Runday Is the Free Fitness Movement Encouraging You to Run Your Best 30

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Taking care of your mental and physical health has never been more important. While gyms across the country have been forced to close while we practice social distancing, one luxury that’s not been taken away from us, is the option to exercise outdoors.

Runday, a free fitness movement run by four Sydney mates, has temporarily halted its weekly group outdoor workouts, but is still encouraging its community to be active via virtual challenges.

Launched in early 2019, Runday attendees are encouraged to run their ‘Best 30’. Each Sunday, a new location is announced, where you turn up and run your best 30 minutes (an ‘out and back’), and push yourself a little harder each week to run further.

As Runday has progressed, so too has its offering. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the fitness movement had expanded to include bigger events, with meditation sessions, and specialised activites (like Pilates, boxing, yoga and H.I.I.T workouts) run by experts, before the 30 minute run.

Until social distancing restrictions are eased, Runday is operating by encouraging its community to continue pounding the pavement, and sharing their runs on social media, while encouraging others to take part.

Below, we interviewed the team to find out more about how it operates as a free fitness movement, plans for the future, and how we can continue to stay motivated.

Amanda Bardas: Talk me through Runday — what it is, and when you launched?

Runday: It all started just over a year ago now, in February 2019. We’re a group of four mates, and we met on a summer Sunday morning in Bondi for a run and swim. This was how we came up with the name ‘Runday’ (Run + Sunday = Runday) — it came naturally as it was a pretty casual idea for us at the time.

We would meet up weekly for a 30 minute run, and accompanied our runs with posts on our personal Instagram pages for about three or four weeks which led to interest from our immediate network of friends/family wanting to get involved and improve their fitness. This still is the core of what we do.

We launched an Instagram page in May 2019, after two months of having around ten people turn up each week (all from our own socials).

After the launch of our Instagram page it became obvious that Runday quickly caught the interest of more than our immediate circle.

We knew we weren’t reinventing the wheel, that wasn’t what it was about. But we figured with the interest of those around us we may as well legitimise this, welcome as many people as possible and try to grow a community around a Sunday session of 30-45 minutes of exercise.

The fitness world today is an amazing industry and so vast and varied.

However, we saw two minor flat spots.

  1. It was a little fragmented
  2. It was a little expensive

Often people choose a fitness path and stick to it; for example, those doing weight training might not diversify and participate in meditation.

Of course, people pick the path they most enjoy and the one that will help them achieve their goals. Everything might not be for everyone. But we wanted to try to bridge the gap and give everyone a chance to at least experience the different elements of fitness, in one place, for free.

AB: It’s still early days but what are some of your goals with Runday?

Runday: We recognise a bit of a shortfall in society relating to health, so a goal of ours is to diminish the greater social and financial barriers impeding the realisation of people improving their wellbeing mentally and physically.

The ‘why’ behind Runday, which is to bring free fitness to as many people as possible in the most diverse way possible, continues to be a goal of ours.

We see Rundayvous events eventually being conducted concurrently in various across Australia and eventually the world.

Additionally, we are currently looking to expand and develop a larger scale fitness events

The immediate and long-term community benefits we aim to implement in the future are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our vision for the Runday brand.

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More than a run #RUNDAY #RundayVous ? @keitaabiko

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AB: Talk me through some of Runday’s early successes and achievements?

Runday: Becoming more than a run. Early on as you know we were a crew that gathered just for a run. Fairly quickly we realised it was only natural for us to become more than a run. It was realised when we hosted our first outdoor bootcamp. Beyond this day being a success, this signified the expansion of the Runday into other areas of fitness.

Since then, our events have been more unique and wide-reaching. From yoga sessions on the concrete flats of Clovelly to meditation in Centennial Park. We pride ourselves on providing a unique social experience for our members, and that is an achievement we uphold every week (when we’re able to operate).

Our run format, ‘Best 30’ is our signature. Early on we recognised the benefit of running as a team, however we identified the ranging levels of fitness within our community. This is why we developed our Best 30 format. A way to keep the crew together, and not limit anyone or setting unrealistic expectations.

This has seen an overwhelming response from the community. The obvious being the positive environment it creates at each event, as everyone starts and finishes together.

But beyond that, we have had people come to Runday that absolutely fucking hated running, and often tell us they ‘can’t run’. This format has allowed our community to get used to running, doing their best, and improving! We have turned people who ‘cannot run’ into competitive and proficient runners.

Our greatest and most rewarding achievement to date is the general response from our community. We are frequently reminded of the change people have made in their lifestyle and the positive impact Runday has had, and for us that is the exact mission we set out to achieve.

“We have turned people who ‘cannot run’ into competitive, proficient runners.”

