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.
It’s been another pretty serious week in the world of sport. Allegations against Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar rumble on, with news organisations continuing to investigate in-depth. Sadly these allegations of doping are casting a shadow over athletics which some have compared to the situation that arose in cycling in light of similar revelations a few years ago. Only time will tell what the full impact of this is going to be, but there are certainly some difficult questions ahead for both the coach and those associated with him, particularly Mo Farah who is increasingly finding himself under scrutiny.
In cycling, too, controversy has arisen this week, this time over the subject of podium girls. A women’s race in Belgium has been overshadowed by the outcry surrounding the use of women in bikinis to greet the podium winners at the end of the race. It both saddens and angers me in equal measure that at a time when many in women’s cycling are looking to bridge the equality gap in road racing, and we are becoming more attuned to instances of everyday sexism in general, that there are still those who think scantily-clad women at the finish of an event is in any way appropriate.
A good news/bad news story this week surrounded gym usage. It seems that for the first time in a decade, the number of people regularly using a gym has fallen. This has led to speculation about the failure of the Olympic legacy of a healthier nation, however it’s not all bad news. The good news to come out of this survey is that we are in the midst of a running boom, with the number of people running regularly increasing by 73% in the same period. What the survey doesn’t reveal, however, is the reason for the shift. Are those who are running more the same people who are going to the gym less, or is it a different group altogether? Is cost a driving factor in the changing fortunes of gyms? Has the rise of parkrun helped motivate more people to run? Sometimes the bald statistics aren’t enough to tell the whole story.
Another study which made the news this week unexpectedly suggested that chocolate may be better for us than previously thought (and not just the high cocoa solids dark variety either). Based on the results of following the snacking habits of 21,000 people over 12 years, the study discovered that those who ate higher amounts of chocolate when they were younger tended to weigh less and exercise more. This also reportedly led to a 25% lower risk of cardiovascular disease as well as reducing stroke risk by 25%. But before you reach for the nearest family-sized bar, consider that once more the numbers might not necessarily tell the whole story, as this writer in The Guardian reminds us. Raw data is great, but often we really do need the finer detail behind the numbers in order to reach an informed conclusion.
On a lighter note, you may already be familiar with the concept of Strava Art, in which users create a picture or message out of their running/cycling route:
Now, budding Strava artists can download an app called Trace which will create a route based on a hand-drawn image. Perfect for those of us who could spend all day staring at a map and still never create a picture out of it! I might even give it a go some time…
And finally, you may have already come across this viral video which has been doing the rounds on social media, but just in case you haven’t, here’s footage from a half marathon in Tennessee where a bluegrass band “heckled” runners and played that well-known music from the movie Deliverance. Something to bear in mind on my forthcoming trip to Florida…!
The Running Princess