By Stephanie Stahl

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.

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The new research collected over a span of five years says sharing running times and schedules can make people more accountable and motivated.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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But women runners were only responsive and competitive with female friends.

Stephanie Stahl