The Surprising Way Millennials Are Crushing the Running Game

POPSUGAR Photography | Ericka McConnell
POPSUGAR Photography | Ericka McConnell

Millennials aren't just texting and binge-watching TV; in fact, a new study revealed that they make up nearly half of the running community in the United States. Our friends at Shape are here to share the facts about these cardio-savvy 20-somethings.

Millennials might get a lot of flak for being glued to their phones or have a reputation for being lazy and entitled, but the 2015-2016 Millennial Running Study shows otherwise: they makeup nearly half of American runners today and seem more dedicated and driven than ever. (Heads-up: Millennials Are Totally Changing the Workforce too.)

The study (sponsored by RacePartner, Running USA, and Achieve) surveyed over 15,000 runners born between 1980 and 2000 and found that they're hitting the pavement like crazy; more than 80 percent are frequent or serious runners, logging miles as competitors or to improve their health and fitness. A whopping 95 percent ran some sort of event last year — but even when they're not training for one, 76 percent of millennials surveyed run all year long (now that's dedication).

They haven't always been runners, though. About half of respondents have been running less than five years, and about one-third have been running for six to 10 years. Basically, they're responsible for the creation and success of bouncy-house 5Ks, mud runs, dine-and-dash races, and every other wacky running opportunity you've heard of in the last few years. The attendance of running events increased by 300 percent between 1990 and 2013 (and that includes everything from fun runs, 5Ks, and 10Ks to half-marathons, triathlons, obstacle races, and other long-distance events).

The number one reason they're hitting the streets: to maintain or improve their fitness level. But the study shows millennials are ready to challenge themselves even more. While 23 percent of respondents ran a fun run in the last 12 months, 46 percent said they want to run one in the next year. Those figures jump from 48 percent to 66 percent for 10K races and from 65 percent to 82 percent for half-marathons. Perhaps the cross-training they're doing is serving them well: 94 percent of respondents supplement their running with some other type of physical activity. The most popular are weight training (49 percent); hiking, backpacking, and rock-climbing (43 percent); cycling (38 percent); and aerobics/fitness classes (31 percent). (If you're trying to improve your performance, find out why Biking Might Be The Best Cross Training for Runners.) It's proof that even the most avid runners don't just run.

So if you're tired of seeing friend's Facebook posts about crushing this half marathon and that obstacle race, try joining them (that's where the study says most millennials find out about these events). Haven't you always wanted to see what the runner's high is all about? Even better idea: Start with a beer or wine run to get double the buzz.

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