Friday Finds – 17th 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.

Thank goodness it’s Friday! The first week of term is always a bit of a shock to the system and I’m definitely ready for the weekend! Time to get things started with the articles that have caught my eye this week.

You might remember that last weekend I took part in the Great Perthshire Tattie Run – lugging a sack of spuds around a course of just under a mile. Part of the race “swag” was to keep our potatoes, so Steve and I have ended up with quite a lot of spuds to get through (we’re willing to share if you need any potatoes 😂). I actually couldn’t believe it when this first piece showed up in my inbox during the course of the week – a great encouragement to include potatoes with pretty much all our meals for the foreseeable future!

On a rather more jaw-dropping note, did you see the European Championship women’s marathon? Winner Volha Mazuronak experienced the stuff of anxiety dreams when she not only suffered a nose bleed (and ran much of the race covered in blood!) but took a wrong turn and had to backtrack before finally crossing the finish line in first place. Some real grit and determination there.

Also catching my eye in today’s edition of The Guardian was this piece about Ethiopian runners. Writer Michael Crawley, who is currently writing a book on the subject, reveals some of the things he discovered whilst in Ethiopia and explains why there’s more to the success of runners from the country than living at altitude and seeking a way out of poverty. A very interesting read.

An entertaining piece I came across was this one, in which the writer marvels at the results of a survey that suggest people are more intimidated by organising their home than training for a marathon. The writer is definitely having a tough time training for her first marathon, however I may actually agree with the survey participants – I would much rather go for a long run than tidy out my kitchen cupboards! What about you?

And finally, something to listen to this week. In my last Podcast Picks post I highlighted Running 4 Real as one of my favourites, and this week I’m thrilled to have featured in the episode – fame at last!! You can access the episode via the link below (I’m around 33:15 but please do listen to all the other amazing guests and their stories). It’s a little cringe-y hearing my own voice, but I’m putting myself out there and sharing the episode – please be kind!

Happy reading (and listening!),
The Running Princess

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Friday Finds – 10th 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.

I’m not sure how it happened, but it’s the last Friday of the summer holidays. I was just getting nicely settled into my summer routine (to be fair, mainly watching the kittens, but they answer back waaaaay less than your average teenager!) and now reality is threatening to force its way back in. Oh well, I suppose it couldn’t last forever. Let’s kick off this final weekend of freedom with a few interesting bits and pieces I’ve found this week.

First, a couple of pieces from Alex Hutchinson’s Sweat Science column. I’m currently reading Hutchinson’s book Endure and am finding it fascinating to learn more about the impact of our brains on our endurance. In this column (also featured in The Guardian today) he examines how emotional intelligence can impact on our performance. The key finding looked at is the notion that emotional intelligence can be a better predictor of race times than training. Could it really be true?

The second Sweat Science column looks at how a machine was used to differentiate between “competitive” and “recreational” runners. While those labels may not necessarily be helpful, the results from the machine were interesting in identifying aspects of stride patterns which could be used to learn more about (and perhaps prevent) injuries. Anyone else now wondering what the machine would say about their running form?

Still in a scientific vein, this piece from Canadian Running magazine looks at the link between athletic success and academic success. Do athletes perform well academically because running improves their cognition, or is good academic performance a result of positive habits and mindset brought to studying from training? What do you think?

Moving on, I also came across this report on a US study into the effects of exercise on mental health. There have been so many studies now looking at various physical and mental benefits of exercise, but this seems to be the biggest such study to date. What was interesting here was that team sports seemed to have the most positive impact. While running is more of a solo pursuit, there are plenty of opportunities to spend time with others e.g. on group runs or taking part in parkrun. Whatever your choice, regular exercise definitely seems to make a difference to our mental health as well as improving our physical health.

And finally, I do love when people create their own quirky events and challenges, so this last story caught my eye. Readers in the UK will no doubt know of the bakery chain Greggs, well-known for its sausage rolls, but it’s not normally somewhere we would associate with healthy living. Enter a group of students who have taken their love of Greggs to a whole new level by plotting their own marathon route taking in every branch of the bakery chain in Newcastle to raise money for charity. That’s a lot of sausage rolls!

Happ reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 3rd 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.

Friday? I swear I only just wrote a Friday post a couple of days ago! Time definitely speeds up towards the end of the summer holidays! The week has clearly gone by in a blur but I’ve still got a few articles to share with you…

First, an update on the I Move London relay which I mentioned in last week’s post. This was a Guinness World Record attempt and at the beginning of the week the relay ended successfully by setting a new world record. It must have been an amazing thing to take part in/support. I wish it had been a bit closer to me so I could have been involved.

