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Is Running a Sport? 5 Ways to Know

Whether you’re a runner yourself or are just curious about the activity, you might be curious to know whether running is a sport.

Most people make initial assumptions based on their experience with the activity. If someone has been running for years, they might consider running to be their hobby. On the other hand, if someone regularly competes in races or field events, they probably never question whether running is a sport.

Is running a sport or hobby?

Even after years of running, many of us still wonder whether or not running is a sport. While the technical classification will likely have no impact on whether or not we continue, it’s certainly nice to know.

In most cases: yes, running is a sport.

Running itself dates back to the very beginning of humanity, and running events were some of the earliest to appear in the Olympics.

Is running always considered a sport?

Most people will agree that running is considered a sport in formal contexts, but the confusion occurs when we consider those who run merely to stay in shape or reduce stress. In those cases, the question becomes whether running is a sport or a hobby.

The answer, unfortunately, is not always cut and dry. When we view running in the context of events like cross country or track and field, it is quite clear that running is a sport.

However, when we view running as a form of exercise, one which we use to maintain our fitness or de-stress, it seems to be more of a hobby.

Activities are classified as sports based on whether or not they meet a certain criteria, and depending on the way in which running is practiced, it might be considered a hobby as opposed to a sport.

Regardless of whether you compete on a regular basis or enjoy mostly solo runs, the following criteria can help us decide that yes, running is a sport.

Many of us wonder whether running is a sport. Whether you compete professionally or run recreationally, here's how to find out.

5 Reasons Running is a Sport

Running is accessible to just about anyone, which is perhaps what makes us question whether or not it’s a sport. When we head out for a short run through the neighborhood, it’s easy to forget about the thousands who are competing at an elite or professional level.

A sport is usually defined as an activity with the following characteristics:

  • requires skill to compete
  • necessitates physical exertion
  • involves competition that results in a winner
  • entertaining for spectators to watch
  • has a distinct field of competition

Based on these characteristics, we’re able to determine that running in a formal capacity is a sport. When we think about track and field, Olympic racing or even local road races, we find that each event meets these characteristics.

Requires Skill

If you’ve ever run for a significant length of time, you know that it requires skill. Most of us feel awkward when we first begin to run, and this awkwardness usually continues until we master the skill.

While running may look easy or seem relatively mindless, running well requires incredible skill. In order to excel at the sport, you’ll need mental and physical strength. You’ll need proper form, efficient stride, quick turnover and powerful arm swing.

Necessitates Physical Exertion

Whether you’re a runner or spectator, everyone will agree that running requires significant physical exertion. Running, even leisurely, significant raises your heart rate. Running at a competitive level requires incredible strength and physical effort.

Related: Why is Running So Hard?

Involves Competition to Win

The competition involved with running can easily be overlooked if you run recreationally. However, even in a large road race, there are always elites competing to win. Every race has a winner – whether it’s a local 5k, Olympic marathon or track and field event.

Entertaining for Spectators

If you come across a local road race, you might be surprised to see just as many spectators as runners! People enjoy watching running events of any kind – from viewing the Olympic games on TV to heading out to support your local high school track team.

Field of Competition

The field size in a running event varies greatly depending on the type of event itself and location; however, there is nearly always a designated field size. Track and field events have a very specific field size, but road races might open themselves up to thousands of runners. However, road races still limit their elite spots.

Running contains all of the qualities that are necessary for it to officially be classified as a “sport”. While the official events might not be titled “running”, the competitive events all involve running different distances.

Without a doubt, running is a sport. Whether you compete in local races or run as a way to earn money, running will always qualify as a sport.

Running is a sport that builds strength, health, perseverance, happiness and grit. It’s hard to get much better than that.

More reasons running is a sport: