Showing posts with label race times. Show all posts
Showing posts with label race times. Show all posts

Friday, November 30, 2012

Are male runners more competitive than female runners?

The 4 hour cliff 
Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes - 2% grade

If you are a member of Athlinks you may have received an email that shows a graph of 2012 marathon times (above). The graph shows 2012 finish time distribution frequency, and it clearly illustrates that marathon times peak right before the four hour mark (I inserted a blue arrow to highlight that point). Not shown here was another graph that compared times by gender. That graph showed that 58% of men (vs. 42% of women) finished faster that 4:00. One might conclude that men approach these races more competitively than women. The sharp spike between 3:50 and 3:59 times indicates some very tactical planning.

I can't speak to how women view racing, except through anecdotal conversations with female friends who race. I wouldn't say that women are any less competitive, but they may carry a different perspective on their performance goals. Many men (including myself ) simply pick a targeted time and  focus on beating it. Women (more often it seems) will view their finish times as secondary to the experience of running their best. They are no less competitive than men, but they don't seem to be as discouraged if they miss a specific time target.

It would be wrong to say that women don't care about hitting performance targets. That spike on the graph at 4:00 represents a lot of female finishers. But I would say, generally, that woman view and value performance differently than men. One approach is more quantitative and the other is more qualitative. In the end, I wonder who's more satisfied with their results?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Athlinks bemoans declining race times

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

I had a funny exchange yesterday with Troy Busot, the founder of Athlinks. This website aggregates race results and allows members to compile a rich racing history. Athlinks members can comment on their race experiences and compare their performance to "rivals" (other members who have participated in 2 or more of the same races that you've run).

The reason I contacted Troy was that he'd sent an email that, in a tongue and cheek way, chided runners for what he called, "an alarming decline in U.S. racing performances in distances across the board." He compared average finish times for the most common race distances plus Olympic, Half and Full Ironman Triathlons. He made his point but I noticed that his times for half marathons were exactly the same as for 10K's, an obvious typo:

Average Times for Leading
Race Distances from 2009-2012

Distance20092012Change% Change
5K Run30:3031:47+1:17+4.04%
10K Run1:01:011:02:28+1:27+2.34%
Half Mara1:01:011:02:28+0:18+0.15%
Olympic Tri2:52:532:55:55+3:02+1.73%
Half Iron5:59:436:05:49+6:06+1.73%
* Marathon times were the only notable improvement.

Troy quickly fell on his sword after I sent him a note about it and he gave me the correct figures for 2009 and  2012, which were 2:15:16 and 2:16:40 respectively. Troy wrote, "Yep, I have quit the company in typo-shame." I've never run a full marathon but I have run the other distances. In every case (except my first half), I've beaten the average, both for 2009 and 2012. So perhaps I'm not as average as I thought, although my scores would not be so favorable were the comparison more age and gender based.

Speaking of average, my pace this morning was exactly that. The temperature was 35 degrees with a noticeable breeze, and I wore some extra layers anticipating the cold. I stayed comfortable throughout the run and didn't really have a clue how fast I was going until I looked at my heart rate near the end. I saw that I was at 80% of Max. I tried to get it to 85% in the remaining quarter mile, but I didn't quite get there. Even so, my average morning run still gets me around the course 45 seconds per mile faster than the 5K average!

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