Running Patterns Around the UK

Why do we run?

To those who don’t run, runners can seem like another species. What kind of person sets their alarm 30 minutes early to squeeze exercise in before work? What kind of superhuman can train despite the miserable cold and rain?


Even for those of us who know the joy of running, it can be hard to explain. But with more and more running converts since lockdown, we surveyed 2,000 Brits to pin down what exactly is driving us to get out there and run.


To keep fit and healthy


Just over a quarter of those surveyed said that they ran to maintain a healthy weight. Male runners were more concerned about their body image than women, as 60% of those who ran to maintain their healthy weight were male.


The Northern Irish were the most health conscious, with just under a third of all Northern Irish respondents saying that they ran to keep fit. The age group hitting the ground to lose pounds the most were 25-34 year olds, who represented a quarter of those running to maintain a healthy weight.


To reduce stress and anxiety


The ‘Runner’s High’ is no exaggeration: the feel-good chemicals released in your body is as good a high as anything else; and whatsmore increasing blood circulation to the brain, running helps your mind handle stress.


Considering this, it’s no surprise that feeling good was the second largest reason people run. Over 18% of Brits ran to alleviate stress and anxiety. 20% of all women runners and 16% of men cite this as their main reason to run.


Due to city stress, Londoners are more likely than average to run to clear their mind: just shy of a quarter of Londoners cited this as their main motivation. People in the East Midlands also cited mental health benefits as a key motivation behind running, the East Midlands was actually the most likely to run because of stress.


To socialise


Many Brits who take running seriously use a relaxed motivation to run. Just over 4% of respondents said they ran to socialise with others.


Men were more likely to use running as an excuse for a good natter as 69% of social runners were male. The younger respondents in the survey were more likely to cite socialising as their main motivation to run. A far more active way to socialise than playing on the XBox!


What else did we learn?


Not only did the survey reveal what is driving Brits to run, it also examined what keeps us motivated and who amongst us are the most dedicated.


Men were more likely to respond that they didn’t run at all (55% of respondents who don’t run are male). However, male runners run more often and further than women, 70% of those running over 5 times a week are men.


The data also revealed that mornings are Brits favourite time to run, and a third of runners start their day with a run. A ‘clear and crisp’ day was also named as the UK's favourite running condition, and embracing the UK climate, Brits prefer running in the rain or cold rather than the heat.


And what beats do we run to?


Have you made a specially tailored running playlist, or do you prefer to be one with nature? If it’s the latter, you belong to 36% of Brits who like to leave their headphones at home.


The most popular musical genre to listen to was Rock, 16% of runners said this was their running soundtrack. The least popular genre was, of course, Jazz.


Podcasts were found to be the most motivational running distraction. Around 35% of those who run over 5k listen to podcasts.


Ultimately, the reasons we run, the ways we run and how we run are as unique as the footprint trails we leave behind. Whether you run to make friends or to feel good then keep going (and maybe try a good podcast for good measure).


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