Re: Maybe I'm Not Too Late For That Elite Athletic Career

1

I just think Gina Kolata is a funny name.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:03 AM
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Beryl Burton, the best woman cyclist in the world from the late fifties until the eighties, beat her daughter Denise at the Olympic trials when Women's cycling became an event in the late seventies. And the best after her retirement, the irascible Jeanne Longo, had a breathtakingly long career of dominance.

Women's sports are still undeveloped enough that they can be dominated by titans, like mcmc's fifty-foot woman—more like 500—and the possibilities of performance and health benefits are just coming into view. If you can, do; so many are held back by culture and early aversions.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:10 AM
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I thought that article was lousy.

The first half was dedicated to explaining that older women run faster than younger women because younger women are afraid to be elite athletes.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:11 AM
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A delicious cocktail of coconut cream, pineapple juice, and gin, Heebie?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:11 AM
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:A delicious cocktail of coconut cream, pineapple juice, and gin, Heebie?

That would be lovely, Snarkie, if you're buying.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:16 AM
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I like imagining Gina Kolata getting caught in the rain.

I bet she hears that a lot.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:18 AM
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Also, Navratilova was beating people much her junior, for years.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:18 AM
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I think the real lesson is that you do not have to be young to be an elite athlete. If you can avoid serious injuries or recover from them, an elite athlete can perform at incredible levels.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:23 AM
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I think the real lesson is about kindness and sharing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:26 AM
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It depresses me that I read this post, and, in the time it took for the comments window to pop up, had an internal monologue almost exactly captured by comments 1, 4, and 6. I need to learn to think more than three moves ahead.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:28 AM
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Kastor, born 1972, Adere, Ndereba, Radcliffe, all 1973. Go win.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:28 AM
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I think the real lesson is about kindness and sharing.

Says the Red Card Queen woman.

I was in college in the 80s. I swam with some serious female athletes. They had no problem with wanting to kick ass, get sweaty, or work hard.

Maybe they were a small percentage of women, but I think the days are mostly gone when women are afraid to be seen as competitive athletes. Have you ever been around triathletes??


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:30 AM
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I don't think I've ever gotten a red card. (Nor do I have a red American Express. And we can't go anywhere exotic.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:32 AM
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So you are a sneaky elbow-into-the-gut player?

On a related note, I have been surprised at how physical water polo is. I'd never really played much before, but wow. I seem to recall Trevor was polo player.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:34 AM
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So you are a sneaky elbow-into-the-gut player?

Only when I'm frustrated because the only player is outplaying me. Then I get super dirty.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:37 AM
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Not only. I meant other. I get frustrated when the other player is outplaying me and I start throwing elbows.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:38 AM
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Gina Kolata and Jimmy Buffett: power couple.

11: 32 is old?

Discus throwers and shot putters routinely compete in their 40s and 50s. Other durable athletes include Kareem, Gordie Howe, and Nolan Ryan. However, those three all lost a lot, but they had been so good that they were still pretty good players.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:43 AM
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It's not just women. Clemens is 45 (but he is on steroids). And Nolan Ryan threw a no-hitter when he was 73 years old.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:50 AM
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Nolan Ryan was overrated (depending on how highly you rate him) because people only look at his strikeouts and not his walks.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:51 AM
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Daniel Shore is like 90 years old.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:52 AM
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He just turned 91. Amazing.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:52 AM
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Larry Bird is 50 and could win the league MVP if he would only suit up again.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:53 AM
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You have look at Ryan's no-hitters, w/d.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:53 AM
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The younger women run slower because they are being oppressed by the matriarchy.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:54 AM
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Prior to last night's awesome match, Fabrice Santoro, at 34, was the oldest man left in men's single's at the U.S. Open.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:54 AM
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There's a 90-y.-o. guy who routinely whips Ogged in the pool, right? Isn't he the same guy who scored the blonde lifeguard Ogged was afraid of?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:55 AM
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19: they only look at his strikeouts?? Not his no-hitters? Or his Wins?

