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.
I hadn’t planned to mention the ongoing story surrounding allegations of doping in athletics this week as it has featured regularly since the story first broke back in June, but the past few days have brought with them a development that cannot be ignored. This week, Paula Radcliffe, one of my sporting inspirations, found herself the subject of media scrutiny.
In case you missed the story, following a session of a parliamentary select committee on doping in sport, Radcliffe felt herself to have been “effectively implicated” (although not specifically named) as the prominent British athlete who had recorded “suspicious” blood data (referenced when the original story broke). As a result, Radcliffe released a comprehensive statement accounting for the nature of the tests and resultant blood values.
Of course there have also been a number of articles published in the subsequent days, some of which I include below. Paula Radcliffe has long been an inspirational figure for me, and I for one believe strongly that she is a clean athlete, hence why I have chosen to devote so much blog space to this. She has campaigned for years to weed out cheats and has called for more lengthy bans. It’s sad that now her name has been connected with these allegations. Despite the fact that her “suspicious” data can be adequately accounted for and has given no cause for further investigation by any sporting body, there will be some who begin to look on her achievements with cynicism. Are we now to live in a world where any top class achievement will be tainted by suspicion of doping? I do hope not.
Further reading on this story
- Paula Radclffe Denies Cheating in Any Form After Allusions in Parliament (also contains some video footage of both the parliamentary session and Radcliffe’s response)
- Paula Radcliffe Comes Out Fighting After Doping Allegations Finally Emerge (a useful follow-up piece by Sean Ingle)
- I Was Paula Radcliffe’s Physical Therapist and I’d Bet My Life She’s Clean (a strong statement in support of Radcliffe)
- Paula Radcliffe: Only Shock is Former Marathon Champion Kept Quiet For So Long (one commentator’s assessment of how Radcliffe has handled the situation)
- Paula Radcliffe Says She Had No Choice But to Respond to Doping Allegations (a comprehensive roundup of the story, including Radcliffe’s statement and her athletics history)
- Paula Radcliffe Defends Herself Against Claims of Doping, but Does it Stand Up to Scrutiny? (an explanation of the blood data and the factors which might cause variance)
- Paula Radcliffe: Pressure to Release Blood Data ‘Almost Abusive’ (includes interview footage)
Away from the omnipresent shadow of doping, some other stories did catch my eye this week. First up, some recent research into what runners think about when they’re running. In a study, which was discussed on a recent episode of the Marathon Talk podcast, runners training for a half or full marathon were provided with small microphones and asked to verbalise their thoughts throughout a training run. It’s an interesting concept, and the results reveal that most runners tend to ponder the dame things – pace, distance, discomfort, their surroundings, etc. Sounds like my average long run!
- Study Examines What Marathon Runners Think About
- What Real People Think About When They Run (a fun companion piece from The Huffington Post)
Next up, my attention was caught by this piece published via The Guardian which discusses some of the benefits sport can provide for achievement and behaviour. As a teacher, I certainly agree that increased activity can have a positive impact across the curriculum and on a personal level I know that I am much better at thinking and problem-solving when I have exercised. This article by Matthew Jenkin provides a useful summary of what research tells us:
I was also interested in the results of a study into the impact of intense activity (such as a marathon) on the immune system. Findings are that extremely intense exercise can suppress the immune system and leave us susceptible to colds and infections. I’m certainly very aware of this throughout my training and tend to be careful about protecting myself from illness (this usually involves making sure I get enough sleep and using lots of hand sanitiser!) as well as making sure I take the time to recover properly so as not to become unwell. This research serves as a good reminder of how our bodies are impacted.
In a similar vein, this piece in The Huffington Post sets out an all-too-familiar scenario – ignoring a niggle/running through pain and ending up with an injury. Injury is something I’ve experienced and spent a good part of last year unable to run. Like the writer of this article, I turned to the bike and discovered enjoyment in cycling. It’s easy to get so caught up in our training programmes that we would rather risk injury than take a day off. What I’ve learned (the hard way!) is that a day or two off is far preferable to months on the injury bench, and this piece definitely supports that!
And finally, if you need a bit of cheer after all that, then meet Klinger, the first certified running guide dog. Klinger is part of a pilot programme exploring the use of running guide dogs to help visually impaired athletes run more safely. A great idea and something that could make a massive difference to those whose sight problems may be keeping them from being active.
The Running Princess