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American Runners Have Never Been Slower article

AaronWebsteyAaronWebstey Administrator, TRS/Baucco Team Member
edited July 17 in Main
https://runrepeat.com/american-runners-have-never-been-slower-mega-study

Also mentioned in WaPo.

The authors of this paper offered me the chance to post about it on the day it was released, but because I am a stupid lazy idiot, I'm just doing it now.

Anybody surprised by this? (the paper, not my stupidity)

Comments

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    MartinMartin Member
    TL;DR, but I'm guessing those TwITs in purple t-shirts that line up in the front paddock of the races have something to do with it. It takes at least 30 to 45 seconds to nudge past them, maybe longer if they are holding hands.
    AaronWebsteyKenElPescadoPelado
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator
    Bring back the 3-hour marathon

    "“First, during the original running boom in the later 70s through the middle 80s essentially athletic men and women “read Runner’s World” and emulated the elites in terms of training and racing patterns and all sorts of people with at least some ability were doing relatively high mileage, high intensity training with specific time goals. Second, as things progressed finishing a marathon became as the late Chris Chataway put it a “suburban Everest”, and there was a profusion of marathon training classes that focused on a kinder gentler approach with lower mileage and less intense training – the goal was to finish, not get close to a personal physiological limit. Third, as a result of the kinder gentler approach a much broader range of body types is now doing races and that coupled with increased population body weight is likely contributing to the slower times. "
    AaronWebsteymbrekk44AlexSMartinrigpigMamaCheetahEvanfyrehaar
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    Tad_MachrowiczTad_Machrowicz Member, TRS/Baucco Team Member, Level 2 Supporter
    Great analysis @Matt . I simply settled on the USA got fat theory, but I do concede it's more complex than that.
    I also thought it may be that I joined running races, and my times are single handedly dragging down the statistics.
    MartinM_WareCraig DrigpigMamaCheetahAaronWebsteyMattKenElPescadoPeladoEvanfyrehaar

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    MamaCheetahMamaCheetah Member, TRS/Baucco Team Member
    More weight = slower times. Yes. Can I get an amen and a duh at the same time ?!

    What about average age ? If the population of endurance athletes is aging it may also cause slower times (also familiar with this one!). Did they talk about age demographic ? I'm old and already can't remember
    M_WareAaronWebsteyCraig DTad_MachrowiczKenElPescadoPeladombrekk44Evan
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    KenElPescadoPeladoKenElPescadoPelado Member, TRS/Baucco Team Member

    I'm old and already can't remember


    @MamaCheetah wanna borrow that book i keep forgetting to read?


    AaronWebsteyMamaCheetah
    Sometimes I tweet... Follow PescadoPelado
  • Options
    It seems that a lot of money and time has been spent to determine "chubby unfit people are run/walking marathons to feel good about themselves and therefore dragging average times down" - which again is a bit duh - as someone who lives on the London marathon course (circa 11miles) I can testify to the number of charity "runners" who certainly aren't pushing themselves to physical limits.

    What I found interesting were the stats on Boston. I was under the impression that everyone that ran Boston had to run the qualifying times ? Now, if you are a 3:05 runner (which is the time for most of the guys I understand) then you don't become a 3:40 runner. Does that mean that either a) lots of people have shit days at Boston? b) there are a disproportionately high number of senior runners? or c) there are a lot of "fake" times. I know there are examples of c) but can't believe that it accounts for that much.
    MamaCheetah
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    Tad_MachrowiczTad_Machrowicz Member, TRS/Baucco Team Member, Level 2 Supporter
    @andrewm88
    About 24,000 of the 30,000 runners are there because their times qualified. So 6000 are there from charity and other priveledged acceptance. I bet this 6000 can skew the aggregate times lots. I'm sure there must be some statistics and graphs out there on the magic web thingy.
    AaronWebsteyfyrehaar

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    MattMatt Member, Administrator
    Boston Qualifying times used to be harder.

    Basically, it was the hardest until 1986, then relaxed when John Hancock started sponsoring the race, which allowed an increase in field size to 10,000.

    Times were relaxed again in 1990 until 2002 when it was relaxed for older runners. In 2013 it was made harder to where the present standards are.
    AaronWebsteyTad_MachrowiczEvan
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    EvanEvan Member, TRS/Baucco Team Member
    i imagine 6,000 charity runners skew the average a ton because if the other 24,000 are running an average of around 3:05, then 6,000 running 4:45 marathons is going to drag that down a lot.

    also, i have to imagine the advent of the "contestants" in Biggest Loser "running marathons" at a 17-hour rate skews the average as well, right?


    AaronWebsteyKenElPescadoPelado


    unofficial non-general counsel for TRS Racing and other TRS-related entities
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    Elaine KElaine K Member, TRS/Baucco Team Member
    andrewm88 said:

    It seems that a lot of money and time has been spent to determine "chubby unfit people are run/walking marathons to feel good about themselves and therefore dragging average times down" - which again is a bit duh - as someone who lives on the London marathon course (circa 11miles) I can testify to the number of charity "runners" who certainly aren't pushing themselves to physical limits.