He walked a lot of people. Big deal.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:56 AM
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It turns out to be Daniel Schorr. It seems I've been implicitly denying his J├╝dischkeit all my life!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 6:57 AM
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Go for it. Just wear sunscreen, unlike the woman in the photograph.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 7:00 AM
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Oldfield would smoke a cigarette between throws just to taunt his opponents.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 7:04 AM
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No-hitters are awesome to watch. They nevertheless count as at most one win in your team's column.

Remember all those years where he was the best pitcher is baseball? What's that, you say there was no such year (as measured by an award given out by the sportswriters who loved him)? How odd.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 7:05 AM
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My 41-year old ex-wife runs these ultra-marathons and regularly finishes in the top few of women. She's not nice at all- she spits on younger women as she runs past them....well, ok, not really, but she'd like to.


Posted by: terpbball | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 7:16 AM
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Wiki:

Ryan ranks first all-time in strikeouts (5,714), fewest hits allowed per nine innings (6.56), and no-hitters (7). He is also fifth in innings pitched (5,386), second in games started (773), seventh in shutouts (61) and is tied for 13th in wins (324). Opposing hitters hit only .204 against Ryan during his career.

Fewest hits per nine innings and a .204 opponent batting average are pretty decisive. In any given year there might have been a better pitcher around, but Ryan had a long, consistently good career. He also plated for some weak teams, IIRC.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 7:24 AM
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Tha poor teams are why I didn't cite his so-so win totals in many years against him (wins are a poor way to measure a pitcher's quality because pitcher's don't win games by themselves). The point of having a low batting average against is to keep runners off the bases, if you walk them they're still on base. At some point in this discussion I'm going to have to emphasize the "depending on how highly you rate him" clause, aren't I?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 7:33 AM
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How about when Ryan kicked Robin Ventura's ass when Ventura charged the mound? Classic.


Posted by: terpbball | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 7:34 AM
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Between this, Maureen Dowd, and Laura Sessions Stepp, I want to say that no woman over fifty should be allowed to write about the attitudes of women under thirty.

There was talk when Joan Benoit won the Olympic maraton ('84?) that older women, particularly women who'd had children, gained some long-distance running advantage via hormonal changes. Don't know the state of research now, but I do know that eyeballing a few local race results doesn't tell you anything other than that it's possible to keep running pretty fast even as one ages.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 7:40 AM
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Walks don't produce RBIs.

I just looked at the ERA stats. All but four of the best hundred lifetime ERAs are from before 1950. After 1950 the best are Whitey Ford, Dan Quisenberry, Sandy Koufax, and Ron Perranoski, in that order.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 7:46 AM
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36: Oh, don't be silly. What it tells you is that there's more untapped potential out there among women who aren't elite athletes than men.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 7:57 AM
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The question isn't if walks produce RBIs for the player who gets walked, it's whether they lead to

Looking at career ERA without looking at era/run environment in which the career took place would obviously be a mistake. The first thing I did after posting 19 was look at Ryan's ERA+ for every year.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 7:57 AM
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whether they lead to the player who was walked eventually coming around to score in any manner.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 7:58 AM
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The longer the running event the older the age of winning athletes is true for men as well. Runners move up distances as they age.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:02 AM
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Perhaps "local women's road racing" is not a good place to find elite athletes.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:03 AM
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What it tells you is that there's more untapped potential out there among women who aren't elite athletes than men.

It might tell you that if there were a study that looked at more than a few races (taking into account whether the best women only go to a few prestige races, etc.). It certainly doesn't tell you what she claims, that women are uncomfortable competing.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:03 AM
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It certainly doesn't tell you what she claims, that women are uncomfortable competing.

LB is going to be uncomfortable challenging your assertion.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:10 AM
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I blame the patriarchy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:13 AM
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43: Yes. It's not science, it's anecdote. We can refuse to talk about it on those grounds.

