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Women Runners Way Better Than Men at Pacing Themselves

Guys typically 'bonk' first, says researcher
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2014 6:02 PM CDT
Women Runners Way Better Than Men at Pacing Themselves
Runners leave the starting line of the 118th Boston Marathon April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Mass.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

(Newser) – When it comes to pacing, women runners have men beat. A study of 91,929 runners in 14 marathons noted that after the halfway point, men generally slow down by nearly 16%, while women slow down just 12%, Mic.com reports. Scientists consider a 30% second-half drop in speed as a major slowdown—and this happened to some 14% of men, but just 5% of women. Even experienced male runners were more likely than experienced women to see their speed decrease in the second half of a marathon. Meanwhile, an earlier study noted by the Wall Street Journal found that women were more likely than men to run the second half of a race faster than the first.

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One explanation is tied to the fact that "men will burn a greater percentage of carbohydrates for fuel than women," a researcher tells the New York Times. Women burn more fat, and people have more fat than stored carbohydrates in our bodies. The result: "Men typically run out of fuel and bonk or hit the wall earlier than women do." Then there's the fact that men use a "risky" running strategy. "They start out fast and just hope they can hold on," the researcher says. (If marathons are too much, running just a few minutes a day seems to have health benefits.)

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