Friday Finds – 4th September

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 beginning of this week also marked the end of the World Championships in Beijing (and the start of Lord Coe’s presidency of the IAAF). I loved being able to settle down each evening and catch up on the day’s actions, so I’ll admit to feeling a little bereft that it’s over now and am already looking forward to next year’s Olympics in Rio. It was a Championships full of excitement, yet never quite free of the shadow cast by recent doping allegations. One of Team GB’s biggest stars was Mo Farah, who completed a historic triple double by taking the gold in both the 10,000m and the 5000m. Some say that he’s not really being “challenged” enough in races at the moment, but at the same time these were not easy wins. A great piece discussing exactly what goes into such medal-winning performances was written by Tom Fordyce for the BBC:

I also found it interesting to read this post-Worlds article by Sean Ingle in The Guardian regarding Justin Gatlin. As I mentioned in last week’s post, the Gatlin camp was unhappy with the treatment he received in the media throughout the Championships, with much of the criticism centring on his actions on returning to competition after his doping ban. Much is revealed which had previously not been public knowledge, and addresses some of the issues pundits and commentators were raising when reporting on the action in Beijing:

Away from the World Championships, a number of other stories have caught my eye this week. First up, this call-to-action on obesity, featured in The Telegraph. I find it intriguing that recent research suggests that first-born children are more likely to be obese. Unfortunately, no reason behind this is suggested (although the writer does offer some ideas). Obesity is one of those stories that’s always in the news these days and, as this writer suggests, it’s time we stopped analysing the problem and started taking some action. Finding the most successful course of action, however, is not necessarily an easy task.

Part of the solution is, of course, increased exercise, and this week several newspapers carried news of further research suggesting that moderate exercise – which can equate to a brisk 25 minute walk every day – can add up to seven years to your life. And, as previous research has suggested, it’s never too late to start exercising as those who begin at 70 are less likely to develop a type of heart condition that affects 10% of people over 80. The bottom line is that the more active you are, the more benefit you will reap. Best keep running then!

And speaking of running, another report this week explained some of the science behind the runner’s high – leptin. Actually low levels of leptin, a “fat hormone” that tells you when you’re full of food, which reportedly contributes to our motivation to run. The research suggests that low levels of leptin, which triggers the urge to eat, can also trigger the desire to run. If you like your explanations particularly scientific, then check out the report on PBS Newshour; if you prefer the science simplified a bit (like me!) then I found the story in The Washington Post much more accessible.

The research keeps on coming this week, and my attention was also caught by confirmation that those who don’t get enough sleep are more susceptible to catching colds. At first glance it seems like one of those bits of research that seems rather obvious, but I’ve had first-hand experience of this recently, hence my interest. Ordinarily, I’m not prone to catching colds, but following a particularly difficult few days when circumstances led to me not sleeping terribly well, I succumbed to a cold. That cold led to a few days off running which added to my misery. Thankfully I’ve now recovered and can get back to training again. I’ll also be stocking up on hand sanitiser!

And finally, anyone training for an endurance event (or who has previously trained for one) might find this short piece from The Guardian of interest. In it, writer Rose Gamble reflects on her first marathon experience and shares what she has learned about building the required mental toughness for such events. I certainly recognise some of these experiences from my own, and there are some valuable reminders here for us all.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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