Speaking of records, I also spotted this crazy story from the US. A runner got stung on the mouth during an ultra yet still went on to not only win the race, but actually beat the course record…set by Scott Jurek!

Something that appealed to the tech geek side of me was the news that an app allowed runners in the recent San Franciso marathon to visualise the course ahead of the race. This app went further than looking at a map (that’s meaningless unless you know the area) and seeing an elevation graph, this actually let runners see how wide the street was and if there might be any obstacles like bollards or other potential hazards they should avoid. Being able to visualise a race is a great way to mentally prepare, so anything that might add further detail sounds like a potentially useful tool. Would you use it?

On a lighter note, I enjoyed this piece from Canadian Running in which readers reveal their experiences of running helping them out in their day to day lives. Several of these made me smile. Do you have any similar stories?

And finally, it’s a cute story about a dog! I love reading stories where animals randomly join in a race and I’m certain that there will be a long line of people wanting to adopt this particular pup now that he’s completed a half marathon and been awarded a medal!

Happy reading!
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 27th July

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.

How can it be Friday again already? It feels like no time at all since I last wrote a Friday Finds post, yet here we are again. I’ve had a pretty chilled week and am looking forward to a weekend of running and yoga. Hope you have some great plans too.

Let’s begin this week by returning to the Nike 4% shoes that I included last week. Unsurprisingly, the revelation that the claims of a 4% improvement in performance may actually be true have attracted a lot of commentary, so I wanted to share a couple of other pieces I came across this week which look at the shoes from a more wary standpoint. First, Sean Ingle from The Guardian considers how fair the shoes are in terms of creating a level playing field, then Brian Dalek (I wonder if he likes Dr Who?) writing for Runner’s World discusses what is holding him back from trying them himself. Interesting food for thought.

Sticking with Runner’s World for now, and an update on a challenge I first mentioned on here back in April. Peter Thompson set out with the aim of running the entire Tour de France route and finishing ahead of the cyclists. Well he’s only gone and done it – and 3 days ahead of schedule! That’s a remarkable feat and I’m sure we’ve not heard the last of Thompson!

Speaking of challenges, those of you who are avid parkrunners may have come across this intriguing notion – 2 parkruns on the same day. Yes, it is possible in many areas to do two on New Year’s Day, but this challenge is a little more complex involving flights, the international date line and a lot of determination. Anyone up for it?

Speaking of challenges, I also came across this great idea for creating a challenge much closer to home. It’s a fantastic reminder than we don’t have to travel great distances or spend lots of money to create a new challenge – we can simply look to what’s around us and get creative.

And finally, you may have heard about the I Move London relay which is taking place this month as an attempt to set a new world record for the longest non-stop relay, but you perhaps didn’t hear about the “divine” intervention that took place a few days ago. Relay runner Max Livingstone-Learmonth chased down and stopped a purse snatcher – all while dressed as a bishop. I think my favourite part of this is that not only did our hero apprehend a criminal, but he kept hold of the relay baton the whole time. Brilliant!

Happy Reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 20th July

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.

Hola! Friday once again (edit: it’s now Saturday – blame the jet lag!) and this time I’m back home in Scotland. It’s kind of weird to think that just a couple of days ago I was in the Florida sunshine! It was a great holiday and I hope you’ve had a great week. Let’s kick off the weekend with a few interesting articles…

First up, an interesting story about prize money as one ultramarathon is offering a financial incentive to set a new course record. As the article notes, money is likely to either motivate more people to enter, or provide a strong reason to train hard. But could it also lead to more underhand methods of performing well, something that so far seems to have stayed out of such events? What are your thoughts?

Related to this, Martin Fritz Huber’s piece for Outside examining why we attach such importance to time “barriers”. It’s funny how we can become obsessed with these times, whether elite or not – note that recreational runners who are close to a time e.g. 4 hours in the marathon are recorded as slowing less than others during the final kilometres. From my own experience in Stirling earlier this year, I can see how that would be true as I pushed on when in the past, with any hope of the time gone, I definitely slowed more. Times certainly aren’t important to everyone, but to those for whom they are, it’s easy to become obsessed!

