Friday Finds – 26th June

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.

The biggest story in athletics continues to be that of Alberto Salazar and the doping allegations against him. Hardly a day goes by without yet another story hitting the headlines, culminating this week with his long-awaited response to the allegations. Not only does he refute the claims made against him, but also uses the almost 12,000 word statement (summarised in The Guardian here) to include supporting evidence. Clearly this is a story that is set to run for some time, especially with the news that the USADA will now be conducting its own investigation, and there may still be difficult times ahead for many.

And in the wake of last week’s stories of Mo Farah missing a doping test when he failed to hear his doorbell (and some other athletes telling of near-misses), now cyclist Chris Froome has shared his experience of missing a test when on holiday in Italy this year thanks to some over-zealous hotel staff. This admission has led former heptathlete Kelly Sotherton to call for greater “openness” about missed tests, while revealing that she also missed two tests during her career.

I also found it helpful to read this BBC piece which not only explains the ‘whereabouts’ system which is used for drugs testing in sport, but also documents the experiences of their chief sports writer when he spent a month on the system. From his account, it’s easy to see how mistakes might happen in times of stress or emergency, even for the most organised of people. That said, when it is your “job” to be tested regularly, it should theoretically become an ingrained part of an athlete’s lifestyle. Still, we’re only human and mistakes can happen.

A more uplifting story this week is that of US teenager Candace Hill whose time over 100m has set a new world youth record. Not only is this a new record, but her time would have seen her finish 7th in the women’s final at the 2012 Olympic Games. Definitely one to look out for in the future!

Another superb performance came from BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin who has qualified to represent Great Britain in the Age-Group Triathlon Team. She will head to Chicago for the ITU World Triathlon Championships in September. I remember hearing Minchin being interviewed on the radio a few weeks ago and was struck by how down to earth she was about her training. She only took up the sport of triathlon a couple of years ago and I felt it was easy to relate to her tales of fitting in training around a busy work and family schedule, as well as overcoming fears and making mistakes as she found her way into a new sport. I wish her the very best for September.

This week’s inspiration comes in the form of Michael Westphal, a 58 year old carpenter, whose time of 3:32:56 has earned him a place in the Boston Marathon. Why is that inspirational? Because Westphal, a keen runner until about 20 years ago, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2006 and believed he would never run again. Now, he not only has his BQ, but he has also raised around $32,800 for the Michael J Fox Foundation, roughly $1200 per mile! An incredible achievement.

Those of us who find our inspiration in movies may be interested to read that the much-loved classic Chariots of Fire is set to have a sequel thanks to Chinese backers. Hands up who now has that iconic theme tune in their head!

And finally, if you’ve ever cycled past a fast-food establishment and lamented the fact that you fancied a burger but had no way to carry it, then McDonalds has come up with a solution: the McBike. Originally created as part of a one-day event, but now possibly being trialled in Amsterdam and Tokyo, McBike offers a handlebar-friendly way to carry your Big Mac meal home. I’m not sure how this particularly encourages a healthier lifestyle, but I still found the concept amusing. I wouldn’t recommend trying to eat the meal whilst cycling though!

Happy reading
The Running Princess

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