Study Digs Into the Running Habits of Twentysomethings

As millennials continue to be among the most sought-after consumer groups, the running industry is trying to grab its fair share of their spending dollars by better understanding their athletic pursuits.

For better insight into this group’s running habits and opportunities for running brands to connect with this group, a new study has been released — Phase II of The Millennial Running Study. The study examines quantitative data from Phase I and analyzes trends in data broken down by gender and runner type.

The Millennial Running Study was commissioned by Running USA, a nonprofit organization devoted to improving the status and experience of distance running in the U.S. and RacePartner, which provides event registration services. It follows Phase I, released in February, which featured responses from millennial running event finishers regarding their perceptions of running events and motivations for participating in them.

Overall, the Millennial Running Study was designed to provide a better understanding of what organized running events can do to keep millennial runners interested and engaged.

Phase II explores the attitudes and behaviors of millennial runners born between 1980 and 2000 to further identify trends by gender and running type. It includes commentary from qualitative interviews to explain elements of millennial runners’ health and fitness, running experience and philanthropy.

In the area of health and fitness, the study found that running is an activity that millennials identified as an efficient way to benefit their physical health as well as sustain positive mental and emotional health. Running, it found, became a daily routine, increasing their abilities to perform in other areas of their lives.

When looking at experiences around running events, the half marathon showed to be the most favored and completed by most millennial runners, followed by 5Ks and 10Ks. These runners learn about races mainly through the internet and social media.

Next, the majority of millennial runners do not participate in running events because of the philanthropic aspect. Most have not volunteered for an event, but would do so if they could participate in groups of friends and family, or receive free or reduced registrations to future events.

In the combined Phase I and Phase II surveys, the following was also reported:

Nearly 42 million Americans are considered runners/joggers today, and approximately 18,173,000 are between 18 and 24, with millennials — those born between 1980 and 2000 — now accounting for more than 25 percent of the U.S. population.

According to Running USA’s 2015 State of the Sport report, running events increased 300 percent from 1990 to 2013, and held strong in 2014.

The majority of millennial runner respondents identified as a frequent/fitness runner came in at 65 percent; 18 percent indicated they consider themselves to be serious competitive runners; 16 percent walkers/joggers/recreational runners, and one percent indicated they consider themselves to be obstacle event participants.

By gender, more male respondents than females identified themselves as serious competitive runners, while females outnumbered males when identifying as walkers/joggers/recreational runners.

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