PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s nothing like a little friendly competition among runners.
A recent MIT study says runners who were connected through a social network ran farther and faster when comparing themselves against each other.
The new research collected over a span of five years says sharing running times and schedules can make people more accountable and motivated.
“We’re willing to disappoint ourselves; we don’t want to disappoint other people. We want to please other people and we don’t want to look bad. We can look bad to ourselves; we already know who we are. But we’d rather not do that with other folks,” said psychologist Joseph Rock.
Researchers from MIT looked at more than 1 million runners who used fitness trackers and shared their activity with friends over a social network. They found if someone ran 10 minutes more than usual, that runner’s friends would lengthen their workout by about three minutes. And if a friend ran faster than usual, his or her friends would tend to pick up their pace.
“You want people who are trying, failing a little bit, coming back and doing better. Those are the most inspiring people you can be around and they help you do what you want to do,” said Rock.
The study also found a difference among genders. Men ran faster or longer when comparing themselves to other men and to a lesser extent to female runners.
But women runners were only responsive and competitive with female friends.