Friday Finds – 26th August

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.

With the last firework set off, the venues emptied and the athletes back home, it’s finally time to close the door on the Rio Olympics and turn my attention back to other topics for Friday Finds. Believe it or not, I have stored up one or two other things to share with you lately, so it’s probably going to be a fairly interesting mixture!

Let’s open up with a bit of science. Genetic engineering is a topic that brings with it a host of arguments, and I have to say I’m not yet sure how I feel about it myself. On the one hand, the chance to eradicate disease and suffering is tempting, but on the other hand we must question the ethics of “interfering” with nature. But if we imagined for a moment that we did go down that path, what would humans be able to achieve? What abilities would people have? We’ve already seen amazing feats and world records being set this month, but the author of this first article I’d like to share argues that we’ve barely scratched the surface, and that genetic engineering would result in a whole new level of athletic superstar as we continue to push the limits of human endurance. It may all sound rather futuristic, but perhaps the future is not as far away as we imagine…

Next up, something for those of us who’d love to push ourselves a bit further without any genetic modifications. Studies have shown that our athletic endurance is governed by our perception of effort, meaning it’s our brains that put the brakes on when it believes we’ve done enough rather than our bodies. Scientists have now been studying how we can “trick” our brains and keep going. It’s an intriguing idea and may work for some, but I’m not sure if it would be right for me. I know I’m prone to injury and have to listen carefully to what both my body and my brain are telling me when it comes to training. I think I would have to be very careful about how I incorporated anything like this into my training or racing.

And now something of interest to anyone who regularly suffers from blisters. It’s not something I often have a problem with, although I have found the odd post-marathon blister, but I know many people do tend to get blisters despite changing their socks, trying different shoes and slathering their feet in various lotions and potions. But as it turns out, according to Athletics Weekly, the answer is simple paper tape. Apparently just a thin strip of tape can make the difference between miles of hobbling along with that telltale stinging sensation of a nice, new blister, and finishing in comfort. Perhaps one to try on your next long run…

This next one is really cool. At least, I find it really cool! Using the idea of the heatmap which has become so familiar from apps such as Strava, one group has been working on creating what they call “the ultimate route discovery tool”. Using data from runs in Paris (another reason I like this one!) they broke the runs down into time of day and whether it was the weekend or a weekday. Users can manipulate that data to reveal running routes by distance or time of day, look for a running track or even find new green spaces to visit. I’m always looking for new ideas to vary my routes a bit, so this really appeals to me and I’d love to see other places featured.

And finally, here’s a fun piece from Active.Com showing how running can sneak into our personal lives. To be honest, I was nodding at almost every single one so there’s a good chance you’ll recognise yourself in here somewhere. If you’ve ever gone home early because you had a long run the next day, or received nothing but running-related gifts for Christmas, then this one’s for you…!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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