Women tend to pace themselves more evenly throughout a race, according to recent research. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to burst through the gate and slow down as they reach the finish line. The findings are part of a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Researchers gathered information from a total of about 92,000 racers of various ages at 14 marathons.
To determine each runner’s pace, they compared each runner’s time at the middle of the race to their time at the end. A runner’s pace is considered even if the two halves of the race are covered in the same time – if the second half is longer, they’ve clearly slowed down. (Apparently it’s rare to speed up.)
Men were more likely than women to slow down in the second half of races. Researchers speculate that other gender differences – both physical and psychological -- may be at play.
For one thing, long distance running taps stored fat after our carbohydrate stores have run out. And guess what women have more of? Yup, fat. And it comes in handy in this case.
Another theory: men are more likely to take a risk by starting at their highest speed. For many, of course, this can be a winning strategy, even if they do slow down later in the race.
Want an even pace in a marathon? Follow a woman
But as exercise physiologist and running coach Tom Holland, the author of The Marathon Method, told Reuters, the style now identified as female is a better way to train and win in the long run (pun intended).
“As a racer, I like to get behind women,” he said, “because historically they’re more even-paced.”
Something to consider as you choose your running buddy for the season.
Want more running inspiration? Here’s a running guide for everyone and how to fix common running injuries.