Friday Finds – 30th October

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/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 start of the new school term and the start of a new training programme combined to blindside me a bit this week with regards to the time I had available to blog. As a result, this week’s Friday Finds will be Saturday Stories since I’ve ended up publishing late. But never mind – better late than never as they say!

Very topical for the first week of term when returning to my work routine is a bit of a shock to the system, is this article from The Independent which reports on a new study comparing sleep levels in “pre-industrial” societies to our modern society. Since the “pre-industrial” societies were chosen to represent, as closely as possible, our ancestors, the idea was to compare modern sleep habits to those in the past. Interestingly, the findings suggest that we’re not getting particularly less sleep than our ancestors. This has led some to question the link between lack of sleep and obesity, however to me there are far more factors to consider. All that was compared was sleep habits, but almost every other aspect of our lives is different now, from stress levels to activity levels and from eating habits to technology. All of these combined have led to a reduction in fitness levels across much of the population and surely adding in less quality sleep must have a bearing on our overall health? I’d love to know what you think about this one…

Another interesting study I came across this week focused on how to achieve goals. Research shows that those who monitor their progress are much more likely to be successful in achieving their goal. Both recording that progress and making it public were also found to lead to success. This makes sense. We’re often encouraged to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound). For that goal to be measurable and time-bound, regular monitoring must be part of the process. Furthermore, these days I see a lot of people (and I include myself in this) using blogs and social media to declare a goal. By making that goal public, we feel much more accountable and are more likely to not only work hard to achieve it, but to share our progress towards it. This may read as one of those studies that just confirms what we already know, but it’s a worthwhile reminder of how we can make sure we achieve that goal, whatever it may be.

Turning our attention to sport, an eye-opening story for me was the news that UK Anti-Doping could have its budget dramatically reduced. In all honesty, I’d never really considered where UKAD got its funding from so it was news to me to learn that it is predominantly funded by the government. In a time of austerity when the public sector is facing constant cuts, I can certainly understand UKAD also being included in this, however it will be interesting to see how things unfold as a result. The article makes clear that without a sizeable budget, UKAD simply wouldn’t be able to continue drug tests in their current form. Would there be a reduction in tests? Could alternative funding be found? Or will we find sport suffering further given the recent widespread claims of doping? Only time will tell.

A cause close to my heart is to encourage more girls to take up sport. Talking to pupils in the classroom, I tend to find far more boys than girls involved in sport and this observation is consistently borne out by research. So it’s great to see one of my sporting inspirations, Jessica Ennis-Hill, working to encourage more girls to take up sport. The facts and figures in the article below set out some quite worrying statistics with regard to girls and sport, particularly when it comes to confidence, yet confidence can really be boosted by being involved in sport. I know there’s no magic potion or silver bullet that will solve the issue of girls lacking confidence and not being as prepared as boys to get involved in sport, but I do think that having a greater number of positive female role models, such as Ennis-Hill, would really help.

And finally, with the release of Spectre this week there have been many Bond-related stories. If you fancy yourself as the next Bond, then the BBC has helpfully shared some of the training Daniel Craig undertook to get in shape for the role. If you watch it while sipping a martini (shaken, not stirred, of course!) then you’re practically there! đŸ˜‰

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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