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The Power of Running Communities During Lockdown

How adidas built a global support ecosystem for running communities in times of lockdown.

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How do you keep a running community alive when you cannot run as a community? The coronavirus crisis has shut down many cities globally, and with it their cities’ adidas Runners (AR) communities.

So, just as people around the world were looking for new creative ways to stay connected while being physically isolated – playing tennis across rooftops, composing home office songs or renting pets to spice up their zoom calls – our running community also had to find ways to stay connected while apart.

Becoming truly global

The intention was to find ways to engage all members remotely and inspire each other to grow in this new situation.

To respond to the changing situation, the team relied on the running communities that had been impacted by the virus first to see what they were doing to stay connected with AR members. China was one of the first places hit by the virus.

Many community members, like Putao, an emergency room nurse and runner from Guangzhou, were waiting for a response to the lockdown. So, the team reacted and came up with an online training challenge to keep the runners motivated.

With the spread and the shutdown of all running communities, “a big part of the strategy came from working together with our colleagues from China, North America and Western Europe to use their diverse experience and data to create something relevant for our runners globally,” Angelica explains.

By taking up space online, the communities that usually meet locally now had the opportunity to become truly global.

Staying active, present and connected

While offering home workouts was an important goal, when it comes to a runner’s journey, it’s not only about working out but all the pillars: movement, nutrition, gear, mindset, and recovery.

To provide both education and entertainment, AR captains and coaches are now in contact with the AR community over Virtual Live Schedule. They offer workouts, nutrition and wellness, to tips on considering mental wellbeing and talks on being creative from homeAnd it’s not only AR leaders. Athletes and entertainers like Hannah Bronfman, A$AP Ferg and Kathrine Switzer are also sharing their experiences in live sessions with the community.

Now, instead of 63 separate running communities, they’ve all come together as one, with all streamed training sessions hosted live on adidas Runners Instagram.

Making a difference to the wider community

Alongside the live sessions, the team also highlight weekly stories of AR members who have approached the crisis and their time in lockdown, such as Lee Ryan from AR Dubai who ran a marathon in his backyard. Or the story of coach Ajit from AR Mumbai who through his Aim Sports Foundation, offered groceries to 1000+ families, started a community kitchen and provided water to the police force in Mumbai.

These inspiring stories coming out of the lockdown connected the community way beyond running.

Collaborate to stay connected

For the communities to be able to meet virtually, our adidas Runners and adidas Runtastic teams joined forces to create a new feature in the adidas Running by Runtastic app: AR global. The group is freely accessible and publishes all virtual events which are scheduled, so that everyone can view and join upcoming events.

Jaana Hein, Senior Manager Digital Planning at adidas, explains how she got in on the action: “I ran my first virtual half marathon. Runners from all around the world ran their very own race, in their own time. And while we were running alone, it sure didn’t feel like it. Through the adidas Running app, teammates were live cheering and clapping – team spirit at its finest. It was not my fastest half marathon, but most definitely one to remember.”

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Jaana Hein used the virtual AR community to run a half marathon during the COVID-19 lockdown.
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The adidas Running app helped Jaana to run physically alone, yet virtually together with her colleagues.
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In light of the crisis, the team also launched a ‘Fit From Home’ challenge, so that everyone can access the platform which is loaded with home workouts and nutrition guides.

Collaboration was the key to empowering and connecting the running community during lockdown, as we stayed true to our company purpose that “through sport, we have the power to change lives”.

Why not head over to adidas Runners and join AR Global.


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