Friday Finds – 17th July

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.

As runners, we tend to think of Kenya and other East African countries in terms of the great champions that have come from the region. We think of altitude training in Iten. We perhaps even think of Adharanand Finn and his book Running with the Kenyans. What we don’t think about so much, is the fact that this is a very violent area. Last year at least 310 people were killed and over 220,000 had to flea their homes as a result of ongoing conflicts over land, water, cattle and politics. Those who have been successful in the running world see themselves as lucky, and now many such as Paul Tergat, Stephen Kiprotich and even the great Haile Gebreselassie are taking part in an 836km (520 mile) 22 day March for peace. They hope to raise $250,000 to fund a peace-building programme. It’s fantastic to see such a huge effort to make a difference as many of these athletes have been personally affected.

Another Kenyan athlete, Geoffrey Mutai, is featured in this next article from the Financial Times. In it, writer Ed Caesar, extracts from whose book Two Hours featured in a recent Friday Finds post, examines why we are so fond of reading tales about endurance, whether that endurance is a tale of survival, conquering Everest or overcoming adversity to succeed in marathon running. I found this a very interesting read, and plan to read Caesar’s book some time.

I also really enjoyed this piece from The Telegraph, in which Chas Newkey-Burden, a keen and experienced runner, describes what happened when he lost his motivation and stopped running. That’s right, stopped. The dramatic reduction in exercise had a marked impact on him both physically and mentally and, even though he wanted to start running again, found it a struggle. His journey back to running again also offers some sensible tips for those just starting out or perhaps those who might be stuck in a bit of a rut and at risk of losing their running mojo, so it’s well worth a read.

A more “local” story which caught my eye concerns St Andrews Parkrun. I may not have tried this particular event yet, but I have become a regular parkrunner this year and St Andrews is not far from where I work. Parkrun is often hailed as a great success story in encouraging regular participation, and thanks to a recent study about how it could be used to develop that even further, organisers of the St Andrews Parkrun introduced a “first timers” event. Not only was this a great success for the event, but caught the attention of the national organisation so could become a feature across other Parkruns. I think this was a great idea and hope that it brings many more to the Parkrun family.

And finally, you may have previously come across the Epic Challenges team behind Race the Tube. Well, it seems they’ve been at it again, this time racing the DLR in London. It’s always fun to watch the videos of their challenges. Why not take a look?

 Happy reading,

The Running Princess

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