Pollution affects women’s marathon times

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This topic contains 23 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Andrew A. 8 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #11932

    Andrew A.
    Member
  • #29508

    I wonder what data and methodology they used to determine that it affected women more than men in all those marathons.

  • #29509

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Grasshopper, I was wondering the same thing.

  • #29510

    Andrew A.
    Member

    I agree, I would be interested in seeing this study published online.  The hypothesis does make sense from a theoretical standpoint, but how they found the proof would be interesting.

  • #29511

    ed
    Participant

    Not much info in that article. :-

    From some of the quotes in the article – it seems to me that it isn't women that the pollution has the deletarious affect on – it is individuals with the smaller trachea.

    Being a little guy myself (only 5'6″  >:(  )  that might put me into the catagory of those that are effected.

    In the general population women are on average smaller than men – so this general size difference would skew data into a result that would seem to be gender based.

  • #29512

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Ed, that's an interesting interpretation. Does it have to do more with size of airways or other body size factors or with gender? Honestly, size would make more sense in some ways.

    On a tangent, Ed, you seem to be upset about your height. Here's some food for thought that may make you think twice if that concern involves running. The reigning Olympic marathon champion is 5'4″. The current marathon world record holder is 5'5″. The current 5000m and 10,000m record holder and reigning Olympic and World 5000m and 10,000m champion is 5'3″. Generally, it seems like the 5'3″ to 5'8″ range seems to be a sweet spot for a lot of great distance runners.

  • #29513

    ed
    Participant

    Hmmm – maybe I should work harder and realize the anecdotal – non-scientifically or statistically supported height advantage that I might have.  Hell – that kind of evidence is good enough for many articles that argue against running.

    This is all tongue in cheek of course – and I am just being silly late on a Friday.

    Ryan – Most of us shrimpy guys have some hang-ups about being short.  BUT – you make a good point I might just be in that sweet spot to be a better runner if I just worked harder. 

    Heal – stitches – heal!

  • #29514

    Andrew A.
    Member

    For similar sized people (BMI, height/weight), females tend to have smaller airways than males do.

    Maturation of the airways and lungs continues through childhood and into  adolescence during which time, for the most part, males continue to  have larger lungs than females. Further, the conducting airways of adult  males are larger than those of adult females, even when lung or body  sizes are equivalent url=http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3693235]8[/url.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2391086/

  • #29515

    ed
    Participant

    So – body size and gender likely have nothing to do with this issue – other than the by and large (no pun intended) average difference in males/ females trachea/airway sizes.

    It might have been more appropraite to state that pollution affects the times of individuals with smaller airways and smaller lungs – which are more often present in female athletes than their male counterparts.

  • #29516

    Andrew A.
    Member

    So – body size and gender likely have nothing to do with this issue

    No, gender appears to have a strong correlation, as even women who are similar to men in body size or lung size tend to have smaller conducting airways than those male counterparts.

  • #29517

    Andrew A.
    Member

    On the other hand, apparently men may be more prone to diaphragm fatigue than women are:
    http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/content/abstract/109/1/35?rss=1

  • #29518

    ed
    Participant

    So – women have limitations in some areas and men have limitations in others areas.  Now all that is left is to measure every possible issue that faces runners and list whom it effects the most.

    Then we'll know if one gender has an inherent genetic advantage over the other.

    Train hard and train right – and you'll outrun many other people – no matter your or their their gender.

  • #29519

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    So – women have limitations in some areas and men have limitations in others areas.  Now all that is left is to measure every possible issue that faces runners and list whom it effects the most.

    Then we'll know if one gender has an inherent genetic advantage over the other.

    Or we look at the abundance of race times available, the fact that many men every year run faster than the women's world record in any distance I can think of. That's pretty convincing evidence about who has the advantage.

    Train hard and train right – and you'll outrun many other people – no matter your or their their gender.

    That's precisely the case for 99+% of the running world.

  • #29520

    ed
    Participant

    Or we look at the abundance of race times available, the fact that many men every year run faster than the women's world record in any distance I can think of. That's pretty convincing evidence about who has the advantage.

    Are the running times a fact of the running programs and interest in the school systems and interest in running in general?  I think that males have for many decades been more “into” running than women or in general are more serious about getting faster all of the time and beating others.  Some women are more into the “group” aspect of the race than they are in beating each and every last person that they can, pushing their bodies past what they thought they were capable of – hell I rarely do that.

    I think the only way to really compare this is with the elite runners – males and females that have been running and training to win for many years.  But there are too many variables – even with the same coach – the coach will likely not give them the same training effort, use the same techniques with them etc . .

    There is some results based evidence of something going on – Has the time gap been the same for several decades or is the time gap closing?

  • #29521

    Andrew A.
    Member

    So – women have limitations in some areas and men have limitations in others areas.  Now all that is left is to measure every possible issue that faces runners and list whom it effects the most.

    Then we'll know if one gender has an inherent genetic advantage over the other.

    Or we look at the abundance of race times available, the fact that many men every year run faster than the women's world record in any distance I can think of. That's pretty convincing evidence about who has the advantage.

    I was going to say: that one has been pretty clearly determined already. 😉

  • #29522

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I think the only way to really compare this is with the elite runners – males and females that have been running and training to win for many years.

    This is precisely what I'm talking about doing.

    But there are too many variables – even with the same coach – the coach will likely not give them the same training effort, use the same techniques with them etc . .

    That's true with all athletes, regardless of whether or not they are of the same gender. It's all about building the program around the individual and not trying to make the individual fit a program that may not be ideal for that individual.