Assuming we're willing to talk about it -- say, imagine a study was done that bears out what the article says: that when you look at races below the elite level, the men's categories tend to slow down with age, while the women's don't. That's interesting, and postulating a biological explanation sounds like bullshit ("No, really -- men age, but women don't! They just naturally get faster as they get older. I think it's because they have hormones and stuff."). Some kind of social explanation seems an awful lot more likely, under the assumption that the pattern exists at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:13 AM
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Here are some plausible explanations from someone on a running board:

20-something women don't train much -- they just get out there and run a race every now and then. We slaughter these types (I'm in a college community so I see this constantly). What do they have to prove? Nothing.
30-something women have very little time to train if they have little kids. I'm not saying it's impossible; it's just much harder to schedule when you MUST be home watching your 2-year-old.
It is a powerful feeling to train up in your 40's and beyond. Amazing what improvement is still possible. I'm running faster than ever (in my life) -- each new PR feeds the addiction.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:17 AM
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47: So what Kolata said. Maybe the article wasn't so terrible.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:18 AM
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Perhaps "local women's road racing" is not a good place to find elite athletes.

In some parts of the country (near good track schools for instance) local road-races are swarming with men and women -- but especially women -- who were only recently elite athletes but are now in careers or having families or whatever. My brother (who's 33) was recently in a smallish Canadian town on business for a couple of weeks and entered some 10k fun run while he was there. He finished before they were done setting up the finish line.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:22 AM
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49 paraconsistent with 47.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:22 AM
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What it tells you is that there's more untapped potential out there among women who aren't elite athletes than men.

Agreed with this. I don't see many women hitting the weights, or fooling around with sleds, hill sprints, or the other techniques that are commonly used to increase strength and power. I do see quite a few women doing slow longer distance running, but I don't recall ever seeing a woman who isn't obviously on the local University team pushing themselves. I expect this is cultural.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:25 AM
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Back on the veldt, women mostly watched TV, gossiped, and buffed their nails while competing for the sexual favors of the fierce Paleolithic Tucker Carlsons.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:29 AM
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College aged women who want to compete at an elite level are typically on their college team.

So, the women who are not on their college team are typically not going to be as interested in doing high level training. That doesn't mean that they are not working out hard. Just that their goals are different.

I thought the article just didnt fit well together. I would agree with LB's point that perhaps more men than women get closer to their athletic potential.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:34 AM
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So, the women who are not on their college team are typically not going to be as interested in doing high level training. That doesn't mean that they are not working out hard. Just that their goals are different.

What's socially interesting is why the pattern is different for men than for women -- why do you get young men training hard for races, even at a non-elite level (and by 'training hard' I just mean 'training hard enough that older men mostly can't overcome the advantages of youth by training harder'), and women less so, and why does that pattern change as women get older? I don't know what the answers are, but they're interesting social questions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:38 AM
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no woman over fifty should be allowed to write about the attitudes of women under thirty.

Shut up, Ogged.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:44 AM
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why do you get young men training hard for races, even at a non-elite level ... and women less so

I'm not sure that's necessary. It may be that male performance drops off a cliff as we age. That's actually pretty easy for me to imagine. There are legions of stories about young athletes who have shit training habits and who can get away with it. Those athletes change their habits not to beat their younger selves but to minimize the loss of athleticism to age.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:45 AM
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And women's bodies are just incomparably different because we have hormones?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:46 AM
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55: "Ogged" s/b "hooker".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:48 AM
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And women's bodies are just incomparably different because we have hormones?

No, because you have boobies.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:50 AM
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And hoo-hoos!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:50 AM
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57: Men have hormones, too. Wives-tales knowledge tells me that the sexes veer toward some indistinct middle as they get older. I seem to recall that as men age, testosterone and other hormones go down, and that those hormones are important in building the muscles for competition.

Alternatively, maybe the young men are pushing themselves much harder at a younger age--there's more competition, so you have to work harder--and so they have just done more damage to their bodies by the time they're older.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:51 AM
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I suspect that typical male athletic performance relies more on strength than typical female athletic performance.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:51 AM
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In general atheletes in endurance sports last longer than athletes in power sports; reaction time and fast-twitch muscle strength matter less, mental toughness matters more.

