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 the week began, the big story remained the naming of Paula Radcliffe as an athlete with so-called “suspicious” blood values in her testing history, a story I covered last week. Over the weekend, the true impact of this on her life became apparent as Radcliffe spoke of the effect this has had on her family. A piece I found useful came from The Guardian‘s Sean Ingle who traced Radcliffe’s career highs and lows, as well as explaining aspects of her physiology and the extent of the challenge that lies ahead of her to clear her name. I continue to believe that she is a clean athlete and hope that she can find a way to prove this.
And last weekend’s Great North Run, while bringing success for Mo Farah, also brought with it further development of the allegations surrounding his coach Alberto Salazar, as Farah confirmed that he would remain loyal to his coach and continue to train with him. Just as I sat down to write this post, it came to light that a UK Athletics investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Salazar. However, the story is far from over as both Steve Magness and Mark Daly, those behind the Panorama documentary which first broke it, have said they stand by their programme and heaped criticism on the UKA investigation. There is also still an investigation underway by US Anti-Doping and findings are yet to be published.
Fortunately, there were other things going on this week which caught my eye away from the ongoing doping issues. Having previously included articles about the benefits of exercise in later life in my posts, I was struck by the video in this BBC story about the National Senior Games in the USA. My favourite part was when the presenter had his fitness age tested and compared that to the fitness age of people almost twice his age. Watch for yourselves to see these incredible athletes, including a 100 year old woman, continuing to compete and keeping healthy.
Also from the BBC, I was taken with the idea behind their article on the concept of ‘marginal gains’. This was the term used by Sir Dave Brailsford to describe the tiny adjustments he made as performance director of British Cycling which, when combined, made significant difference to the success of the team. The article considers how this same approach has been applied in other areas such as healthcare and aviation, as well as how we might apply it ourselves in life.
I was also struck by two different coffee-related stories this week, particularly as I have become increasingly fond of a decent cup of coffee in the morning and have definitely noticed the boost that can give me when running. First up, The Independent reported on the growing obsession with caffeine and the more dangerous effects of extreme consumption. Just two days later, The Guardian carried a report on the impact coffee has on our body clocks, providing an explanation of why I, for one, can’t have caffeine when the clock reads pm! The research findings might prove useful in combating jet lag and I might consider this when travelling long haul in future.
- Thousands overdosing on Caffeine as Coffee Crisis Sparks Call for Urgent Action
- Why Drinking Coffee Can Give You Jet Lag – And Help You Get Over It
But far and away my favourite find from this week is the news that the November issue of Women’s Running (UK) magazine will feature Lindsey Swift as its cover star. You may remember that in August Swift’s open letter to the driver who heckled her during her run went viral. At the end of July, I shared the news that the US edition of the magazine had gained a lot of positive comment for its use of a plus-size model on its cover, an admirable shift away from the typical magazine cover which might suggest that only those who “look the part” should be running. Now the UK edition has followed suit in a bid to show that “one size fits all” is no longer an appropriate approach. Why is this important? The shocking number of women who are put off exercise because of the harassment they encounter whilst doing so, that’s why. The statistics and stories shared in this article on the BBC website show just how prevalent this can be and reminds us why campaigns like This Girl Can are so important. I’m in the fortunate position of not having encountered much heckling during my runs, perhaps because where I live so many people seem to run and cycle, but I can understand how a constant barrage of comments would put someone off lacing up their trainers and getting out there. Perhaps one day the small-minded people who think it’s ok to comment on the shape/clothing/choices of others will get the message that this is not ok, but until then it’s great to see strong women like Swift carrying on and enjoying the amazing things their bodies can do regardless of what others think.
The Running Princess