    What I found interesting were the stats on Boston. I was under the impression that everyone that ran Boston had to run the qualifying times ? Now, if you are a 3:05 runner (which is the time for most of the guys I understand) then you don't become a 3:40 runner. Does that mean that either a) lots of people have shit days at Boston? b) there are a disproportionately high number of senior runners? or c) there are a lot of "fake" times. I know there are examples of c) but can't believe that it accounts for that much.

    I think there's a lot of hype around qualifying. I wonder how many of the people you may see in (a) are really just running for fun, because qualifying was the ultimate goal, not PRing Boston.

    AaronWebsteyfyrehaar
    Tucson, AZ
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    Fair... and as a Brit who lives on the London course, getting the 3:05 for London is my goal and I suspect I would probably wouldn't be fussed about killing myself on London (although ignore all that and add my ego and who knows what would really happen).

    Most of these points probably go to the "urban everest" argument.
    AaronWebsteyfyrehaar
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    What @Elaine K said is true for a lot of Boston qualifiers. Case in point, my father qualified with a 3:18 at Chicago one year, then ran Boston the next (101st, I believe) doing only the requisite training needed to complete the race, where he finished in 3:41. Also, keep in mind that while Boston is a net downhill run of around 300', the final 6 miles are brutal. You can easily add 3 min per mile over that stretch. It's not a particularly fast course with the undulations.
    KenElPescadoPeladofyrehaar
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    MamaCheetahMamaCheetah Member, TRS/Baucco Team Member
    I have run Boston 7 times in the last ~ 15 years or so (humblebrag) .... over that time, the qualifying times have relaxed, the # of waves went from 3 - 4 - so as to expand the field (of non qualifying charity runners, I believe).... oh and most importantly, the conditions on race day have been extreme for many of the recent years: Nor'easter (2008?), to the Africa 90 degree heat (2012?).... I would be interested to see the times if they extract the charity runners. Then I would say the deterioration in times should be proportionally related to the relaxing of the qualifying times.....
    M_WareAaronWebsteyAlexSCraig DTad_Machrowicz
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    KenElPescadoPeladoKenElPescadoPelado Member, TRS/Baucco Team Member
    edited July 18
    Two cases in my immediate circle dragging down the averages:

    - Buddy signed up for a full, trained good enough for a half. Maybe. Literally ran no more than 10 miles. He planned on downgrading to half. Showed up on race day, and I goaded him into finishing what he started. ~6:30.

    - Guy we trained with for an earlier race, who only showed up for 1 or 2 runs, had a brilliant plan for pre-race fueling. Full meal at Wendy's - burger, fries, maybe even a Frosty. Did I mention this was en route to the start line? 3:27:59 - not DFL, but he sure tried.
    MamaCheetahAaronWebsteyMattAlexSfyrehaarCraig D
    Sometimes I tweet... Follow PescadoPelado
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    Kelly O'MaraKelly O'Mara Member, Pro Triathlete
    My understanding from previous research on this was that what's interesting isn't that the average times have dropped -- that's just math, more people do something with more of them being slower, no shit -- but rather that there are literally fewer fast people. There were some numbers at one point, but I'm too lazy to find them now, about how there are literally fewer people running sub 2:40 or "x" time than there were in the 1980s at a given race. Which is not what you would expect from math. More people should at least mean more fast people too??
    KenElPescadoPeladoAaronWebsteyM_Ware
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    @Kelly O'Mara - you assume that there is an even distribution.

    I put to you, people who are going to be fast, either because of innate gifts and/or showing the necessary commitment and desire would be more likely to have run (and been fast) in the 80s (a greater percentage of them would already have been running) therefore the "newcomers" are more likely to be either a) less naturally fit and/or b) less dedicated and committed, therefore c) slower.

    That would explain a lack of increase in fast runners, but not a decrease. The only suggestion I have for that is that the would be fast runners now have more viable options for pursuing fitness and endurance sports (case in point, this forum) but also with increased availability of ultra running, obstacle course racing or even just cross fit so some people who might traditionally have been picked up by running have instead chosen to enter OCRs or triathlons instead of pursuing marathon running. Just a thought, and incredibly difficult to show any meaningful correlation.
    MamaCheetahAaronWebsteyM_WareAlexSKenElPescadoPeladofyrehaarsimonsen77
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    KenElPescadoPeladoKenElPescadoPelado Member, TRS/Baucco Team Member
    @andrewm88 I think you're onto something there. Thanks a lot, Greg Glassman!
    Sometimes I tweet... Follow PescadoPelado
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    Brent_RBrent_R Member, TRS/Baucco Team Member
    The authors cover off the increasing numbers theory, to some extent. They don't deal with age and I think there is likely a reasonable chance that is playi g a role. Anecdotally, it appears a high proportion of previously fast runners are not being replaced at the same age.

    I also wonder about their sample and controls. They are using statistical methods that assume the sample taken is a random one. However, based on the article it appears they are using different races and treating the population as a global one. I would be curious how the statistical tests workout if you randomly selected the same proportion of finishers in each year (say 30%) and then compared the average finish times or created a regression model controlling for age, gender and Year of race and see which factors are most dominant.
    AaronWebsteyfyrehaarsimonsen77MamaCheetahAlexSTad_Machrowicz
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    MamaCheetahMamaCheetah Member, TRS/Baucco Team Member
    @Brent_R , I'm in zone 3 just reading all that ! Too much math is exhausting .... :)
    Tad_MachrowiczM_WareCraig DBrent_R

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