Running is a very common process which we keep doing knowingly or unknowingly and it is also a sport where both men and women enjoy, either racing in a 5K or a marathon, or competing for a team or their country while speeding around a designed track.
But, in this sport it is observed that whatever the venue has been designed it is usually found that men is always found to run faster than women. In spite of the equal training provided to men and women, same diet, the same workout, and the same training session, the speed dissimilarity on the track is quite apparent.
The evidence is very clear by analyzing the records of world’s fastest men and women. The world’s fastest man Usain Bolt on the 100-meter dash covered the distance in 9.58 seconds than the world’s fastest woman the late Florence Griffith Joyner who had covered the same distance in 10.49 seconds.
However, this is very clear that this fact has nothing to do with the strength; one can only blame the hormones and body size for this remarkable difference.
Reasons for the Difference in speed of running
Effect by Hormone Testosterone
Before the girls and boys attain the puberty, their bodies are almost similar. During and after puberty boys experience a heavy synthesis of the hormone testosterone in adolescence. On maturity, some men have up to 20 times more testosterone than women. This is revealed by Health Line experts.
The Society of Endocrinology revealed that testosterone have many functions like- telling the body to create new blood cells, keeping bones and muscles strong and prompting growth spurts.
Dr. Emily Kraus, a primary care sports medicine physician at Stanford Health Care in California said as women produce less testosterone, so they are at a drawback in terms of muscles whereas Males due to high testosterone have a greater amount of muscle in bulk.
A man’s leg contains 80 percent muscle, whereas woman’s leg contains 60 percent muscle in the leg, said by Kraus. This extra muscle is responsible to help men run faster than women. In addition to it men’s muscles have a tendency to have larger fast-twitch muscle fibers, which help with sprinting, than women.
Effect by Hormone Estrogen
There is another hormone estrogen which is synthesized more in women than men which helps them to have a higher percentage of body fat than men. This is another disadvantage in women making them to run slower than men.
Effect by Body Size (Lungs)
Body size is another factor responsible for this difference. Women, have smaller lungs than men, so their maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) is lower in comparison to men VO2 max.
The VO2 max for an inactive woman is about 33 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute, whereas a young sedentary man’s is about 42 ml/kg/min, according to a 1998 study. This was published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
Kraus said in best runners, VO2 max is higher, but men still top women in this aspect also. In a way the amount of oxygen produced at maximum exertion is greater in males than in females. This clarifies that women have to work harder to breathe in oxygen that they can deliver to their muscles.
Effect by Body Size (Hearts)
Women’s hearts are also smaller than men’s heart; this specifies that they have a smaller volume of oxygenated blood which the left ventricle pumps out in one beat.
Though women have a higher heart rate, but it is not sufficient to counterbalance the lower stroke volume. Each time the heart pumps blood, it is sure that the amount of blood is less in a female than in a male. Because of this less blood and less oxygen are delivered to women’s muscles and women get tired soon.
Effect by Body Size (Hemoglobin)
In addition to all the above women also have less hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells which carries oxygen to the body’s tissues, including the muscles.
Effect by Body Size (Longer Legs)
Dr. Miho Tanaka, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Johns Hopkins Medicine said that men usually have longer legs than women. This is again a positive add on effect in men as they have more room for muscles, as well as a longer pace length.
Effect by Body Size (Wider Hips)
Tanaka said women have wider hips, which hinders their running speed this is the reason for slow running speed. Muscles work efficiently when everything is aligned properly. If hips are very narrow, like a man’s, then the legs are running straight from the hips to knees, so it’s acting in the same direction that one is running. Whereas in case of wider hips muscles have to turn a corner then will come up with the pace of a runner. This is what happens in case of women.
One doesn’t mean to say that women with wider hips cannot run but only meant that it is one of the many factors explained above for why women aren’t as fast as men.
All the above factors in totality are more than enough to make the things clear that running speed of women is lesser than the men.