11 Most unbelievable Running Statistics and facts in 2021

Fitness has gained immense popularity in the past two decades. Check out these interesting running statistics and facts to know the trends.

Fascinating Facts

  • Despite the pandemic, there was a 34% increase in outdoor miles.
  • 90% of the preparation required for running is mental rather than physical.
  • 55.9 million people participated in a running-based activity in the US.
  • The fastest recreational runners for marathon distance are Spanish, while the fastest runners for half marathons are Russians.
  • Running peaked in 2013, with global participation reaching 19 million. Since then, it had steadily declined to 17.6 million in 2018.
  • The 5K marathons are the most popular and attracted more than 8 million registrations in 2019.
  • Running only 5 minutes daily decreases cardiovascular diseases by 45% and increases life expectancy by three years.

Although fitness and wellbeing have always had some degree of popularity and influence, the past two decades have brought them to the forefront. By 2020, at least 70% of American adults admitted to being cautious about their health and monitoring their health indicators.

The body positivity movement has also led people to reduce their focus on weight reduction and use physical activity to remain healthy. The overall shift in the belief system has driven people to take up several activities like running, yoga, aerobics, etc.

Out of all the activities taken up, running has been one of the most popular. More and more people are opting to go for a run in the early hours of the morning or go to the gym and run on the treadmill. Participation in marathons has also increased, showing the growing interest of people in the activity.

To fully understand the activity’s popularity and benefits, let’s explore some running statistics and facts.

These statistics give an overall picture of the trends around running and the popularity of the activity over the years. In general, the net running has had a net increase of about 57% in the past decade, with participation growing from 5 million annually to 7.9 million in 2018.

To understand the specific running behaviors, attitudes, segmentation, and trends, let’s explore some more running statistics and facts.

Running Statistics and Facts

This section will focus on several interesting running facts and statistics. To add a little fun, it will also have a minor section for running facts for animals.

Running Statistics for People

The best way to understand the interest group of any activity is to look at how many people are involved in it and who they are. Following are some of the main demographics of people who like to run.

1. 60% of the runners in the USA road races in 2019 were female.

(Source: Running USA, Running Magazine, Eyewitness News ABC, Runners World)

There has been an increase in female runners in the past few years.

  • The percentage of female runners first surpassed male runners in 2018, when 50.24% of the total participants were female.
  • Out of the total female runners, 49% are between the ages of 25-44.

These running statistics and facts show steady progress. Women are becoming more confident about taking up such outdoor activities and actively choosing them for their wellbeing. However, there is still a need for improving the safety measures to maintain this number.

  • 80% of women in the US reportedly face harassment while running.
  • 46% of the female runners in the UK said they faced harassment during running.
  • 94% of the victims of harassment based in the US reportedly received no help from people around them.

Harassment is a key factor that keeps women from actively opting for outdoor activities on their own.

2. About 60 million people in the US chose running, jogging, or trail running in 2017.

(Source: Statista)

Running is the most popular activity of choice globally after walking and attracts people of all ages.

  • 11.59 million of the running participants between 2006 to 2019 were youths (6 years to 17 years).

This shows that the younger generation is becoming more involved in fitness, and the trend is likely to persist. This also provides behavioral insights into the interests and lifestyles of these future adults.

3. Fitbit is the most popular health and fitness app in the US, with 27.4 million users.

(Source: Statista, Fitness Review)

People track their running and fitness in a number of ways, but some apps are more common than others.

  • MyFitnessPal is the second most popular with 19.1 million users, followed by S Health with 14.9 million users.
  • Strava has 10+ million users and is used by runners globally.

Consumers use fitness apps to track their progress and monitor their health indicators. The popular choices not only offer them accuracy in measurements, but they also give connectivity and synchronization.

4. 75.5% of female runners and 75.2% of male runners run to stay in shape.

(Sources: 5K Events, Statista)

Running helps people keep their bodies toned and builds muscle.

  • 62.4% of women also claim that running relieves stress.
  • 58.9% of men claim that running is fun.
  • 24% of runners said they run for exercise.

The above information is important because the behavioral running statistics and facts show that both men and women use running to improve their physical health and mental health. Since the motivations are more intrinsic, they are less likely to give them up.

5. The average age of a US female runner is 38.6 years, while that of a male runner is 44.8 years.

(Sources: 5K Events, Forbes)

  • The difference in ages is likely because the percentage of female runners has started increasing only recently, and a majority of them are younger.
  • 30-49-year-olds make up 60% of the total running population. 29.2% are between the ages 30 and 39, while 30.85% are between 40 and 49.
  • There has been a 39% increase in the number of 90-99-year-old age group taking up running between 2014 and 2017.

