Declines in marathon performance: Sex differences in elite and recreational athletes


The first aim of this study was to determine the age group at which marathon performance declines in top male and female runners and to compare that to the runners of average ability. Another aim of this of this study was to examine the age-related yearly decline in marathon performance between age group winners and the average marathon finisher. Data from the New York (NYC), Boston, and Chicago marathons from 2001–2016 were analyzed. Age, sex, and location were used in multiple linear regression models to determine the rate of decline in marathon times. Winners of each age group were assessed in 5-year increments from 16 through 74 years old (n = 47 per age group). The fastest times were between 25–34 years old, with overall champion males at 28.3 years old, and overall champion females at 30.8 years old (p = 0.004). At 35 years of age up to 74 years of age, female age group winners had a faster yearly decline in marathon finishing times compared to male age group winners, irrespective of marathon location [women = (min:sec) 2:33 per year, n = 336; men = 2:06 per year, n = 373, p < 0.01]. The median times between each age group only slowed beginning at 50 years old, thereafter the decline was similar between both men and women (women = 2:36, n = 140; men = 2:57, n = 150, p = 0.11). The median times were fastest at Boston and similar between Chicago and NYC. In conclusion, the rate of decline at 35 years old up to 74 years old is roughly linear (adjusted r2 = 0.88, p < 0.001) with female age group winners demonstrating 27 s per year greater decline per year compared to male age group winners. 


Autor / Fonte:Gerald S Zavorsky, Kelly A Tomko, James M Smoliga PloS One 2017, 12 (2): e0172121