But, totally, patriarchy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:55 AM
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Also it really isn't that different for men's sports, if you look at men's sports (like, say, cross country skiing) that pull from a smaller pool of athletes. Men's distance running is all kinds of skewed by, e.g. fast-as-shit Kenyans, but when you talk about things like ultramarathons there's a lot wider age range.

... wow, ass, how'd you learn to talk all fancy-like?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 8:58 AM
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I'm mainly being ornery first because it's my essential nature, but also because of this:

A lot of women hang back, often because they are embarrassed to be out there with the men, acting like determined athletes, Ms. Wittenberg said.

Go perpetuate your stupid victim stereotypes somewhere else, Ms. Wittenberg, you pansy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:01 AM
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Even today's undetectable steroids cannot compare to these results.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:05 AM
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So, we can't talk about the possibility that social forces inhibit young women from competing aggressively, even when we've got strongly suggestive evidence that that's the case, because it would be insulting. If we don't pay attention to it or talk about it, it's not happening.

Great.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:06 AM
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66 makes no sense, but I'm not going to bother fixing it because it wouldn't have made much sense anyway.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:06 AM
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SCMT: Linford Christie won a European gold medal in the 100m sprint when he was 34 and got to the Olympic final 2 years later (and was disqualified after two false starts). It seems to be that people get burned out from the grind required to stay at elite level well before performance is significantly affected by age.

LB: In another thread you said do deadlifts etc. Why are you not afraid to lift weights properly? How do you female friends react to this? That might gain us some understanding of the social issues at work.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:09 AM
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So, we can't talk about the possibility that social forces inhibit young women from competing aggressively, even when we've got strongly suggestive evidence that that's the case, because it would be insulting

I think the disagreement is with "strongly suggestive." Certainly, I'd think it was counterintuitive to think that you were more likely to find a more robust internalized "oppression of teh patriarchy" in young women than in old women. That's not, on the whole, what I seem to see in the rest of life.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:10 AM
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I agree with 70. This only applies to the society I live in, of course.

In my high school all the most popular and attractive girls had giant thighs because they were all on the soccer or field-hockey teams. Shattering boundaries!


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:12 AM
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LB, you irascible lawyer-type, you know that's not what I'm saying; the explanations I quote in 47 are social explanations that don't rely on the implausible and tiresome claim that women are embarrassed to compete


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:12 AM
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mental toughness

I should have mentioned this point. My personal experience is that mental toughness is a greater factor in elite female athletes than elite male athletes.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:13 AM
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70 was me.

SCMT: Linford Christie won a European gold medal in the 100m sprint when he was 34 and got to the Olympic final 2 years later (and was disqualified after two false starts).

You've got to be kidding me.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:13 AM
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Pretty much all normal people (i.e. non-professionals) never reach their physical peak (as limited by VO2Max) in endurance sports. It would take about 10 years of serious, professional-level training. I have been racing bikes for 6 years, and I think I could significantly improve for the next 10 years. I think it's unlikely I will ever be limited by my VO2Max, but rather my time to train and improve my functional threshold (i.e. the power than I can sustain for about an hour). That should really be the point of the article. Older women can kick ass in endurance sports later on in life because they probably have finished raised their kids and have time to train significantly (at least 12 hours per week for cycling or running). Also, endurance sports have little to do with mental toughness (unless you consider mental toughness the desire to train). Everyone is ultimately limited by their body. There is no mind over body. You can only do what you can do.


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:13 AM
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72: That doesn't seem all that different from this:

20-something women don't train much -- they just get out there and run a race every now and then. We slaughter these types (I'm in a college community so I see this constantly). What do they have to prove? Nothing.

I mean, it's a statement that young women just aren't competitive compared to older women, not a theory as to why, but it's certainly not incompatible. I'm not committed to the characterization 'embarrassment', but there's something going on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:14 AM
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even when we've got strongly suggestive evidence that that's the case

Where was this evidence again? That is the lamest evidence I've ever seen.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:14 AM
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74: taking steroids to stay on top is consistent with "the grind required to stay at elite level" which burns people out.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:14 AM
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SCMT: Irrelevant. If you think Linford was using drugs, do you really think the opposition wasn't?


