A bit uncomfortable, a customer makes his first meters on a modest trot on a 25-meter long inner lane in the All4running store, in the heart of Alkmaar. Numerous sensors register his gait. Does it land on the forefoot or on the heel? Are they heavy thumps or springy touches? “How do these feel?” Asks an employee. “More cushioning, huh.” It is now the third pair.
They have seen an army of novice runners appear here in recent months. According to manager Paul Okkerse, there is a corona-related phenomenon: they are mainly switchers. Bodybuilders, fitness freaks, handball players, footballers; all looking for an alternative to condition maintenance. Both turnovers in the four branches in the Netherlands and on the website has increased by 50 percent in recent months.
Wednesday is Global Running Day, the day on which running is celebrated worldwide every year and everyone is called on to get moving. But due to the restrictions on other sports options, many people are already convinced and regularly rush out the door on their newly purchased Asics, New Balances, and Nikes.
There are no precise figures for the increase. According to the Athletics Union, at least one million people run several times a week. That number increases to 2.5 million if the indicator is at least 12 times a year. According to communication manager Bram van der Leij, interest has skyrocketed immediately after the announcement of the sports restrictions.
This was reflected in the number of clicks on the site hardlopen.nl. His estimate is “150 to 200 percent more than usual.” The visitor mainly looked for construction schedules and tips on preparation. The influence on the immune system was also popular. Van der Leij: ‘The motto is still: don’t go too long, not too deep, but stay nice and active. And keep your distance. “
Runners are increasingly looking for virtual events, while mass gatherings are still prohibited. Instead of pushing the boundaries, Van der Leij believes that other targets are considered, such as contributing to charity. For example, 2,500 people recently took part in the so-called Coronarun. They individually walked a self-determined distance, varying from 1 to 42 kilometers. The registration fee went to the National Elderly Fund. It generated more than 32 thousand euros.
Won’t many of the new joggers return to the fitness center or their team as soon as the opportunities arise? Van der Leij of the Athletics Union is not pessimistic. “We hope that running for that group remains a fun second sport. They now know what it will bring. “
In the Alkmaar running shop, they expect a return. On a form at the entrance, it says that cuddly toys and high fives after performances are not in it, but the promise is that the runners who can come later this year to pick up.