Friday Finds – 14th December

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 don’t know about you but I’m so glad it’s Friday! Taking time off running this week to clear my cough has been so frustrating and I’m definitely feeling the effects of missing out. I have had plenty of time to find some articles to share this week, so let’s take a look…

Another week, another piece about the Strava annual report, but this time looking at some UK-based information. I was fascinated – but perhaps not surprised – to learn that in some places it’s quicker to run to work than to drive. My commute is far too long to run, so I guess I’ve never really given it much thought, but I can see how in big cities with lots of traffic that might be the case. I suspect if I worked closer to home I would probably run to work as well. Is it an option for you?

Also fascinating was this report on a recent study into mindset. We already know how important it is to have the right mindset to overcome a challenge, but what if your mindset affected much more than you previously realised? Participants in this study were affected both mentally and physically by being told they were predisposed to particular traits such as tiring more easily. The mind truly is a powerful thing!

We runners like nothing better than to talk about running shoes (unless, of course, we’re buying new running shoes, in which case that’s even better!) and shoes remain a somewhat contentious subject. Personally, I long ago gave up believing in all the “gait analysis” conducted in running stores and choose my shoes instead based on comfort – 26.2 miles is a loooooong way to be wearing uncomfortable shoes! The link between shoes and injury/injury prevention will not be figured out any time soon (if, indeed, there is a link at all) and in this column Alex Hutchinson sets out the history of the debate for us.

Something I never expected to cover in a running article was the UN. Yes, that UN. But it seems that many of the representatives regularly set their differences aside and run together in New York’s Central Park. It just shows how running can bring people together – although I’d love to hear what they talk about on the run!

And finally, you perhaps caught this video earlier in the week, but I just had to share it here since it made me smile. Perhaps sometimes a “signature move” at the finish line just isn’t a good idea!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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Friday Finds – 7th December

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 one and all! I hope you’ve had a good week and have some fun (maybe festive?) plans for the weekend. I’m here to share a few interesting bits and pieces I’ve been looking at this week.

To start, a little more on the annual Strava report that I mentioned last week. First, Sport Techie reports a huge rise in popularity for virtual events. I assume it to be testament to the use of social media and various apps that connect runners and cyclists, meaning that where previously someone might have worked out alone, they can now turn that workout into a shared experience.

Also delving into the details (with a US slant, that is) is Martin Fritz Huber for Outside. In this column, he looks at a few of the takeaways from the Strava report, many of which will not be a surprise. What I did find interesting is the massive increase in race participation for women and the fact that in the US women are racing more than men. Could that be the impact of recent amazing performances from the likes of Shalane Flanagan and Des Linden?

Meanwhile, Alex Hutchinson has been writing about the connection between fitness and life expectancy. He reports on some interesting studies comparing fitness gained from working out with the fitness impact of good genes. The results are perhaps not what you might expect, but unless you’re going for some lab-based testing I would still be recommending maintaining fitness through physical activity.

Which connects nicely with another piece recently written by Hutchinson for Outside. In this piece, he is considering the role of VO2 max on health and life expectancy. While VO2 max can be improved, genetics also have a part to play, and a higher VO2 max tends to point towards longer life expectancy. To be honest, I simply feel better the fitter I am so will continue to remain as fit as I can for as long as I can.

And finally, did you catch this story about a recent half marathon in Shenzhen, China? Sadly it made the headlines for all the wrong reasons as a whopping 237 runners were caught cutting the course…by a traffic camera! I just can’t understand why someone would enter a race then cut a chunk out of it. I couldn’t reconcile myself with that and would feel like the medal was a constant reminder of my guilt.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess 

Friday Finds – 30th November

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.

Can you believe it’s the end of November? Festivities are getting underway and I’m planning what to get the kittens for their first Christmas! I hope you’ve got some lovely plans for the weekend, which we’ll get started with a little light reading.

As the end of the year approaches (!!), Strava has published its annual report and this year it reveals some interesting differences in activity preferences by gender. Although Strava is more heavily used by men, it seems that among women using the platform, running is more popular than cycling, however this is reversed among male users. Of course we can’t really extrapolate that to the entire running population (Strava began as a platform for cyclists) but I still find it interesting and wonder how far it is true amongst those I know.

This next piece is a little different, but I’m drawn to the idea it encapsulates. The first couple of paragraphs introduce ideas we wouldn’t immediately associate with running, however the consideration of the structured approach to training and how we cope when that structure is absent, is something I can certainly relate to. My favourite idea in the piece is neatly summed up when the writer tells us, “As in running as in life, structure isn’t something that binds us and oppresses us, but rather it’s the framework within which we’re able to thrive, test our limits and make sense of the world.” What do you think?