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:15 AM
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I'm not committed to the characterization 'embarrassment', but there's something going on.

Comity, babe.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:16 AM
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Also, endurance sports have little to do with mental toughness (unless you consider mental toughness the desire to train). Everyone is ultimately limited by their body. There is no mind over body. You can only do what you can do.

That is ridiculous. Of course, everyone is limited by their body, but whether you reach the full potential of your body is largely determined by your mental toughness.

Mental toughness has everything to do with endurance sports.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:17 AM
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77: Are you not willing to accept that the pattern described -- of male performance in road racing smoothly declining with age, while female performance doesn't -- exists at all without more systematic data analysis? Because that would be reasonable; I'm talking about it under the assumption the pattern exists.

Or are you arguing that even if it does exist, it doesn't suggest anything?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:19 AM
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If it exists, it is suggestive of something, but not necessarily that younger women are afraid of being seen as athletes.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:23 AM
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The "embarrassed to compete" angle just irritates me. Why can't they say, "40-somethings sometimes discover new aspects of themselves. Since fewer women exercise competitively in their 20's than men, more women than men discover for the first time that they enjoy competition when they're in their 40's."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:25 AM
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Nope, but that's one possibility. What are your thoughts for some others?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:26 AM
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84: Yeah, I'm still interested in why fewer, and why more women get into it as they get older.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:29 AM
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The squat, clean and jerk, and snatch just sound unladylike. They have to be rebranded, like kiwi fruit, rape oil, and the broad jump (which also sounds unladylike).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:32 AM
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I'd guess that the pool of women competitors is more (I'm sure there's some better statistical term here) polarized than that of men, by which I mean that there are fewer "pretty serious" runners among the women than the men, with the serious younger women skipping local events and running bigger races, maybe professionally, and then a bunch of women who are dabbling running local races, opening things up to anyone who isn't too old to train harder and do better, relatively speaking. (I'm sorry that that's a jumble.) The cause of that phenomenon is probably that athletic activity is much less a part of women's identity than it is for men, so fewer women train, and fewer train hard, and that's due to plain old "boys run around, girls play dress up" sexism.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:34 AM
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I think snatch sounds lady-like.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:34 AM
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79: I think there's a biomechanical limit to any sport, particularly something like sprinting. No one--I believe--thinks that we'll see a sub-5 100 if only we pump enough Clear into an athlete. Instead, athletes supplement and substitute steroids for naturally occurring hormones that, I believe, decrease with age, with the intent of producing the best version of that specific athlete possible. So steroid-Lindsey gets to run as an enhanced 24 year-old, and steroid-24 year-old gets to run as an enhanced 24 year-old. My belief is that the benefit of steroids accrues primarily to older athlete.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:34 AM
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It seems to me that there's a woman's weightlifting comedy routine there for the taking.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:36 AM
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How about, there's a slice of girls who would have enjoyed playing competitive sports growing up, but didn't play because they needed some extra encouragement. The corresponding slice of boys got that encouragement.

This slice of girls gets slowly chipped away over the next 30+ years.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:37 AM
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Back in the uphill-both-ways-in-the-snow era, there were effectively no sports for women here except a couple of dance / gymnastics type things. One of my sisters was pretty pissed at the time. By now it's changed and my son's school competed better in girls' sports than in boys'.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:40 AM
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Hopefully, but it's worth noting that we're looking at today's twenty-year olds who apparently didn't get that encouragement. This can't be dismissed as a fossil issue, like "Why aren't there more female CEO's? Because they started their careers thirty years ago, when attitudes were different."

These are women in their twenties now, who aren't keeping up with their mothers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:40 AM
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(I'm sure there's some better statistical term here) polarized

bimodal? high-standard-deviation-ish?

