sportsshoes-running-report-2023-2024

Kit & Gear

SportsShoes Running Report: Running Statistics 2023/24

When the pandemic hit, many people who had become accustomed to gym workouts or studio classes faced challenges to their pre-existing fitness routines. Suddenly, we all had to turn to home workouts or find ways to exercise during our allotted hour a day outside, to keep fit in the absence of public spaces to do so. By February 2021, around a year into the pandemic, searches for ‘Couch to 5k’ had surged by a huge 123% compared to the previous year, along with searches for ‘how to start running’, which had risen by 50%. By the following year, however, interest had waned. In-person fitness had returned, and though a Red Bull study published in 2021 revealed that 73% of runners wanted to maintain their training schedule after the pandemic ended, searches for running-related queries had all dropped back to pre-pandemic levels. 

Fast forward to now, however, and the UK’s interest in running has steadily risen once again. At the end of 2023, searches for ‘how to get into running’, ‘how to start running’ and ‘running route near me’, for example, have all risen by a further 50%, and colloquially, we’ve seen a huge boom in all things running spurred on by social media platforms like TikTok. So, with plenty more of us donning a pair of trainers and getting some fresh air while getting fit - and because at SportsShoes.com, we are always trying to get better, pushing ourselves to keep you up to speed - we’ve delved into the UK’s running landscape. Here, we’ll reveal insights into why so many of us are and aren’t running, and the effect the sport has on all areas of our lives, from our brains to our bodies. 

Why? Because it’s no fun standing still.

trail-running

What Have We Looked At?

1. How Many People Run in the UK?

2.What Motivates People to Run? 

3. What Stops People From Running?

4. The Benefits of Running
5. Running Clubs & Groups in the UK
6. Competitive Running
7. What Happens If You Run In The Wrong Shoes?
8. How Common Are Injuries For Runners?
9. How To Improve Running Performance
10. How Has Social Media Impacted The Running Industry? 

Synopsis

Running is at the core of everything we do at SportsShoes, so we’ve created the UK Running Report 23/24 to find out what the running landscape looks like right now, as we experience a boom in the industry. From the number of runners who have completed a half-marathon to what impact social media has had on the industry, our in-depth report covers it all.

Our research reveals that more than one in five Brits are running one to three times per week, with men more likely to run this frequently (47%) than women (31%). The data here suggests that there’s still much to be done to improve the safety of women’s running, with 86% of those who don’t run due to safety concerns being female. In the same breath, males are 26% more likely than females to run when it’s darker in the evenings.

Not just when, but why we run varies. While stress reduction and weight loss are the main running motivators overall, the top motivator for men is improving cardiovascular fitness (32%), whereas for women, it’s stress reduction (40%). Reducing stress has long been associated with running, and our research supports this. In fact, one in five run to facilitate spending more time in nature, a proven activity that benefits mental health, while two in five say the sport has improved symptoms of depression, and 29% say it’s reduced their panic attack symptoms. 

Although men report running more frequently than women, females actually report experiencing more benefits, according to our research. Women are more likely to feel fitter, have more energy, and experience improved sleep, while men are more likely to lose weight, experience increased confidence, and reduce anxiety. Age also plays a part here, with those aged 55+ more likely to experience benefits from running than any other age group - proving it’s never too late to lace up your trainers.

As well as learning why people run and the benefits this affords, we also wanted to analyse why over half of the population (53%) isn’t running. While a third of the population simply don’t enjoy the activity, we were concerned to see that one in 10 people don’t run due to concerns about being too overweight or because they are embarrassed. In addition, over a quarter of people (26%) don’t actually think they’re fit enough to run. 

Part of building running confidence is having other people to run with. And, while nearly a third (31%) of runners say they mostly prefer to run alone and just 5% are part of a running group, more than half of those who run with others report feeling more motivated when doing so (55%). 

The trend of running with others is evidenced in this report: one in 10 runners have taken part in a parkrun, and another one in 10 have completed a half-marathon. The figures for full marathon completion are much lower, at just 6%, indicating the substantial leap up in difficulty. However, searches for ‘marathon near me’ are up by a huge 49% compared to 2022 - suggesting we’re likely to see an increase in competitive running as we move towards 2025.

With more people taking to the sport than ever before, wearing the correct gear is also essential (and the bread and butter of what we do). Considering this, we were concerned to find that only a quarter of regular runners change their shoes on an annual basis, meaning that 75% of the population could be running in shoes that damage their feet and increase the risk of injury. This is further reflected in our finding that one in five runners has sustained a running injury. With just one in 10 regular runners saying they’ve had a gait analysis, 75% of them could be running in shoes that could be making them prone to these injuries, as well as diminishing their performance. 

However, running shoes aren’t the only factor in running performance, with music and social media also playing a part. Our report also delves into the effects of genre selection and how you share your runs on social media. Dubstep lovers run faster, and those who share their total running time online complete a 5K nearly 10 minutes quicker than those who rarely do.

Our report reflects the ongoing challenges that the industry faces: women’s safety, confidence concerns, lack of community in running groups and injury vulnerabilities. However, the landscape looks more positive than ever, with runners reporting that they’re experiencing hordes of mental and physical health benefits, group running becoming more accessible, more runners looking to run competitively and modern technology driving performance and connection in the sport. 

Continue reading to see our full report data, including expert commentary and advice from our own ambassadors, GB Runners, Strava Athletes and Physiotherapists. 

road-running

Running participation in the UK

In numbers:

- 22% of the UK population say they run one to three times per week.

- Males are more likely to run regularly (47%) than females (31%).

- A quarter of female runners say they’re less likely to run in winter due to fewer daylight hours (26%).

- Out of those who say they don’t run because they’re worried about their safety while running in public, 86% are female.

- Men are 26% more likely than women to run from 5 pm onwards.

- More people tend to run during the morning, than any other time of day.

- Residents in Greater London run more regularly than any other region, meanwhile when looking citywide, Birmingham’s population runs the most regularly.

As it stands in 2024, an impressive 22% of the population say they run between one and three times per week - this includes people who run on roads, trails, and people who might run on a treadmill in the gym. With previous research revealing that running is the most popular sport in the UK, combined with TikTok influencers spearheading a large running movement, it’s no surprise to see so many people saying they run regularly in 2024.

We also made sure to isolate people who call themselves ‘runners’ from our results to investigate any differences in behaviours and attitudes and find out why the rest of the population doesn’t choose running as a form of exercise. Within this cohort (regular runners), the results are also impressive, with 82% of runners getting out the door at least once a week or more and 16% of these people running every day. 

That leaves us with about 18% of runners saying they only manage to go for a run twice a month or less. Is this enough to build up your fitness levels or make any improvements in technique or speed?

Ben Mounsey, a trail, fell and mountain runner, as well as SportsShoes Running Ambassador, weighs in on how often you really should be running: “Ideally, you should try and make time to run at least two or three times a week if you want to maintain or improve your levels of fitness. If you can only manage one run every four weeks or so, it’s best to try and supplement your running with other forms of exercise. This can be anything, from cycling to swimming, hiking, walking or going to the gym.”

