Scanning Sports Medicine
Sex Differences in Marathon Running with Advanced Age: Physiology or Participation?
In the January 2013 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise ®, authors examine the sex difference seen in marathon performance. Known physiologic differences exist between male and female runners; however, the widening sex difference in velocity among the lower placed runners, and among older runners, is greater than physiologically expected (1). The purpose of the study was to determine the sex difference in velocity for the marathon across the place of the finisher with advanced age and to determine the association between the sex difference in the ratio of men-to-women finishers and the sex difference in running velocity. Results were tabulated using the running times of the first 10 placed men and women in 5-year age brackets ranging from 20 to 79 years as well as the number of men and women who finished the New York City (NYC) marathon between 1980 and 2010. The data demonstrated that the sex difference in running velocity increased between 1st and 10th place due to a larger relative drop in velocity of women than men. The sex difference increased with advanced age and decreased across the 31 years, with greater increases for the older age groups. The number of women finishers, especially in the older groups, also increased relative to men over the 31 years. Perhaps most importantly, approximately 34% of the sex differences in velocity among first place finishers were associated with the ratio of men-to-women finishers. Based on these results, the authors concluded that the greater sex difference in velocity that occurs with age and with increased place could be primarily explained by the lower number of women finishers than men. The data also provides evidence that the lower participation rates and less depth among women competitors amplifies the sex difference in running velocity beyond that due to physiologic differences alone.
Bottom line: Lesser numbers of women marathon participants than men appears to have contributed to at least one third of the sex difference in running velocity in the NYC marathon over a 31-year time frame at the elite level of age group marathon finishers.
10,000 Workouts in 10 Minutes: Movement-Based Programming
The January 2013 issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal ® includes an article where authors describe Movement Based Programming (MBP) and then use the concepts of MBP to demonstrate how to develop a movement database for an unlimited number of workouts (2). The foundation of MBP is based on functional anatomy rather than structural anatomy. Structural anatomy focuses on the independent concentric function of each muscle and tends to have a single plane emphasis. This traditional “medical model” tends to create a more isolated approach to evaluating injury and designing rehabilitation and/or exercise programs. Conversely, the functional approach does not isolate single muscles but instead trains the neuromuscular system. The idea of developing training systems that are based on movement and task rather than anatomy has become more mainstream both within the fitness and rehabilitation world. The MBP template is based on a planar circuit alternating lower and upper body-dominant exercises. The order is always as follows: push, double leg, pull, single leg, and then locomotion. The authors recommend training one plane per round as a starting point for most people. Subsequent rounds utilize a different plane of motion where the exercises are “tweaked” to reflect movement in that plane. The use of various modalities also is discussed, and the authors provide examples of how to incorporate modalities and body weight exercises into the template. The article also describes ways to tweak the exercises through changing the starting position, the finish of the exercise, and the center of gravity of the exercise. Specific examples of how to add overload principles are reviewed, and the reader is provided information on timing of the workouts as well.
Bottom line: This is a concise article that introduces the reader to the theory behind movement-based programming and also provides readers with a template to developing an unlimited number of workouts.
1. Hunter SK, Stevens AA. Sex differences in marathon running with advanced age: physiology or participation? Med. Sci. Sports Exerc.
2013; 45: 148–56.
2. King M, Stanforth D. 10,000 workouts in 10 minutes: movement-based programming. ACSM Health Fitness J.
2013; 17: 8–14.