As someone with a definite penchant for leggings, I was interested to read this piece about the evolution of athleisure in US fashion. I found the history of some items fascinating, particular with regard to gender differences, and was amazed to learn that in the average wardrobe (especially the male wardrobe) there is far more “athleisure” clothing than we might have realised.

I also enjoyed treading this excerpt from a new book called The Happy Runner. In this extract the writers focus on self-acceptance, leading me to conclude that this will likely be a book that looks at the more mental side of running, something which really interests me. Check it out and see what you think.

And finally, if you’re looking for a challenge and have more money than you know what to do with, then this new race might be for you. It’s an Antarctic marathon that begins almost immediately you get off your plane. But beware – fail to finish quickly enough and that plane will be taking off without you! Anyone in? 😂

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 23rd November

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! I hope my friends in the US had a wonderful Thanksgiving. While it may not be a holiday here in the UK, we certainly feel the influence these days with the Black Friday sales. If you need a break from shopping madness, here are a few bits and pieces to read…

With Thanksgiving in mind, let’s kick off with this column from Brad Stulberg at Outside as he examines the role of gratitude in our performance. It makes for interesting reading and is perhaps a reminder for us all to embrace gratitude in our lives.

Also from Outside, Alex Hutchinson’s latest column delves more deeply into the Nike Vaporfly 4% – a topic I have mentioned a few times in Friday Finds. Rather than yet another piece about the efficiency they promote, Hutchinson seeks answers to two questions: how do they work and should they be allowed? If you’re curious, have a read.

These days there’s a multitude of technology available to help us improve our running, and debate about how reliant we might be on things like GPS watches and data is now fairly prevalent. With that in mind, I was interested to read this piece in which the awesome Des Linden discusses how she uses data in her running and how that helps to enhance the experience for her. I’d be interested to know how you feel about running and data.

Bur yes, it is possible to take our commitment to an activity too far. In this compelling piece from The Guardian, Richard Godwin looks at how competitive our lives have become and how even our leisure activities are becoming increasingly competitive. The long-term effects of a highly-competitive life is, of course, what is most worrying as it can fuel unhealthy perfectionism. What are your thoughts on this one?

And finally, let’s finish with something inspiring. Ginette Bedard is amazing, and if I can still be anywhere near as active as she is when I’m 85, I’ll be very happy indeed!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 16th November

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.

Another week done! I do hope it’s been a good one for you. Here in the UK it’s the annual fundraising behemoth that is Children in Need so perhaps you have been involved in some fundraising or are looking forward to a night of entertainment on tv. Whatever you’re planning, here are a few bits and pieces to read to kick things off.

I was really inserted in this first piece which I came across in Outside. For me, it stands to reason that women’s bodies will respond differently to men’s and will therefore need to be approached differently, yet largely any sports research to date has been conducted on men. I’m pleased, then, to read that this situation is beginning to change and curious to know what impact that will ultimately have on performance.

If you are struggling with your running in any way right now, then this next piece is for you. I’ve certainly had my fair share of setbacks before so can relate to much of what is in here, and sometimes it’s good just to have a reminder that this too shall pass. Perhaps you’ll find something helpful here.

Next, an interesting piece about leaving the headphones behind when we run. When I first read the headline I thought it was going to be a piece reminding us of the dangers of becoming distracted by music and not giving our full attention to traffic and other potential hazards around us, however that was not the case. This piece is about how overloaded our brains are by content and suggests that running without headphones gives us a chance to disconnect for a while. I can totally understand that and do occasionally run without headphones, however I enjoy taking advantage of that time to listen to podcasts and take that as some time for myself. I’d love to know your thoughts on this one.

As a counterpoint to that, this fun piece from Runner’s World. I’ll certainly admit to being a fan of show tunes and have included some in previous workout playlists, so this definitely got my attention. There’s something quite appealing about having a blast of Broadway while I’m running or working out, however there is also a VERY high chance that I would want to sing along, which in a hard workout might not go so well 😂 Would running to show tunes appeal to you?

