Running In The USA: The Best Of The Best In America

Running in the USA is changing more rapidly than ever. This means a few things for runners.

First, it means that runners have more 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon races than ever. 

Second, a running community with more resources than ever means that runners need to understand how to decipher both helpful and hurtful information.

Third, there’s more running injuries than ever.

Today’s secret to racing success as a runner is the ability to be avoid injury, train (and race) intelligently.

This is our 2020 guide to running in the USA and it will take you through the fundamentals of doing just that.

Let’s get started.

Running In The United States of America (USA)

For the past 10 years, the running community has been growing steadily with an increase of 57.8%.

The Popularity of Running In The USA

In the United States alone, the total number of runners is nearly 70 million.

As you’ll see below, 49.75% of runners live in North America.

We see more of the following every day:

  • Training tips
  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • Articles
  • Workouts
  • Schedules
  • Plans
  • Nutrition bars
  • Supplements
  • Apparel
  • Accessories
  • Programs
  • Stores
  • Shoes
  • Online retailers
  • Instagram posts
  • Tweets
  • Boston Marathon qualifying times
  • Strava updates
  • New runners

As a result, there’s more running communities both offline and online.

Walking for fitness grew over 100 million.

Number of Runners by Age Group

The community is enormous.

It’s not going anywhere any time soon but imagine how much greater it can be if runners didn’t get injured so frequenetly (more on this later).

The Mindset Of Runners

Everything starts in the mind so let’s look at the mindset of runners.

If you’re just beginning to run, or you’ve been running the Boston Marathon for many years, you’ll love this section.

Why do runners typically get involved in the sport?

The main reasons runners typically get involved in the sport is because it improves how we think, feel, perform, and live.

Simply put, it makes people better.

Let’s look at the more specific reasons.

What are the most popular goals?

But more specifically, people set out to achieve specific goals related to:

But the odd thing is this:

The sport changes people.

The motivation of runner’s turns into:

  • Stress relief
  • Fun
  • Not getting injured

I find this to be interesting.

How does running change people?

Here’s why I believe this change happens:

When it comes to running, there’s lots of heartbreak that derails goals and dreams.

And this isn’t the only sport people fall short of their aspirations.

In a study about goals, it was determined that 92% of goals are not achieved.

But why do so many people running in the USA quit chasing their top goals?

The main reason is this:

Running Injuries

Many people claim that running causes injuries.

Nope, bad training causes injuries.

And in most cases, runners get injured due to bad training.

The Main Reason Why Runners Get Injured

Generic workouts and cookie-cutter running schedules are the death of running.

Consequently, people get injured.

And as a result, they tend to lower their goals.

Specific goals that once inspired people fade into vague objectives that lack motivation.

The worst part?

Running injuries continue.

That’s not all.

People give up the sport altogether because they can no longer run pain-free.

Let’s look at the solution.

The Golden Ticket For Injury Prevention

You want your training to be customized to you.

This is the golden rule for injury prevention. And intelligent training.

But it doesn’t happen very often with runners.

(Especially if you live near a running store, join a running group, refuse to ask for help,  or don’t know the best certifications for selecting a coach).

Now, let’s look at the healthy runners that survive the running injury epidemic.

The Rise Of Races In The USA

In this section, we’ll cover the trends of 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon runners.

With that, there’s been a massive surge in running race participation in the USA.

Types of Races

Races are more popular than ever.

Some of the most popular types are:

Here’s data to back this up.

The statistics of race results indicate a jump from 5 to 7.9 million runners. 

Let’s look at the most popular type of race.

Road Running In America 

5K Races

Finish Times

  • The 5K race has the most race participants.
  • Last year, the total number of 5K runners was 2.9 million.
  • On average, 5K runners have increased consistently by 3%.
  • In 2019, the running community experienced a dip in participation in mainly the 5K.

10K Races

Finish Times

  • The 10K has some significant increases in participation numbers too.
  • In 2018, the total number of 10K runners was 1.8 million.
  • For years, 10K runners have steadily increased by 5%.

Half Marathon Races

Finish Times

  • Trailing behind the 5K is the half marathon.
  • Last year, the total number of half marathon runners was 2.1 million.
  • The growth in half-marathon running has been substantial going from 17% to 30% participants.

Full Marathon Races

Finish Times

  • 1.1 million race participants become marathon runners.
  • In the past few years, marathoners make up 12% of the total race results.
  • Approximately 1% of people run a marathon. 

Marathon Finish Times Around The World

Average Marathon Finish Times 


The average finish times of runners are slowing down.

However, since the sport has been growing steadily, the running community now consists of more types of runners. 

Fastest Average Marathon Finish Times





Female Runners

In the history of the sport of running, there are now more female than male runners.

In the past 100+ years, female runner participation has increased from under 20% to above 50%. In 5Ks, close to 60% of the participants are women, nowadays. 

Women Runners Around The World

Fastest Nations For Women Runners

Most Improved Nations For Women Runners


Male Runners

Participation Rate 

Fastest Nations For Male Runners

Most Improved Nations For Male Runners

Running Trends

The Best of The Best Races

In this section I’ll share some of the best races in America and around the world.

So if you’re interested in finding the best marathons, you’ll love this section.

Most Popular Races Around The World


World Marathon Majors

Let’s dive into the World Marathon Majors.

Abbott World Marathon Majors is a series of prestigious Marathon races around the world.

  1. TCS New York City Marathon (USA)
  2. Virgin London Marathon
  3. BMW Berlin Marathon
  4. Bank of America Chicago Marathon (USA)
  5. Tokyo Marathon
  6. Boston Marathon (USA)

As you just saw, 3 of the 6 World Marathon Majors are run in America.

All of the races draw huge numbers of marathon runners and fans.

Let’s look at some running statistics of each of these World Marathon Majors.

1. New York City Marathon

  • Largest Field: 52, 812

2. London Marathon

  • Largest Field: 39,487

3. Berlin Marathon

  • Largest Field: 44,389

4. Chicago Marathon

  • Largest Field: 44,610

5. Tokyo Marathon

  • Largest Field: 34,819

6. Boston Marathon

  • Largest Field: 35,868
Other Popular Marathons Around The World
  1. Australian Outback Marathon
  2. Missoula Marathon
  3. Sydney Marathon
  4. Kauai Marathon
  5. Inca Trail Marathon
  6. Anchorage Marathon
  7. Roma Marathon
  8. Kilimanjaro Marathon
  9. Big Sur International Marathon
  10. Midnight Sun Marathon

Most Popular Marathons In The USA
  1. New York City Marathon
  2. Chicago Marathon
  3. Boston Marathon
  4. Marines Corps Marathon
  5. Philadelphia Marathon
  6. Houston Marathon
  7. Portland Marathon
  8. Los Angeles Marathon
  9. Los Vegas Marathon
  10. Ogden Marathon

Do you like receiving medals? If so, here are some the races with the best medals:

Favorite Marathon Medals Around The World

  1. Roma Marathon
  2. Yosemite Marathon
  3. U.S. Army Marathon
  4. Miami Marathon
  5. Boston Marathon
  6. New York City Marathon
  7. Mardi Gras Marathon
  8. Best Damn Race Marathon
  9. Flying Pig Marathon
  10. Glass City Marathon

Hope you enjoyed this post.

I look forward to seeing the sport grow more in the next 10 years and beyond.


Scott Fishman

Coach is the founder of AllWorldU. He’s trained hundreds of athletes on 6 continents. Some of his clients include coaches, trainers, physical therapists, doctors, and elite athletes.

Running In The USA: The Best Of The Best In America