I received a very lovely phone call earlier in the week from Mian Ridge who was writing an article on run-commuting for the Financial Times. She asked some really interesting questions and was very engaged with the practice and what the research might mean for it. This is not a surprise when I heard she was run-commuting for the week as research for the piece – it always amazes me how people’s intrigue increases once they undertake or properly consider the run-commuting.
Anyway, the article was published online yesterday and was in print in today’s edition. The online version requires you to register to view it but I include a scan of the print article below for your viewing pleasure.
As ever, only a tiny portion of what we spoke about made it into the final article but I am so thrilled to see that Mian included a point which really challenged my thinking about run-commuting and the research so far. When discussing the fact that so many run-commuters had only been doing the practice for 1 -2 years, Mian put forward an alternative explanation to what I had previously inferred from such statistics. I had taken this to indicate that run-commuting was rapidly growing in popularity but Mian suggested it could mean that run-commuters only tend to run-commute for 1 – 2 years before giving it up and returning to ordinary commuting practices. From the statistics alone, it is impossible to tell: there is no base level or mass survey to indicate how many people run-commute (it really needs to be brought into travel surveys and censuses).
I’m sure that a bit of both many indeed be the case, but I standby my interpretation that run-commuting is rapidly increasing in popularity and uptake. The growing number of blogs, tweets, articles and other media interest in run-commuting echoes a growing public interest, a self-defined ‘movement’, all of which indicate run-commuting is on the up. The interviews I conducted alongside the survey also suggest that people do tend to stick with run-commuting for many years, one participant had been doing so for over 26 years – way ahead of the trend. One of the reasons run-commuting offers so much prospect for public health, sustainable travel and active travel is the fact it is a commute – it is something that has to be done daily and as such, any behaviour changes, if they take hold, become habits and have much greater longevity.
Anyway, the interview gave me much food for thought and highlighted the limitations of statistics, the multiple interpretations and the need to design a robust study going into the PhD. All very invigorating.