Some good reasons to start running and its history from origins to the present day

by Egle Damini / LUZ
In Milan there is a festival every week, but there was still one entirely dedicated to running and wellness: from 4 to 6 April there was, in fact, the first edition of the Milano Running Festival, a three-day event dedicated to the world of running within the 10,000 square meters of the MiCo, in CityLife. The aim of the sport is to educate the public to experience running as an aggregative phenomenon. We would like to bring Milan to run in a different way, running is a sport within everyone's reach, explained marathon runner Lucilla Andreucci at the opening conference.

Find your own rhythm, set yourself a goal and try to get past it.

And it's true: never as in recent years has running alone or in the company become a mass phenomenon. The Milano Running Festival precedes and prepares the 19th edition of the Generali Milano Marathon on 7 April, a historic event for runners from Lombardy and elsewhere who have been running through the streets of the city centre for almost twenty years.

The 3 fundamental stages in the history of running

Girl cardio workout outdoor
But when did we start to put on light shoes, shorts, and go to the park to grind a few miles? How did the story of running begin?

1. Jimmy Fixx and the pioneers

It all starts with a slightly overweight sports journalist who one day decided to quit smoking and get back into shape. It was 1977 when Jimmy Fixx published The complete book of running, "the bible of jogging": written after having radically changed his lifestyle and training daily - losing 30 kg - also to avoid the end of his father, who was killed by a heart attack. Within a decade Fixx radically changed his habits and his diet, becoming a reference point for all those who wanted to get back in shape.
Elders couple runs in the park
His book taught and consecrated running as a physical activity with beneficial effects on body and mind, helping to make it the most popular amateur sport on the streets of New York and from there spread throughout the world.

2. The 80's and the success

It is thanks to Fixx and his insights that we are not surprised to see parks, embankments, cycle paths or sidewalks crossed by people in running shoes and tracksuits since the 80s. Until a few decades earlier, this was not the case.
Parks are usual spots to run in
Running was part of the training of various sports, but no one "ran": it was considered a ridiculous activity or associated with prisoners. The first daredevils who in the '60s and '70s set their alarm at 6.00 a.m., wore "tennis" shoes - the "running" ones did not yet exist - and were preparing to go around the block before going to work were seen with amazement and suspicion.
Gruppo di ragazzi corrono per le strade di una città
About ten years later, history turns upside down: the world is hit by a real racing fever and thanks to personalities like Bill Bowerman, athletics coach and co-founder of one of the most popular sportswear brands, running suddenly becomes cool.
The story goes that new clothing and food brands designed specifically for joggers also contribute to the general euphoria. On billboards, in TV commercials and magazines, from brokers to presidents: everyone runs.

3. Nowadays improvements

Running, jogging, etc. are all synonymous with what is now the most common outdoor aerobic cardio activity. But why is so widespread? Especially because it is easily practiced at any age, as well as being among the cheapest since no registration fee is required, and the equipment is not expensive.
Girl runs under a bridge
The distinction between jogging and running? It is in the frequency of the activity: if you practice it occasionally, it is jogging, if you train daily in view of competition it is running. In any case, the benefits underlying this activity are the same and all doctors agree that It contributes to bone and muscle strengthening, improved circulation, cardiac effectiveness and, above all, that allows you to lose weight.
You can run anywhere and in any weather condition
Anyone who does this activity, however, knows very well that the answer to the question Why do you run? is not To lose weight, but To feel better. Running also has a beneficial effect on our minds from various points of view: first of all, it helps to manage stress by releasing serotonin, the hormone of happiness, into our bodies, it has a positive effect on memory and learning and - according to research by the University of Maryland - it stimulates the birth of nerve cells, slowing down brain aging and helping to prevent dementia.
Group of sportsmen runs in the center of a city
Running also puts people in front of their own limits, helps them to know and overcome them, always stimulating new ones. The first few times there is no escape: the breath is missing, and the resistance is still limited but overcome the initial difficulties, with constant exercise and small daily efforts the body can surprise us. Reaching performances that we previously did not believe possible.
Running session near the Eiffel Tower
The advantages are many if compared to the very little effort that this activity requires: forty minutes a day, a pair of shoes and a park.

Also, for this reason, both competitive and not, this sport is a widespread activity even in urban contexts: parks, roads, bike paths, and embankments are open-air gyms that allow those who run to do so in total freedom, even if sometimes the quality of the air may not be the best.

Infrastructures help to bring new people closer to running, curious to find out why they like running so much.

Finally, It is now easier than ever thanks to new services created to satisfy a healthy craze that seems to have conquered everyone: from technology - with apps to count the kilometers and "compete" between runners and Bluetooth-headphones to running hotels, hotels designed to meet all the needs of those who run with night laundry, snacks and personal trainers.

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