Ben also offers advice to the 16% that run every day: “It is not necessary to run every single day, and I wouldn't advise it, but there are many committed runners (including myself!) that do, or certainly try to, run 365 days of the year! You must balance training with recovery, so be careful not to overtrain, as this will inevitably lead to illness and injury. Remember that rest days are just as important as the training. 

But, if you do decide to lace up your trainers every day, then make sure at least half of your weekly runs are recovery runs and not tough training sessions. Striking a healthy and realistic balance is absolutely essential for every athlete.”

What is a recovery run?

A recovery run is a type of run taken at an easy, comfortable pace, aiming to aid recovery after a more intense or gruelling run. It increases blood flow to the muscles whilst clearing the body of lactic acid, both of which aid recovery and performance.

Tips on planning in recovery runs

- The pace should feel almost effortless so that you can hold a conversation easily without running out of breath.

- Run at 60-70% of your maximum effort, as a general rule.  It's also advisable to shorten the run, keeping it to 20 minutes or so. Still, you can tailor this depending on your previous session and fitness levels.

- It's a great time to get yourself off-road and deeper into nature, where soil and softer grass can give your joints a gentler treatment while you run.

- Stay hydrated and eat a balanced meal or snack ahead of the run to aid your recovery.

- If you feel fatigued or notice pain or discomfort, it's a good idea to stop the run or skip it altogether

How does running frequency differ between genders?

Throughout this report, we also wanted to investigate how participation in running differs between different genders and generations, as well as what’s stopping people from running who might want to get into the sport. 

The research reveals that there’s certainly a gender disparity among runners in the UK, with men more likely to run regularly compared to women. Regularly, in this instance, means running at least once a week, and with this in mind, almost half (47%) of regular runners are male compared to around a third (31%) who are female.

This could be due to a number of factors, among them factors like jobs, childcare responsibilities, or even menstrual cycles impacting how consistently women can run, but there is one big factor we do know has a significant impact on when and how often women might run: safety. 

A quarter of female runners (26%) express a reluctance to run during winter, citing fewer daylight hours as a deterrent, compared to just 18% of men. In the same breath, out of all runners who run from 5pm onwards, almost two-thirds are men (63%) compared to just over a third who are women (37%), meaning that men are 26% more likely to run in the evening. This backs up research from ThisGirlCan that revealed nearly half of all women are more fearful of running in the dark.

In addition, not only does safety affect when women run, but also whether women are willing to run at all. Out of survey respondents who say they don’t run in public due to safety concerns, 86% are female.

GB Runner and SportsShoes Ambassador Eleanor Bolton comments on methods women can use to increase their safety while running: “For the modern runner, a smartwatch or fitness tracker is a vital piece of kit, enabling us to track our performance and reach our fitness goals. However, there are several tracking features, like emergency notifications, live tracking, and route planning, that are rarely utilised yet are essential when it comes to keeping ourselves safe whilst running. Firstly, setting up emergency notifications (feature name will vary across devices) means your watch will notify your emergency contacts if you need help or have a medical emergency. Then there is live tracking, a feature that notifies your connections when you set off on a run, enables them to see the course that you have planned and tracks your current location. Finally, I would also recommend planning and uploading a route to your smartwatch. Not only is this a great way of finding new running routes, but also means you can tailor your run so you stick to safe, well-lit streets and don’t get lost in unfamiliar areas."

eleanoe-bolton

Pictured: SportsShoes ambassador Eleanor Bolton

How else can you stay safe while running alone?

1. Stay visible
Always wear bright or reflective clothing, which will help make sure you’re visible to drivers, cyclists and other runners.

2. Take your phone with you
Even if it means taking a running vest or other accessory where you can store your phone, taking it out with you is always useful for emergencies.

3. Avoid running with headphones in
When you’re in quieter areas with less people around, consider using just one earbud or keeping your volume low so you can remain aware of what’s happening around you.

4. Carry a whistle or safety alarm
Carrying a whistle or personal safety alarm can be valuable in an emergency, keep it easily accessible - either on your wrist or in a pocket where you can get it quickly if you need to.

5. Trust your instincts
Pay attention to your surroundings, and don’t be afraid to run in a different direction or go into a shop or other public place to seek help if you feel concerned while running alone.

When do people run?

We’ve already touched on when females are and aren’t likely to run during the day, but when do the majority of runners lace up their trainers? Our research revealed that the most common time to head out for a run is between 9-10 am with a huge one in six (15%) of those surveyed saying this is typically when they’d complete their run on a normal day. 

When looking at morning, versus lunchtime, versus evening - the morning wins overall. More runners head out between 6-11 am than any other time of day, with the next most popular time between 6-7pm. It’s also more common for runners to head out on their lunch break than it is for them to run any time after 7pm.

benefits-of-running-at-different-times

Which parts of the UK are running most?  

The capital of the UK is certainly leading the way when it comes to running, with over a third of people within Greater London saying they run between one and three times per week. The West Midlands and North East follow suit, both with 28% running regularly, while Northern Ireland and the East of England complete the top five, with just under a quarter of their respective populations running between one and three times per week.

UK regions that run the most

RANKREGION% WHO RUN REGULARLY
1.Greater London34%
=2.West Midlands28%
=2.North East28%
=3.Northern Ireland24%
=3.East of England24%

Over in the West Midlands, Birmingham is leading the way as the UK city that runs the most regularly, with 29% of residents running between one and three times per week. London and Sheffield are nipping at its heels, however, with 28% of each city saying they hit the pavement regularly, respectively.

UK cities that run the most

RANKREGION% WHO RUN REGULARLY
1.Birmingham29%
=2.London28%
=2.Sheffield28%
=4.Manchester27%
=4.Plymouth27%

What Motivates People to Run? 

In numbers:

- The most common reasons people start running are to reduce stress and to lose weight (both 34%) and to improve overall mental health (31%).

- For men, running is a way to lose weight and improve cardiovascular fitness (32%) and reduce stress (30%), whereas for women it’s to reduce stress (40%), lose weight (37%) and improve overall mental health (35%).

- 1 in 5 runners choose to run in order to spend more time in nature.

- Almost 2 in 5 runners choose it over other forms of fitness because it helps their mental health (39%) and because it’s low cost compared to other forms of exercise (38%).

- 2 in 5 runners (44%) say it has improved symptoms of depression for them, while almost half (48%) say it has improved symptoms of anxiety, and almost a third (29%) say it’s improved their symptoms of panic attacks.

- Women experience more benefits from running than men, from feeling fitter to having more energy and sleeping better, while men are more likely to lose weight, feel more confident and feel less anxious.

- People aged 55+ are more likely to experience benefits from running, compared to any other age group.

The reasons people run

There’s a number of reasons why people choose to take up running, from losing weight to entering a big race. We set out to discover what motivates runners to lace up their shoes and how this differs between genders and generations.

