Women runners are more different from men runners than you think.
08 Apr, 2019 • by Admin
Women not shaped like men, so they don't run like them. Here’s a look at some of the differences that can work for and against female runners
Women tend to be more flexible than men, which can be both a good and a bad thing for a runner. The extra flexibility is a result of a woman’s body structure and function — our hips are wider and our hormones allow our tendons to stretch for childbirth. We also have less muscle mass, allowing our bodies to move more freely.
Most runners are heel strikers, and women are more likely to be heel strikers than men. Heel striking is believed by many running experts to cause higher impact than landing near the middle or front of the foot, possibly contributing to an increased risk of injuries. In one of the few women-only fitness studies, scientists decided to study injury risk among 249 experienced female runners, all of whom were heel strikers.
A woman’s extra body fat may be an advantage for endurance runners. Not only do women have more body fat reserves, some research suggests that a woman’s body may be more efficient at using body fat and conserving glycogen, which is the main way the body stores glucose and fuels exercise. For now, men overall are stronger and faster, but women are physiologically well-suited for endurance events.
In general, women seem to be better at pacing themselves during a race than men are. Men covered the second half of the marathon almost 16 percent slower than they ran the first half. Women as a group were about 12 percent slower in the second half. Far more men than women fell into the markedly slower category, with about 14 percent of the male finishers qualifying versus 5 percent of the women.
A woman’s heart is smaller than a man’s. A bigger heart can pump more oxygenated blood around the body. This is one reason men can run longer at top speeds. It’s worth noting that women’s hearts enlarge and remodel with training as much as men’s hearts do, but they start out smaller so also remain smaller.
Women tend to get more injuries than men, in part due to differences in the shape of a woman’s hips and pelvis that put more stress on our bodies. Compared to men, women tend to have less strength in their hips and core. Women also tend to have strong quadriceps — the big muscle that runs between your knee and hip — and weaker hamstrings — the muscles that runs down the back of your thigh
Planning bathroom stops is crucial during a race. At the start of almost any race, you’ll see snaking, long lines at the Porta-Potties. Get to your race early to make sure you have time for a pit stop before you start.
Hormones and ligaments
Throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle, levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone rise and fall. There is some evidence that in the beginning half of a woman’s cycle, when estrogen levels are high, muscles become slightly more lax. This may make them less responsive to messages from the nervous system, theoretically dulling reflexes and raising the risk of injury.
Losing your period
Female endurance athletes, especially runners, sometimes stop getting their period, a condition called amenorrhea. (This obviously doesn’t apply to women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or in menopause.) Amenorrhea occurs when your body slows down production of estrogen as a result of exercising a lot, low body fat percentage, stress or some combination of the three.
We couldn’t do a women’s running guide and not mention the elephant in the room: the harassment women face while running. Are male runners sometimes called Forrest Gump from some driver racing by? Sure. But gender-based harassment affects 65 percent of women and 25 percent of men, according to the the National Street Harassment Report. Most runner harassment — from ugly words to physical attacks — is thrown at female runners.
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