Friday Finds – 22nd May

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Sometimes I find that there’s a bit of a theme in the articles I come across in any given week. Recently, with spring marathon season well underway, almost everything I saw was marathon-related; other weeks I can’t move for articles about incredible challenges. This week, it seems, my news feeds have been full of stories of inspiration.

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Following on from last week’s find about the man who cycled from Amsterdam to London on a trike adapted to accommodate his two cats, here’s another animal-related piece. Some of you might already have come across the story about 65 year old Maggie Scorer who is cycling 5000 miles around the coast of the UK for charity. And as if that wasn’t enough, she’s accompanied by her dog Oscar who she tows behind her. Maggie is becoming quite the seasoned “adventurer”, having previously sailed halfway around the world and cycled the Great Wall of China. At an age when many are hoping to retire and settle down for a well-deserved rest, Maggie’s continued commitment to physical challenges and fundraising is an inspiration. I wonder what she’ll do next!

Another fantastic story I came across this week on the BBC has its roots in the 2012 Olympics. At that time, 29 year old Jen Offord was pretty sceptical about sport, but all that was set to change. By the time the last Olympic medal was presented, she was inspired to get active by trying not just one, but all 38 of the women’s olympic sports. Yes, you read that right, 38 sports! Not only does she embody the Olympic legacy to “inspire a generation”, but she’s a shining example of how exercise and a sense of adventure can change your life. Had it not been for this post-Olympic challenge, Jen would still be grinding away in a job she didn’t really like. Instead, she had the confidence to make some huge changes and is now undertaking her next big challenge, a 2500 mile cycle in the USA. Jen is also working hard to raise the profile of women’s sport, something which I am a strong believer in. I wish her luck with her challenge and will be checking in on her blog for updates.

Speaking of Olympics, one of my sporting inspirations is heptathlete (and face of the 2012 Games) Jessica Ennis-Hill, so I was thrilled to see her announce that she will be returning to competition later this month with a bid to accumulate the required number of points she needs in order to defend her Olympic title in Rio next year. There had been some doubt about whether or not she would be ready to compete thanks to a niggling Achilles problem, but following some recent competitions in individual events, the signs are looking positive for a return. It will be great to see Jess competing again and I truly hope her injury woes are behind her now. That said, she has faced injury difficulties before and come back stronger than ever. I think her grit and determination are part of the reason I find her so inspiring and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for a successful comeback.

Another inspirational figure in athletics in Roger Bannister, the first man to break the 4-minute mile in May 1954. An amazing feat in itself, but perhaps even more so when we consider that Bannister was not a professional athlete, but a proud amateur: he was at the time a medical student and ran for recreation. These days, record-breaking athletes train full-time and often have a degree of celebrity status about them, but Bannister is proof that with a bit of determination, anyone can achieve what they set out to do. Much was made of the 60th anniversary of this feat last year, and now Bannister himself has decided to put the shoes he wore on that historic occasion up for auction, with some of the proceeds going to neurological research and other charitable causes. Best hope you win the lottery though, as the shoes are expected to go for a pretty hefty sum!

Finally, one of the most inspiring “fat to fit” stories of recent times is that of Steve Way, whose journey from being an overweight smoker to 2:15 marathoner and 100km record-holder has been well documented. Featured in today’s Guardian running blog, Way chats to Kate Carter and recounts his journey from sofa to ultra runner, offering advice and motivation for the rest of us. I enjoyed reading this as it’s yet another reminder that anything is possible. Way will be running in this year’s Edinburgh marathon and I’ll be hoping to catch a glimpse of him at some point over the weekend to give him a shout of encouragement.

Happy reading
The Running Princess

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