to keep on investing the usually fairly hefty cover price. Although I'm biassed (because I contribute material to the magazine) I do believe that Irish Runner is one of the best running publications around, specifically because it bucks the 'get your six-pack abs in ten minutes' trend, although even that publication can fall foul of the same malaise at times.

    An enjoyable piece.

  2. I think people will be impressed with an effort from a magazine to focus on real runners and their stories, understanding at the same time that there is a market in the trend-following copy that drags a number of readers in. I better get a look at Irish Runner…

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