Running log

Athletics is set to overtake football as the country’s second most popular sport in terms of participation.

The latest Sport England records, from January, show athletics as one of only four sports increasing its participation levels.

The Olympic Legacy plan aimed to get a million more adults active by 2012, meaning over-16s doing at least 30 minutes of regular sport or exercise at a moderate intensity.

Athletics includes jogging and running on roads, trails or countryside but it also includes track-and-field athletics and ultra-distance running.

Swimming remains top with just over three million people exercising once a week. Slightly over two million play football weekly.

But both sports have decreased by 5-10 per cent in the three years since the data was tracked. Cycling has grown slightly but not enough to stop it being overtaken by athletics.

Participation in athletics nationally has grown from 1.61 million in 2007/08 (that is, 3.9 per cent of the adult population) to 1.88 million adults today (4.5 per cent), a one in seven increase.

The extra 271,300 participants dwarfs the increases in the other growth sports – netball, mountaineering and table tennis, who together add a further 67,700 participants.

Unfortunately these have been at the expense of falls across the board elsewhere, with rugby, basketball, golf and tennis among the biggest losers.

Basketball has already had its funding from Sport England cut, so athletics may receive extra funding to reward the successful activities of clubs involved in mass-participation running and jogging.

The six clubs in Airedale Athletics have developed a contact list of 1,500 participants around Bradford who have taken part in events such as the Epilepsy Action Bradford 10K.

Using the national figures, there must be over 10,000 more adult runners in the city. Remarkably, only one in 20 of them is a club member.

Airedale Athletics are planning a series of initiatives to encourage these people to get even fitter – neighbourhood training groups, or workplace groups on the one hand; and circuit-training, speed-work and fell-technique classes open to everyone on the other.

For anyone interested in improving their jogging fitness or running technique, visit