In 2012, Running USA released the first ever Women’s National Runner Survey which explored the demographics, lifestyle, attitude, habits and product preferences of female core runners nationwide.
With more than 7.6 million female U.S. road race finishers in 2011, it’s difficult to imagine that just 40 years ago running was not widely considered an appropriate sport for women. At organized road races, females often ran unofficially or faced being expelled by the race officials before they even started. Females have now made a tremendous impact on the sport representing 55% of all race fields in 2011, leading the pack of half-marathon finishers (59%), and have led athletic shoe and large apparel companies to shift their focus on a new demographic of ever growing female runners.
With more than 200 “women-only” events in the U.S. in 2011, many race organizers have found ways to meet the needs of their female running participants by offering shirt styles in a female cut for all shapes and sizes and colors that are more appealing to their demographic. Running has turned into an appealing sport for many women, not just so they can become physically fit and lose weight. For others, it gives them the opportunity to train toward a goal and to join friends and family for a good cause.
Training programs, both charity and non-charity alike, have contributed to the growth of women in running. With well-organized community events and large destination races, new runners can participate in any event and achieve their goals whether it means running in honor of a breast cancer victim, logging miles to raise money, or simply crossing the finish line for the very first time.
In 2012, Running USA released the first ever Women’s National Runner Survey which explored the demographics, lifestyle, attitude, habits and product preferences of female core runners nationwide. The survey found that the core female runner, that is an active adult participant who tends to enter running events and train year round, is motivated to run in order to stay in shape, stay healthy, and to relieve stress. This female core runner runs an average of 4 days per week for approximately 22 miles. The great majority state that the half-marathon is her favorite race distance and purchase 3 pairs of running shoes each year.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons why the sport of road running has attracted so many women, but there are some universal tendencies that Kristin Armstrong discusses in The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run and her own personal journey. “Running is connected to my family, my parenting, my spiritual life, my fitness, my friendships, my health, my sanity, my peace. I can clear my head and solve problems when I run, or make peace with not knowing. I can find beauty, or at least redemption, no matter what.” Perhaps this is why women run, because the sport touches them on so many levels. Also, the convenience factor of running is appealing to women so they can get in a quick and efficient workout and still meet all of the challenges of taking care of the family, work, and dealing with life’s stresses.