Men may run faster marathons than women, but women are "better" at running them, a new study finds. Specifically, women are 18.61% better than men at keeping a steady pace over the entire 26.2-mile course, the Guardian reports. Researched looked at more than 1.8 million results from 131 marathons held across the globe between 2008 and 2014, and found that both genders slowed down between the first and second halves of the race—but that men slowed down between 16.96% and 27.27% more than women did. Researchers think this could be due to "differences in psychology and decision-making," the Guardian says; perhaps women, for example, underestimate their abilities or men overestimate theirs.
The bottom line, according to the study: "[Although] men are faster marathon runners than women (due to genetics) they are not the smartest." A previous study, which looked only at the Chicago marathon, offers other theories as to why: When women run at the "submaximal intensity" that is necessary for marathon completion, they may burn a higher percentage of fat than men, thus making them less likely to see their glycogen depleted and "hit a wall." Also, women typically "dissipate a larger percentage" of the heat produced by running, the study found, because they "tend to have a larger surface area-to-mass ratio than men." Advice for both sexes? According to the new study, "Start out slower than what feels natural" to improve your overall result. (Meanwhile, half-marathons are becoming more popular with women.)