Running in Spain

For some reason, many Spaniards have taken the word correr (literally, “to run”) and started to use the words “runner” and “running,” like so:

El ‘running’ está de moda

Run for your life

Running is popular nowadays in Spain. There is a race every weekend here in Madrid, and every day I see more people out and about, running around the parks near our house. Funnily, as the article says, first they said “jogging,” then they said “footing,” and now they’re saying “running.” They all mean the same thing, so why not say them in Spanish: salir a correr. It’s a phenomenon I’m rather fascinated by, but I’m not like to argue with diehards who say the Spanish language is dying, battered and weary of so many Anglicisms. I think it’s put a new spin on an old hobby, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

I started running at the end of high school, and I’ve kept it up since then, sometimes substituting going to the gym. But I still run 4–5 days a week most weeks. When I came to Spain in college, I didn’t notice a lot of runners. I would often run around outside Toledo’s old city walls, and I would maybe see one other runner. But nowadays, I see tons. Of course, in Madrid you’re more likely to see someone running. It’s all anecdotal, but based on my observations alone, I’d swear the number of runners in Spain has increased dramatically in the last five years.

And the evidence backs it up: Barcelona’s 2012 marathon attracted nearly 20,000 runners, a 28% increase from 2011. And I’d venture to say it’s only gotten bigger since then. What’s the reason for this increase? I can’t pinpoint it, but I’ve someone jokingly say that a man having a midlife crisis in 1990 gets an expensive car, in 2000 he gets a much-younger girlfriend, and 2010 he starts running. Plus, it’s a relatively cheap sport to take up, and you can do it almost anywhere. All you really need are some runnng shoes. The rest is just extra. Some people even claim that it’s addictive!

One thing Spanish runners normally have over runners back home is great gear. Just visit Decathlon, a big sporting goods store here, and you’ll see why. You can buy cheap, professional looking running outfits for way less than you’d spend on something back home. So while I run in an old tee shirt and even older shorts, most of the people I see in Madrid have on whole coordinated outfits. Good for them, but I’m going to stick with my shirt from ninth-grade volleyball …

Are you a runner?

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11 comments

  1. When I lived in Sevilla, I always saw men running, but almost never women (unless they were guiris, claro). Has this changed?

  2. I don’t remember seeing a ton of runners in Granada when I studied there in 2010. It’s nice to know that more Spaniards are running though. As a runner myself, I plan on running 4-5 times a week when I move to Logroño this September. It’s interesting that they are using the word “running” too. I’ve always just used correr.

    1. i know that this is old and you will not read this, but there is a reason why you did not see many runners in Granada, but that is a thing that would bring up debate.

      as for the use of the words running or runner by Spaniards as the owner of the blog, Kaley, says, well i have never heard a person say such words, in fact it makes me smile to think of for example “voy a hacer un poco de running”, or “soy un runner”…..i am just smiling right now, with no offence of course.

      perhaps it is because i am from Murcia….don’t know…..perhaps because Madrid is more cosmopolitan, more modern and more fashionable you may hear it..have no idea

  3. Ah, we’re on the same wavelength–I’m also working on a draft about jogging in Madrid! In my case, though, I jog more to make sure I squeeze some exercise in–usually twice a week, sometimes three if enough private classes are cancelled.

    I loathe the thought of going to a gym here, both for the expense but also because exercising in close quarters with strangers gives me the creeps. So, running in the fresh (well, sort of fresh, city) air it is!

    One thing I really hate is the disgruntled looks my (older) neighbors give me when I come back from a jog. YES I’m sweaty. YES I’m smelly. And YES I actually just exercised! Now, please stop giving me the stink eye :/ Do you ever get those judgmental glances after a run, too?

  4. I’m a runner. But I wasn’t doing it religiously in Chicago because I live far from the lakeside which is the only place IMO that’s good for running. Then in Madrid I lived close to Retiro Park so it was easy. My husband is a runner and also does 10Ks and whatnot which I don’t.

  5. Obviously LOVE this. I sort of re-fell in love with running when I was living in Madrid, I loved running out in Casa de Campo and I ran the Madrid 13.1 in April of 2011. It’s awesome that the sport has gained fans in the last few years!

  6. Running has taken Santiago by storm, too (pun intended hehe). You’re always bound to see runners (even hordes of runners) at the main Alameda park at all hours of the day or night. With so many green spaces—on par or rivaling Madrid’s impressive amount—it’s hard not to go running here :)

    I ran all through high school and college until some foot problems grounded me for a few years. If I can get some decent shoes I’ll probably start running intervals more than occasionally this fall.

  7. When I studied abroad in Sevilla in 2010, I only saw men running, and now everyone’s doing it! I think it’s great that running is getting so popular. I’ve done a few 10ks in Madrid now, and with each one people seem more and more enthusiastic about running!

  8. I’m glad to hear this! I was worried it wasnt going to be that big of a thing in Spain as it is in NY. I am now looking forward to running with a better scenery in Malaga instead of the warehouses and crowded streets of Brooklyn haha

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