When it comes to sport and athletics in general men tend to achieve faster times than women. Why is this?
For running shorter distances such as the 100m sprint, power and speed are important as is muscle conditioning and the percentage of fast twitch muscle fibres.
Longer distances require greater aerobic perfomance and a less bulky lean body is more beneficial.
For untrained or casual runners the difference between men and women is not always obvious. General fitness,lifestyle and mental attitude are grately influentual when is comes to times and performance.
Many women easily out run men at varying distances. It is also thought that when you look at longer distances the gap between men and women diminishes. Even though men have a higher muscle percentage, a larger heart and a higher oxygen carying capacity than women unless trained this does not necessarily make for instanly better performances and times.
When considering the question can women run faster than men for the untrained group, the answer is yes.
So what about the differences in highly trained athletes?
Testosterone the male hormone, which is also present at much lower quantities in females is responsible for the increased muscle percentage in men. As the male heart is larger the amount of blood it can output with each beat is greater. Men and women have different mean haemoglobin levels, in health, in venous blood – women have mean levels approximately 12% lower than men.
So when it comes to highly trained elite athletes men have the genetic and physiological adavantage. This is why men typically run faster times than women. Bolt with his 100m time of 9.58 seconds is less than a second faster than the women's world record of 10.49 seconds set by American Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988. A second is a long time in 100m races.
Paula Radcliffe has held the Women’s World Record time of 2:15:25 for the marathon since 2003. Many men that are considerd extremely fit could only dream of running this sort of time. However the fastest time for a male goes to Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) who completed the Berlin Marathon in 2018 in 2:01:39 that is a pace of 4:38.4 mins per mile!