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Gender differences between male and female marathon runners present the greatest interest for researchers, as according to experts and statistics, there is a great difference between rates male and female runners show. Expert’s researches demonstrate that female runners show 10% fewer rates than their male counterparts. It can be explained by some physiological factors which stimulate processes that may prevent female athletes from showing higher running rates than male runners. In fact, in ancient Greece, where the Olympic Marathon was founded, male athletes were traditionally partaking in running contests, as well as they were regarded to be the best servants to deliver messages to long distances, when this type of communication was very popular.
Gradually, this common point of view had been changing, until in 1970s it turned popular among ladies to partake in marathons and other running contests on the regular basis. Female runners’ communities were founded numerously, and then gender equality was to come to this field. However, as for the physiology, female athletes differed from their male counterparts. Therefore, traditionally each gender takes part in a contest in a different group.
Physiology creates differences between gender groups. Thus, different running rates between men and women can be explained by the following factors:
1. Women have higher fat percentage, in comparison to men. Normally, females have 5-12% fat in bodies which is higher than in males one. As exercising, women normally lose fat, however, its loss proceeds equally in males and females. (Chumanov, Wall-Scheffler,& Heiderscheit, 2008). Thus, in any case, male runners have less percentage of fat than females.
2. Males have higher muscle mass than females. The more fat is in the body, the less is the muscle mass. That is why women have lower running rates than men.
3. Women have lower VO2 maximum than men. VO2 is the amount of oxygen that can be maximally breathed at once by an individual. Normally, this rate is 33mL/lg/min for a healthy individual. As a rule, athletes have the higher rate of VO2. (Chumanov et al., 2008). The difference between male and female runners, as for this rate, is equal to approximately 5mL/kg/min.
4. Women have poorer running economy than men. This rate is related to oxygen conveying and energy efficiency while running.
5. Women have the larger Q-angle that means they have larger distance between the hips. It makes female athletes swaying when they walk.
Each of these factors exerts greater influence in relation to the female body constitution. Therefore, although there is gender equality between men and women as for the partaking in the running contests, male runners still have priorities in results due to their physiology. Nevertheless, any of the listed above physiological factors may vary from one individual to another in relation to their body composition. According to Chumanov, Wall-Scheffler,& Heiderscheit’s (2008) research, “Females displayed greater peak hip internal rotation and adduction, as well as gluteus maximus activity for all walk and run conditions” (p.1267) that prevent them from the faster running.
Yet, this subject still requires deeper research in relation to the gender equality. For instance, is it reasonable to give female athletes chances to partake in the running contests equally in the same groups with their male counterparts? It is believed that this question needs to be answered in the context of the modern circumstances, when women require equality in any issue. Although sport is a specific field, equality in running at one pace between men and women should be the issue to be addressed in the future, despite the clear physiological factors that differentiate running rates between male and female athletes. The main argument towards this reason is that any physiological body composition may vary from one individual to another. In addition, human physiology matters quite less than believing to win the running competition in which they partake.
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