Canceled Marathons Didn’t Stop Runners From Hitting That 26.2-Mile Mark in 2020

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Side view of determined young Asian woman listening to music with earphones, jogging at the park, against sunset.

Among the many things that changed in 2020, people’s exercise routines looked a little different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, many athletic competitions, like races, were cancelled this year.

But according to Strava’s annual Year in Sport Data Report, that didn’t stop users of the fitness app from tackling their wellness goals. Hundreds of thousands of 26.2 mile runs were reported on the platform, meaning runners participated in solo marathons in the absence of the organized ones that usually take place.

It was also a big year for breaking personal records. More than half of runners on the app — 55 percent — who ran 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, and marathons logged a new best time. Plus, perhaps attributable to people having more free time this year, users active in both 2019 and 2020 saw an increase in activity frequency of over 13 percent.

Running was not the only popular form of exercise in 2020. Users got on their feet to do all kinds of activity, including cycling and indoor workouts, which both also saw a rise in uploads. Walking, however, seemed to be the favorite new way to workout.

This year, there were three times as many uploads of outdoor walks as in 2019, and it was the top new activity among cyclists on Strava.

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