Dr. Sandra Hunter, associate professor of exercise science in the College of Health Sciences, was featured on the New York Times‘ website for her research on marathon performance differences between men and women.
The study, which was published last month in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that during marathons, women pace themselves more evenly than male competitors do. The research team, which also included the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.; and Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., began by gathering data about the finishers at 14 marathons. The researchers wound up with information about 91,929 marathon participants, almost 42 percent of them women. The data covered all adult age groups and a wide range of finishing times.
“We know that at any given exercise intensity, men will burn a greater percentage of carbohydrates for fuel than women,” Hunter said in the article, and women will use more fat. Our bodies, male and female, contain considerably more fat than stored carbohydrates. “So men typically run out of fuel and bonk or hit the wall earlier than women do,” Hunter says.
Hunter, who is world-renowned for her research in age and sex differences in muscle fatigue, recently received two prestigious awards: the John P. Raynor, S.J., Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence, the university’s highest teaching honor, as well as the 2014-15 Way Klingler Fellowship in science. She recently completed gender-based space flight research for NASA and was recently featured in a Runner’s World article on the competitive difference between male and female runners.