Staying on pace during the second half of a marathon can be a challenge in even the most favourable of weather conditions. Add in a little heat and the task becomes harder still – but women are better at it than men.
That’s according to a new study, published in the journal Science & Sports, that assessed 167 recreational runners (123 women and 44 men). The researchers were interested in examining the degree of slowing (first- vs second-half time) in the marathon between sexes and environmental conditions.
The participants were assessed over the course of two marathons: one in cool conditions, the other in warm conditions. The researchers found that the degree of slowing differed between cool and warm weather conditions and between males and females. 'Males slow more than females during the marathon, and warm weather leads to a greater degree of slowing in both [although more so in men].’
A 2015 study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, came to the same conclusion: men are more likely than women to slow during a marathon.
It found the mean change in paces to be 15.6% in men versus 11.6% in women – women were 1.46 times higher than men to maintain their pace. Although greater experience was associated with lesser slowing, controlling for the experience variables did not eliminate the sex difference in pacing. The researchers concluded: ‘The sex difference in pacing is robust. It may reflect sex differences in physiology, decision making, or both.’
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