The European Runner

In my very busy life, I wear many shoes – the shoes of a wife, a mother, a career woman, etc. But, I also fill the shoes of a runner – literally. Running is my vice, my love, my outlet for stress, a way to relax, and a way to manage my weight/fitness level. I also use running as a way to see new sites, whether right in my own city or in a different country. Over the years, I have run in 23 of the 50 United States plus Washington, DC, as well as 8 countries outside of the United States. And each time I run in a new place, especially abroad, I gain a new perspective about the city I am in as well as running.

While staying in London a few years back, I would get up each morning and go for a run. I ran through Kensington Park, Hyde Park, etc, admiring all of wonders of the neighborhoods. Although I saw many people out and about during my runs – walking their dogs, chatting with friends – I would rarely see another runner. I had similar experiences in major cities in Ireland, Scotland, and Spain, where my early morning runs were among crowds of people, but none of them running. I wondered, where were all the British and European runners?

Digging a little deeper into this issue, I found that Londoners, or the British in general do run, as well do many, many Europeans. In fact, more than 1/3 of Europeans lace up their running shoes and pound the pavement each year. And, according to a recent study by ASICS footwear, runners from each country have their own distinct running personalities, running styles, and reasons for running:

The European Runner:

  1. The Ambitious Italian Runner – Italian runners are highly competitive, rarely skipping a routine, running through injuries. They are also very social runners, with 81% most likely to run with someone.
  2. The Sunny French Runner – As is the joie de vivre manner in France, the French runner runs when the mood and the weather is right. For this reason, it is easy to see why they indicted running the least out of the surveyed countries. 
  3. The Hard-working German Runner - The German runner is highly dedicated and will rarely skip a scheduled run. He/she uses running to lose or to main weight and rarely give much thought to injury prevention.
  4. The Persistent British Runner – British runners run the most out of all other European runners. They are known to persevere through many rainy day runs by running indoors. Of the runners surveyed, British runners are the most likely to run inside (34% while France was lowest at 4%). Although they feel a sense of duty when it comes to running, they are quick to make excuses for skipping a run, including because it’s too dark outside (31% or because they’re favorite television show is on (16%)
  5. The Passionate Spanish Runner - Spaniards are spirited runners who believe running is an important part of their lives. However, they are very emotional when it comes to taking to the road and are easily irritated by external factors, including other people.
  6. The European Belgian Runner – Runners in Belgian could be considered the all-around European runner – with a musical a twist. They find running an important part of a healthy lifestyle but also feel that listening to music is an essential part of running.
  7. The Down-to-earth Dutch Runner – Compared with other European runners surveyed, Dutch runners are the youngest of all – more than 1/3 of Dutch runners started running less than a year ago. Although they have an idealist attitude about running – not needing music or company while running – they are also the least likely to report that running is an important part of their lives.

So, where do I fit in? I would love to say that I am like a French runner, just because I love all things French. However, I definitely do not have a Holly Golightly attitude when it comes to running. If I had to choose, I think I am most like the German runner. I rarely skip my runs and have run through injury, illness, and very little sleep. But, I also like to think that I have a little Belgian influence in my running personality, for I see running as an important part of my healthy lifestyle.

When it’s all said and done – I think that runners – no matter what country they are from – are truly happiest when they are running. I know that this is true for me, although I’m pretty sure I would be happier running in Paris.