This running thing appears to have become a thing recently. I know it's probably just an observation selection bias - because I've been running more, I notice running more - but it really seems that running has become more mainstream recently.
I used to never run. Unless I was being chased by something that could harm me, of course. But growing up, going to school, and working on the Front Range of Colorado offered very few opportunities to literally run for my life. Thank God, because I probably wouldn't be here if that were a regular occurrence. I remember playing soccer in elementary school and not liking it because I was such a bad runner. And our "track" unit in middle school gym class was also a disaster, because I was so lanky and uncoordinated, that if I ever did get going fast, I would just end up kicking myself or something. Then by high school, running during your lunch break was the punishment dealt out for missing a session of some class, which didn't exactly encourage my embrace of the sport.
Even in college, when I finally started to catch up to my own body, I still preferred to walk or ride a bicycle if I needed to get somewhere or play basketball (with its minimal running) if I wanted to be sporty. When swing dancing became my primary extracurricular, that provided more than enough cardiovascular activity for me to feel fit and active. I did do the typical lunch hour gym routine for a while when I had a desk job that was convenient to a fitness center, but even then I'd just hit the treadmill for ten minutes to "warm up".
It wasn't until 2012 when I started dating my girlfriend, who was/is into fitness, and moved to China, where I had lots of extra time on my hands, that I even started to go to the gym regularly and doing more than just a cursory 15 to 30 minutes on the elliptical or treadmill. The air in Shanghai isn't as bad as many people think (most of the time, at least), and I got super bored of running in place in the carpeted gym of the apartment building we were living in. Plus, I had to "train" for the 5k fun-run that I got roped in to doing by my girlfriend's colleagues, some of whom were real runners. And as it turned out, it was kinda fun after you got used to it.
That was a really long way of saying that running seems to be more popular, even though I probably notice more running since I am "part of the problem," so to speak. The emergence and proliferation of the obstacle course race phenomenon has certainly helped put running into the spotlight of our collective consciousness, even if it's one of the ultimate First-World things people do. I am also currently in one of the US's top running cities, apparently, so that must cloud my judgement a bit too. (They say it's nice to run in DC because it's so flat... they obviously have only run on the Mall.)
But since I am more in to trail running, I notice things like TrailPorn.com and this video about "The Joy of Running in a Beautiful Place".
Running has definitely become a thing for me. I try to run three or four times a week and was even upping my mileage a bit. Google Now suggests I read articles from Competitor and Strength Running and YouTube wants to help me improve my technique and speed. I was even inspired to sign up for my first real race, a trail half marathon run in northern Virginia along the Potomac. Good thing it's not until the spring, because I might have a stress fracture in my second metatarsal. I'm not sure what kind of vigorous exercises I can do that don't involve loading and unloading that part of my foot...
...On that note, this post has officially wandered away from where it was headed, so just go look at some trail porn, watch that video a couple of times, and call it a day.