Hoops, M. L., Vanderburgh, P. M., & March, D. S. (2009). Age, gender, and run time as determinants of pacing in the marathon. ACSM 56th Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington, Presentation Number 2796.

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This study determined the independent influences of age, gender, and run time on marathon pacing. Pacing was defined as the percentage expression of the mean velocity (min/mile) of the first 20.2 miles (32.5 km) divided by that of the last six miles (9.7 km). Males (N = 186) and females (N = 133) performed a marathon on a one-mile loop with pace markers throughout. Split times per mile were electronically tripped by a shoe sensor. The low ambient temperature (5C) prevented hyperthermia.

Female, older, and faster runners demonstrated more consistent pacing than male, younger, and slower marathoners. Other factors obviously affected performance but pacing was a significant variable involved in the complex event.

Implication. Females intrinsically have a better feeling for more consistent pacing than males. Since many males coach females, the potential is high to advise the females to perform with more variable "male-appropriate" strategies which could result in reduced performances. Women should be coached to perform evenly throughout the duration of their event, including very extended challenges such as marathon races. Racing experience and success are also related to more even pacing implying that emphasizing even pacing is linked more with success than is variable pacing.

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