Reducing stress is the primary benefit cited as the reason why people start running, and with mental health a proven benefit of exercise, it’s great to see that so many people are turning to running as a means of helping to deal with stress. This is followed by losing weight (34%) and improving overall mental health (31%).

Interestingly, a number of people who class themselves as runners say they started running as both a way to build good habits and establish a routine; 18% and 15% agree with this, respectively. Running requires discipline, and getting yourself out the door in rain or shine takes a lot of self-motivation.

Perhaps more of a surprising result to see in the top 10 is the fact that 17% of runners chose to take up the sport to improve their bone health. Interestingly, this number is similar between all age groups, too, so isn’t swayed by older age groups in whom this might be more of a motivator to take up running. Even more surprisingly, more men run to improve their bone health (19%) than women (14%), despite it being females who are more at risk of bone-deterioration conditions like osteoporosis. 

Hollie Maskell, a chartered musculoskeletal physiotherapist, explains why running can benefit our bone health: “Running is a weight-bearing exercise, which means this puts stress on our bones. This causes stimulation of the production of new bone tissue and improves bone density. Over time, the more you run, the more your bones adapt by remodelling themselves to handle the load. This enhances bone strength. Well-balanced running promotes joint health and can reduce the risk of conditions such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.”

“17% of runners took up running so they could spend more time in nature”


Our findings also highlight that many runners chose to take up the sport in order to spend more time in nature, with 17% agreeing with this statement. We know that spending time in nature has been proven to help with mental health problems, and as we’ll cover further on in the report, many runners tend to cite improved overall mental health as one of the primary benefits of running. As such, these two things work in powerful tandem with one another, reinforcing the positive impact that engaging in running and spending time outdoors can have on our mental health.

That said, just 8% of the runners we spoke to said they mostly run on trails, where nature can be felt at its fullest, with the rest saying they mostly run on the road (21%), a treadmill (8%) or a mixture of the three. With searches for trail running up 22% compared to 2022 however, we expect this picture to change in the coming year. 

RANKREASON FOR STARTING RUNNING% OF RUNNERS THAT AGREE
=1.To reduce my stress34%
=1.To lose weight34%
=3.To improve my overall mental health31%
=3.To improve my cardiovascular fitness31%
5.To improve my mood30%
6.I enjoy running25%
7.To help build good habits18%
=8.To improve my bone health17%
=8.To spend more time in nature17%
10.To establish a routine15%

why-people-start-running

How does this differ between age groups and genders?

Our research also revealed the differences in motivating factors for different age groups and genders, with losing weight the only metric that every age group agrees on. In addition, losing weight is also the biggest driving factor for getting into running for those aged between 25 and 34 years old.

This ties in with the fact that our research also revealed most runners choose to exercise in the morning, with a body of evidence suggesting that running on an empty stomach (training in a “fasted state”) can help boost weight loss by teaching the body to burn fat more effectively.

Our running and trail expert Ben Mounsey comments on this: “Whether you should train in a fasted state or not depends on the type and intensity of exercise you’re doing and how you feel. Some evidence suggests that the benefits of training fasted, which is training after not eating for 8-12 hours, include increased fat burn and an improvement in the body’s ability to adapt to burning fat more efficiently, particularly when doing endurance training. On the other hand, training fasted may reduce afterburn, which is the amount of calories burned after a workout as a result of the exercise. In addition, cortisol increases when we train fasted, which may cause the body to burn amino acids, rather than fat. 

There are pros and cons for training fasted, but ultimately I’d recommend using it as an occasional tool if you’re only doing light-moderate training for 90 minutes or less. If you’re doing a HIIT workout or exercising beyond 90 minutes, then fuel up beforehand. If gaining muscle mass is your main concern, having a protein shake or glass of milk 30 minutes prior to exercise can help prevent muscle breakdown. With all of these strategies, it's always important to listen to your body and adjust accordingly.” 

Gen Z say the reason they started running is to improve their cardiovascular fitness, and for all other age groups (aside from those aged 25-34), it’s to reduce stress. What is really interesting, however, is that within every generation, one or more of the top three reasons they started running is to improve various mental health elements. 

This is similar when it comes to the priorities of men and women too, with males their top three reasons for taking up running include improving cardiovascular fitness (32%), losing weight (32%) and reducing stress (30%), meanwhile for females it’s reducing stress (40%), losing weight (37%) and improving mental health (35%).

Top reasons for running, according to each age group

why-people-run-by-age-group

Why do people choose running over other forms of exercise?

Many people choose to run as their sole form of exercise, while others use running as a supplement to various other forms of training. Whichever category you fall into, regular physical activity is the most important thing. The NHS states that physical exercise can lower the risk of early mortality by up to 30%, but various barriers to exercise prevent so many people from achieving the levels of physical activity they should be engaging in. With this in mind, we wanted to find out what it is about running that keeps people actively participating, to help non-runners find the right motivation to try out the sport for themselves.

Our initial findings revealed that three of the top 10 reasons people choose to start running all relate to mental wellness. Upon further investigation, it turns out that runners choose the sport over other forms of fitness because it does indeed help improve their mental health. In fact, around two in five runners (44%) say it has improved their own symptoms of depression In addition, almost half (48%) say it has improved symptoms of anxiety, and almost a third (29%) say it’s improved their symptoms of panic attacks.

Interestingly, two in five runners (38%) say they choose it over any other form of fitness because it’s low cost. While investing in the right equipment can be a pricey entry to the sport, this seems to be less of a barrier for many people than the equivalent cost of joining your local tennis association or signing up to a gym. That said, later in the report, we’ll look at how often people are investing in changing their running shoes or even making sure they’re running in the right shoes in the first place, and the figures are startling.

Two of the top five reasons people prefer running over other forms of fitness relate to the flexibility running affords. A third say it’s the easiest form of fitness they can fit around their lives, and 30% cite that it’s because there are multiple places they can do it, whether that’s in the gym on a treadmill or outside on the road or trails. 

Ben Mounsey weighs in here with advice for anyone struggling to fit their exercise routines into their lives: “Most of us lead increasingly busy lifestyles so maintaining a regular fitness regime can often prove difficult. My advice is to plan your workouts around your lifestyle. This might mean getting up an hour earlier to squeeze in a run or even trying to run on your lunch break. During the winter months, the latter is actually my preferred choice as you can enjoy the benefit of daylight and also buddy up with a work colleague for extra motivation. You can even take it in turns to plan the routes or discover new ones together.”

The top five reasons people choose running over other forms of fitness

RANKREASON% OF RUNNERS WHO AGREE WITH
1.Running helps me improve my mental health39%
2.Running is low-cost compared to team sports and gym memberships38%
3.Running is the easiest form of fitness I can fit around my life33%
4.Running is the best way for me to improve my cardio32%
5.There are many places I can do it, for example in the gym on a treadmill, or outside on the road/trails30%

why-people-choose-running

What Stops People From Running?

