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Why do we run? Strava found out

Strava asked "Why do we run?" and got a heck of a lot of answers

Strava wanted to find out why runners run, so they asked their users. Over 25,000 Strava athletes from across the globe responded to the survey, and now Strava has the answers to the question “Why do we run?”

Once the surveys were complete and the data submitted, Dr. Blair Evans, an assistant professor in the kinesiology department at Penn State University, looked at it all and pieced it together to come up with the answers Strava wanted to know. There is a lot of data, so we’ve picked what we believe to be some of the most interesting findings from the survey, but if you want to explore more, go here for the interactive data map, or here for the white paper report.

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Don’t snooze

Surprisingly, Strava’s surveys found that just over 10 per cent of runners actually look forward to their morning alarm and that they love—not like, love—this part of their morning routine. Of those surveyed, 45 per cent said their success, at least in part, is due to the fact that they don’t hit the snooze button when their alarm goes off in the morning. It’s tough, especially in the middle of winter when you know it’s so much colder outside than it is in bed, but forcing yourself out of bed in the morning and going for a run will make you a better runner. 

Strength and body image


The biggest motivator for U.S. runners is strength. At 48 per cent, almost half of those surveyed said their main motivation to run is to get stronger. Another big reason is to improve their body image. In the U.S., 34 per cent of respondents said they run for their body image, and it was the same for 35 per cent in both the U.K. and Canada, and 47 per cent in Germany.

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Running with friends

For 54 per cent of women, a big motivator is that running gives them a workout plan. Women also put a lot of emphasis on the social side of running, with 36 per cent stating they are motivated to run when meeting a friend or group for a workout.

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Core needs

When broken down, runners have five “core needs” which they use running to satisfy. These needs are community and belonging, control, realization and physical and mental benefits. Nine per cent of respondents said running not only satisfies one or two of these core needs for them, but that it covers all of the categories.

These findings say a lot, but mostly, they show that running isn’t just about physical fitness. That is a big motivator for most of us, of course, but people run for many more reasons than fitness alone.