And finally, if the idea of a beer mile is something you find intriguing, but you’re less attracted by the high possibility of “pavement pizza”, then perhaps this new video game is for you. The game seems to involve controlling a runner as they make their way through a beer run experience (with threat of throwing up very real!). What will they think of next?!?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 9th November

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! I hope you’ve had a great week. It’s been pretty busy over here, but mostly good and I’m looking forward to the weekend. But first, a little bit of light reading…

In the week following the New York marathon I knew my feeds would be filled with stories and reports from the event, but I wasn’t expecting one of the main stories to be the controversy surrounding a mid-race proposal! What, on the surface, appeared to be a fairytale story in which a woman running her first ever marathon was proposed to by her boyfriend at mile 16, has attracted a great deal of comment online with many quick to deride his timing. Of course we have no idea of the reality of others’ relationships and perhaps the runner was thrilled with this way of making her first marathon memorable, but I can also see the other side of the argument which suggests that it took away from her achievement and likely interrupted her rhythm – I’m pretty sure I would struggle with the remaining miles in that situation – so I’d love to know what you think about this one. Mid-race proposal: yay or nay?

I’ve not yet had an opportunity to watch any of the coverage of the NY marathon, but I know from experience that watching the London marathon on tv tends to make me cry (and I nearly always cry, or at least feel like crying, after crossing the finish line of a marathon). But where does this sudden emotion come from? Here’s a sports psychologist to offer some explanation.

At least in a marathon runners know exactly how far they still have to go, but how would you feel about a race where the finish line was not defined? That’s the brain-child of Barkley marathons founder Lazarus Lake – a race in which the winner is basically the last one standing! It sounds like a real test of mental strength, but I’m not sure it’s the race for me! Would you do it?

For those who prefer a slightly different kind of race, you might enjoy this exploration of the relationship between running and beer. There is, of course, the growing popularity of the beer mile, but there are also an increasing number of “recovery beers” on the market and even a few recommendations that runners should drink beer during their training cycles due to the reported benefits it offers. That’s good enough for me – after all, it is Friday!

And finally, have you ever watched as pedestrians attempted to cross the road during a big city marathon? In Paris it’s a frequent occurrence, which I’ve often seen result in collisions. Filmmaker Jeff Seal found himself fascinated by the strange dances and contortions of those trying to dart across the street, so decided to make a film of it. Take a look:

Happy reading,
The Running Princess 

Friday Finds – 2nd November

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 November! I actually don’t know where this year is disappearing to and I’m definitely noticing the difference now the clocks have changed. It’s looking chilly this weekend so let’s keep ourselves cosy and settle down to do a little reading.

With the New York marathon coming up this weekend and the autumn (fall) marathon season in full swing, a lot of what I’m seeing in my feeds is marathon related. Did you catch this particular gem from last weekend? Venice does have an association with water, but I can’t imagine participants in the Venice marathon expected to be wading through flood waters in order to complete their race. It makes the puddles I encountered in Aviemore look like a mere splash!

Speaking of New York, I came across this piece in Runner’s World about training for NYC taking over the writer’s summer. I just love the tongue-in-cheek way he suggests it’s all doom and gloom….but then reveals that he loves it! Anyone who has ever trained for a marathon can probably relate.

You may also have seen that a new half marathon world record was set last weekend as the previously unknown Abraham Kiptum lowered the mark set 8 years ago by Zersenay Tadese (one of the runners in last year’s Breaking2 project). But what is more interesting is that this same runner, now the proud owner of a world record, was unable to gain a place in the recent Chicago marathon as his credentials were “not good enough” to earn him a spot. This article sets out a few points I hadn’t thought of before when it comes to elite runners having a breakthrough. I wonder how many more undiscovered stars are out there…

While we’re on the subject of breakthroughs, I was fascinated by this piece from Brad Stulberg in Outside about what it takes to have a breakthrough in running or any other aspect of life. If the breakthrough performance is the result of many small, perhaps unnoticed actions, then I am once more reminded that focusing on the process over the outcome is what will ultimately yield results and that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it as sometimes it takes time. What are your thoughts?

And finally, there’s nothing quite like crossing the finish line of a marathon and knowing you’ve accomplished something amazing, but in the days afterwards there are a few things that almost every marathoner does. I think I’ve done just about everything on this list bar the day drinking (mainly because I’ve never run a race that started early enough for this to be an option!). Which ones have you done?

Happy reading!
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 26th October

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! I don’t know about you but I’m definitely ready for a weekend – the first week of term is always a shock to the system. So let’s kick things off with a few articles to read.