In numbers:

- Over half the UK population (53%) never, or rarely, run.

- Women are less likely to run regularly (58%) compared with men (42%).

- A quarter of the UK population (26%) don’t run because they think they’re too unfit.

- 1 in 10 people in the UK don’t run because they think they’re too overweight, or because they’re embarrassed for other people to see them run.

The reasons people choose not to run

So far, in our report, we’ve asked those who consider themselves regular runners what motivates them to run and what benefits they receive from the sport. However, to find out why people don’t run, we asked a nationally representative selection of UK residents what the reasons are.

We wanted to find out what barriers there are, if any, to people participating in running as a sport or method of exercise. Running is at the heart of what we do, so helping the population find ways into the sport is as important to us as getting people lacing up the right shoes for them. 

“More than a quarter of the population think they’re too unfit to run.”

Our findings were interesting, revealing that over half the population (56%) said they run once every six months, once a year or never. Furthermore, it’s women who are less likely to run regularly than men, with 58% of people who rarely or never run being female, compared to 42% who are male.

For a third of these people (33%), it’s simply because they don’t enjoy running, and for 39%, it’s because they have health conditions or injuries stopping them from running. Sadly, however, for over a quarter (26%), it’s because they think they’re too unfit. For the people who simply don’t enjoy running or have health conditions preventing them from doing so, plenty of other forms of exercise can achieve the same physical and mental health benefits as a run. But it’s important for the UK’s overall health that we acknowledge the general barriers to exercise and talk about how we can help people move past them. 

Hollie Maskell adds to the conversation, providing advice on getting into running for anyone who would like to but is worried they’re too unfit: “Anyone can become ‘fit’ at running! It’s about building up the miles in your legs slowly and building your cardiovascular fitness over time. In fact, running slowly is actually very beneficial, rather than running really fast, as it reduces the risk of becoming injured. Start small, and gradually increase your goals - it’s not a race.”

Upon further investigation, 1 in 10 people think they’re too overweight to run, and another 1 in 10 are too embarrassed for people to see them run. These are figures that we can and should work together to change. 

ben-mounsey

Pictured: SportsShoes ambassador Ben Mounsey

With this in mind, we asked Ben Mounsey to provide some tips to help boost confidence when running: “Running should be accessible to everyone and is more about your personal journey of improving health and fitness rather than about competing or comparing to others. No matter your size or how embarrassing you may find running (either alone or in front of others), your confidence will build with time by applying the following tips.”

1. Set realistic goals
Set achievable goals tailored to your fitness level. Make the goals small and attainable so that you can feel a sense of success. You can gradually build up the level of the challenge as your confidence grows

2. Ensure you have good running gear
Well-fitting running gear will help to make you feel comfortable and confident and may even encourage you to work out. A good pair of running trainers will also prevent injury so you can continue building your running confidence without delays

3. Find a running buddy and start in quieter areas
By starting your runs at more peaceful times or in less crowded places, you can build up your confidence until you're ready to tackle bigger groups. Finding a running buddy is also a great idea here, as they'll provide camaraderie and take your mind off your insecurities while keeping you accountable

4. Progress, not perfection
Focus on your health and well-being rather than your body image. Every step is a step in the right direction, so take it a day at a time and celebrate small wins. Keep a running journal so you can track your progress and see the positive impact you're making over time

5. Seek professional guidance
If you're concerned about your weight and how that may affect your running, it may be worth consulting a nutritionist or personal trainer who can help you build a diet and workout plan to achieve your goals

Ben has also offered his top tips on how to stick to running: “Whether it’s running your first 5k, achieving a new half marathon PB or losing weight, challenge yourself with a 2024 milestone that works for your aims. Focusing on your ultimate goals will help structure your running, and will give you that extra bit of willpower to keep going when the going gets tough. Keep your target realistic and set small achievable interim goals to keep up your motivation.”

“Make training sessions an ingrained part of your lifestyle or social activity by running with friends, joining a running club, or even making parkrun a regular Saturday morning fixture.”

Reasons that people in the UK don’t run

RANKREASON% OF NON RUNNERS WHO AGREE
1.I don't enjoy running33%
2.I think I am too unfit to run26%
3.I have a health condition that prevents me from running24%
4.I have injuries that prevent me from running14%
=5.I think I'm too overweight to run10%
=5.I don't like being out of breath10%
=5.I am too embarrassed for other people to see me run10%
=5.I don't have enough time to go running10%
9.I am worried about my safety while running in public7%
10.I worry about people laughing at me while I run6%

raesons-people-dont-run

The Benefits of Running

Having looked into why people do and don’t run, we wanted to assess what it is that running is doing for the population that do participate in the sport. The main benefit runners experience is unsurprising, with two in five reporting feeling fitter. This is followed by having more energy and sleeping better (both 33%). With sleep being such an important part of maintaining good physical and mental health, it’s fantastic to see that running helps improve this part of so many people’s lives. In fact, over a third (34%) of runners actually stated that the sport helps improve symptoms of insomnia for them, too, backing up the idea that it can be really beneficial for our sleep health. 

Does this look different for different genders or generations?

Women generally tend to report higher levels of benefits from running across the board; they are more likely than men to experience feeling fitter, having more energy, sleeping better, feeling less stressed, feeling like their overall health has improved and feeling less breathless. Meanwhile, men are more likely to say they lose weight, experience increased confidence and feel less anxious as a result of running. 

Despite this, women are 16% less likely to run regularly compared to men. This may be due to responsibilities and commitments getting in the way, or the impact menstrual cycles can have on the ability to exercise. Either way, the benefits of running for women are heavily evidenced, so it’s important to consider potential barriers to participation in the sport. 

The benefits experienced thanks to running also tend to trend upwards with age, with a significantly larger amount of those aged 55+ experiencing a variety of benefits, as well as three in five (59%) saying they feel fitter as a result of running. In fact, people in this age group are 10% more likely to feel fitter thanks to running than the next group most likely to experience this - those aged 45-54. Furthermore, when looking at the impact running has on how fit those aged 16-24 feel, only 30% say the same.

running-benefits-by-age-group

Running Clubs and Groups in the UK

In numbers:

- Almost a third (31%) of runners say they mostly prefer to run alone.

- More than half (55%) of people who prefer to run with others say they feel more motivated than when they run alone.

- Just 5% of runners are part of a running club.

- 44% of people who prefer running alone say it’s because they see running as time to themselves, while 36% like to pick their own running routes, and a third (33%) don’t like talking while running.

- 20% of people who prefer to run alone do so because they think they’re too slow to run with others.

- 1 in 10 (12%) runners in the UK have taken part in a parkrun.

Running preferences vary between everyone, and whether you like running alone, running with others, or a mixture of the two, whatever gets you into your trainers and out the front door is fantastic. In our research, we also wanted to look at the positives and negatives of running alone or with others, as well as finding out what can help people find community within the sport.

