By CEO Robert Forster, PT
Four thousand years ago the marathon distance run was christened when Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens to deliver news of a military victory against the Persians at the Battle of Marathon.
Forty years ago the first-ever marathon for women-only, was run in St Paul MN. Now women are taking over the men’s races too. For the first time, more women completed the Boston Marathon, than men. Worldwide, the majority of all marathon finishers in 2016 were women, holding steady at 60 percent—the same percentage as 2015.
Why the surge in women taking on the mythical 26.2 mile race?
Certainly, female participation in sports has grown steadily since Title IX of the Education Amendments was signed into law by the president in 1972; however, there are few mainstream sports where female participation outpaces men. In addition to the social empowerment of women that drive females to increase participation across all sports, the answer for this steady uptick in women taking on the marathon, may be found in science.
The very reason the marathon has held its lure since that first victory dash in ancient Greece is because the average human can only store enough carbohydrate, the most common energy source used for exercise, to cover about 18 miles. The exercise fuel tank is empty. Indeed, that’s why so many marathoners slow their pace to a crawl right about that mark in the race, or worse, drop out.
As an alternative, the basis of all science based marathon training is to teach the body to burn more fat during exercises, and use less carbohydrate to be sure the carb tank doesn’t run empty before the end of the race. Science has shown that women have more body fat then men, and they can tap into this source for energy more efficiently too. This exercise science is so powerful for endurance related sports that many scientists now believe as ultra-distance races become longer; women may truly outpace men for the over-all win.
The 2018 Skecher’s Performance Los Angeles Marathon is weeks away. The popular race course, called The Stadium to the Sea, takes runners through all the iconic Los Angeles neighborhoods from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica; and is one of the country’s largest marathons with over 25,000 participants.
If you are interested in throwing your hat into the ring for this fabled race distance, please call for a free Performance Consultation with the PHASE IV Science Team. 310-582-8212