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Why people run, with Simon Freeman of Like The Wind

The March issue of Adventurous Ink is Issue 19 of the evocatively titled Like The Wind journal.

As you can probably guess, its about running. Only it's not. It's about the people who run and why they run. We caught up with Founder and Editor Simon Freeman to get the inside track on their journey.

We know Like The Wind is about why people run, but why did you create LtW? 

We (Julie and Simon) were on a running trip in the French Alps and we picked up a magazine about climbing and adventure. It was really beautifully designed and written. It started us wondering whether there was an appetite for a magazine like that about running.

The only way to answer the question was to produce one, so that is what we did!

Running is blowing up everywhere, driven particularly by the 'new running' community that LtW captures so perfectly. Why do you think that is?

We see that society as a whole is moving away from mass consumerism to being more experience-focused. Running is probably benefiting from that. As an activity, running has all the elements someone looking for experiences could hope for; community at times and solitude at others.

It provides a way to explore the urban environment as well as a great way to spend time in nature. There is the competion if you want it, as well as a way to relax. And it is easy to run - there isn’t much kit required; just pull on your running shoes and head out the door.

What we do with LtW is explore the ‘why’ of running irrespective of where, how and with whom someone is running. We find that having meaningful experiences is almost always linked in some way.   

Are you noticing any particular trends amongst the new running?

Running is growing in popularity in many directions. Obviously the emergence of urban running crews is well documented. But is worth noting that they are not a trend - they are here to stay.

More and more people are getting into trail running. At the same time, there seems to be no shortage of people wanting to take part in mass-participation events and therefore there are more and more races for them to enter. Perhaps one of the most exciting types of running that we are seeing are the underground, unsanctioned shorter races popping up. That is perhaps the newest focus.

We love the lack of adverts and the approach to collaborative editorials with brands, how do you go about choosing those?

We are really picky about the brands we work with. Because we are a reader-supported publication, our focus is very much on what our readers want. So we only work with brands that understand what we are trying to do and are supportive of that.

That is why we don’t have adverts in the magazine - we create brand features that add to the content of the magazine, not distract from it. And the content that we create with brands needs to align with Like the Wind’s ethos of focusing on people and experiences.

Finally brands we work with understand that we are going to tackle subjects that are perhaps controversial, like the expression of non traditional gender identities (above), because that is what our readers tell us they want. Given all those restrictions, we have ended up working with some amazing brands that want to support independent publishing and real, authentic running stories.

You place a lot of importance on graphic design and visual illustration, why do you think it's so crucial?

From the first edition of the magazine, we decided that LtW was going to be as visually appealing as we could make it. That was one of the aspects we loved about the magazines we read from surfing, adventure, skateboarding and so on - the emphasis on design, illustration and photography.

So over the past five years we have connected with a really large and diverse group of artists. It would be impossible to pick any favourites - they are all amazing. One important aspect of LtW is that we want to be a canvas for the artists’ creativity. So we don’t dictate what illustrators and photographers should produce for us. They are free to interpret the stories as they want.

How has the LtW journey been? You must have had some great experiences along the way? 

Independent publishing isn’t easy - writing, editing, designing and producing hundreds of pages is hard work (especially when it is a side project as is the case with LtW). It's expensive. And marketing a magazine is not at all easy.

But there are so many upsides, we all feel privileged to work on LtW. We can help spread stories that inspire, motivate and move readers. We are able to host events and hang out with runners sharing stories and a few beers. We can provide artists with a canvas to express their creativity and their love of running. And the journey has been a wonderful learning experience.

The upsides definitely outweigh the challenges and we are really excited for the next 5 years!

Where next for LtW?

We have a few targets for the magazine. Editorially we want to tell more runners’ stories and tackle more issues linked to running. Creatively there is an on-going drive to make the magazine even more beautiful. We also want to get the magazine in the hands of more readers.

I think we have built a really good foundation. We are like a runner that has developed a good base fitness and has decided they need to take their running to the next level. It’ll be hard work, but the future is looking really exciting for Like the Wind.

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Awesome, thanks Simon. If getting inside the minds of fast moving adventurers sounds a good route to outdoor inspiration, join the Adventurous Ink subscriber community today.

Image Credits:

Header image: Sam Hinton
Magazine cover image: Mikkel Beisner
Gender Agenda illustration: Natasha Smith  
March 15, 2019 — tim frenneaux