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.
Welcome to April! I do hope nobody managed to fool you. The Running Princess is travelling today (no fooling!) so this week’s finds had to be prepared in advance. If there were any brilliant sport/health related April Fools then I’ll bring them to you next week.
I’m going to start this week with a very enjoyable column from last Sunday’s Observer. Written by sports reporter Vassos Alexander, whose exploits I very much enjoy listening to on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show, I found myself laughing out loud at many of his observations with regard to kit and tech obsession (I bet you’ve waved your wrist at the clouds as well in a vain attempt to find a GPS signal!). I’ve been aware for some time that Vassos was writing a book, and after reading this column I’ll definitely be adding that book to my wishlist – I’ll probably be reading it by a pool this summer!
But if, like me, you’re a bit of a slave to technology (I just can’t resist a shiny new gadget!) then the following two articles might be of interest. One, from The Guardian, focuses on the idea of heart rate training and how our use of heart rate monitors may affect our training. The second, from The Atlantic, moves more towards the general idea of measuring any activity and how that impacts on our enjoyment, proposing that the more we quantify an activity, the less likely we may be to enjoy it. It’s an interesting theory, and it’s definitely a good idea to have the occasional run without any tech (not that I’m any good at following that advice!) but for those of us with a goal in mind, those stats can be a crucial part of the process. What are your thoughts?
- Keep Your Ticker Up – The Truth About Heart Rate Monitors
- The Quantified Welp: Measuring An Activity Makes Us Enjoy It Less
Whether you choose to run with or without gadgets, you’ll already be aware of both the physical and mental benefits of getting out there. Now, a new study suggests that the combined forces of running and meditation (both known for their positive impact on mental health) could help to reduce depression when applied as a mental health program. While the study size was small, it makes sense to me that those taking part in two different activities known to reduce stress will experience far fewer symptoms than those who don’t. I’ve never tried any meditation or mindfulness exercises, but those I know who do have reported feeling much calmer as a result. And I certainly know that running helps to still my mind and allow me some space to consider any problems, so why wouldn’t a combination of the two work successfully?
When it comes to the physical benefits of exercise, we’re not just helping our bodies now, but for many years to come. Another recent study found that our muscles work better as we age as a result of regular training. Again, it seems a fairly obvious conclusion to reach, but the difference between the leg muscles of athletes compared to sedentary people was quite staggering, with differences even for those who didn’t begin training until their 50s. That’s good enough for me, even if my legs don’t feel at their best after a long training run!
And finally, if you have a marathon on the horizon and are agonising over what kit to wear, then remember it could be worse: you could be running a marathon in the antarctic. In a giant fleecy penguin suit! I once did a metafit class in a onesie as part of my charity fundraising, but I think I would have to draw the line there. Well done to the intrepid runners who took on this lunacy for charity though.
The Running Princess