Reasons and predictors of discontinuation of running after a running program for novice runners

J Sci Med Sport. 2019 Jan;22(1):106-111. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2018.06.003. Epub 2018 Jun 18.


Objectives: To determine the proportion of participants of a running program for novice runners that discontinued running and investigate the main reasons to discontinue and characteristics associated with discontinuation.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Methods: The study included 774 participants of Start to Run, a 6-week running program for novice runners. Before the start of the program, participants filled-in a baseline questionnaire to collect information on demographics, physical activity and perceived health. The 26-weeks follow-up questionnaire was used to obtain information on the continuation of running (yes/no) and main reasons for discontinuation. To determine predictors for discontinuation of running, multivariable logistic regression was performed.

Results: Within 26 weeks after the start of the 6-week running program, 29.5% of the novice runners (n=225) had stopped running. The main reason for discontinuation was a running-related injury (n=108, 48%). Being female (OR 1.74; 95% CI 1.13-2.68), being unsure about the continuation of running after the program (OR 2.06; 95% CI 1.31-3.24) and (almost) no alcohol use (OR 1.62; 95%CI 1.11-2.37) were associated with a higher chance of discontinuation of running. Previous running experience less than one year previously (OR 0.46; 95% CI 0.26-0.83) and a higher score on the RAND-36 subscale physical functioning (OR 0.98; 95% CI 0.96-0.99) were associated with a lower chance of discontinuation.

Conclusions: In this group of novice runners, almost one-third stopped running within six months. A running-related injury was the main reason to stop running. Women with a low perceived physical functioning and without running experience were prone to discontinue running.

Keywords: Drop-out; Exercise; Healthy lifestyle; Physical fitness; Sedentary lifestyle; Start to Run.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Prospective Studies
  • Running / injuries
  • Running / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires