What you need to know

The report is a collaborative effort between the Running Industry Alliance (RIA) and England Athletics (EA) looking into trends in running and exercise activity in England. Using data from the England Athletics Participation Tracker, it focuses on providing actionable insights into the habits and trends shaping the running community.

The report is divided into 10 key focus areas, so we have taken a deep dive and presented the key insights from each section, so you can easily digest the key facts you need to know.

10 key takeaways

1. Exercise & fitness

Running is still on the rise with 10.9m runners, up by 2m from last year. Swimming has also experienced a sharp rise, with the number of swimmers increasing from 9.7m last year to 11.1m now. In contrast, cycling shows less growth, remaining steady at 9.2m participants.

2. Interest in running

There is a much greater interest in running (72%) amongst those from non-white backgrounds. There is greater interest in those under 45 and more interest in younger men than women.

3. Motivations (and rejecting running)

Whilst 70% of women go running to challenge themselves and 80% feel it gives them a sense of achievement, women are more inclined to be self-conscious and conscious of not wanting to be seen running. The weather and crowded places are also more of a barrier for women.

4. Attitudes to health, exercise & fitnes

More people are exercising than ever before and 80% are exercising to help them feel good. Both physical and mental health benefits are being pursued more than a year ago with 72% citing exercise as a way to relieve stress and 84% using exercise to improve their fitness.

5. Running participation

The overall increase in regular runners has mostly been driven by those aged 26 to 45. There has also been a rise in those running in groups and event participation, with over half (52%) enjoying activities that allow them to spend time and socialise with friends and family.

6. Club & Group membership

Awareness of local running clubs or groups has risen over the past year, with 80% of runners expressing interest in joining a group. This new behaviour delivers a key opportunity for brands to engage with a captive audience at an organised level.

7. Events

Interest in entering longer races has grown in the last 12 months, as has an interest in themed and experiential races. Meanwhile, participation in virtual events has fallen significantly.

8. Spend

Runners spend around 7% more per head on running than they did a year ago which translates to a total ‘running spend’ of c.£2bn a year on equipment, race entries, memberships etc. Older runners tend to spend more on running with the highest spend from those over 45.

9. Running technology

Nearly three-quarters (71%) of runners use tech to track, share or record their runs. Runners aged 26-45 (79%) are the highest consumers of tech and this drops off with older runners.

10. Brand awareness

Women know more brands than men, particularly more generalist brands such as Nike, Sports Direct, Race For Life, This Girl Can and Couch to 5K. This presents an opportunity for brands to connect with women in meaningful ways and work on strategies to engage with more men.

Get in touch with Running Industry Alliance (info@runningindustryalliance.com) for further information regarding the ‘National Running Report’.

Aspire PR is a foundation member of the Running Industry Alliance (RIA).

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