Men And Women Run For Different Reasons

Before I started training for the New York City marathon a couple years ago, I didn’t like running. I hated it. In fact, I didn’t even sign myself up to run the marathon — my mom, who counts exercising as a favorite hobby, thought it would be fun to do the race together, so she sent in the paperwork for me. But after dutifully following along with a training schedule, I came to enjoy my thrice-weekly runs. It took me a while, but eventually, running made me feel good. I ran the race for me, and just tried to finish, rather than worrying about getting a specific time. This puts me in the same boat as many women who participated in a newly published study. According to research presented at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference Friday, women were more likely to choose to run a marathon for the first time because of reasons like wanting to improving their mood or feel at peace with the world, while men ran for the chance to compete and improve upon personal bests.The difference in motivation for running may make women better runners than men. Runner’s World editor-at-large Amby Burfoot argues in the book Runner’s World Complete Book of Running that women are better at pacing themselves for long distances, while men often tire themselves out too early:

“Men think sports are about beating the other guy. That may be true in boxing, but it’s not true in running. Runners must learn to compete with themselves and not against anyone else. Women seem to find it easier to understand that running is its own reward. … It’s not a matter of what you can do to an opponent; it’s a matter of what running does for you.”

But don’t think that women aren’t competitive or goal-oriented. Of the first-time marathoners surveyed who said they’d run another marathon within the next year, 79 percent of the women cited lowering their finish time as a reason for doing another 26.2 miles. Me? I think I’ll just be happy with myself for finishing one. [AlphaGalileo, Julie’s Health Club/Chicago Tribune, Julie’s Health Club/Chicago Tribune]