Key running statistics – Part 2

This is part 2 of my series on simple running statistics (part 1 here). The data used on this page is primarily drawn from my own Big Running Survey. Here we focus on exploring the demographic and psychographic features of different ways of participating in running.

Section 1 – Demographics within running

Section 2 – Running places

Popular running locationsMotives and locations 

Section 3 – Miscellaneous
Reading about running

Running Statistics

1. Forms vary significantly in terms of gender balance

Whilst running as a whole has a fairly even gender balance, different forms of running vary significantly in this regard. Figure 1 shows the gender balance of selected forms. I’m not confident about the proportion of women participating in obstacle course racing; the rate may be lower in reality, as sampling error may be an issue here (contact me for a technical explanation).

Absolute values should be taken with a pinch of salt because of the margin of error and possible sampling error, but the overall picture largely reflects the proportions of men and women involved in the different forms.

Figure 1: Data from Big Running Survey

2. Forms also vary in terms of their age profile

The age profile of people involved in different forms of running varies significantly.

Figure 2 shows the proportion of Big Running Survey respondents that claimed to participate in different kinds of running, profiled by age. The exact percentages are less reliable than the general shape of the distributions. Also note that the more ‘bumpy’ data at the youngest and oldest ends of each chart is due to lower sample numbers at the extremes.

We can see that middle distance track runners tend to be young, with a big drop off in participation after the age of about 25. Obstacle course racers also tend to be young, but the decline in participation is less steep, only really bottoming out in the 50s.

Road running participation rates are fairly consistent between the ages of 30 and 60, and jogging (non-racers) shows a steady level of popularity right up to age 70.

Fell-running and especially orienteering show an increase in participation with older groups, though this becomes inconsistent after age 60 for fell-runners.

Figure 2: Data from Big Running Survey

3. Different occupational groups prefer different forms of running

There are significant differences in the proportions of different occupational groups in different forms of running. The running statistics in figure 3 show the percentage of runners involved in different forms that come from two specific occupational categories.

NS-SEC 1 (purple) includes large business owners, senior managers and traditional professionals such as architects, accountants and doctors. This group has particularly highlevels of income and education.

NS-SEC 5-8 (yellow) includes people working in manual occupations, as well as those not currently in work. This group includes many people with amongst the lowest levels of income and education.

Figure 3: Data from Big Running Survey

4. Running in non-specialist environments is more popular than at running-specific sites

Figure 4 shows the percentage of Big Running Survey respondents who reported running in each of four environments occasionally or regularly.

Running in rural and urban environments is by far the most common and fairly equally distributed. Treadmills, and especially tracks are used much less.

Figure 4: Data from Big Running Survey

5. Runners who habitually run in different locations tend to have different motivational profiles

People who regularly participate in running in different environments tend to have distinctive motivations.

Figure 5 shows the mean level of selected motivations (out of a maximum 2) for survey respondents who say they run regularly in each of four environments. As we might expect, we can see that track runners tend to be more competitive and less bothered about psychological benefits; treadmill runners are most likely to be interested in improving their appearances through running; and rural runners are most likely to be motivated by exploring.

Figure 5: Data from Big Running Survey


6. Runners’ reading preferences are linked to their motives

Runners’ motivations are related to the reading media they consume.

Figure 6 shows the percentage difference between the mean level of four key motivations across the Big Running Survey sample and the mean level for those runners who regularly read magazines, books or websites about running. When a bar isn’t shown this is because the mean motivation score for this reading medium is the same for the sample as a whole.

Figure 6: Data from Big Running Survey

More running statistics will be added to this page soon



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