Another pretty cool achievement is seeing people get out of their comfort zone and try something new. Seeing some 20-30-year-old dudes who generally just visit the gym, come to Runday and dive into a meditation practise, or Pilates session, in front of 100+ people makes this so rewarding.

AB: When did your business first start to feel the effects of covid-19?

Runday: It was during the week leading up to March 15 that we realised the implications of social distancing and the whole basis of our physical community would start to feel the effect of COVID-19. The attendance at our Sunday Rundayvous was well below average and high-5’s and hugs were replaced with elbow touches and foot taps.

We thought we could push through, and we didn’t have an intention to stop our events. We switched to ‘Code Run’ which meant our events would be just a meditation and a run, in an effort to avoid contact and remain safe.

However,  with the tougher restrictions put in place, and rightfully so, this led to the indefinite postponement of our Rundayvous and the development of a method to keep our community together and active, which we’ve seen some great success during the process.

AB: What does it mean for you now? How have you pivoted the way you operate? 

Runday: We can honestly say the repercussions of COVID-19 have brought the best out of us and our community. We’ve witnessed a massive growth in engagement and our network. I guess, during times like these people have more time to focus on what matters and people tend to look for something in order to remain united and connected. The Runday team shares this want, and we don’t want to lose the community we worked so hard to bring together, so we’ve introduced some virtual challenges.

“We sat around for hours discussing the ways we can best serve the community.”

we launched #8000inApril — a shared goal for the community to contribute to, whether it’s a run, walk or jog they are encouraged to submit their KMs through social media and challenge someone else to get involved. Through this we aim to maintain a sense of community, maintain fitness levels and connectedness throughout our Runday family and greater society.

Alongside this challenge, to sustain that ‘Sunday Is Runday’ sentiment we’ve announced our Virtual Rundayvous (VR). This purely means our Best 30 will continue at 9am on Sundays and our socials will lead the community through a warmup, start and cool down allowing us all to virtually connect by getting out and active as we usually would do every other Sunday morning.

AB: Do you think the way you operate your business will be changed for good?

Runday: Of course we have noticed the change and the way we have had to adapt, I mean.. we are a free fitness community. Our whole operation is based on outdoor group fitness, so yes the first day was a shock.

Like all small businesses, we’re left in the unknown. We do acknowledge that some of the implications from this global pandemic will have a lasting effect on the way we operate.

Our content will likely change for the better, this opportunity has allowed us to rethink our Instagram and discover ideas that we will continue to implement post COVID-19.

AB: How do you guys stay motivated to continue working out right now? 

Runday: To be honest, we know that working full time can leave not much energy or time to exercise. We saw that amongst ourselves towards the back end of last year when we were so busy with our events.

We saw COVID-19 as an opportunity rather than a curse. It’s given us a moment to catch our breath and step back, realise how active this community is and feek lucky that we are a part of it. We’re using the energy that they provide, to help stay motivated!

Then when you see the positive results, feel the energy and the positive mindset that exercise creates, it gets easier and easier.

“When you see the positive results, feel the energy and the positive mindset that exercise creates, it gets easier and easier.”

AB: If someone’s never been able to run for 30 mins what are some ways you think they can start? 

Runday: Taking the first step. Just kidding… but not really. Progression is definitely the right answer for this one, but you must ‘start’ in order to progress. We would recommend, depending how far away from 30 minutes of running the individual is, a safe starting point is 15 minutes of running.

Then repeat, until you build up slowly to 30 minutes.

An alternative method we suggest would be the Run, Rest, Run method — for which 30 minutes would be the first 12.5 mins running followed by a 5 minute rest interval and the second 12.5 mins run leg would commence immediately after. Slowly the break interval would decrease until it no longer exists. Always remember stretching during the break interval to break down lactic acid and ensure the body is good to go for that second run.

Go at your own pace, there is no real definition for ‘run’. Do your Best 30! Just move forward for 15 minutes and come back in 15 minutes. Keep the body moving for 30 consistently and try to pick up the pace as you get used to it.

AB: What do you think we will all learn from this experience?

Runday: Bad things happen, but they don’t last forever — staying positive is essential so that when you get through this, and it’s a matter of when not if, you’re in a position to live your life and support those around you in the best way you can.

Specific to Runday, I think we realised how much support the community has for each other especially in times of uncertainty. We weren’t sure of the response or attitude the community might have when we asked them to continue to run and stay positive and exercise, but the response was overwhelmingly positive and more so than ever before; we’ve so far had over 150 new people join the crew during this time. The support they have for eachother is a credit to this community and a testament to what we have tried to create.

If you’re keen to support Runday and join its community, shop some of its merch.

Follow Runday on Instagram and join the free fitness movement.