Friday Finds – 3rd June

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.

This week there was sad news as the saga of Little Stoke parkrun finally came to an end. Unfortunately, no solution could be found to the decision made by the parish council to charge for the event, which prides itself on being free and accessible to all in 900 locations around the world. Personally, I feel most sad for the Little Stoke parkrun community. Regulars at parkrun soon feel like part of a family, whether running or volunteering, and I’m sure this community will feel the loss of that camaraderie and shared weekly experience. I look forward to parkrun every week and feel sad that for this group, that Saturday morning joy has now been taken away.

Sadly more negativity in the ongoing scandal of doping in sport. Recently we had the news that 23 athletes from the London Olympics in 2012 have failed retrospective drug tests and while the fact that this has come to light is a positive step to cleaning up sport, it is saddening that other athletes could have missed out on their moment of glory thanks to cheats. With the Rio Olympics fast approaching, this is a cloud that continues to hang over sport in general and athletics in particular. It was therefore interesting to read this piece in The Guardian which looked at how doping might be making its way into amateur sport also and examines some of the drivers behind that trend.

This next one is a little odd. Earlier this week, an article in online magazine Slate suggested that running marathons is a pointless and potentially harmful way to spend our time – there was even a second article encouraging people to train for an “anti-marathon” and devote their time to a more meaningful pursuit! Now while taking time each week to learn a foreign language or acquire a new skill is certainly time well spent, the writer of the original article seems to have overlooked all the positives that come from training for and running a marathon. Luckily, a writer at Vox was on hand with a response. Here are links to both. I’d love to know what you think:

One thing that marathon runners tend to demonstrate is grit: the perseverance to keep on going when things get tough. And grit is exactly what psychologist Angela Duckworth examines in her new book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance“. I’ve become aware of a few people reading the book lately and added it to my list to check out over the summer, so it was with some interest that I read a piece by Duckworth on the PBS website. In it, Duckworth suggests that there are times when giving up on a goal is actually wise, but more often we should persevere. It’s not entirely clear under what circumstances quitting would be the best option, but I’m sure that’s something that is covered in the book!

And finally, to finish on a positive note, a reminder that despite any negativity, participation in running is on the rise. In the following two pieces from The Guardian and The Telegraph respectively, two columnists present two different takes on this phenomenon. Gaby Hinsliff looks at what is driving those who take up a sport a little later in life, while Vybarr Cregan-Reid provides a potted history of physical endeavour and attitudes to it. Thankfully things have moved on a bit, in fact participation in lots of physical activity is why this post is so late this week!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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