Road Running is the sport of running on a measured course over an established road. This differs from track and field on a regular track and cross country running over natural terrain.
These events are usually classified as long-distance according to athletics terminology, with races typically ranging from 5 kilometres to 42.2 kilometres in a marathon. The events may involve large numbers of runners and/or wheelchair entrants. The international governing body for road racing is the International Association of Athletics Federations with the four most common recognized distances being 5K runs, 10K runs, half marathons and marathons.
Running on the road is an alternative surface to running on a trail, track, or treadmill. For many people looking to participate in running as an activity or sport, there are multiple opportunities that can be found running on the road.
It is thought that human running evolved at least four and a half million years ago out of the ability of Australopithecus, an early ancestor of humans, to walk upright on two legs. Early humans most likely developed into endurance runners from the practice of persistence hunting of animals, the activity of following and chasing until a prey is too exhausted to flee.
Competitive running grew out of religious festivals in various areas such as Greece, Egypt, Asia, and Africa. The Tailteann Games, an Irish sporting festival in honour of the goddess Tailtiu, dates back to 1829 BCE and is one of the earliest records of competitive running. There are many myths and legends regarding the origins of the Olympics and Marathon running however the first recorded games took place in 776 BCE.
Road Running was included in the 1st modern Olympics in 1896 over a distance of 40km to celebrate the achievements of Ancient Greece. The distance of 42.195km for a marathon was standardised in 1921. Because of the steady growth of recreational running in the 1950s, the half marathon was originated as an alternative for marathon races. The event is not part of the Olympics or World Championships but has its own IAAF World Half Marathon Championships since 1992.
The 10km distance has been used for road running events for a large portion of the modern era of athletics – the Běchovice–Prague race is one of the longest-running events over the distance, having first been held in 1897.
The Road Race has been a popular part of the World Transplant Games since the New York, USA, Games in 1980 and in the early years was sometimes known as the ‘Mini Marathon’.
Prior to the 2013 Games in Durban, South Africa, the race was run over two distances – 5k for men and 3k for women.
At the 2017 Games in Malaga, Spain, the Road Race was opened up to living donors and donor family members for the first time and this has continued going forward.
Road Running, whether for recreational activity or for the purpose of competition is an activity that attracts people of all ages from all over the world. Many organised Road Running events recognise finishers in an age group system which acts as a way to reward younger or older athletes who may not be able to compete with runners in a prime age.
Road races are often community-wide events that highlight or raise money for an issue or project and many people find that competing in a local road race can be the motivation needed for individuals to pursue physical activity.
Running increases stamina and improves blood circulation, also helping to strengthen glutes, hamstrings, quads, and the smaller muscles in the legs as well as potentially improving bone density.
To start Road Running by yourself you will just need comfortable loose clothing and most importantly a pair of well-fitting running shoes. Experts recommend that you buy your first pair of running shoes from a specialist sports shop to make sure you buy the best shoes for your gait, or how your foot lands and rolls as you move. Wearing the wrong shoes can cause injury and strain on your muscles. As you begin to enjoy the sport you could buy further specialist running clothing that helps to wick away sweat and keep you comfortable or/and has a compression element to help keep your blood pumping effectively.
When starting, take things gently at first and build your fitness gradually. It is recommended to break down your running into intervals and try to keep them short at the beginning. Do not worry if you need to walk between the intervals so you can recover a little. After some time, you can start lengthening the running sections and reducing the walking.
There will be a running club in your local area so you may prefer the support and fun of running with others.