Where Your Dreams Become Reality
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Poster: Nutty Professor
Subject: RE: 50-year-old Linda Somers-Smith finishes 8th (in the women's open race) at US Club Cross Country Champs
"Is is possible this difference in "competitiveness" is moreso physiological/anatomical, rather than environmental/social/psychological?"
***This is the million dollar question - what causes the difference, (1) motivation to train, (2) durability to train, or (3) physiological response to training? All could play a role, and I have considered all of them in my papers. So far the motivation to train hypothesis is the only one that has support. For instance, my recent paper (Deaner, Masters, Ogles, & LaCaille, 2011) shows that when men and women perform similar training, they show similar performances relative to gender specific world records. There were about 694 men and 150 women who reported their training and performance in that study; the data were gathered in the late 1980s and early 1990s at marathons in the U.S. Roughly speaking, running 60 miles per week on a regular basis in adults is associated with an average 5K PR of about 16:15 for men (~25% over male WR) and 18:25 for women (~25% over female WR). (Obviously individual results will vary depending on talent and many other factors!) This hypothesis still requires much more testing and I'm currently working on a much better data set (about 8,000 German runners who responded to questionnaires within last 5 years.) I haven't finished the analyses, but so far the patterns look very similar. If you know of data (not speculations!) that support the other hypotheses, please share them. I've been looking at this issue for 8 years now but I still want to learn more.
"This has held true for the past 30 years."
***I'm glad you agree there is a sex difference in depth! Many deny this.
"There's no way you could linearly compare the populations (x % difference between world records) when the populations are vastly difference."
***Why can't we compare? That's what science is all about: Let's quantify the difference and then test hypotheses to figure what causes it. Simply saying that yeah, there is some kind of a differnce but that it's merely due the fact that the populations are "vastly different" is not an explanation.
"That's why a "rank-order" method, as used by the Mercier Calculator, is the only effective way to compare genders."
***The method that is appropriate really depends on the question. I'm interested in finding out why more males run close to sex-specific standards so Mercier calculators are certainly not appropriate.
"To use a linear comparison is "theoretical" and doesn't represent what exists in the real world.
***Mercier calculators are theoretical! They assume that there are the same number of men and women who are truly competitive in the event in question. Many lines of evidence suggests this is false: men are, generally speaking, somewhat more competitive than women and this difference becomes very large when it involves physical competition.
Last point: I'm not belittling the accomplishments of any competitive female runner, such as Linda Somers-Smith. My point is only that there, are generally speaking, more men like this.
Thanks for the discussion.
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