87: I can see where kiwi fruits LOOK unladylike, with all that unsightly hair, but what's wrong with the name?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:41 AM
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96

That's simple, LB. Steroids.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:41 AM
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97

88: Alternatively, because of the entrenched sexism of various beauty regimes, you find more women taking care of their bodies into old age than men, who, by reunion anecdote, all go to seed. So there are more women who were not particularly athletic growing up but remain well-positioned to get into athletics in their forties. It's hard to motivate to drop the 25 lbs around your waist before you really start focusing on improving your running times; there may be a larger pool of women forty year-olds who don't need to drop that 25 lbs.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:41 AM
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98

94 to 92.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:41 AM
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99

They used to be "Chinese gooseberries". Rape oil is now canola oil.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:42 AM
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100

I dunno. I'm just annoyed by "embarrassed to compete."

I'd buy that some women develop a competitive side, the older that they get, but not that they were suppressing it all along.

Also, I do think that girls today are not encouraged to be as competitive as boys, and that this gap has probably held steady since the 80's.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:44 AM
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101

100 to 94.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:45 AM
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102

As I'm sure we're all aware, Nordic Great Plains hero Baldur Stefansson led the research that created canola oil, from a new breed of rapeseed that had not existed before.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:46 AM
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Re: Wikipedia on Baldur Stefansson

In 1998 he was awarded the Order of the Buffalo Hunt, one of Manitoba's highest honours.

Awe-some!


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:50 AM
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It could be just basic sexism, that younger women are too interested in looking pretty to want to compete, but I think there's way too many other factors, especially since girls in their twenties did have opportunities for sports as kids.

First question I'd want to have answered: is it just the top times in the 40-49 age group that beat the 20-24s, or is the median time faster, too? If just the former, then 88 sounds about right: if you're going to enter a race in your forties, you're going to be very driven. If the latter, too, I'd start to wonder if there isn't more to the story.

Even so, I think there's a few more things to consider before buying the explanation that 25 year olds don't like to compete. Some suggestions: a) childbearing years b) professional development years c) having been competitive athletes as children, they get bored with competing in their twenties because winning a master's event isn't as cool as training for the high school championship.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:53 AM
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I'm not sure things are as different in the men's category as this discussion suggests. I don't know about times, but if you look at numbers registered, the (trail, not road) races I've done in the last few years had lots more competitors in the 40 and 50 year categories than 20 and 30 somethings. The competition looks fiercer in the older categories because there are lots more men with time and inclination to devote to the sport.


Posted by: cw | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:55 AM
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b) professional development years c) having been competitive athletes as children, they get bored with competing in their twenties because winning a master's event isn't as cool as training for the high school championship.

Shouldn't these two drop out as an explanation for a difference with male athletes?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:57 AM
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CW is correct. Some of the issue is just elite athletes returning to competition when they have more time. The 20 and 30 yr olds often are busy starting jobs or families or posting on blogs.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 9:58 AM
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First, will's right; mental strength is of utmost importance in running, especially distance running.

Second, I cringed when I saw the word "embarrassed" in Ms. Wittenberg's response. But based on observations of my fellow runners, I think she's dead on. I know many fast women who are afraid to go all out, not because they are embarrassed to be with men, but for one of two other reasons. Either they are more afraid to bonk, or they are afraid to actively display their competitiveness (sometimes this is because they are afraid to bonk). In a sense this is due to "embarrassment", in the sense of "I will be really embarrassed if I compete and fail, so therefore I will act casual", but not in the clearly ludicrous sense that it appears from her first quote.

This is sometimes quite irritating because you eventually begin to believe their protestations that they aren't really that good. Then you get in a race with them and they kick your ass. And you say "Nice job kicking my ass" and they say "Oh I just got lucky" or something equally self-effacing and irritating.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 10:00 AM
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In a sense this is due to "embarrassment", in the sense of "I will be really embarrassed if I compete and fail, so therefore I will act casual",

Yeah, I've got that, and certainly did as a younger woman. Not an athlete, and very inhibited by the prospect of looking ridiculous for pretending I was.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 10:03 AM
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Either they are more afraid to bonk, or they are afraid to actively display their competitiveness (sometimes this is because they are afraid to bonk). In a sense this is due to "embarrassment", in the sense of "I will be really embarrassed if I compete and fail, so therefore I will act casual", but not in the clearly ludicrous sense that it appears from her first quote.