We found that almost a third (31%) of runners mostly prefer to run alone, while just 8% prefer to run with other people, and the remainder don’t mind either way. We asked people who do like to run with others exactly what it is about running in a group that they enjoy, and while over half (55%) of these people say they feel more motivated than when they run alone, just 5% of the people we spoke to are part of an organised running club or group. With so many benefits to be found through running with other people, why are so few of us taking the opportunity to find community with each other through our shared love of the sport?

“More than half of runners (55%) say they feel more motivated when they run with others, but just 5% of them are part of an organised club or group”

Almost half (44%) of those who like to run alone say that it’s because they see running as time to themselves, over a third of these people (36%) also prefer to pick their own running routes, and a third (33%) simply don’t like to talk while they run. Interestingly, a fifth of these people (20%) run alone because they think they’re too slow to run with other people. 

Ben Mounsey comments on this figure: “Most people, especially beginners, will always consider themselves to be too slow. But it’s important to remember - there are millions of other people who feel exactly the same! Running with friends who share your common goals can be so helpful in building up your confidence, but if you can pluck up the courage to join your local running club - even better! The main benefit is motivation, but running with others can help you find new routes, gain advice from others, become inspired and share your goals with like-minded individuals. All running clubs have weekly training sessions, and they exist to help improve your fitness and wellbeing - they’re well worth trying out!”

parkrun

The rise of parkrun 

Positively, however, our survey showed that more than one in ten runners in the UK have taken part in a parkrun, a free community 5K event that takes place every week in locations all over the UK and further afield. At SportsShoes.com, we recently partnered with parkrun to become their exclusive retail partner in the UK, and were able to use some of their internal data to reveal how parkrun participation figures vary by region.  

It’s incredibly exciting to see so many people joining in at parkrun events across the UK, particularly since our research already revealed a huge 55% of people who run with others say it motivates them more than running alone. But we do recognise that running with others can also be daunting - particularly if you’re at an earlier stage in your running journey.

parkruns are open to everyone, no matter how fast or slow you run, and even if you prefer to walk. If you are hoping to be in a smaller group, check your local area for nearby parkruns that are slightly quieter by looking at the event history page. If you’re around Bushy Park in London for example, try out the Hazelwood parkrun, or if you’re located in Clapham or Southampton, you could try Fulham Palace or Eastleigh parkruns instead.

parkrun participation by region

By comparing each region’s parkrun participation figures alongside their population size, we were able to find out which regions are seeing the highest number of parkrun participants.  

The South East of England has the highest participation rate of any region in the UK, followed by the East and South West of England.

Outside of England, it’s Northern Ireland which sees the highest levels of parkrun participation (0.42%), while Wales follows behind in sixth place. 

RANKREGION% RATE (per capita)
1.South East England0.49%
=2.East of England0.46%
=2.South West England0.46%
4.Northern Ireland0.42%
5.Yorkshire and the Humber0.41%
6.Wales0.40%
=7.East Midlands0.39%
=7.North East England0.39%
9.North West England0.35%
10.Greater London0.33%

Competitive Running

In numbers:

- 1 in 10 runners have completed a half-marathon, while 6% have completed a marathon.

- Men are more likely (61%) than women (39%) to have completed a half-marathon, and more likely to have completed a marathon (70%) compared to women (30%).

- The Boston marathon receives the most searches compared to places available, making it the world’s most in-demand race, whereas the New Forest marathon is the UK’s most in-demand race.

- Brits are most keen to participate in the London and Manchester marathons within the UK, and outside of the country, are searching most for the Boston marathon.

- Impressively, 1 in 10 runners in the UK have completed a half-marathon, while three in every 50 (6%) have also completed a marathon. 

Overall, men are more likely to have participated in a half-marathon and/or marathon compared to women. These figures align with global averages, where about 30% of marathon participants are female, and are brilliant, and highlight the growing trend of more women participating in competitive running than ever before, backed up also by RunRepeat’s most recent analysis of the current ultramarathon running landscape. 

Even so, this looks to be set to change in the coming years, with UK searches for ‘marathon near me’ up by a huge 49% compared to 2022, and searches for ‘ultramarathon near me’ also up year on year by 41% compared to 2022.

For the 90% who have yet to tackle the half (if they choose to!) Paul from the Balanced Runner has offered tips on when you should start training and how to tackle it if you’re a beginner: “Give yourself as long as possible to train! There are lots of programmes out there that offer 16-week training plans, but it’s important to know these are for people who already consistently run. If you’re planning to complete a half or full marathon, the best tip is to simply get used to running regularly. Find ways to enjoy the training by seeking out others who are doing the same thing and get all the basics right. Run regularly, keep hydrated, eat plenty of food, sleep well and get advice based on your experience level. 

It’s really easy to get caught up on the little things, but it’s the simple things that matter most! The biggest thing of all is to enjoy the challenge that you have set out to achieve and take pride in the effort you are putting into it.”

marathon

The world’s most popular marathons 

While looking at marathon-related searches, we wanted to find out which marathons are actually receiving the most demand via search queries from interested athletes, compared to the number of places actually available.

Of the 62 marathons analysed, the Boston Marathon is the most in-demand, receiving the most searches per starting place, with 98 people searching for the event compared to each starting spot available. The event is highly prestigious, dating back to 1897 and famed for its challenging course, which includes a difficult stretch known as ‘Heartbreak Hill’ at the 20-mile mark. 

Germany’s Regensburg Marathon ranks in second place, receiving 65 searches per starting place available. The marathon takes place in a 2000-year-old Roman-built city, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Participants are led across the world’s oldest stone bridge, making this particular marathon even more special to participate in.  

Rounding off the top three is the Monschau Marathon, a 42km challenging run that takes place 767 metres above sea level. The event itself receives 58 Google searches per starting place. It is complete with a historic old town and stunning valleys, affording runners beautiful views as they take on the challenge.  

With 27 searches per starting place available, the New Forest Marathon takes the crown as the UK’s most in-demand event. Located in a beautiful National Park in Hampshire, participants can enjoy woodland, picturesque village scenes and a variety of wildlife throughout the course.

RANKMARATHON2024 EVENT DATENO. OF SEARCHES (per available starting places)
1.Boston Marathon15th April98
2.Regensburg Marathon12th May65
=3.Monschau Marathon11th August58
=3.Ibiza Marathon13th April58
5.Great Ocean Road Marathon19th May43
6.Melbourne Marathon13th October34
7.Stockholm Marathon1st June31
=8.New Forest Marathon8th September27
=8.Vienna Marathon21st April27
=10.Loch Ness Marathon29th September24
=10.Toronto Waterfront Marathon20th October24
=12.London Marathon21st April23
=12.Berlin Marathon7th April23
14.Chicago Marathon13th October22
15.Venice Marathon27th October18
16.Reykjavik Marathon24th August15
=17.Copenhagen Marathon5th May14
=17.Belfast City Marathon5th May14
=17.New York City Marathon3rd November14
=17.Milan Marathon7th April14

asics-marathon

Pictured: Image by 90970 from Pixabay

The marathons Brits most want to run in

Alongside the marathons that are hardest to get a spot in, we also wanted to look at the marathons which Brits are most interested in, in general.

