June 6th, 2017

Why do men run faster than women?

My first reaction is: for a ton of reasons. And even before reading this article on the subject, I thought of three reasons in particular. The first is greater lung capacity. The second is stride length, although that’s not a hard and fast rule. The third is hip configuration: wide hips make for worse runners.

You can see that latter point illustrated by the physiques of elite women runners. (I’ve written before about the athletic hip shape for women, here and here).

But if you read the article on why men excel in running, you’ll see that although hip shape and lung capacity are definitely part of the reason, there’s plenty more.

In fact, men excel in most sports. That makes perfect sense to me, and doesn’t bother me in the least. Why should it?

Even ballet—a physical and artistic endeavor in which women are generally considered the stars—acknowledges the differences between the physical skills of men and women. One of the earliest posts on this blog was about the difference:

In addition to the sheer physical thrill and the artistic satisfaction involved, partnering takes the woman back in time to an era when feminine was feminine. Now of course we have feminism, which is something else entirely.

You might say that ballet is feminist, in a way, because it gives a prominent—perhaps even a more-than-equal—role to women. You might say it’s retro, in a way, in that the role it gives tends to revolve around traditional ideas of beauty, grace, and supposed fragility masking strength.

But men and women are different, and ballet not only doesn’t ignore that difference, it celebrates it. Partnering in ballet usually involves emphasizing the difference, and as the French say (French, after all, is the language of ballet), “Vive la différence!”

Men have much greater upper-body strength, and in ballet they’re the ones who lift the women. They also have greater leg strength, which means they jump higher. Women are more flexible; their extensions (the left lifts) are higher. The line the female and male bodies create are different, even though both follow the same canons of ballet posing and movement: females more sinuous and slightly curved, males straighter and more angular. Ballet uses those differences to great advantage.

15 Responses to “Why do men run faster than women?”

  1. Frog Says:

    If one is a Trans, trapped in a male body, one could shave one’s legs, pad one’s pectorals, put on a tutu and have at it, to great effect. Except of course in flexibility, which may be a psycho-social female feature as well as a physical one.

  2. parker Says:

    Men are far more fit for tasks requiring strength and speed than women. 73 years ago thousand of young American, British, and Canadian men died on the beaches of Normandy. Many thousands more would die or be wounded in the days ahead. As a social experiment lets bring back the draft, but for females only and see how well that works… but nah, that would destroy the narrative of the pussy hat brigade.

  3. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I have a friend who runs a dance school. For one recital, the senior piece was danced from “Bolero”. I asked where she managed to recruit so many linebackers. She said she got the girls to recruit their boyfriends.
    She said they didn’t “dance”. They were taught to “partner”, and she asked if I had wondered. I hadn’t.
    IMO, they could take that act on the road with its implicit sexuality being obvious, if you can have obvious implicit.

  4. Cornhead Says:

    Story in a CT paper where a freshmen boy ran in the girl’s 100 at the State track meet. I think he won even though only a frosh. He identified as a girl. Much bigger arms and legs.

  5. vanderleun Says:

    Men run faster than women for the same reason men make war.

    Because the women are watching.

  6. vanderleun Says:

    And why are there women’s events at the Olympics?

    Because if there weren’t they’d be no women in the Olympics.

  7. neo-neocon Says:


    Well, there certainly would be women skaters and gymnasts.

    Another reason they have women’s events is that a lot of people actually enjoy the women’s events, because it adds to their viewing pleasure.

  8. Oldflyer Says:

    Hips. My daughter who is a physical therapist and sports medicine graduate talked about the effect of he female hip structure on women athletes a long time ago. Turns out that women are much more prone to knee ligament damage when playing such sports as soccer. There are exercises that girls can do to reduce the risk; unfortunately, not too many youth coaches seem to include them in training. Don’t know about high school and college, but my grand daughter’s teams always seemed to have a higher than normal incidence of injury.

    Grand son and his twin sister ran track in high school and he runs track and cross country in college. The stop watch tells the tale.

  9. Ray Says:

    The feminists claim there are no differences between males and females. Then they spend all their time complaining about male behavior and how they are being oppressed by the evil male patriarchy.

  10. groundhog Says:

    Why do men run faster than women?

    Because they wouldn’t be able to catch one otherwise?

    Woman will change her mind at a moments notice and run off.

    Or maybe it’s my breath.

  11. Zigzag Says:

    As a recent addition to the ranks of MAMILs, it’s very clear from perusing Strava rankings that male and female athletic abilities are two separate distributions.

    Pretty much old hat, but of course becoming more and more dangerous to say it in these insane times.

    Differing biomechanics, biochemistry, larger male chest cavities –> greater VO2Max… must be a whole lot of reasons. And of course none of it matters as long as we stay sane and realise that men and women are different and tend to excel at different things. Nothing wrong with a woman pursuing excellence in (say) cycling… she’s going to be able to thrash some of the left tail men if that amuses her.. ultimately true happiness comes from excellence and doing the best with what one has, not in pointless raging at things baked in by evolution.

  12. John Dough Says:

    Neo, once again you’re confusing the issue with facts

  13. Jamie Says:

    Women’s hips are as they are for the same reason that baby humans are born far more “premature” than other primates: it’s a tradeoff between ordinary survival and the particular adaptations that make humanity so very good at survival. Babies’ heads are as big as they can possibly be without killing their mothers (every time) during birth, and women’s hips are as wide as they can be without making them unable to walk upright. Neither of these things is ideal on its own: babies would be better off if they could be more, well, finished when born, and women would be better off with narrower hips.

    I’m so glad (as a woman with hips and three very healthy children) that recent science is saying that vaginal birth is important for inoculating babies with the proper microbiome, because otherwise my kind would probably go extinct now that we can do Caesarians so reliably. Now, if we start doing C-sections followed by fecal transplants or something, then I despair.

  14. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

    Here is a young woman, who can dance up a storm, while wearing combat boots! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoB4Vkvceo0

  15. GRA Says:

    In my grade school only two girls were rather athletic. They took their sports seriously where one girl’s father ran marathons. They had the best endurance in a group of 20 girls. On the boys side all of the starters on the basketball team ran the annual mile under seven minutes. The two girls probably could’ve kept up with them, but physically they were of little match.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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