I agree that a greater percentage of women than men suffer from these two issues.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 10:08 AM
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It's really a shame when women are afraid to bonk.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 10:09 AM
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What do you mean by 'bonk'? I presume you aren't using it in the British sense? Because bonking in that sense during a race would certainly explain the performance differential.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 10:10 AM
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I was interpreting "embarrassed" to mean, "I don't want to look dishevelled, so I shall exercise with prissy restraint". These other explanations don't irk me so much.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 10:12 AM
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114

To "bonk" is to suddenly run out of energy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 10:12 AM
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115

It's an endurance athletics term -- the thing that happens to you around mile 22 in a marathon where you completely run out of energy. (People who actually run marathons can explain it better.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 10:13 AM
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It's what's known as a paronomasia, Tannargramatt.

I am using it in the British sense, but F was using it in this sense.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 10:13 AM
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You run out of sugar. It sucks.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 10:14 AM
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I think British "bonk" became American "boink", but ogged has explained it. There was an ad campaign a little while ago called "Don't Bonk" that would probably have been amusing to you.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 10:16 AM
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119

No sugar tonight in my coffee
No sugar tonight in my tea
No sugar to stand beside me
No sugar to run with me


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 10:16 AM
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120

re: 115

Ah, here they refer to that as 'the wall'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 10:37 AM
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121

Hitting the wall.


Posted by: joe dokes | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 11:40 AM
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here they refer to that as 'the wall'.

Here too.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 11:46 AM
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God, the video in 121 made me really emotional to watch.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 11:48 AM
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Sports will make you cry. The Derek Redmond thing still brings a tear to my eye.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 11:54 AM
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121: I saw someone do this in a 5k race too, so it's not just a distance thing. It was really scary to watch, because both motor control and higher mental function completely shut down. But there is still some instinct to finish that drives them onward.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 11:55 AM
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Watching this might have been the most patriotic I ever felt about an athletic event.

That's right Communists, our NERDS wearing HATS are better athletes than your steroidal cyborgs. Hooah!


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 12:00 PM
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Shouldn't these two drop out as an explanation for a difference with male athletes?

I think very similar factors affect men, but because there are more men playing sports quasi-seriously in the first place, the effect is muted. I bet ogged is more excited about maybe competing in a master's than anyone who was third-string on Cala U's team.

Here's the situation I'm imagining. Ex recto, but what the hell. Take two twenty-something girls. One never ran, and one competed and trained seriously in college (but was never elite.) The first girl starts running at age 22. She's slow because she's new to the sport. But she's eager to compete because the local fun run is really an achievement for her.

The second girl has retired from competing, And when she competed, even if she was a long shot, it was for noteworthy prizes. She's also not training as much as she used to, so compared with her earlier times, she's not in her 'condition.' Now, if she runs, she's running 'for fun', not to try to win the local 10K fun run after trying to get to Nationals. It's a pale shadow of what she used to do. Of course, 20 years later, she decides what the hell, let's see what I can do. And now she's competing against the first girl, whose times have steadily improved with 20 years of practice. And their times are compared with the slow fun-runners in their twenties.

I'd bet there's a similar effect in guys' divisions, with twenty-something guys dropping out and weekend-warrioring it later in their forties, but due to the higher participation of men in sports, you're likely to pick up more talented 20-something runners even if the elite ones are still cooling their heels.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 3:40 PM
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This guy is as close as I have to an athletic hero. Older and fatter than I am (OK, not by much, and not so fat when training hard) and still beats guys half his age, especially in the big races. Normally I'm not wild about brash, trash-talky types, but I make exceptions for South Africans because they're mostly nuts to begin with.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08-31-07 7:43 PM
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129

Realistic(?) target from somebody I used to know as a student.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 09- 3-07 2:36 AM
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Catching up after the weekend: My stepmother won her share of races, usually in her age group, in her 20s and 30s, but it was after she turned 40 and began competing in Ironman triathlons that she really hit paydirt. She's been winning races overall for several years, and is generally just awesome. She attributes it to training and to increased endurance.


Posted by: hermit greg | Link to this comment | 09- 4-07 7:24 AM
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