Why novice runners stop running?

Running seems an obvious activity: we start as kids without too much thinking and rapidly enjoy running after a ball, to catch up with siblings or friends and many other reasons known only by the imaginative child’s brain. However, as a sporting activity it’s not practiced by every adult, and many lose this natural ability. For swimrunning, this is a problem as it’s a rather important part of our sport. Moreover, anecdotes suggest that beginners often stop running after a brief period.

A Dutch group led by Dr Fokkeman investigated the reasons and predictors of the cessation of running in novice runners. They recruited 774 people who started running in a 6-weeks program targeted specifically to novice runners. 26 weeks later participants were asked to fill a questionnaire to investigate whether they carried on running and if not, why.

After six and a half month almost 30% of the participants had stopped running. The main reason (48%) was running-related injury. In addition the authors found that women with a low perceived physical functioning and without running experience were prone to discontinue running. Perceived physical functioning is an evaluation of the appraisal of a person’s ability to perform a variety of physical activities of varying difficulty, intensity, and function (Stewart, 1992).

Overall this study suggests that novices runners need to be particularly careful about the risk of injuries when they start running, and women should make sure they appraise their level according to their criterion, and not get influenced too much by unfair comparisons, e.g. comparing themselves to younger, fitter, more experienced and/or more talented runner (women or men for that matter). Be yourself and take care of your body, that’s the only one we have.

/The WoS Team


Reasons and predictors of discontinuation of running after a running program for novice runners. J Sci Med Sport. 2018 Jun 18. pii: S1440-2440(18)30246-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2018.06.003. [Epub ahead of print]

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