RANK/MARATHON/COUNTRYYEAR ON YEAR CHANGEANNUAL SEARCHED IN THE UK
1. London Marathon (UK)+45%735,100
2. Manchester Martahon (UK)+53%237,200
3. Boston Marathon (USA)+12%169,900
4. Edinburgh Marathon (UK)+18%136,300
5. Brighton Marathon (UK)+17%114,400
6. Berlin Marathon (Germany)+71%97,000
7. Paris Marathon (France)+73%72,600
8. Loch Ness Marathon (UK)+11%69,300
9. Belfast City Marathon (UK)+57%65,680
10. Amsterdam Marathon (Netherlands)+55%47,900

1. London Marathon
The capital of Britain has been playing host to its eponymous marathon since April 1981. The long-distance event is renowned for its inclusivity, welcoming worldwide elite athletes and thousands of recreational runners of all ages and abilities via a unique ballot entry system. The marathon has a strong charity aspect, with many participants raising money for honourable causes and stirring large crowds to cheer them on. A huge 735,100 annual searches are made for the London Marathon in the UK, and the race only continues to grow in popularity, seeing a 45% increase in searches year-on-year. 

2. Manchester Marathon
This annual long-distance running event originated in 1908, making it one of the oldest marathon races in the world. The course typically takes participants through the scenic streets of Manchester, showcasing some of the city's iconic landmarks and neighbourhoods. Over the years, the Manchester Marathon has evolved and grown in popularity, as evidenced by a staggering 53% increase in searches year-on-year.  It is known for its relatively flat course, making it appealing to runners aiming for personal best times. Manchester Marathon continues to be a significant event in the British running calendar, drawing thousands of runners each year, and has received over 237,000 searches by Brits in the past year.

3. Boston Marathon
The Boston Marathon is one of the world's oldest and most prestigious annual marathon races, so it’s no surprise that it’s the foreign marathon Brits have at the top of their search list, with just under 170,000 annual searches. Held on Patriots' Day in Massachusetts each year, it typically occurs on the third Monday of April. Established in 1897, the Boston Marathon is known for its challenging course, including the infamous Heartbreak Hill, attracting elite runners across the globe and thousands of participants from all walks of life. The marathon is also steeped in history; the iconic finish line located on Boston's Boylston Street draws large crowds of spectators. 

What Happens If You Run In The Wrong Shoes?

In numbers:

- Only a quarter (24%) of runners change their running shoes at least once a year, meaning three-quarters of the population are wearing shoes that could damage their feet while running.

- 1 in 5 people wear their running shoes for errands, or shopping.

- Less than 1 in 10 (7%) runners have had a gait analysis performed.

- 4 in 5 runners could be at risk of injuring themselves in the wrong shoes.

- Just 22% of runners have purchased shoes specifically for their running style.

With so many of us taking up running, and so many keen to take up competitive running, does this equate to more or less knowledge across the sport? Within this report, we also decided to investigate how many people are running in the right gear.

The results are fairly shocking, with just a quarter of runners changing their shoes at least once a year. Changing your running shoes every 500 to 750 kilometres is generally recommended. Of course, this varies massively depending on many different things: your running style, the terrain you run on, your build, and whether you use your running shoes for other activities too. 1 in 5 (20%) say they use their running shoes as their main form of footwear, for example, when they run errands or go shopping - and each kilometre counts, whether they’re running or not. 

We spoke to Paul Mackinnon from the Balanced Runner, who suggests always having two pairs of shoes: “There’s no need to throw out old running shoes; instead, use these for all your non-running activities, so you can have the freshest pair in the rotation as your running shoes! If you’re out all day shopping or walking around in your running shoes and then go for a run, you’ve spent the whole day compacting the midsole. When you go out for a run after this, you’ll be running on compacted and harder shoes, which are more likely to cause injury”.

The largest proportion of people we surveyed said they run 2-3 times a week. If each of these people ran a 5k each time, they’d be recommended to change their shoes at least once a year - as such, it can be assumed that 75% of runners could be running in shoes that are damaging their feet.

Beyond this, and astonishingly, less than 1 in 10 runners have performed a gait analysis. A gait analysis examines your running pattern, involving an assessment of different factors like the length of your stride, how your foot strikes, your posture and your body mechanics. It’s useful in running because it helps you understand how your body moves and can identify any differences that might impact the way you run. 

A gait analysis can help prevent injuries, optimise your performance, help you choose the right shoes for your running style and even improve your overall posture. With so few runners having had a gait analysis performed, over 90% of us could be potentially running in the wrong shoes entirely. Our research also showed that as little as 22% of us have purchased shoes specifically for our running style, suggesting that almost 4 in 5 of us could be at risk of injuring ourselves by running in shoes that aren’t designed for the way we move.

Paul also weighs in on why a gait analysis is so important for runners: “A gait analysis can be extremely useful to get an understanding of why you may be getting specific injuries, highlight where you may be missing out on efficiencies, and what parts of the body are being used most.”

gait-analysis

How Common Are Injuries For Runners?

In numbers:

- 1 in 5 runners (19%) have experienced a running injury, while 1 in 10 continue to run while injured.

- The most common injuries runners experience are pulled muscles (79%), blisters (75%) and ankle sprains (68%).

- 31% of runners have experienced running injuries that last longer than a year.

- Runners deal with pulled muscles longer than any other injury, with 1 in 10 (13%) experiencing pulled muscles for 4 months or longer.

- Just 1 in 10 runners also train in the gym to avoid injury.

With so many runners potentially running in the wrong shoes, or wearing older shoes that could injure them - we also wondered how many injuries runners are experiencing.

Our findings show that one in five runners (19%) have experienced injuries as a result of running, so we wanted to find out which injuries are most common. 

The most common running injuries

Blisters are the most common injury reported by runners, with 87% having experienced them as a result of the sport. Blisters are often the result of incorrect or poorly fitting footwear, which is why choosing the right shoes and performing a gait analysis is so important. We discuss gait analysis further in the report, which is one of the best ways to prevent a number of running-related injuries. In the shorter term, wearing a blister pad will help to prevent further friction and give your skin time to heal. 

Pulling a muscle follows closely behind, with more than four in five runners experiencing this at some point. We spoke to Hollie Maskell, a Chartered Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, to get her advice on how to avoid pulling a muscle: “It’s important to avoid excessive stretching if you’ve strained your muscle - so you don’t irritate it further. Start a strengthening programme with the guidance of a physio, make sure it’s not causing you any additional pain and then look to progress this over a period of 6 weeks to 3 months.”

Ranking as the third most common injury, almost three-quarters of people reported ankle sprains due to running. Sprains can occur when the ankle ligaments become stretched or torn, often due to stepping over uneven services or when the ankle is twisted suddenly. 