    There is some results based evidence of something going on – Has the time gap been the same for several decades or is the time gap closing?

    It has been closing to some extent but I've seen the world record progression curves for both men and women for many different events. Those curves, regardless of distance or gender, follow very similar trends and show that the men do have a distinct advantage.

    The progression curves I've seen have been in books but, when I get a chance, I'll see if I can find any of those online.

  • #29523

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I wasn't able to find any nice chart but here's a breakdown of the numbers (it's a bit of a quick analysis so please excuse the fact that it looks a bit rushed and not deeply thought out – that's exactly what it is at this point):

    Men
    1/1/1940: 2:26:42
    1/1/1950: 2:25:39 (1:03 improvement – likely affected by WW2)
    1/1/1960: 2:15:17 (10:22 improvement – catching up)
    1/1/1970: 2:08:34 (6:43 improvement – Derek Clayton breaking the curve)
    1/1/1980: 2:08:34 (0:00 improvement – The curve getting back online)
    1/1/1990: 2:06:50 (1:44 improvement)
    1/1/2000: 2:05:42 (1:08 improvement)
    1/1/2010: 2:04:26 (1:16 improvement)

    Women

    1/1/1970: 3:07:26
    1/1/1980: 2:27:32 (39:54 improvement – obviously, just getting started)
    1/1/1990: 2:21:06 (6:26 improvement)
    1/1/2000: 2:20:43 (0:23 improvement – falling behind the curve?)
    1/1/2010: 2:15:25 (5:18 improvement – Paula Radcliffe getting things back ahead of the curve)

    You can see that 2:26 to 2:15 for the men took 20 years and that 20 years was interrupted by WW2. For the women, it took 30 years and nobody other than Radcliffe has come close to 2:15 so it is still looking like her time, even 7 years after she ran it, is still ahead of the standard progression curve.

    While the women, with a 12+ minute improvement in the past 30 years, are outpacing the men, with just a 4+ minute improvement, all indications are that their curve is leveling off much like the men did about 40 years ago. You could consider Radcliffe's 2:15 to be roughly the equivalent of Clayton's 2:08 – an ahead of the curve performance that will likely be the end of the big improvements and usher in the era of incremental improvements.

  • #29524

    ed
    Participant

    This is exactly what I was looking for – thanks Ryan.  It seems that the time gap while at different points in their curves is only slightly closing.  This evidence does lead to the conclusion that men might have more factors in their favor than do women.

    An interesting thought is where do transgender individuals fall in this. Here we have the mental aspects of one gender and the physical aspects of the other.  Does this mitigate some of the disadvantages or advantages? 

  • #29525

    This is exactly what I was looking for – thanks Ryan.  It seems that the time gap while at different points in their curves is only slightly closing.  This evidence does lead to the conclusion that men might have more factors in their favor than do women.

    What is the gap doing in terms of percentage or proportion?

    An interesting thought is where do transgender individuals fall in this. Here we have the mental aspects of one gender and the physical aspects of the other.  Does this mitigate some of the disadvantages or advantages?

      ???

  • #29526

    Andrew A.
    Member

    This is exactly what I was looking for – thanks Ryan.  It seems that the time gap while at different points in their curves is only slightly closing.  This evidence does lead to the conclusion that men might have more factors in their favor than do women.

    What is the gap doing in terms of percentage or proportion?

    An interesting thought is where do transgender individuals fall in this. Here we have the mental aspects of one gender and the physical aspects of the other.  Does this mitigate some of the disadvantages or advantages?

      ???

    +1 WTF?

    I agree that it might be more useful to look at % difference (or % improvement difference) than simply in terms of raw time difference. 

  • #29527

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Grasshopper and Andrew, I agree that the % difference or % improvement difference would be a more adequate way to look at that. I think the raw numbers give you an indication of what is happening but may still suggest more of a closing of the gap than actually exists.

    On a tangential note, I have no doubt that the men have progressed farther along the improvement curve than the women have but the women also will catch up more quickly because they are not waiting as long for the training and scientific advances, as well as advances such as the professionalization of the sport and many others, that the men had to wait for and work through. Many of the things that held the men back 50 years ago or even 20-30 years ago are in place for the women and will not hinder their progression curve as much as they did with the men.

  • #29528

    Andrew A.
    Member

    I have no doubt that the men have progressed farther along the improvement curve than the women have but the women also will catch up more quickly because they are not waiting as long for the training and scientific advances, as well as advances such as the professionalization of the sport and many others, that the men had to wait for and work through.

    Color me skeptical, as women – especially among deep talent pools like exists in Kenya's Rift Valley, but even here in the USA still – receive far less support to go into running as a sport and stick with it into the professional ranks compared to men.  It is a smaller opportunity gap in more developed nations, and prospects are improving all over, yet it remains a fairly universal reality.

  • #29529

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I actually added, then removed, a comment from my post about how “certain cultural aspects” (basically those you describe were what I had in mind), among other factors, will ensure that women won't be able to just step into the game at the same point on the curve that men are already at. However, they don't have to go back and relearn the past 50 years of advances in training philosophies, nutrition, sports medicine, sports psychology, etc. While their pay scale isn't equal to that of the men, they don't have to fight for any pay like the men 30-40 years ago did. Factors like these are what I think we will find have and will speed the improvement curve for the women.

  • #29530

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Fair points, and likely impossible to determine what balance will be struck between the benefits and the hindrances except perhaps in hindsight.

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