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?

2 thoughts on “Are male runners more competitive than female runners?

  1. Anonymous

    I am competitive with myself. I am 39, I just started running and I am slow and I know I am not winning any races. I try to set A B & C goals for races. 5 & 10ks = A – PR, B – PR the course, C – finishAnything over 10k = They are usually broken down by times. For example for my 1st and only Half it was A. finish in under 2:30, B = finish in under 2:45 and C = Just finish. (I landed just into my B goal with a 2:39 LOL)I only get disappointed when I come within seconds of a PR or a medal. I missed 3rd place in my division by 4 seconds once and I kicked myself in the butt for days!


  2. I think it's smart to have a practical goal, a stretch goal and an aspirational goal. That way your expectations are managed and if you hit \”A\” or \”B\” instead of \”C\” it's a bonus.Missing a PR or age group place by seconds is ALWAYS disappointing!


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