And on the subject of time, I was intrigued by this piece from The New York Times about the Nike Vaporfly 4% shoes. From their analysis of Strava data, it seems that the claims of a 4% improvement in race times may actually be accurate, and for me, that could equate to shaving around 8 minutes off my marathon time! Of course that only works if a) you can actually get hold of a pair of the shoes, b) are prepared to pay the hefty price tag and c) they actually suit you, but that’s mere detail! I must admit, I’d be interested in trying a pair on to see how they feel.

Another interesting study came from the IAAF who analysed biomechanical data from the 2017 World Championships in London. It’s fascinating to read about the differences between and within athletes which lead to their success and I’d love to learn even more about this.

And finally, since it was World Emoji Day earlier in the week, Canadian Running magazine put together a week of marathon training in emojis. Sunday definitely looks like my favourite. What’s yours?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 13th July

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.

How is it Friday again! If I’ve got this right, while this post is going live, I’m out enjoying myself in the playground of a certain Mr M. Mouse so I hope you’ve been having an awesome week too. Here are some bits and pieces that have caught my eye to share with you.

I think we have to start with Kilian Jornet who has been making history again. Not content with last year’s double-summit of Everest, he has now smashed the 36 year old record for running the Bob Graham round. The man is unbelievable!

A thought-provoking piece next as Martin Fritz Huber, writing for Outside, considers the fairness of elite runners racing in prototype shoes. This comes in the wake of an announcement that will require athletic footwear worn in races to be available to the general public, and points out various key occasions on which races were won by athletes wearing prototype shoes (and therefore not freely available to others). I’d love to know your thoughts on this one.

I also enjoyed this short piece published by Medium about how it feels when everything clicks into place. Yes, there are plenty of days when running feels hard, but those effortless days are why we keep on getting out there chasing those moments. When did you last feel this way?

Something I found interesting was this article in Runner’s World about injury risk. I know it’s something that’s studied frequently, and for the most part there is no clear correlation between injury and factors such as foot “type” or foot strike. This study actually found a correlation, at least among the study participants, between injury rates and what is termed “peak braking force” or the horizontal (rather than vertical) forces your body has to contend with whilst running. These days I tend not to put too much stock in these kinds of studies as they all seem so subjective, but nonetheless it is an interesting observation.

And finally, since we’re on a slightly scientific topic, here’s a column from Alex Hutchinson considering mental fatigue. I never used to give this a great deal of thought, but since reading more about the importance of sleep (and recognising my own mental fatigue at particular points in the school year) I have considered this a bit more. It’s why I back off a bit in the last weeks of the school year as I knew I was mentally fatigued and that my body would not differentiate between the mental and physical stress, leaving me more open to a niggle. An interesting point raised here, however, is that training for an endurance event could also be considered endurance training for the brain. I can definitely see how that would work.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 6th July

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.

Happy Friday everyone! This week I’m coming to you from the Sunshine State of Florida with a few articles to share.

Since I’m in the heat and the UK is still experiencing a heatwave, I’ll start with this rundown from Outside about how the warmer weather can affect our bodies, as well as some reminders about the most sensible things we can do to beat the heat. I’ll still run while I’m here in Florida but the distance will be less and I fully expect my pace to be slower, which is fine with me. The most important thing for me is to make sure I head out for my run early while it’s still comparatively cool and the humidity hasn’t built up to full strength. I’d love to know any other warm weather tips you have.

While I’m enjoying the downtime there’s a pretty high chance I’ll also enjoy a few naps as I recharge my batteries (regular readers of the blog might remember that my last couple of weeks of the school year were largely fuelled by naps!). I therefore read with interest Alex Hutchinson’s take on some recent studies into the impact of naps on athletic performance.

For those who have been watching the football (soccer) World Cup, it may have crossed your mind to wonder just how far those players are running during the course of a match. According to Runner’s World, a whopping 7 miles! Check out the article to see how some other sports compare.

I also enjoyed this Strava blog which, with its focus on consistency rather than focusing on the end result, really resonated with me as I have been focusing on process over outcome this year. It’s worth a read for anyone who has been finding themselves overly fixated on recent performances.

And finally, if your running nutrition relies on carefully measured sports drinks and a schedule of gels, remember it wasn’t always that way. If we go far enough back in time then athletes were often fuelled by alcohol! It perhaps sounds tempting, but I don’t think I fancy dealing with the dehydration!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 29th 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.

Happy Friday! And to my teaching colleagues in Scotland, happy summer holidays!

