Women versus Men


In 1972 women were legally allowed to compete in the marathon in the US and in the same year the 1500 meters was added to the Olympics for women. As a result, women's distance running records went through a rapid progression. In 1992 a controversial article was published estimating (based on past progress) that women would be running the same time as men for the marathon by 1998 and eventually surpass them. Physiologically women metabolize fat more efficiently, which was thought to be further evidence that women would exceed men in the long distance events (where fat metabolism becomes a primary energy source).


A recent study set out to study the gender difference issue in a matched comparison. Women and men performing a 50km trail running event with similar times and ages were matched. These matched pairs also competed in an 80km and 161km trail running event. The times were then analyzed to see if one gender had an advantage over the other in these distance events. Interestingly, the times were very similar at each of the distances suggesting that women do not have a physiologic advantage over men in distance running.


For us men that have been outperformed by women it looks like there is no refuge in moving to the longer distances to beat those same women.



Bryan Whitesides MPT, OCS

Physical Therapist


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