Friday Finds – 20th May

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.

It’s been a busy week for me with a couple of days away from my usual work base and a hotel stay (not the norm in my job!), but you’ll be pleased to know I’ve still found some interesting reads for you. As has happened a few times recently, it will be a bit of a mixture but there should be something here to interest you.

I’m going to start with a response to the Wall Street Journal article I shared a couple of weeks ago about the impact millennials have had on running. That article suggested a decline in participation (based on US statistics) and painted a rather gloomy picture of the future. But perhaps it doesn’t have to be that way. In the article below for Competitor, Susan Lacke argues that perhaps millennials have had a positive impact on sport and that the future of running might be all the better for it. There is also a link to an interesting Washington Post report from earlier this year that offers a contradictory view of attitudes to running among millennials. Sometimes it can be fascinating to look at alternative interpretations of statistics – after all, we’re all individuals, not numbers on a spreadsheet!

Next, a rather more controversial topic: the issue of runners wearing headphones during races. Now I’m happy to admit that I listen to music while I run, including in races, however I only ever have one side in and keep the volume low so I can hear everything that’s happening around me (none of my running earphones are noise-reducing). Apart from the safety issue, I just don’t like overwhelming my sense of hearing as I feel too cut off from the world and vulnerable. Race packs often advise against running with music from a safety point of view, but it seems that things may now be going a bit further as 48 participants in a recent 10k race were disqualified for wearing headphones. I can quite understand where the organisers are coming from, but can also understand the frustration of those who were disqualified, so it will be interesting to see if this features more prominently in other events now. What are your thoughts on running/racing with headphones?

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal has been at it again, this time with statistics about female participation. Although again based on US statistics, it was still heartening to learn that the number of female race finishers now outnumbers the male finishers. Regular readers will know that I feel very strongly about increasing female participation, so I would love to know if this trend holds true here in the UK as well. There’s quite a lot in this piece as the writer tries to account for this increase (apparently Oprah Winfrey had a hand in it!) but it’s probably less about one sole factor and more a combination of many things such as better kit, a range of running groups and positive role models. Whatever the reason, it’s great progress for women’s running.

One thing that can inspire people to take up running is spectating at a race. It’s a time when you see humanity at its finest, especially in marathons, and I enjoyed this piece from The Irish Times which delves into that very topic. Reading this reminded me of my trip to London in 2009 to support Steve in the marathon. At that time I was only just progressing towards my first 10k and completely in awe of those who could run 26.2 miles (42.2k). By the time I had spent hours cheering from the sidelines and soaking up the atmosphere, I had realised that all sorts of people ran marathons and that they were no different from me. A year later, I ran my very first marathon and it changed my life!

And finally, as a card-carrying member of the parkrun fan club, I was glad to see that the recent publicity surrounding Little Stoke has done little to damage the event as a whole with the news that there are now one million registered participants in the UK. If you haven’t tried it yet (or haven’t been for a while) why not get back down to your local park tomorrow and join in (but make sure you remember your barcode!).

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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