Running by the Numbers

Running continues to be the most popular form of exercise in the United States and Canada. Data from recent surveys indicate roughly 60 million Americans run as a form of exercise. This includes the casual jogger to the seasoned marathoner. The fastest growing segment of running events is adventure or obstacle races such as Tuff Mudder and Spartan type events.

  • In 1990, 303,000 runners completed a half-marathon. That number continues to grow and in 2015 when nearly two million runners completed the same feat. Of those finishers, 61% were women and 39% men. The average finishing time for men was 2:04:00 and for women it was 2:22:21.
  • In 1976, 25,000 runners finished a marathon. That number has increased to more than a half million marathon finishers in 2015. 56% of those who completed a marathon in 2015 were men. However, women finishers have grown from 10% in 1980 to 44% in 2015. Roughly half of marathon finishers in 2015 were over 40 years of age. The average finishing time for men was 4:20:13 and for women was 4:45:30.
  • The current marathon world record is held by Dennis Kimetto of Kenya. He won the 2014 Berlin marathon in 2:02:57. That’s an average speed of 12.88 miles per hour and a pace of less than 5 minutes per mile for 26.2 miles!

The five largest road races in 2015:

  1. AJC Peachtree Road Race; Atlanta, GA; (10k); 54,752 runners
  2. TCS New York City Marathon; New York, NY; 49,365 runners
  3. Bolder BOULDER; Boulder, CO; (10k); 45,336 runners
  4. Lilac Bloomsday Run; Spokane, WA; (12k); 42,294 runners
  5. Chicago Marathon; Chicago, IL; 37,395 runners

More than half of all runners will suffer an over-use injury every year. That’s roughly 30 million in the United States and Canada. 80% of those injuries will occur at or below the knee. The most common running-related injury is patellofemoral pain syndrome followed by iliotibial band syndrome. Rounding out the top five running-related injuries are plantar fasciitis, shin splints/tibial stress fractures, and Achilles tendonitis. The direct healthcare costs of all running injuries exceed $35 billion per year.

Among novice or recreational runners, 90-95% are heel strikers. In a general sense, foot fall pattern has not been specifically tied to running-related injury. There is evidence, however, that different foot contact patterns are associated with different stresses on the body.

The average pair of running shoes costs $115 – $120 and lasts roughly 300 – 500 miles before needing replacement. Selecting a shoe based upon cost is not a reliable method for identifying the best shoe for a runner’s foot. With some exceptions, fit and comfort are the best indicators of the “right” shoe.