I'm running the Brighton Marathon on April 15th 2012. Last year I ran it in 3.57 and this year I'm going for 3.45. The Runner's World magazine on-line forum even has a specific thread for sub 3.45 runners, and I'll be logging on to find out what I need to do achieve this standard.
The collective wisdom of my fellow runners, freely shared, covers everything from diet to training plans. I'm not a very technical person, but one thing I use to support my training is a chunky orange watch, that looks like something out of Blake 7. This £250 pound piece of kit tracks every mile I run and enables me to upload it to my computer and share it with other people in my club and in the running community. My more experienced running friends, who act as coaches, pour over the data and ask me questions like, "what happened at mile 8? Were you walking?"
So what's my running club got to do the future? I think in 2012 we will see more developments in the health field that mirror the developments in my running club. With 1 in 3 of us living with a long term condition, more and more of us will turn to each other to find the answers. Long term conditions have no magical cure, and it's often as much about learning to live with a condition as it is about "curing" it.
More and more people will want to share data about their health with other people who can share insights and feedback. This could include a piece of kit, such as monitor to measure your blood sugar level. Or it could simply be sharing of symptoms. One thing is for sure, people no longer think that a five minute consultation with their GP is the answer. People are already sharing the experiences around diabetes with TuDiabetes.com, and across a whole range of long term conditions with PatientsLikeMe.com.
My prediction for 2012 is that the new site on mental health Blackdogtribe.com, inspired by the comic Ruby Wax's own experience of depression, will become hugely popular. It will be launched in January 2012 and will seek to match people according to tribes, and will offer whole suite of on-line content to provide both expert and peer to peer support.