If the thought of running just over 26 miles doesn’t appeal to you from a health or mental endurance standpoint, there’s still something that may motivate you to take up long distance running and training for a marathon: studies show you’ll get more dates and/or perform better in bed.
Yes, it is true: women are innately attracted to marathon runners. Something else, in case you didn’t know: Marathon runners are likely to have higher sperm counts. This may relate back to the need for hunters and gatherers, and the hunters had to run often and steadily to get their meat. The survival of the fittest, if you will. Researchers at the University of Cambridge say that artful runners are likely to have ancestors who were excellent at hunting, and the long-distance aspect is what counts — endurance is more valuable than speed when it comes to tracking down your food in the wild. With these type of men much sought after in our past, their superior genes have been passed on down through the generations, and women still can biologically pick them up, even if it is subconsciously. This is where pheromones may enter the picture.
The study followed 542 runners participating in the Robin Hood marathon in Nottingham in the U.K., with both finish times and finger length recorded. It was noted that those with a ring finger longer than their index finger had better endurance — the theory is that they were exposed to more testosterone in the womb, and as a result of high testosterone, they enjoy an increased sperm count, higher sex drive, better cardiovascular health (and less chance of having a heart attack) and a greater likelihood of showing masculine characteristics like deep voices, facial hair, and broad shoulders. That’s why these characteristics innately appeal to women — it is all about procreation in the end. (All of you are now studying your ring and index fingers, admit it.)
Dr. Danny Longman, one of the co-authors of the study, explains why this is of evolutionary importance.
“The observation that endurance running ability is connected to reproductive potential in men suggests women in our hunter-gatherer past were able to observe running as a signal for a good breeding partner. Humans are hopeless sprinters, but are fantastically efficient long-distance runners, comparable to wolves and wild coyotes. We sweat when most animals would overheat and our tendons and posture are designed to propel our next strides. There was likely a selective pressure for all these benefits during our evolution.”
Of interest, one need not be young to throw off this amazing testosterone vibe. The average age of the male marathon runner in the U.S. is 40-years-old.