That’s right, the end of the school year finally rolled around and now it’s time to relax and recharge the batteries. But of course, I still have a few articles to share with you to start things off…

A bizarre story from the past week centred around a French “jogger” who found herself in trouble after she accidentally crossed the US-Canada border whilst out for a run. I had never even considered that such a thing might be possible and am a little alarmed at the subsequent action. What a thing to happen on a run!

Another story of “running crime” which has been much-discussed lately is that of the homeless man who picked up a dropped London marathon race number and crossed the finish line, claiming the medal. When I first heard of this I thought that claiming a medal you hadn’t legitimately earned was an awful thing to do and hoped that things would be resolved so that the rightful owner of the race number would be able to receive his medal. Since then, more has emerged about the “imposter” and he was ultimately sentenced to 16 weeks in jail. This, of course, has sparked a great deal of debate, such as in this next column from The Guardian. I’d love to know what you think about this one.

Also appearing in The Guardian recently was this article about the effects of running on our brains. If you run then I suspect you are already well aware of all the positives that come from lacing up your trainers and getting out there. Now, there’s plenty of science to back that up (and I do love a bit of running-related science!).

Related to this is the news that healthcare practitioners in the UK are to be encouraged to “prescribe” outdoor activities such as parkrun instead of medication for some patients. I know that running can’t solve everything, but how wonderful would it be to see more people turn to exercise to help them improve their health and wellbeing?

And finally, if all this glorious summer weather has been sending your hay fever symptoms crazy, then good news! Apparently gin and tonic is great for relieving symptoms. Now I don’t suffer from hay fever, but perhaps I should drink more gin just to make sure…

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 22nd 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.

Friday at long last! I hope you’ve had a good week. This week I’m bringing you a yoga special since yesterday was International Yoga Day. Enjoy…

Regular readers will know that one of my goals for 2018 was about building on my yoga practice. I firmly believe it has benefitted me both in my running and my mental health, so to start us off here’s a piece about some of the ways yoga helps us and why it is so beneficial.

Related to this is this next piece which examines how yoga has evolved to meet the needs of modern society. Yes, the ancient principles are still there, but there are now many different approaches to yoga, some of which have a certain novelty value, and our reasons for practicing yoga are more than likely different too:

And thinking about changing approaches and ways of practicing yoga, I found it interesting to read of a recent study which found that rather than suppressing the ego, the practice of yoga or meditation can actually inflate the ego. However this study did focus on a westernised practice so I would find it interesting to see a comparative study of Buddhist practitioners.

A recent addition to my practice this summer has been some sessions of SUP yoga which I have really enjoyed. It’s a more challenging practice with the ever-present possibility of a dip in the water, but really worthwhile, so I enjoyed reading about the experience of this US-based writer:

And finally, last week I shared the news that International Yoga Day was going to be marked in Disney parks with classes around the iconic castle. It definitely sounds like something I would love to do, and having seen the photos in this article, I’m even more drawn to it. Anyone else?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

PS Here’s a bonus video of a kitten yoga class. Because KITTENS!!

Friday Finds – 15th 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.

Yes, I am late with this. It’s been a bit of a tricky week and time just totally got away from me. But never fear, I do have some interesting bits and bobs to share with you in this week’s Friday Finds Saturday Stories

Since I’m actually writing this on Saturday morning, I’ll start with an article about parkrun. Last weekend parkrun in the UK teamed up with the NHS to celebrate 70 years of the NHS. In this article from The Guardian, Jack Dickenson considers how the two might continue to work together to improve public health.

Next, a report on a recent study into arthritis which suggests that despite what the “you’ll ruin your knees” brigade has to say, marathon runners actually have less arthritis than non-runners. Even more reason to get down to your local parkrun and keep your body healthy!

In a more lighthearted story, Canadian Running magazine rounded up some of the more unusual running-related world records. It must be really cool to know you have, however briefly, held a world record. Problem is, all of these records are faster than my PB even whilst doing something like knitting or carrying an egg and spoon!

I also loved this story from a 50km event in Australia. A couple of race volunteers met a koala along the course and gave it a drink from their hydration pack. What an amazing thing to have happened. I generally just return from a run with a story about stopping to talk to a cat haha!

And finally, I never expected to be including an article from Vogue in a Friday Finds post, but there’s a first time for everything! With International Yoga Day coming up this week, I think I’ve found my ultimate yoga experience – Disneyland Paris! This special event taking place in front of the castle sounds amazing and I only wish I could be there. Work can be such an inconvenience sometimes 😉

Happy reading,
The Running Princess