The running statistics show that more people, young and old, show interest in competitive or non-competitive running. This can help predict the population’s overall health statistics and present a picture of the trends that will emerge as a result.

6. The average running speed per mile is 9 minutes, 48 seconds.

(Sources: Runners World)

According to Strava’s 2018 data, the average speed for runners globally was 9 minutes and 48 seconds, while it was 9 minutes 44 seconds for runners in the US.

  • The average speed of female runners globally was 1 mile per 10 minutes 40 seconds, slightly higher than the US average for the same group, which was 1 mile per 10 minutes and 21 seconds.
  • The average speed of male runners globally was 1 mile per 9 minutes 15 seconds, while the US average for the group was 1 mile per 9 minutes and 7 seconds.

The difference between the global and US numbers is low but significant. The difference is difficult to tell but should be looked into to know the factors that lead to it.

Animal Running Statistics

In addition to the running statistics and facts about humans, below are some fun facts and statistics about animals and running.

7. Cheetahs are the fastest runners on land and can go from 0 to 60 mph within 3 seconds.

(Source: Britannica, One Kind Planet, Washington Post)

Cheetahs are famous for their lithe bodies and incredible speeds that make them some of the deadliest predators on land. However, several other animals are quite fast as well.

  • The Springbok can run at about 55 mph when running from a predator.
  • The African Lion can run at a speed of 50 mph.

These are the three fastest animals on land. The most interesting part is that the fastest animals are a combination of predator and prey. Aside from land animals, sea dwellers and birds have incredible speeds as well.

  • The peregrine falcon can fly at 56 mph and dive at a speed of 200mph.
  • The sailfish is the fastest swimmer and swims at a speed of 68mph on average.

Nature is diverse and impressive. The incredible speed of animals on land, in skies, and seas, really put things into perspective.

Marathon Statistics

While several people run only for personal health reasons, many others choose to be more competitive and regularly register for marathons. They closely follow marathon events and train all year round to be able to compete in them.

Marathon Participation

Running statistics and facts about marathon participation have also helped us observe the changes over the years.

8. Marathon running popularity increased by 49.43% between 2008 and 2018.

(Source: Run Repeat)

The recent focus on fitness and awareness has led to a drastic improvement in marathon participation globally.

  • Participation in African countries grew by 505.74%, while Asia experienced a 262.89% growth.
  • Participation of women and men grew by 56.83% and 46.91%, respectively.
  • Switzerland saw the most improved performance, and its average finished time dropped by 14:56 between 2008 and 2018.

The numbers prove that marathon running has become a popular sport over the years and a lucrative market for sponsors.

9. The fastest marathon runners belong to the 40-49 age group and have an average time of 4:22:03.

(Source: Runner Click, Run Repeat)

40-49 years old is the fastest age range for men, with an overall finish time of 4:11:19.

Women in the 20-29 age group are the fastest, with an overall finish time of 4:42:10.

The USA, UK, and Germany were the countries with the most marathon participants in 2018. USA led with 456,700 participants, followed by the UK with 97,254 participants and Germany with 86,032.

The respective growths in those countries have been 10.98%, 90.35%, and -10.91%, respectively.

Marathon Distance

Following are some key statistics about marathon distances.

10. The longest organized marathon distance is the self-transcendence at 3,100 miles.

(Source: Meteor Run, CBS News)

This is the longest official distance of a marathon. However, some marathon events are shorter.

The average marathon is 26 miles long.

This shows how much the events can vary, making marathon runners a group with diverse abilities.

11. Serge Girard completed the longest marathon distance, almost 16,784 miles, in a year.

(Source: Marathon Trainings Schedule)

The French marathon runner ran around 25 countries in the EU for a complete year to achieve this impressive distance.

Running has been a popular activity since before the Olympics and has evolved several times over in the past millennia.

Infographic - Unbelievable Facts About Running

Facts about Running Benefits

In addition to the above statistics, there are a few well-known facts about the benefits of running.

Sources: The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Science Direct, Harvard Health

  • Running improves bone and joint health, reducing the prevalence of arthritis in active marathon runners.
  • According to research, running alleviates stress and reduces the impact of long-term chronic health.
  • A study found that running for even 10 minutes daily can extend the life span by several years.

This shows that running is essential for remaining fit, but it also helps a person remain healthy in the long run. It helps improve both physical and mental health and reduces the likelihood of some of the most common bone and cardiovascular diseases in later years of life.

Conclusion

To sum up, running statistics and facts show that this activity has grown over the past decade. Given the lifestyle trends prevalent nowadays, it is likely to remain popular for many years to come.

The activity has become more than just a way to exercise, and its mental and physical health benefits can become a lucrative business opportunity for sports brands.