New tool could keep young male runners on track

Published: 4 November 2015 at 09:47

Marathan Runners

Data behind Anglia Ruskin’s marathon calculator shows older females are best at pacing

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The world’s first marathon pacing calculator is being launched by sports scientists at Anglia Ruskin University on 4 November – and it should prove particularly useful for young male runners.

By inputting age, experience and target time, the calculator will generate a personalised pacing strategy for the race.

Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences teamed up with online running magazine The Flying Runner to recruit almost 800 runners who took part in the 2015 Virgin London Marathon.

By studying their performances based on their predicted times, the scientists found that older females are the best at pacing themselves and young males are the worst. However, every runner who took part in the study was slower than their predicted time.

Females aged between 70-79 years of age were only 31 seconds slower than predicted while the worst, males aged under 20, missed their target time by a staggering 20.2 minutes.

And as might be expected, experience matters. Marathon “first timers” missed their prediction by an average of 11.15 minutes, while those who had run at least five marathons were only 49 seconds slower than their predicted time.

Also, faster runners are more accurate, with the quickest 5% missing their prediction time by just 71 seconds, while the slowest 5% missed their time by an incredible 47 minutes.

Dr Dan Gordon is the Principal Lecturer in Sport and Exercise at Anglia Ruskin who led the research. He said: “This is a unique study and the development of the pacing tool will help athletes and coaches better understand pacing and also provide them with a personalised pacing strategy for the race.

“A runner’s performance depends on how they cope, interpret and react to the sensations from a series of biological, emotional and environmental sources. Essentially pacing is dependent on a runner’s ability to cope with the sensations of pain and fatigue.
“Marathon running is one of the biggest mass participation sports on the planet, and the sum of money raised at London alone this year was in excess of £22million.
“This means there are hundreds of thousands of athletes and fun runners who want to complete the distance, but do so safely and without suffering too much pain and discomfort.”

The launch event and seminar is taking place at Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge campus on Wednesday, 4 November (7-9pm). The event is free to attend but booking is recommended by registering here.