The Speedy History of Recreational Running


Nowadays, our parks and sidewalks are packed with joggers training for their next 5K. Most of us wouldn’t give a neon-clad, reflector-wearing runner a second glance as he brushed by us on the street. But that wasn’t always the case. It turns out recreational running didn’t come into style until the late 1960s—and before that, running for exercise could, at best, garner some weird looks, and at worst, end with the jogger being chased by the police.

“Back in the ‘60s, running was so unusual that it had to be explained to people,” Vox notes in a short video on the history of recreational running. "On October 15, 1968, The Chicago Tribune devoted an entire page to a strange trend: jogging, the newest road to fitness.” From there, University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman and a little company called Nike helped fuel the new fitness fad.

While the outdoor jogging fad began in the 1960s, the treadmill got its start earlier—in the British prisons of the 19th century. In fact, Vox notes, legendary writer Oscar Wilde was once forced to run on a treadmill during a two-year prison sentence. Check out the video above to learn more about the strange history of recreational running.

Banner Image Credit: Vox, YouTube