Why do people run?

Over the last 10 years, the popularity of running has really increased, in particular, participation in races is up over 50% over that period, meaning more and more amateurs are out running. For those that don’t choose to run, you’ll often hear the question, why do people run?

If you speak to runners, you’ll probably get a variety of different answers to the question because running has so many positives for those that participate. For many, it is for health reasons; losing weight or getting into shape. For others it might be about the mental health benefits that come from the improved energy levels you can get and the confidence running can give you.

If you choose to race, then you have the dual benefits of achievement and potentially running for a good cause. Whatever the reasons, and often it is a mixture of the above, people run because it has a positive effect on their lives.

Health benefits of running

Running comes with multiple benefits for your health. Also, it’s a great way of strengthening the heart and ensuring good blood flow, thus decreasing the chances of a heart attack. You will find that the side effects of running can also help increase bone density and improve your immune system, allowing you to battle germs and illness more effectively (BetterHealth Australia).

Weight loss

People will often take up running to lose those extra pounds. People will pick running as their new year’s resolution, geared towards working off the festive season weight.

Running is one of the best exercise regimes you can do for weight loss. It’s a very rigorous and energetic form of exercise, which makes it a great way to burn calories, critical to any weight loss program.

The other great benefit of running, when it comes to weight loss, is the elevation in metabolism it gives you. Metabolism refers to the rate at which calories are burned after exercise is completed, sometimes referred to as the Afterburn Effect.

Stress Relief

Most runners will have experienced the classic runners high. The infamous “runner’s high” medically means a high level of endorphins being produced that can boost your mood. This is great for anyone that suffers from stress in their personal or working lives.

For example, for those that have had a tough day at the office, going for a run at the end of the day is a great way of releasing that stress and contributes towards a better night’s sleep.

why do people run

Running makes you feel good

So many runners will tell you that when they miss a run, they actually feel a little down, because without often understanding why running gives them a natural high and makes them feel really good. There are actually a number of reasons for this.

Energy levels

Running is a tremendous way to increase your energy levels, which will subsequently improve your mood and increase concentration levels. For this reason, runners will often run in the morning because it will really help get their day off to a good start and allow them to maintain a high level of energy throughout the day.

The best way to ensure you maximize the benefit is to exercise regularly and warm up properly. As with all these benefits, they are increased when combined with a good night’s sleep. Only then will you maximize your energy levels.

Meeting new people

Running is a fantastic way of meeting interesting people, making friends, and having new conversations. Running clubs are very popular nowadays and they are easy to find; a simple search online will get you a club within a few miles of your house.

Running with other people is really good for you, they will often help you run faster times, giving you a great sense of achievement. The conversations as you go round are a great distraction and you’ll find the experience around you will give you great tips on your running style.


Few things are better at improving the mental health of a person than setting a goal and achieving it, which is where running comes in perfectly. You are able to set multiple types of goals and continually improve and track them.

Distance is the first type of goal to set. Everyone will have heard about the ‘couch to 5k’ Apps that’s are hugely popular. They work because it is an obtainable goal that will get the novice into running and give them a real sense of achievement when you complete that first 5k.

From there, move up to that first 10k, then onto a half marathon and before you know it, you will get one of the best highs possible by completing a marathon, one of the great running challenges.

Once you start mastering these distances, you then get to focus on completing them in a faster time. That might be going under one hour for the 10k, a 2 hour half marathon or simply beating your best previous time each time you run. Regardless of the exact time you target, what’s important Is setting a goal and that sense of achievement that does wonders for your self-esteem.


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Running is easily accessible

Whilst you can always upgrade individual items, essentially you need a pair of trainers, socks, a t-shirt, and shorts. That’s it. You are now ready to run around your local area on the pavement, go to the park, run in the woods, or maybe alongside a canal.

Whichever is your preference, the beauty of running is it doesn’t require joining a team, buying expensive equipment, or having to go to facilities like a gym.

It’s also possible, via a treadmill, to run inside as well as outside. Many people don’t like to run in the rain or when it’s too cold, so it is good to have an alternative option so that you do not have to stop at certain times of the year.

People run to become faster

Elite runners run to try to become faster and faster so that they can take the podium position come race day (place 1st,2nd, or 3rd). To become faster you must fold in speedwork during any training cycle. Speedwork is beneficial because it helps you burn more calories which in turn helps you lose weight which will cause you to become a faster runner. One huge caveat to speedwork is that most running injuries occur when performing speedwork beyond a runner’s capabilities – doing too much, too soon, or too fast.

speedwork can come in the form of tempo runs, fartleks, intervals, hills, hill intervals, ladders, mountains, etc. If performed correctly over the course of many weeks during a training cycle, runners can reap the benefits of becoming fitter and faster.

“In a high-intensity workout, although your body uses your glycogen stores first for ‘fast energy’, it depletes the glycogen stores rapidly enough to force your body to tap on the fat storage. This means that high-intensity workouts are more efficient in burning way more total calories – both glycogen and fat calories. Ultimately, the total number of calories you burn leads to the most weight (and fat) loss.” (The Truth of the Fat Burning Zone, Dr. Ong Hean Yee)

Racing to success

A lot of people will take up running for the competition. The number of races around the country gives you many different options of distance, difficulty, or terrain. The short park runs, the tough trail runs, or long distances on the roads. They are all for the same reason, compete with others, and achieve a time you are happy with.

It is one thing to achieve a time running around your local area, but in a race, you find runners really step up the time they can achieve, pulled along by the adrenaline of the race and running in groups.

The other reason people take part in races is to raise money for a worthy cause. Running for charities has become a massively important form of fundraising for these charities, popularised in the early eighties when the London Marathon first appeared and fun runners were on telly for the first time. People will often turn the fundraising into a competition by itself, trying to raise more than their friends!

Run because you can

People normally take up running for one of the reasons above, but then stay with it because they realize the other benefits that come along with running. Some just keep running because they enjoy it and it allows them to enjoy the nicer things in life, like good food and wine!

How do I start running?

It’s never too late to pick up the running habit. Keep in mind that the number one reason why new runners fail is that they try to run too much too fast or too soon!

If you’re a new runner and want to kick start the habit check out these two great resources:

How far should a new runner run?

Should I run every day if I’m a new runner?

How to run 1 mile when you’re out of shape.

Coach Scott is a published author and RRCA certified running coach (Level 2). He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 14th half marathon race. 

 To sign up for a FREE half marathon training schedule, log sheet, and pace predictor CLICK HERE.

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Why do people run?
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