Are women better marathon runners than men?

Are women better marathon runners than men?

It depends on your definition of “better”.  Men are certainly faster in marathons, by 10-12% according to an American study, and 7% in another Danish article.  However, both those studies reported that women are much more “even” in their pacing.

This image from the American study tries to adjust for speed difference, but men’s pace clearly drops off more than women’s.

Experience counts for a lot in pace management, for instance the Danish study noted that younger runners (0-19 years) are 55% more likely to “burn out” in the second half of events than runners in the 35-44 age group.  

The author of that study was a competitive runner and offers these tips to improve your pacing during a marathon

  1. Start out slower than what feels natural
  2. Do not get excited by the crowd
  3. Race your own race and don’t compete with others
  4. If you cannot keep your planned pace, slow down immediately instead of killing yourself with a complete burnout later in the race
  5. A lot of your training should consist of easy runs in your planned marathon pace to teach you what it feels like running at that pace

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