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.
You’ve probably spotted by now that I love a bit of running-related data. I always find that a bit strange since I’ve always been much stronger on language than maths, yet when that maths has something to do with running, I geek out! So I really enjoyed a recent episode of Marathon Talk featuring Barry Smyth who has done a great deal of work crunching the numbers and drawing conclusions from a huge amount of marathon data. Fascinatingly, it appears to back up all our received wisdom about pacing strategies, the effects of a fast start and running with a pace group. The article below summarises many of his findings (or you can click here to find the original articles for Medium.com).
Also looking at data is this next piece from one of my new favourite sources, Outside. Tackling the age-old question of exactly how tough some outdoor sports are, Dan Roe weighs up a variety of evidence including calories burned, injury rates, fatalities(!) and a bit of expert opinion. I wonder if you can guess which of the five sports chosen came out as toughest? Personally, I was quite surprised by the result!
My next find might be a useful read for those tempted to crawl beneath the duvet and hibernate until spring. While we know the many benefits of exercise, convincing ourselves to get on with it when it’s cold/dark/raining/snowing can be tough, so a reminder of what will happen to our bodies if we stop exercising might be just the motivation we need to get out the door. I’ve always known that a bit of time out leads to a reduction in fitness, but I was surprised at just how quickly some changes begin to manifest themselves. No wonder I get so grumpy when I can’t exercise!
A more scientific find comes from The Guardian this week. We runners will freely admit that we love that great post-run feeling, even when we’ve had a tough session. Matt Wilkinson, author of new book Restless Creatures, discusses the effects of dopamine, the chemical which gives us the “runner’s high”, pointing out that we don’t need to run to get that “hit”: a walk can do just as nicely, particularly since it will remove us from an increasingly tech-driven life. This resonates with me as I have been spending more time walking in recent months and have enjoyed taking in the scenery and simply moving. It’s easy to feel that as runners we should always be running, but sometimes a walk is just the thing to unwind and quiet our minds.
And finally, if yoga is your thing then perhaps you’ve noticed a recent move to create more unusual classes. I’ve seen articles about laughter yoga, goat yoga, horseback yoga, but this week I think I found my favourites: cat yoga and Harry Potter yoga. To be honest, I think my cat is pretty good at yoga anyway – at 16 she’s still fit and flexible – but the idea behind many classes is a good one: shelters partner with yoga studios to raise money and increase cat adoptions. I love the idea of a cat finding its fur-ever home by stretching out on a yoga mat, and frankly I’d be straight there if something like this started near me. And I LOVED the video in the article below. As for Harry Potter yoga… admit it, you know you want to have a go at that!
The Running Princess