In it’s third year at the NEC in London, during 2020, I headed on over the The National Running Show to experience it for myself. If you are yet to hear about this event, this will be the post for you. I’ll be going over everything that I found out and experienced during my visit last weekend.
WHAT IS IT?
The National Running Show is a big commercial event really. Companies and organisations can get a stall at the event in order to sell their wares to you, give you a chance to try out prototypes, or simply just tell you about what they offer. At the 2020 event there was a really good mix of event organisations, nutrition, running clothing, run tech, and gift ideas. As well as this, some stalls were offering their services to you, giving you a chance to have a massage or receive gait analysis for a fee. On top of this, there were about three different ‘stages’ set up for speakers to present their ideas on different topics and give advice that they might have.
HOW DO YOU GET THERE?
From Bristol it was really easy to get there, despite having train delays. The train went straight up to Birmingham New Street after which you switch to a new train to take you to Birmingham International. This station is actually connected to the NEC via a tunnel so you don’t even have to go outside, especially good for rainy days! The walk was quite far though, as the units The National Running Show had rented were the opposite end of the conference centre to the station, it took about 15 minutes to do this walk (turns out the NEC is massive!). There was also parking available at the NEC, for about £15 for the day.
WHAT IS THE COST?
Ultimately the cost of the day is really up to you. The tickets to get into the event were being sold for £10 each but many (MANY) brands were giving away discount codes to make the event tickets completely free. Early bird tickets were also free of charge, so if you’re interested and see a code just go and grab one. I awkwardly found the period of time where I couldn’t find any of the codes I’d seen, so did pay the ticket charge. But even for £10 it’s fairly reasonably priced. For then onwards, the day can get expensive, as pretty much every stall has something to offer you, for a price. Just know what you can and can’t spend on, but many brands did give discounted costs for consumers at the show.
WHAT IS IT LIKE?
Initially when you walk in you’re bombarded with lots of advertising and stalls, but throughout the day you get used to it. We got their at 11:45 of the Sunday and it appeared like they were running out of event programmes as the help yourself boxes were empty just a handful were placed on top. The programme has a map in it, so if there’s something you particularly want making a beeline there will give you more chance of not missing the stall or them not being sold out of what you’d like to see. By the time I got there on Sunday one stall had already packed up and left, but the hope is that everyone brings enough stock for both days. The most value you’ll get from the day is probably from going to talks by people that you know of, or that are covering a topic that may interest you. The talks are fairly short so most don’t go into much evidence for what they’re saying but having another viewpoint can be very valuable for your training. If I’d have been able to, I would have chosen the day I went based on the talks a little more as many of the talks I’d have preferred were on the Saturday so I missed them due to work. The foot traffic within the venue was quite high throughout the day, but did thin out dramatically by about 3pm. However, it never felt overcrowded, just busy.
WHAT DID I GET?
Honestly, I didn’t get too much. I either couldn’t find what I was looking for, or they didn’t have my size. I like most of my running gear to fit me quite snuggly as it feels a lot better as I run, but because I’m quite short this can be a struggle finding brands that do an XS or sometimes even an XXS. I got hold of a little collapsible bottle to hold in my hand as I run the Bath Half this year. It only holds 240ml of water, but I don’t drink too much as I run (too much sloshing for my stomach to handle), which will be a great size for plastic free races and just being a little more waste free in general. I finally replaced the gloves I lost in December too, so I can go back to running outside in running gloves, these are even better fitting than the ones I had previously as they had various sizes (no more one size fits all for my hands). Finally I grabbed a box of Kendall Mint Energy Bars to try for fuelling during long runs/races. Every time I’ve tried gels during running I’ve just felt so bad for the next few km’s, whereas last time I trained for a half marathon properly I’d be fine without having anything. I moved on a little bit from then though so I do want to try and fuel during the run, and I think my homemade energy balls may just get too sticky during a race. So I’m going to see how I get on with these. That was actually the end of my haul. I’m not a huge shopper at the best of times, but with many brands not really having anything that I thought ‘I really must have’ I thought it best to save it up and do a big online shop of the bits I didn’t get. One of the best things to have come out of the day was having my feet measured and gaining the knowledge of what shoes might be best for me and my neutral-wide-high-arched-size-4 feet. We left it a little late in the day to check out the shoes suggested by the software at the show but fingers crossed.
WAS IT WORTH IT?
Overall it was a good day. With the train delay I did miss out on a Run Leaders Workshop that I was looking forward to and may have given me even more urge to go back. With the venue being about 2 hours away from Bristol it was also really easy to do in a day. I probably won’t be back next year, but perhaps the year after!