So readers of this blog, I assume you all are probably runners or maybe enjoy running occasionally or maybe just interested in the world of runners (doubtful)? But whatever your reasons are for deciding to read yet another blog on running, I hope to bring some different to this one. I recently found a number of articles discussing performance differences between genders, and rather than bore you all with the details (although if you’re interested I suggest reading an article called more males than females run relatively fast by Robert Deaner) I will instead cut to the chase and tell you that the findings were basically that men are more competitive than women.
Well, seeing as I am a runner and consider myself pretty damn competitive, maybe even hyper-competitive by some standards. I decided to produce my own small 10- question survey of runners or anyone who had done a foot race in the past year (so pretty wide range of people).
The Runner’s Survey: 10-questions- some basic questions, gender, age, number of years running competitively. Then a few questions about thoughts during training, thoughts during racing, a question on mental imagery, goal as a runner and finishing up with why you run. I know what you’re thinking- how are general questions on thoughts when running going to shed any new light on anything? Well interestingly enough it was what I didn’t find that was more telling.
First off, there were equal amounts of reports of competitiveness in both genders. Responses such as “When racing I think about beating the person ahead of me” were equal between both genders. So I didn’t find any significant competitiveness differences. Additionally, reasons for running such as mental/ physical health, getting outside, or just enjoying running were also equal between male and female respondents. The importance of running? It was also the same for both genders. In fact, a majority of respondents saw running as a part of their life- something that they could not live without (sounding like an addiction of sorts to me). There was no significant difference between the 25 male and 19 female runners that responded to the survey in regards to competitiveness, reasons for running, or importance of running. The difference you ask? It was thoughts of running efficiency.
The only difference I found was thoughts of running biomechanics? Yes, that’s it. More males reported thinking of their breathing, pace, and running form while training and racing. Almost no female respondents mentioned thinking of running biomechanics. So while the study may not be the most scientific and certainly would need further inspection, it does raise the question that if the relative performance gaps between male and female runners can be explained simply by thoughts or understanding of running biomechanics while running. ** I should mention that by relative performance gaps I am not saying that women could be running as fast as men. Rather I am saying that previous studies have shown that more men run closer to their sex-specific world class standards than women.
I’m not a scientist, just a competitive (female) runner that decided to take a closer look at a study that pinned men as more competitive than women and decided that I just didn’t quite agree with it.
The Girl With a Running Problem