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The Training Habits Of Marathoners

A study finds female runners are more committed to race prep.

A study finds female runners are more committed to race prep.

From: Running USA

SAN MATEO, Calif. – (June 20, 2012) – Each summer, tens of thousands of competitive and recreational runners take part in road races around the country. Runcoach, a leading provider of interactive training for runners of all levels, has announced the results of a new gender comparison study of runners training for the marathon and half-marathon.

According to industry organization Running USA, women’s running is at a record high with more than 7 million females finishing U.S. road races with 950,000 female finishers in the half-marathon last year. Runcoach’s study supports those numbers and further reveals that female runners are also more committed to preparing for races and are seeing better race results from their training than their male counterparts.

Runcoach conducted a study of 706 runners training for the 2012 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon using runcoach, the official online training service for the event. A summary of findings includes:

  • Women rule the half-marathon distance in registration and training. Women made up more than 55% of Aramco Houston Half Marathon registrants. Of those who signed up for online training plans, 70% were women.
  • Women who utilized training plans realized a more significant time improvement than men. Overall, women beat their estimated runcoach finish time# by 6.02% compared to 3.61% for men. The trend was similar for both races as women improved 5.4% and 6.6% in the marathon and half marathon respectively, while men saw improvements of 3.2% and 4.6% for the same distances.
  • They train and race for different reasons. When asked their purpose for using a training plan to train for the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon, women were twice as likely as men to describe their own goal as “finishing” versus “racing for time.”
  • Male marathoners don’t rely on training plans as much as female. Although over 62% of those who registered for the Chevron Houston Marathon were male, over half of those who signed up for the runcoach training service were female.
  • Age makes a difference when it comes to training for the half-marathon. The most popular age range of men who signed up for half-marathon online training plans was the 50-54 years versus 30-34 years for women. Interestingly, no men over the age of 50 years used the training plan to prepare for the marathon distance. The most popular age range for both men and women who signed up for marathon online training plans was 40-44 years.

#Estimated runcoach finish time is calculated by either a personal race result record or a time / distance estimate of current fitness level by the trainee

“Our pilot study of runcoach data confirms my personal observation that female runners are more analytical and structured in their approach to the sport,” said Tom McGlynn, CEO of runcoach and personal coach of four U.S. Women Olympic Trials qualifiers in 2012. “Women are the ultimate multi-taskers and through training plans and dedicated execution are able to be efficient and effective balancing careers, family and fitness.”

Following the success of its 2012 partnership, runcoach will again be the Official Online Training program of the 2013 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon.

“Runcoach has been an excellent partner and we were excited to see how the training data correlates to male / female ratio of runners who participated in this year’s Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon,” said Steven Karpas, Managing Director, Business Development & Marketing of the Houston Marathon Committee. “Runcoach’s online training service is an excellent guide to prepare participants for our popular events.”

With its patent-pending algorithm, runcoach collects and evaluates 20 key data points including fitness level, event distance, schedule preferences and running background to create a 100% customized training plan which users can access online or via an iPhone application. Unlike standard template programs and other online plans, runcoach is the only online training engine specifically for runners that can instantly recalculate a user’s training plan to adjust for missed workouts, a change in goal race, increased fitness levels and more.

About runcoach
Tom McGlynn, an accomplished runner and coach who qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2000, ’04, and ’08, founded runcoach in 2002. In an effort to make proven training methodologies more widely available, he engaged a team of programmers to create a fully adjustable, algorithmically fueled online training technology. The resulting product offers the highest level of customization of any online training solution. For more information about runcoach, visit: