When housemates Sophie Rindfleish and Sofie Spelta started up an Instagram page for their small running club last year, they hadn’t expected it to blow up.

“We had a video go viral … that’s when it started to go crazy,” Ms Spelta says.

Dubbed the “SoSo’s” running club and based in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, the group initially had a dozen participants.

Last week, it surpassed 500 runners with more than 19,000 Instagram followers. 

Sofie Spelta (left) and Sophie Rindfleish founded SoSo’s run club last year.(Supplied)

“Seeing people who couldn’t run more than a few hundred metres now being able to finish a five or 10-kilometre run is just so nice to see,” Ms Rindfleish says. 

Hundreds of community-driven running clubs have popped up across the country, with organisers attributing their success to viral and catchy social media video content.

On a humid evening in central Queensland, about 50 runners gather outside a pub in downtown Rockhampton with one thing on their mind: steak.

The growing group of participants in a Rockhampton running club.(ABC Capricornia: Scout Wallen)

“Run and Rump” is a new running club in the beef capital of Queensland where each Wednesday participants meet at a different pub, complete a 5km run, and then enjoy a rump steak. 

Sam Plath (left) and Lucy Blair organise the running club.(Supplied)

Organisers of the group Sam Plath and Lucy Blair say the group has grown from 15 weekly runners last year, and to up to 60 participants.

“Hopefully we can keep continuing to grow,” Ms Plath says. 

A running club in Adelaide’s inner north has also seen its popularity skyrocket, with the number of members doubling in the past six months.

Founder of the “Prospect” running club Oliver Neate says he thinks more people had picked up the sport after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Or perhaps it reignited their interest in running,” Mr Neate says. 

Membership of the Prospect running club has doubled in six months.(ABC News: Annabel Francis)

Social media to thank

Ms Spelta says social media posts about running clubs across the country have been going viral.

“I honestly think that’s because it looks like something fun, once you go once, you keep going,” she says.

“Run and Rump” has seen major growth since Ms Blair started their Instagram account a few weeks ago.

Ms Blair runs the group’s social media accounts.(ABC Capricornia: Scout Wallen)

“Being able to see what it would be like to join a run club before coming in person, I think really helps people to get the courage to come along,” Ms Blair says. 

“They can see it is not that intimidating, and we are just here to connect and meet new people, and we don’t mind how fast or slow you run at all.”

Good for the mind and body

University of Queensland researcher Michael Noetel says running clubs are so effective because they provide both support and accountability.

“When you’re struggling at the end of the run or struggling for motivation, people are there to help you,” Dr Noetel says.

“If you don’t turn up or you don’t do it on a certain week, someone is going to notice, and that makes a huge difference.”

Dogs are included in the Run and Rump running club.(ABC Capricornia: Scout Wallen)

A report, recently published by Dr Noetel, found exercise to be just as beneficial as therapy and medication for treating depression.

“[Exercising] in a group setting where you have some support or accountability … will make a huge difference in terms of reducing your depression symptoms,” he said. 

Experts say running can increase happiness.(Supplied)

Ms Rindfleish says running alongside other people can offer a distraction.

“You’re running and chatting with someone the whole way, and you don’t even realise that you have run 5km,” she says.

Participants say running in a group makes exercise more enjoyable.(Supplied: Sam Plath)

Ms Blair says it the regular runs have helped her reconnect, after returning to her home town of Rockhampton a month ago.

“It has been life-changing,” she says.

“It has made moving regionally really exciting and I have met so many people through it already.”

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