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Gender differences

The Trotters assembled in Yarramalong before running the
28km to Somersby.

In a perfect world, today's Terrigal Trotters trail run from Yarramalong to Somersby would have been my last hit out before the Six Foot Track 45km trail race in two weeks time, where I had given myself some chance of breaking the 60+ age group record.  Alas, it's not a perfect world, but I still enjoyed following my club-mates during their run.

I had time to walk into a few locations and take photos, so racked up a couple of kilometres on a very humid and occasionally showery day.  Some of the walking involved significant climbs and there was no recurrence of my heart arrhythmia, giving me more confidence that last Monday's DC Cardioversion is doing the job.  Running in the next Trotters' trail run in five weeks time, even if slowly, may even be a possibility.

The runners approach the top of
Bumble Hill.

About fifty runners turned out today, and for the first time in fifteen or so of these runs, a female was the first person home.  It wasn't a race as such, but most of the runners try hard, and Melissa not only finished first, but also looked the freshest.  She is an up and coming distance runner, and already one of Australia's best adventure racers.

Her club-mates were pleased, but maybe not surprised, to see her do so well, and the run got me thinking about the differences I have observed between the genders in the way they train and race.  I'm generalising - it's more shades of grey than sharp contrast - and I am not suggesting Melissa is an exemplar.

Melissa nears the finish in Somersby.

Firstly, men tend towards overconfidence, while women seem often to lack belief in their running ability.  It's not uncommon to see men enter events for which they are under-prepared, believing that everything will work out, and finding otherwise.  On the other hand, females tend to underestimate their capabilities, and this perspective leads to more methodical and cautious preparation and planning for their big events.  I don't think it's fear of failure, more that they want to give themselves every chance of success by preparing properly.

The same gender characteristics also show up in races.  Males frequently start too fast, with visions of glory, or through fear of being left behind, or both, while females tend to start more conservatively, mindful of the distance ahead, and seem better at maintaining a steady pace and sticking to their race plans.

These differences may account for at least part of the observed convergence between female and male performances in races as the distances get longer.