RANKINJURYNO OF PEOPLE WITH THIS INJURY AS A RESULT OF RUNNING
1.Blister87%
2.Pulled muscle84%
3.Ankle sprain72%
4.Sunburn70%
5.Runner's knee65%
6.Shin splint63%
7.Achilles tendinopathy61%
8.Plantar fasciitis55&
9.Stress fracture54%
10.Bunions52%

Our research also revealed that one in 10 people continue to run despite having injuries. Hollie gives her thoughts on running while injured: “Persisting with training when you’re injured, whether it’s a pulled muscle or shin splints, will worsen most injuries - leading to a longer time out of running. If your pain is less than a 4/10, you can likely continue to run - with the support of a physiotherapist who will help you retrain your muscles or avoid injuring yourself further. Any more than this, however, and I would not recommend continuing to train.”

How To Improve Running Performance

In numbers:

- Listening to Dubstep makes you run faster, with those who listen to it averaging an impressive 5k time of 32:55.

- This is followed by people who listen to rock music and indie rock music.

- Despite this, pop music is the most common choice (26%) followed by rock (14%) and R&B (14%).

- The slowest runners are those that listen to nature or nature sounds, averaging a much longer average 5k time of 57:06 minutes.

music-running

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Can music make you run faster?

We know that music has a deeply entwined relationship with running performance, with many studies having shown a positive correlation between the average beats per minute (BPM) of songs and running speed.

Our research supports this idea, with 88% of the runners we spoke to saying they listen to something whenever they run. But can specific types of music make you run faster? We looked at which genre participants said they listen to most while running, and paired this with their 5k times to find out which types of music give your stride the most punch. 

Dubstep is the most performance-boosting genre of all, with those who enjoy its prominent syncopated rhythms and heavy basslines averaging an impressive 32:55 minute 5k time on average. Meanwhile, although over a quarter of people say they most listened to pop while running, pop listeners actually tend to run slower than other genres, including dubstep, rock, indie rock and heavy metal.

In actual fact, however, when looking at who runs the slowest of all, it’s those running in silence. These individuals tend to average a 5k time of 57:06 minutes - that’s nearly double that of those who listen to dubstep. This echoes the fact that earlier in the report we mentioned that one in five runners go for a run in order to get out into nature, with the results here suggesting that these individuals seem to prioritise the time spent outdoors over speed.

With the exception of heavy metal music, which can have an average BPM of 90 in some cases, most of the genres linked with faster runs have a 100 BPM or more, with Dubstep having the highest average of all at 140-150 BPM. 

The finding that songs with higher BPMs are often popular among runners supports our earlier research on the relationship between music and running. In our Ultimate Running Playlist study, where we analysed Spotify data to find the most popular running songs, all of the top 10 songs most frequently added to running playlists had a BPM of at least 100. 

Nige Hockin, Social Media Manager at SportsShoes, chimes in here with his thoughts on listening to music while you run: “If you don’t believe the extensive research that has historically been published, proving the impact music has on improving performance, put your earphones in and listen to your favourite song at mile 20 in your next marathon and you won’t need any more proof!

“That said, although certain BPMs have been proven to work best, I personally find anything uplifting works a treat. My favourite songs have a much bigger impact than generic music, which might be because it taps into more emotional responses which help to fight through any pain or perceived effort.”

RANKGENREAVERAGE 5K TIMEAVERAGE BPM
1.Dubstep music32:55140-150
2.Rock music34:40100-160
3.Indie rock music37:00100-150
4.Heavy metal music37:0490-200
5.Pop music38:12100-130
6.Electronic music39.04120-140
7.R&B music39:4570-100
8.Country/folk music40:0370-120
9.Electro music43:15120-140
10.Hip hop music43:2570-100

Does posting on social media make you run faster?

In numbers: 

- 14% of runners say they always track every aspect of their run on an app or using social media.

- Runners who always share their total running time online can run a 5k nearly 10 minutes faster than those who rarely do.

- Our research suggests that always sharing your successes makes you run faster, completing 5k more than four minutes faster on average, however, sharing failures has a negative impact on speed; those who consistently share their failures complete their 5k almost five minutes more slowly.

We also wanted to see if there was any correlation between posting different metrics from your run online, and how fast you run. We analysed the 5k times of people, alongside seven different metrics which included whether or not they shared their distance, average split, average heart rate, time lapsed, GPS of the run, running successes and running failures - and the results were interesting. 

For five of the seven metrics, the people who ran the fastest said they never share any of them, while on the other hand, people who always share two more of the metrics seem to be the fastest. So what does this all mean? 

While there’s certainly a psychological basis behind the idea that sharing your runs on social media could help motivate you to improve your performance, the data reveals that actually - it doesn’t really matter!

how-social-media-affects-running

We spoke to Nige, our in-house social media manager, to get his thoughts on the subject: “I believe tracking your runs in some way is vital to improving performance for all runners, at all levels. Having targets and monitoring your progress really helps to hold you accountable, and can give you motivation when you need it. It can also function as a way to ensure that you aren’t running too much, or increasing your mileage too quickly too soon.

Social media has naturally made it far easier for us all to see what others are doing, which in turn actually really helps to make people more aware of events, and lowers the perceived barrier to entry. Success breeds success, and whether what you’re sharing helps your performance, or you’re sharing successes or failures - it’s a great way to inspire more people to get into the sport.”

How has social media impacted the running industry?

With recent TikTok trends having a massive influence on the public’s interest and habits around running, we wanted to look at how social media impacts the running industry in general. In the last year in particular, more people than ever have started to document their runs in short-form videos and upload them to TikTok. This has created a running community that has developed rapidly, encouraging more people than ever to get into the sport.

This is echoed by the fact that the discourse around ‘running vests’ on TikTok over the last 12 months has led to 74,000 Google searches a month for the item - this is up by an enormous 512% when you compare January 2024 to January 2023. Within the discourse, TikTok users frequently discuss when runners should and shouldn’t wear them, along with which ones are the best to invest in.  

Ben Mounsey gives his thoughts: “We know that a lot of people are concerned about whether they need certain kit or what they’ll look like if they’re running a short distance while wearing gear that people usually use for longer distances. But in all honesty, whatever helps you feel good during your run and helps you get out the door is all that matters. Don’t feel that you need to invest heavily in the more professional gear just because other people have it, but equally, if a piece of kit makes running easier or more efficient for you - then just wear it!”

Since the running scene across both Instagram and TikTok has seen such a spike, we also took a deep dive into the current most popular British running influencers, to find out which ones are inspiring the most runners. 

The Top 15 Most Popular British Running Influencers on Instagram 

To find out, we Iooked at the UK’s most loved running influencers, analysing their followers, average likes per post and number of posts on Instagram, which we used to create a final Influencing Score. 

According to our research, Mary McCarthy  (@marymccarths ) is currently the most loved British running influencer, with the highest overall score of 15.63. Known as London’s ‘pocket rocket’, Mary posts about fitness, fashion and other lifestyle topics on her Instagram. She also shares a lot about her personal life with her 41,600 followers, taking them on her running journey. The Londoner also competes in ultra-marathons and has a Masters in Sports and Exercise. 

