Running Participation and COVID-19

Goals

To learn how running/jogging participation has evolved since the COVID-19 crisis to include how people are running (indoors, outdoors, less in groups, etc.), whether there are more runners now than before, how shopping for running equipment (including shoes) has changed, and whether people are choosing cheaper brands as they worry about their financial situation. This will be used to help a leading sporting goods store understand how COVID-19 is impacting the industry.

Early Findings

Initial research indicates that runners are choosing a variety of ways to cope with COVID-19. Participation is ranging from people running more, to new people taking up the sport, to runners choosing to not run at all.

Choosing New Routes

  • Jeff Dengate, an avid runner, is still running according to his schedule, but he is choosing new routes to make sure he is distancing himself from other runners.
  • He said, "Gonna have to do more route planning before my daily jogs, to pick out the roads least traveled."

Extra Milers

  • Some runners are using the extra time they have on their hands to run additional miles.
  • There does not seem to be a reason for this increase except to become stronger runners, as one runner posted, "Is anyone doing anything crazy in training due to the circumstances? I mean stuff like super high mileage, all miles fast, or maybe doing triples? I’d love to hear the craziest thing that isn’t @TheRealMerb doing big boy mileage."
  • Amanda Furrer, a test editor for Runner's World also took this approach, saying, "When the Boston Marathon was postponed along with all other races I had planned to run, I took the Pollyanna approach, adding on more mileage and some strength training, twisting it around to make loftier goals."

Restarters

  • Many people are beginning to run again during the COVID-19 crisis after not having participated in many years.
  • One restarter said, "Trying to run consistently for the first time since high school cross-country and as you can imagine it’s not going well..."

Pausers

  • Some people are pausing their running schedule altogether and are instead doing other exercises.
  • The reasons for these pauses vary from lack of motivation to taking time to not wanting to be outside during the pandemic.
  • Another reason one runner gave for not running during this time is that she is trying to heal an old injury that running aggravated. She said, "I stopped running. Rather than pushing and pushing, mileage is currently zero which is CRAZY, but I’m healing my injuries properly for once and for all which would be CRAZY- GOOD!"
  • Patrick Heine, video producer for Runner's World, has been "taking some forced rest, with occasional solo runs and other solo activity like skateboarding near [his] apartment."
  • If they aren't pausing their running entirely, many runners are not running as much. Molly Ritterbeck, Fitness, Training & Health Director for Runner's World, said, "I was training for a half-marathon in early April, but since it was canceled, I’ve reduced my volume and resumed riding my bike (alone) a few days a week for low-impact cardio."
  • Hailey Middlebrook has also scaled back her running, saying, "I was training for the New Jersey Half Marathon in April, but since that was postponed to the fall, I have been relaxing a bit on my mileage (doing 25 to 30 miles per week instead of 35) and going more by feel. Instead of doing the 13-mile long run I had planned for last Saturday, I cut it down to 9 miles and did some strides afterward just for fun."

Alternative Activities

  • There are people who regularly run who are now participating in other activities like cycling.
  • Again, the reasons why vary, but one runner said cycling was helping her heal from a calf injury and since she didn't have a spring marathon to train for, she is trying not to run as much.
  • Older runners (over 70) are either running alone or are training on indoor equipment like bike trainers, treadmills, ellipticals, and rowing machines.
  • The runners over age 70 also report that they are working out by running the stairs in their buildings.
  • Jess Movold, a running coach, has switched to bodyweight movement workouts because "it felt good to move [her] body and get some endorphins going."
  • Hailey Middlebrook, digital editor at Runner's World, is "incorporating more biking and yoga into [her] weekly routine to cross-train."

Running Anyway

Virtual Runs

Proposed next steps:

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