Look at how long-distance runners are built and compare it to a sprinter. A hulking frame with lots of type 2 muscle fiber will make for a terrible long-distance runner, a lanky and type 1 fiber dominated frame will be left in the dust in a sprint. That cited study proves precisely nothing, all-in-all, I would personally call it merely cherrypicking, and even that would be a kindness.
Yeah, this is something that's always looked a bit weird to me. Sprinters are just your sterotypical athletes. Big and strong. While professional marathon runners look anorexic or something.
Anorexic might be pushing it, but they certainly have thinner and more gangly bodies and overall body types. The biological advantage of women in endurance becomes more apparent as the distance increase, the male tendency to burn more intensely leads to greater overall pace and longer strides at the same height but it comes at the expense of fuel consumption.
If we look at the above mentioned Kenenisa Bekele, we can read that he stands about 165 centimeters tall and weighs about 56 kilos, his best marathon time is 2:01:41 (second fastest ever, only two seconds behind the fastest ever). The best female is Brigid Kosgei, she stands 170 centimeters tall and weighs 50 kilos, her best time is 2:14:04.
Now, we can see that the male is faster, but there are interesting things to note here, namely that despite Bekele being a full 5 centimeters shorter (roughly two inches), he still weighs 6 kilos more (about 12%), which shows us that his mass to height is much greater. Knowing that average females hold more subcutaneous fat than average males, one can also conclude that the majority of this weight difference is from lean mass of skeletal muscle mass. Furthermore, we know that most of this mass sits on the torso and upper extremities. And then we see the times themselves, the difference is around the 10% mark.
The world record 10.000-meter times are respectively 26:17:53 and 29:17:45 for men and women, this is about 11% difference.
World record 5000-meter time is respectively 12:37 and 14:11 for men and women, which is about 14% or so.
World record 3000-meter time is respectively 7:20:67 and 8:06:11 for men and women, which is about 12%.
World record 2000-meter time is respectively 4:44:79 and 5:23:75 for men and women, this is a large difference of around 18-19% and we're seeing how it plays on the strength of the male physiology, compared to a marathon, the advantage in percentage is nearly double.
World record 1500 meter time is respectively 3:26:00 and 3:50:07, which is around 15%, still a large advantage, but now we're approaching distances short enough that the distance itself limits the maximum advantage one can obtain. The trend is still the same though.
On the flip side, we can note that the fastest 100 kilometers ever by men and women differs by only about 6%, 6:09:14 versus 6:33:11, a third of the difference in 2000 meter, half that of 3000 meters and less than half of 5000 meters. And this is also taking into consideration that the male stride is generally longer and the average pace higher. The trend is quite clear. Due to the female physiology and its knack for ultra-endurance, one would also see that the female recovers more quickly from such events. Another big challenge when carrying more average muscle regardless of its composition (slow or fast-twitch) is the excess production of lactic acid.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4285578/ - This is a decent and informative study on muscular endurance, it shows that the performance level in the male muscle drops significantly faster over a given period of time. This is usually down to simple exertion of a larger mass of fibers costing more but also ties into the varying metabolic and chemical factors int the male and female body overall. This is a good read for anyone wanting to learn more about the things I mentioned above. Edit; let's not forget the relative cost of limbic contraction and motion as limbs grow longer and heavier.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5349856/ - Another one, this one is more careful in its abstract but still support the notions that specifically running and cycling are where skeletal muscle differences and other mechanical and chemical factors come in (they appear to be mostly mechanical though, which strongly supports the notion that a biological male physique holds a significant advantage in explosive athleticism and a similar disadvantage in ultra-endurance).
https://www.triathlete.com/culture/study-women-muscular-endurance-men/ - This references a study. Mind you, this study is a very small sample size and the method is purely that of limbic contraction of the muscle to reach a conclusion, but the trend is the exact same; men produce more power from the beginning, but fatigue and drop exponentially more in power.
Last edited by Mummelmann - on 05 July 2020
As I mentioned in my original post, in a discussion specifically about retained and transferable athletic advantages for a biological male transitioning to female (or simply identifying as such), using an area where females hold a natural advantage (perhaps the only area, save for some possible counts of flexibility) to make a point is immensely counter-productive. I don't really care all that much about Rowling or the people who either support or condemn her, but in the sports debate on transgender issues, there's a lot of silly reasoning going on and it's by far the toughest stance to defend overall due to the overwhelming evidence that the average advantage gained would be unfair. Of course, grievance studies disregard science all day long, it's even a necessity for their theories to even be applicable, to begin with.