What? Where do I get off reviewing a famous running magazine? Full disclosure, I cancelled my subscription to Runner’s World in March when I received the obligatory auto-renew post card, letting me know that my account would be automatically debited in April. I must admit, I have waffled over the decision to cancel for a couple of years now, but the deciding factor were the inserts that fell out of a recent issue that offered the magazine several dollars cheaper than I was about to be billed. I can be cheap like that sometimes, but after a more introspective look at the magazine it suddenly became even clearer to me. I am not their target market.
I think secretly I always knew. I’m not a slim, nimble 20-30 year old elite runner. I don’t have tons of money to buy the latest sneakers, nor to purchase the products that lurk in their glossy pages. Despite their one cover story issue last year of the plus-sized runner, there is very little for me. I’ve learned to stop drooling over the things I cannot have, nor will ever be (again). I have none of the characteristics that represent their true target audience.
I was thumbing through one of the last issues, looking for one of their cover stories and came across a story about a Couch to 5K success. It was supposed to be a motivating story about a 42-year old mom with two young boys. She wanted to shed a few pounds so she started with the C25K and now holds a trail run record, despite her busy schedule. She is a lawyer. My average woman-self, with a government job thought…mmm…she can afford things I cannot. I couldn’t connect when I thought of the advantages she would have over my own struggles. How about the advertisement to “Cheat Your Way to Lean”? Second paragraph, “Last Tuesday was especially hectic, but I’d booked with my $200 per hour personal trainer…” Again, not me. How about Best Foods for Runners? There wasn’t a cheap item on any page.
All of this may sound negative, but it’s really not. I truly believe that Runner’s World has a niche market that works well for them. At my grandma age, I have no desire to be the elite “running with the 20-30 year old” market, nor the well-to-do older set. That is not my reality. I’m basically a barely paycheck to paycheck, grandma enjoying the run. So with that said, it’s important to realize that glossy pages, pretty pictures and well-toned bodies is not something that everyone necessarily needs or wants to see.
Does this mean that I will never pick up another Runner’s World magazine? No, there will still be some occasional interest…a headline that sparks my curiosity. To my friends, in that niche, it is definitely a good magazine for you, lots of helpful advice and exercises you can probably still do.
I think that one day, someone will come out with a publication aimed at the beginner runners, the slightly over-weight runners, the older runners, the back-of-the-pack runners, the “not in my budget” runners – to let us all know we can still enjoy the sport too. It’s still a great magazine, but I am not their target market and I’m OK with that.