Friday Finds – 11th December

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.

If you’re anything like me, then Saturday just wouldn’t be Saturday without parkrun. I only discovered the joys of the free, weekly, timed 5k this year, but I quickly became an aficionado and often refer to Saturday as Parkrunday now (Sunday, by the same token, is Runday!). I’m well on my way to my first milestone T-shirt and love heading along on a Saturday morning to catch up with my “parkrun family”. Of course what is now very much a routine for tens of thousands of people worldwide was all started by Paul Sinton-Hewitt a little over a decade ago when just 13 people turned up at Bushy Park, and has grown into the phenomenon it is today. Because of my parkrun love, I enjoyed reading this interview with Paul SInton-Hewitt in today’s Guardian and hope you will too.

While parkrun has undoubtedly contributed to the rise in popularity of running, it has been widely publicised that fewer women take part in sport regularly than men. It was this worrying information that gave rise to the #thisgirlcan campaign, of which I am a big fan, earlier this year. I wrote back in January that I hoped the campaign would encourage more women to get active, so I was heartened to read this week that there has indeed been a rise in female participation in sport. Even better news is that athletics (mainly running) is the second most popular sport for women after swimming, and the numbers are continuing to rise. This article from the BBC has all the details:

And as an addendum to that, the pleasing news that Scottish people are more physically active than the rest of the UK (although there remains room for improvement). Not bad for a nation associated with deep fried Mars bars and unhealthy choices!

Returning to another recent theme, a couple of weeks ago I shared an article about the rise of fitness tracking technology, and just last week I shared the news that sales of fitness trackers are on the rise. But is there always a place for technology in our runs? I’ll admit to being one of those runners who always has some kind of gadget on me, but acknowledge that sometimes it’s good just to run without a watch/phone/iPod. Nowhere is this more true than out on the trails, often the location of ultra marathons. Bearing in mind that many people choose these runs to connect with nature, is that connection still taking place if they’re constantly distracted by tech? These ideas, and others, are explored in this article originally published in Trail Runner magazine.

And speaking of ultra marathons, according to research published in New Scientist, it seems that the brains of those taking on these events temporarily shrink by around 6%. The reason for this isn’t clear just yet, however the article does stress that these effects are temporary. But this only seems to affect those running ultra distances, giving rise to one of my favourite phrases in the piece: “people who run normal marathons won’t experience the same degradation”. Not often you see the words “normal” and “marathon” in the same sentence!

And finally, some good news for those of us looking forward to a festive tipple over the coming weeks: it seems that champagne can have positive effects on our memories due to its phenol content. Of course, I wouldn’t test this out by drinking a whole bottle as this may in fact have the opposite effect, but I’m sure a little wouldn’t do any harm…

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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