Why Do Women Run?

Sharyn O’Halloran

The answer to this question is different for every woman you ask. Some run to stay fit. Some run to look good. Some run for personal accomplishment.

A 2013 survey of 30,425 core runners nationwide (56.4% women and 43.6% men) provides some insight. Core runners train year-round, running an average of 208 days a year and logging nearly 1,165 miles per year. On average, core women runners are 40 years old, 60% are married and 77.8% are college educated.

The primary reasons women start running include exercise (23.1%), weight concerns (17.1%), or family/friend encouragement (7.6%). Women’s motivation to keep running centers on how it makes them feel, with staying in shape (79.0%) and staying healthy (78.4%) as the most commonly mentioned drivers. Equally important, however, over two-thirds of the women surveyed ran to reduce stress (76.8%). Men also ran to stay in shape (76.8%) and stay healthy (76.8%). But men saw running as recreation, with 60.9% of men saying they ran for fun.

For me, running is a way to step outside of myself and only think about completing the task at hand. It is something I control. It is something I decide to do. It removes me from the demands of work and family. I get to focus on strengthening my body and at the same time toughening my mind. The result is serenity and a sense of balance that is usually beyond my grasp.

Why I run extreme endurance events is another thing altogether…


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