People running marathon

Slow running is on the rise… but what’s the appeal?

In modern life it can often feel like everything is a race. Racing to get a promotion in work, meet a partner, buy a house. And yet amid the rat race that is modern life a quiet revolution is taking place: slow running.

When people think about running they might imagine a speed and athleticism that they don’t associate with themselves. Slow running, however, focuses on running distances at your own comfortable pace, no matter what that is. Running for the joy of it, rather than for competition.

This trend has taken off on social media with over 3,000 videos posted under #slowrunning on TikTok. 

Jasmine Collett, a journalist at Athletics Weekly, has noticed an increase in slow running content on her feeds.

Collet said: “All I’m seeing at the moment on Tiktok, and Instagram, and whatnot is so many people picking up running which is really, really amazing to see.”

Run clubs focusing on slow running are also becoming increasingly popular. Runners High is a run club for women who consider themselves slow runners based in London. The club, set up by Celina Stephenson, has almost 9,000 followers on Instagram. It started with 50 girls in October 2023 and now averages about 200 per run.


here’s me popping my head in again to say you’re amazing and to remind you to not compare yourself to others online !!! those with average abilities arnt really posting their journeys so we only see people be good at things all the time (which is fun) but that doesn’t mean that that’s most people’s realities !!! let me and the Runners High London girls be proof of that 🤭 #runclublondon #runnershighlondon #slowrunner #newrunner #beginnerrunner #slowrunclub #london

♬ original sound – Celina Stephenson

Celina Stephenson had previously struggled with running and was inspired to set up the run club “by how many girls related to my story and wanted to run with me”.

Stephenson said: “I think they saw me as a safe space within the running community, a community that’s often filled with super athletic and fast paced runners. I wanted to get us all together, running for fun instead of split times.”

Collet agrees with Stephenson. “At the end of the day, people are realising it can be a hobby that you just do, you don’t need to get faster,” she said. “It’s really good for your mental health.”

Stephenson ran the London Marathon this year after deciding not to let pace hold her back. She thinks the increased popularity of slow running is understandable.

She said: “Most people are slow runners, and are just moving to get some fresh air and feel good, so it makes sense as to why people have connected so much with our beginner to marathon and slow runner stories.”

The London Marathon received a record number of entries for the 2025 race. Collet says she spoke to people who have never run before and signed up.

“Even people thinking that they can do marathons in a year’s time is amazing to see,” she said.

Collet continued: “I know speaking to some people who have entered that ballot, they have never run before in their life, but feel inspired by all of this increase that they’re seeing going on.”


I get asked at least 4 times every day “what is your running pace” and am usually so hesitant to share it because i am embarrassed, but yanno what? Its time we start normalizing running paces above 10+ km/hr! I love my slow, leisurely running pace, and it doesnt make me any less of a runner! #runningforbeginners #beginnerrunner #biggirlswhorun #midsizerunner #nonetorun #howtostartrunning #learntorun #slowrunnersclub #slowrunnersunite

♬ Fire for You (Sped Up) – Cannons

Martinus Evans is another slow running advocate. In 2019 he set up the Slow AF Run Club after feeling like there was no community for non-traditional runners. 

Martinus is an advocate for slow running and documents his running journey on his instagram account @300poundsandrunning.

Evans describes the philosophy of the run club as one where “rather than trying to only be fast or achieve an “aesthetic of health,” runners connect with themselves and others, finding a sense of community and beauty in movement totally divorced from weight.”

He believes that this message, that anyone can run, resonates with people. He also believes that this perspective is becoming increasingly popular and has noticed an increase in members of his run club. 

His book Slow AF Run Club: The Ultimate Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Run was published last year and sold over 20,000 copies within six months demonstrating this growing interest in slow running.

Evans said: “The Slow AF Run Club says no, you too can be a runner in the body that you have right now and you don’t have to strive to be an elite athlete or a fast, skinny person to run. You can run in the body you have today.”

Slow running clubs are popping across the UK with clubs in London, Manchester, Bristol and Cardiff.

Meanwhile, existing running clubs are adapting to be accessible for slower runners. Run Social, a run club that is active in cities across the UK, added a Run Slowcial element to their Wednesday run clubs last year. This gives attendees the opportunity to run at a slower pace.

The average pace for a 5km Park Run participant is just over seven minutes. Run Slowcial advertises their pace as seven minutes per kilometre but notes that this is just a guide. Many of these run clubs have no set pace and let the members dictate the speed at which they want to go. 

Some slow runners, like Stephenson, do track their pace, while others are more focused on the benefits they experience while being out on a run than their stats.

Fiona McPartlan, a 25-year-old Irish student and beginner runner, currently studying at the University of Amsterdam, was inspired by the slow running content that she was seeing on social media. 

McPartlan said: “I saw more content from runners on TikTok that were talking about slow running and it just made it seem so much more accessible and less intimidating to start from a slow pace.”

“I am way less concerned with tracking my pace or being as fast as possible, and more about the feeling of enjoying the fresh air, appreciating that my body can run, and the sense of achievement from getting out and doing something for myself.”

Allowing herself to run at a slower pace made running “feel more meditative than punishing”.


Have you embraced the slow? 🐢 If so, results in your running are guaranteed with time & persistence. Key word there was time⏰ We often don’t like to talk about how this stuff takes time. You likely won’t be setting world records after 2-3 weeks of embracing the slow. However with time and trust in the process required – you’ll see some pretty cool results come to fruition. Embrace the slow🐢 #slowrunning #8020running #easyrun #easyrunning #slowrunner

♬ Gotta Good Feelin’ – Pigeon John

Image credit: Unsplash

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