UK runners looking for a few good couch potatoes

Mon Apr 19, 2010 4:21pm EDT
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By Paul Casciato

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - You may think running is just for elite athletes and amateurs brave or mad enough to take on Sunday's London marathon, but one English group would like to introduce you to the transformative joy of hitting the trail.

Run in England has already persuaded more than 1,500 people to lace up the trainers in the last year alone and aims to get a total of 50,000 people turned on to running in four years.

"Our strapline is: any size, any age, any ability," Run in England Area Coordinator for the south and east Brian Corbett told Reuters. "It's definitely not about elite runners ... it's just about people getting off the sofa, getting fit and getting healthy."

The organization grew out of the Women's Running Network and has been given some support from Sport England through England Athletics to help it in its mission to reverse one of the modern world's less attractive byproducts: the sedentary lifestyle.

Corbett said Run in England has been working with local authorities and other partners to spread the word about running at events, on its website (, in local papers and on Facebook to people who might consider the sport too strenuous or high impact, haven't any information on how to begin and may lack the willpower to do it on their own.

There is no specific target range, though he said that teenagers around 15-16 worryingly dropped out of sports and fitness because they became too self-conscious. Run in England was also keen to attract older people in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond who may have gone years without any exercise.

Run in England organizes courses for leaders and then provides support and advice to them on starting and maintaining running groups among their friends, workmates or neighbors.

So far Run in England has had its greatest success with women, though the age demographic varies widely.   Continued...

<p>Runners pass Big Ben clock tower and The Houses of Parliament as they compete during the London Marathon April 26, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>