Joshua Patterson (@joshuapatterson_jp ) comes in second, with a score of 9.68. The owner of Runna Plans, a training and coaching platform, mainly shares marathon challenges that he has completed with his followers. The rugby player and TV personality turned ultra-athlete and campaigner has become the first person to complete 76 marathons in 76 days across the UK's 76 cities. Josh is a big proponent of charity pledges and raises awareness and funds for charities via his running challenges.

russ-cook

Pictured: 'Hardest Geezer' Russ Cook

Extreme ultra-runner Russ Cook (@hardestgeezer) rounds off the top three, scoring 8.23 overall. Russ, who is based in West Sussex and is known as the 'Hardest Geezer’ on Instagram, has just become the first person ever to run the length of Africa. He began his journey at South Africa's most southern point and ran more than 9,940 miles (16,000km) before reaching his final destination in Tunisia's most northern point. Russ posted regular updates and shared his journey and progress with his followers. Simultaneously, he used this challenge to raise money for multiple charities. 

RANKINFLUENCERINSTAGRAM HANDLEINFLUENCING SCORE
1.Mary McCarthy @marymccarths 15.63 
2.Joshua Patterson@joshuapatterson_jp 9.68 
3.Russ Cook@hardestgeezer 8.23
4.Emma Kirk-Odunubi @emmakirkyo 8.12
5.Emma Mailer @em_fitx 7.38 
6.Savannah Sachdev @savannahsachdev 6.60 
7.Laura Fountain @lazygirlrunning 6.17 
8.Rowan Wood @thefellrunner 6.15 
9.Sophie Power @ultra_sophie 5.46
10.Tasha Thompson @tasharunstings 5.07 
11.Anya Culling @a.culling 4.76 
12.Rhianna Crisp @rhiannacrisp 4.65 
13.Lillie Bleasdale @lilliesfitness 4.58 
14.Sophie Raworth @sophieraworth 4.30 
15.Sabrina Pace-Humphreys @sabrunsmiles 4.13 

The top 15 most loved running influencers on TikTok

For this ranking, we looked at the UK’s most famous running influencers on TikTok, analysing their followers, number of videos and total likes on the platform, which we used to create a final Influencing Score and the ranking below.

Our research suggests that running coach Imogen Boddy (@imoboddy) is the most loved British running TikTokker, scoring 197.84 overall. Imogen’s feed consists mostly of her running and wellbeing journey. She also speaks openly about her mental health and shares running tips with her followers, whilst being  the youngest female to have run the length of the UK. Aged just 22, she ran 60km (40 miles) a day for 22 days and completed the 1340km challenge across the UK - quite the feat! 

In second place, with an Influencing Score of 148.25, is Lillie Bleasdale (@lilliesfitness). The Bath-based athlete and coach is also the founder of Passa, a platform that creates bespoked online coaching programs for women. On her TikTok, she mostly takes her followers on her running journey and shares her progress and competitions she takes part in. She also uses her platform to raise awareness around endometriosis and adenomyosis. 

With an Influencing Score of 46.97, content creator and mum-to-be, Natalie Long (@nat_runs_) comes in third in our TikTok ranking. Natalie has over one million followers on TikTok - where she films herself completing challenges across different parts of the country. She also shares tips with her followers and competes as an ultra-runner. 

RANKINFLUENCERTIK TOK HANDLEINFLUENCING SCORE
1.Imogen Boddy @imoboddy 197.84 
2.Lillie Bleasdale @lilliesfitness 148.25 
3.Natalie Long @nat_runs_ 46.97 
4.Caroly Rowena @carlyrowena 27.81 
5.Molly Butterworth @mollybutterworth_ 25.10 
6.Alfie Manthorpe @alfiemanthorpe 16.79 
7.Susie Chan @susie_chan_ 16.42 
8.Aidan O'Flaherty @theirishphysio 11.85 
9.Charlie Watson @therunnerbeans 11.83 
10.Mary McCarthy @marymccarths 10.89 
11.Joshua Patterson @joshuapatterson_jp 10.80 
12.Kirsty Hendey @kirstyhendey 10.01 
13.Emma Kirk-Odunubi @emmakirkyo 9.28 
14.Hollie Maskell @physiofithollie 8.66
15.Rhianna Crisp @rhiannacrispx 7.58 

And with that, we’ve reached the end of our first-ever deep dive into the UK’s running landscape! We've examined everything from how regularly we run to the reasons why the sport is so important to many of us, the mental and physical health benefits alongside barriers to entry, and how we can get more people lacing up a pair of trainers in 2024. 

We hope the information proves to be useful, whether you’re a complete beginner, or a seasoned athlete training for your marathon. If you’re looking for more information, head to our running hub to find in-depth articles on almost any running topic you can imagine, and be sure to use our online gait analysis tool - so you’re not one of the 90% who could be running in the wrong shoes!

Methodology:

Survey Statistics

We used an independent survey provider and asked 2,120 respondents overall including 1,002 that regularly go for a run (aged 16+), and 1,118 who don’t. Those who said they run more than once a day, every day, 4-6 times a week, 2-3 times a week, once a week, once every other week and once a month were deemed regular runners. Those who said that they run once every 6 months, once a year or never were deemed ‘non-runners’. Data correct as of Dec 23.

parkrun Data

As official UK partners, parkrun provided us with their internal data showing the participation for every UK parkrun for the last four weeks. This data is correct as of Feb 24. 

Marathons & Ultramarathons 

We looked at the annual UK Google search data for Jan-Dec 2023 to find out the most searched marathons and ultramarathons. Data correct as of Jan 24. For our most in-demand marathons section, we looked at annual global Google search data for Jan-Dec 2023 and the number of starters at each marathon in 2023. We then divided the number of searches by the number of starters to find out the demand. Data correct as of Jan 24. 

Most Loved British Running Influencers

To determine the most loved British runners on Instagram and TikTok, we looked at the UK’s most famous running influencers, analysing their followers, average likes per post and number of posts for Instagram and for TikTok, we looked at their followers, number of videos and total likes on the platform, which we used to create a final Influencing Score and both of the rankings. Data correct as of March 24.

Sources:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/975115/sport-participation-england/ 

https://www.thisgirlcan.co.uk/news/runners-raise-awareness-womens-safety-during-winter 

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/#:~:text=It%20can%20reduce%20your%20risk,Exercise

https://www.livestrong.com/article/13763749-marathon-statistics/ 

https://runrepeat.com/state-of-ultra-running

https://www.runnersneed.com/expert-advice/training/running-and-music-finding-your-bpm.html#:~:text=Songs%20that%20are%20120BPM%20or,for%20an%20all%2Dout%20effort

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The Best Support/Stability Running Shoes for Overpronation 2024

It's important to choose the right shoe for your running gait. Here are our top recommendations for overpronators.

The Best Support/Stability Running Shoes for Overpronation 2024
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