• Runners who post their runs on social media are more likely to run 5K faster than those who don’t
  • Runners who post their runs on social media are more likely to be able to run a marathon
  • Both male and female runners just as likely to share their runs on social media
  • Sharing on social media provides motivation and accountability

Sharing on social media is endemic within the running community. With over 31 million Instagram posts tagged with #run there are endless examples of runners sharing their sport; whether it’s a running time, a view from a run, a map of a run route, a pre-race selfie or simply a snap of new trainers. But does all this social sharing actually have any kind of impact on a runner’s achievements?

Running specialists Sportsshoes.com canvassed over 2,500 UK runners to determine whether there is a link between social posting and performance.

The study compared approximately 1,000 runners who said they never, or rarely, shared their runs on social media (non-sharers), against approximately 1,500 runners who said they were regular social media sharers.

Sharers run faster

The survey found that people who do share their runs on social media are, on average, quicker than those who don’t. The average run time for 5 kilometres for regular social sharers was 25 minutes, two and a half minutes quicker than the average time for non-sharers (27.27 minutes for 5K). The study even revealed that the more someone shares on social, the more likely they are to be faster:

  • People that share every single run they do average 5K in: 24.43 minutes
  • People that only sometimes share their runs, average 5K in 25.26 minutes

Sharers run further

As well as generally being quicker, runners who share on social are also more likely to be able to run longer distances than runners who avoid posting on social media. When surveyed about their longest distance achievement, the group of runners who do not share on social media had a most frequent maximum distance of 21-25K. However, the most frequent maximum distance of the runners who said they regularly shared on social media was nearly double, at 41-45K.

The study also showed that if you post your runs regularly on social media you’re more likely to be able to complete a marathon, with 35% of the social sharing runners saying they could run 41K or more.

There is a pretty even split between which gender shares their runs the most; 65% of men share their runs compared to 63% of women.

Documenting progress

Whilst non-runners may interpret running posts on social media as #humblebrags, it seems that they do in fact have a positive impact on the performance of the runners who are posting them. One cause for this is that regularly sharing your runs on social media automatically creates a running diary, and seeing your progress over time acts as a massive motivator to keep going. Social sharing also gives the runner a degree of accountability, again providing extra motivation to reach a goal.

Alice Tate, a PR Manager and running influencer from London, explains “I’m pretty active on Instagram Stories and will share runs on there regularly. I will only post on my actual feed if it’s either been an overwhelmingly good run, if I’m somewhere with a great view, or if it’s been terrible run. Having others follow my journey (to marathons) helps push and motivate me to share my story but I wouldn’t say it affects my performance. I post as a means to document my journey. I love looking back through my feed and reminding myself of all the experiences I’ve had — I really do use it like a diary. I think it’s really important to share the bad runs as well as the ones that make you feel like you’re on cloud nine.

Graphic designer and Instagrammer Rachel Diver went from being a self-confessed ‘non-runner’ to running a marathon in just six months. She regularly shares her running progress on her Instagram account and blog Run with Rachel. She says: “On average I post 4 or 5 days a week, a mix of my running stats and other running-related posts.

Social sharing is great for highlighting your progress. It’s helped massively whilst training for a marathon as it’s made me feel accountable, posting my plan and each run I’ve done. It helps me keep a diary of my training – it’s good to be able to look back and see how far I’ve come. The online running community is a great source of encouragement and advice – it’s like a virtual running club. It’s great when you find and follow people who are training for the same event as you. If you are struggling with motivation one evening and you see they have been for a run it gives you a little nudge to get your trainers on and get out the door.”

Sharing DOs and DON’Ts

Melody Vasey from  Sportsshoes.com, shares five tips on getting the most out of social media in order to help you improve your running:

  1. Don’t use it to brag (all the time): Being proud of your run is very different to bragging about it. Sharing your PB’s and achievements will help motivate you in the long term, but don’t get fixated on constantly sharing every good time or distance you achieve. Share other benchmarks such as how you felt about the run or how energised you were.
  2. Do share the bad runs: They are part of the running journey and it’s refreshing to acknowledge that not every run results in a major high. Whether you felt sluggish and slow, or the weather was horrendous, enduring a bad run is just as important to your progress as enjoying a good one.
  3. Don’t forget to log your run in other places: Social media is a brilliant way to document your emotional running diary, but to keep track of your stats use a niche app like Nike+ or Map My Run. It’s not necessary to share all these figures with the social world, but it’s a great way for you personally to track and look back over the progress you’ve made.
  4. Do reminisce: Scroll back through your social running posts as a way to reflect on your running successes. Whether it’s reliving a fun race-day, or recalling the first time you completed a full 5 kilometres, reminiscing on your running achievements with a visual social post reminder can give you motivation to accomplish new goals.
  5. Do encourage others: You can find great support and inspiration from followers when you post about your run, but don’t forget to return the favour! Offer social support to fellow runners when they post about their runs, celebrating their successes with them or encouraging them if they feel demotivated.