Friday Finds – 31st 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.

There have been a number of uplifting stories around this week, and given the miserable weather we’ve been having here in the UK (where I live we’ve experienced a massive  225% of the average July rainfall!) a few uplifting stories seem to be in order!

First up, a story I came across a few weeks ago about James Lawrence (aka Iron Cowboy) who had come up with the astonishing challenge of completing 50 Ironman triathlons in 50 US states over 50 consecutive days. Yes, you did read that right! Last weekend Lawrence completed the challenge in his home state of Utah, bringing him to a total of 120 miles swum, 5600 miles cycled and 1310 miles run in less than 2 months! Along the way he raised $68,000 for charities aiming to build dams in Africa and also to raise awareness of childhood obesity. I couldn’t begin to imagine taking on even one Ironman triathlon, so this is a quite phenomenal challenge and incredible feat of endurance. Well done Iron Cowboy!

Next up, the story of charity runner Iva Barr, who was the oldest female participant in this year’s London Marathon. Now 87, Barr took up running when she was 55 and over the last 30 years has raised over £10,000 for charity. Her efforts have been recognised through the Point of Light award, which is given to those who have made a change in their community and inspired others through voluntary work and fundraising. I suspect she’s not quite done yet though, as Barr plans to keep on running until she’s 90. I hope I can keep running for that long too!

Which leads nicely to this interesting piece in The New York Times about older athletes. It seems that studies show the fitness age of such athletes to be a whopping 20 years younger than their chronological age! Apparently, at any given age fit people are relatively younger than those who are unfit. And given that some of the athletes participating in the study didn’t take up exercise until later in life, this is yet another clear inspiration for anyone to get out there and start exercising as it CAN make a difference, regardless of age. I’m all for encouraging more people to exercise, and hopefully having access to more information like this might help.

But by far my favourite story this week is that of Bailey Matthews, an 8 year old boy with cerebral palsy. Bailey became interested in athletics after his dad began pushing him around their local parkrun course, before adapting a walking frame for Bailey to get around the course himself. Soon, Bailey wanted to try a triathlon and began training on a bike fitted with special stabilisers and swimming locally. And last weekend this inspirational boy completed the Castle Howard triathlon, casting aside his walking frame to run the final metres unaided. The determination of this young boy is one of the most inspirational things I’ve read lately and a reminder that we can ALL overcome our limitations and achieve great things.

And if, like me, you’ve also considered giving triathlon a go, then you might enjoy this piece from The Guardian in which runner Ben Thomas explains some of the ways in which training to swim-bike-run could benefit your running. We all know that cross training is beneficial but often fall into the trap of believing that the only way to improve our running is to run, an approach that all too often results in burn-out or injury. I certainly enjoy my time in the pool or the saddle and it’s good to know I can still get a decent workout even when I need to ease off the running.

Happy reading
The Running Princess

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