Types of Runners


To understand the different types of runners in the US, to inform a consumer segmentation proposal that will be pitched to a major sports manufacturer.

Early Findings

Types of Runners

  • There are a number of different ways to characterize the different types of runners ranging from their attitudes and behaviors to the type of running and distances involved.
  • The casual runner is the person who runs purely for fun or exercise. A number of them will run in groups rather than individually as they use running as an opportunity to spend time with friends or family. They typically run for a couple of miles at a mild pace.
  • The sprinter covers short distances at a fast pace. They are usually competitive runners. All of their efforts go into speed and moving fast.
  • The cross-country runner is a distance runner, typically running between 5 miles and marathon-length distances. These runners usually run off-road or on trails.
  • Hurdlers or active runners require some athletic ability to combine running with jumping. Like the sprinter, they generally cover short distances at a fast pace.
  • The classic club runner is typically someone who came to running as an adult. Running was seen as a way to keep fit, but they caught the running bug. Club running is seen as a way to keep them motivated as well as an opportunity to socialize with other members.
  • Running is one of the best ways to burn calories. The weight-loss runner is the individual who has taken up running with this sole purpose in mind. They enjoy running with family and friends.
  • The ultra-runner is the person who enjoys running long (long) distances. Many started as marathoners and evolved into ultra-marathoners. They run large distances each week and get immense satisfaction from the events they compete in.
  • Running to improve mood, improve sleep patterns, and decrease stress is not uncommon. The mood-runner is the individual who runs to feel better within themselves.
  • The awareness-raising runner is the person who runs to highlight a specific cause or to raise money for a particular charity. Often they have personal experience with the charity or illness they are running for. Some are afflicted with the disease they are raising money for.
  • Zola Budd at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics is perhaps the ultimate example of the barefoot runner. The barefoot runner has a fixed belief that shoes are unnecessary, and the feet should do what they were designed to do.
  • The early morning runner, those that like to start the day off with a run, are likely to run 3-4 times a week. They will often compete in amateur events such as fun runs or marathons.
  • Retired professionals are a breed unto themselves. They have replaced the office with the running track (or street). Typically, they are looking to running as a way to remain fit and healthy.
  • Trail runners number 6 million in the US. They have forgone the road for the freedom of the trail. Often they run as part of a tight-knit group. They will run a range of different distances.
  • The lapsed runner is often someone who started running in response to a life event. They have channeled attention into running, enjoying it, but as their circumstances have changed as to has their enthusiasm for running.
  • The competitor has one goal to push themselves to their limits. Their whole mentality is about finishing first. Nothing else matters.
  • Elite runners are those naturally talented and athletic individuals that make running look easy. They have worked hard to achieve goals in the sport but have been graced with a natural ability, which, when combined with hard work, has seen them experience success as a runner.

Research proposal:

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