Google thinks that runners are…

We played with Google auto-complete feature to see what people look for when they look for runners

I started to type “runners are” on Google and the search giant presented me with a few options to auto-complete my search.

I am not sure what I was expecting to find, but some of these suggestions were expected, some were funny and some were a bit WTF ??

Well, you can do the experiment yourself, but here is what I was shown:

Google-runners-are-autocomplete-results

  • There are a few derogatory ones: runners are narcissists? runners are boring, stupid? runners are selfish?
  • There are some that I am not sure if they are meant to be denigratory or complimentary, but as I runner I’ll mark them as positive: runners are crazy, runners are different, runners are hot.
  • But what about so many people wondering if runners are good in bed, or if they are even better in bed ?

Let’s explore those results -in order by what Google considers most likely people ask – and see for ourselves.

Runners are crazy

Well, this is a loaded one. Are runners crazy? We might as well be. Who gets out there at 6 in the morning when it’s all dark, cold, possibly rainy and starts running without having somewhere to go? Who would not just stay in bed and hang on to those last precious minutes of sleep? Does that make us crazy ?

The first result on Google, if you do search for this phrase, is actually from my friend Jason at strenghtrunning.com

The 13 weirdest things runners do

Jason starts the article with “If you run, you are probably a huge weirdo” which I guess settles it, then.

Runners are narcissists

Here we go – I believe this is the worst one. Narcissists are people that (I am simplifying here) think first and foremost about themselves. I like to think of runners (and endurance sports athletes in general) as extremely generous people. People who understand sacrifice and community. There are example of beautiful sportsmanship all across the spectrum. So, why this association?

Again, I’ll jump to the first Google result for this query.

Are Runners Obsessive, Narcissistic Masochists?

Wow! This is even worse than the question itself!!!

The article is on Philosphers Mag, and it’s actually a pleasant read about the nature of the spirit that makes us run, and makes us stick to running. I’ll leave a quote here, inviting you to read the full article for some philosophical insights on why people run.

Arnold Cooper discusses this connection (in Psychology of Running), suggesting that one of the reasons people are motivated to take up running is that they have “narcissistic and masochistic needs”, which are “beautifully gratified by running distances which are clearly beyond the intended uses of the human body”.

Runners are hot

Here’s the first positive one. At least, if you care about it.

Runners are – or are trying to be – fit. In modern days, being fit is one trait that is almost universally recognised as attractive. But does that makes us hot? Or does that make people think we are? Science, according to the first result in Google, believes so.

Why Distance Runners Are Super-Sexy, According To Science

According to the author, there’s something pre-historical going on here. Men were hunter-gatherers and better long distance runners were better providers for their offspring. So it seems to play to our nature to believe that a fit runner is more attractive to the opposite sex. Even though this seems to be skewed towards hot male runners. The article is worth a read, there is more science than what I summarised here. But the question remains. What about female runners?

Runners are boring

Are we? Are we? I talk about running shoes all the time, how can that be boring?!

Here we find the first Google result that is actually negative! It’s not a positive masked under a false negative!

Why I hate runners

Hate?! Boring was bad enough, but hate?! Reading through the article, though, you’ll find out the author says this tongue-in-cheek, and it seems to be a non-runner perspective of the “runners are crazy” we saw above.

Runners are stupid

Ok – there can’t be a positive side to this, can it? Are we stupid? Who thinks so??

Don’t Run a Marathon (subtitle: you have better things to do)

This article is a slightly more serious take on the “runners are crazy” train, again from a non-runner, but this time the author takes time to quantify how much time runners “waste” on running preparing for a marathon and what else they could achieve if they did not run instead. Quoting from the article:

Figure that some 550,000 Americans will be running one this year, training up to five or six days per week for five or six months. That means they’ll have devoted something like 100 million hours to this dash away from common sense. Put another way, they’ll have spent 11,000 years, and 150 human lifetimes.

Consider all the other things we could accomplish in those hours spent in training. Half a million Americans could speak a little Arabic. Half a million Americans could learn computer programming, maybe well enough to start a new career. Half a million Americans could devote themselves to helping out in soup kitchens, or fortifying dikes, or memorizing sonnets, or playing Google Image Labeler. Half a million Americans could do something truly beneficial for themselves or for their neighbors or for the country as a whole.

Instead they run and run and run, and then they run some more.

The article is well-written and goes into some other disadvantages of training for a marathon. Read it if you are open to other point of views. But we are narcissistic, so maybe not?

Runners are different

This can go either way! Who doesn’t like to be different? But… is it good when other people think we are different? Let’s go search and see for ourselves..

Adidas “Runners, Yeah We’re Different” Ads

I knew this one! It’s a collection of ads that adidas run in the years 1999 and 2000 that plays on the usual dichotomy that sees runners do things that non-runner simply don’t understand.

I’ll show you a couple of them here and invite you to follow the link to see them all if you haven’t seen them before.

runners yes we're different #1

Runners are good in bed

Strange sentence. Who says that: a runner? A non-runner? The partner of a (non)runner?

The Naked Truth: Why Runners Are Better in Bed

The first result is from runtastic – the app – and they don’t leave room for doubts. Runners are better (more on that later) in bed and it’s a truth. Why is that ?

It’s actually an info graphic that states a few – scientifically proven – facts. Here’s a couple for you:

  • Runners who had sex the night before race day (London Marathon) finished on average 5 minutes quicker. The race, that is.
  • Following moderate aerobic regime four times a week for nine months, male subjects had sex 30% more often.

Runners are skinny fat

Are you familiar with the concept of skinny fat? It is a phrase used to describe people who look fit and healthy on the surface yet, due to a lack of exercise or poor diet, have a slew of health problems brewing beneath it.

Skinny fat people also have low muscle mass (guilty), either from a lack of exercise or a past of excessive dieting without eating enough protein to maintain any muscle.

Scary. Let’s turn to Google and explore the first result.

Is Cardio Making You Skinny Fat?

The strength sensei applies science to demonstrate how focusing on running and running alone – without other forms of exercise is actually detrimental to your body. While we don’t agree with the statement, we absolutely recommend runners to cross-train possible with weights, resistances or bodyweight.

Runners are selfish

Narcissistic might be extreme and probably better left to the sofa of your therapist rather than a google search. But are you selfish? The common, garden-variety person that thinks about themselves?

Beware of the selfish runner’s syndrome.

A syndrome? Come on!

It’s a non-secret that running takes a lot of time, if you want to do it properly and especially if you are preparing for long events. And runners need to become masters of balancing their running schedule with their work, family and other commitments.

But to allocate ever increasing time to running, to recovery, to cross-train, to read about running shoes (wink, wink)… at a certain point becomes about how much to dedicate to yourself vs how much to dedicate to your network. Do you need to be selfish to excel in running? Isn’t that the same for every serious athlete?

Runners are better in bed

Ok. Runtastic seems to have no doubt that runners are good in bed. But are they better? Better than whom?

Actually the first result in Google is the same Runtastic article as before – that’s why I decided to skip it and go to another result:

Marathon runners are the best in bed

They are not good. Not better. The best. Might as well stop reading here, not to spoil this.

But I did read, and I got a little disappointed. The article re-hashes the same facts we read on Runtastic. But at least we can gloat in the knowledge that there are a lot of people that not only think runners are good in bed, they think they’re the best.


This was a fun exercise! None of these results was actually shocking. What was interesting to me is that this is what Google, whose job is to sort and catalogue information based on their utility, popularity and authority thinks are the adjectives most commonly associated with runners and what are the motivations for them.

I hope you found this as fun to read as it was for me to write. If you do or don’t agree with any of the points above – leave a comment!




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