I’m going to start with a couple of more scientific pieces from Outside. To be honest, I’d never heard of the CMAH gene before, but it seems to be pretty interesting. Not only does an ancient mutation in that gene account for an increased risk of some ailments, more recent studies have revealed that it may also have made humans better distance runners. More interestingly, we don’t actually know if distance running was the reason for the evolution of that gene, or if that is simply a happy by-product. Fascinating!

Secondly, a recent offering from the always-brilliant Alex Hutchinson who has been examining a study into training data which aimed to ascertain which form is best. The headline point is that our own internal systems are just as sensitive as any high-tech gadgetry we choose to use and is another valuable reminder that we should tune into our bodies and learn to listen to the signals they are giving us with regard to effort level rather than always off-loading that job to a gadget.

I also enjoyed this letter to running from High School athlete Kate Cox. I love her reflection on the highs and lows of the sport as well as how it has helped shape her. To be honest, it’s exactly the kind of thing I’d love some of my pupils to write when I ask for some reflective writing!

With Halloween coming up lots of little (and not-so-little) girls and boys are planning their costume. With all the traditional ideas still popular – ghosts, superheroes, princesses, etc – it’s refreshing to see this article about two little girls who have decided to dress as their sporting hero, Shalane Flanagan! I think this is just the most amazing idea and only goes to show what an inspiring role model Shalane is for little girls as she is so visible and demonstrates that anything is possible. Love it!

And finally, did you catch Des Linden’s brilliant tweets about the reality of marathon training? I love how real she is and there are definitely a few things in there we can relate to! Which one is your favourite?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess 

Friday Finds – 19th October

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! I hope you’ve had a great week and are looking forward to an awesome weekend. The second week of my break seems to have whizzed by and I can’t believe it’s Friday again already. Here are a few bits and pieces that have caught my eye as the week has gone on.

Let’s start with good old Mo Farah. Not content with winning the Chicago marathon, he’s now championing the Daily Mile project which was started in Scotland. Now he’s encouraging primary schools across London to take part in a bid to make London a Daily Mile City. Sounds like a great idea to me.

Next, a great article from Brad Stuhlberg at Outside about mindset and how our incessant drive to excel might actually be holding us back. As someone who has embraced process over outcome, this provided some real food for thought and I’d love to know your thinking on it.

Next, something from a rather unusual source. I can only assume this hit my feeds because it references parkrun. Church is not for me (although I respect everyone’s beliefs on this) but some of the points made about the sense of community and ethos are certainly valid. I guess we often joke about worshipping at the alter of the long run, but I’ve never considered the ways in which a parkrun community might mirror the church communities of previous generations.

To follow that, an interesting piece about the recent running boom in China. I had no idea that attitudes to running had previously been so different to here, or how much more expensive race organisation might be. But one of the most fascinating parts of this is the indication that running is part of a bigger cultural change in the country. Running really is powerful!

And finally, if you’re as intrigued as I am by the Nike 4% shoes (although not intrigued enough to meet that hefty price tag!) then you’ll probably enjoy Martin Fritz Huber’s look at how the shoes have been received by various different groups. They’re a bit pricey for me, but I’d still like to try some on…

Happy reading!
The Running Princess 

Friday Finds – 12th October

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.

Where has the past week gone? Funny how holiday weeks go by so much faster than work weeks!

At this time of year there really is little other than marathons in the news, what with Sir Mo’s awesome win in Chicago at the weekend (did you see it?), excitement building ahead of next month’s New York marathon and, of course, continued discussion of Eliud Kipchoge’s incredible word record, there’s little room for anything else!

Speaking of Kipchoge, let’s start with a couple of articles looking at his record-breaking performance. To start, some consideration of what it could take to break 2 hours. Kipchoge himself came tantalisingly close in the Nike Breaking2 project, and a recent study suggests that a team of runners with similar ability to him could make it happen. Personally I’d love to see someone go below the 2 hour mark, but who knows how long that might take.

On a slightly lighter note, attendees at the Chicago marathon expo had the opportunity to test themselves on an extended treadmill set to Kipchoge’s record breaking pace. Funnily enough, there was a lot of falling!

Related to this, a bit of discussion surrounding pacers in marathons. I’m never sure how I feel about this, I mean the runner still has to actually run the pace, so having the pacers would reduce the mental fatigue of working out what speed to run at as it’s “outsourced” to someone else, leaving them free to “just” run. But for the men, it’s not easy to find someone fast enough to run the desired pace for long enough – especially if Kipchoge is part of the race – whereas there are plenty of speedy male runners who can pace women, and some see this as an advantage, hence changes to the way women’s records are classified. What are your thoughts?

Leaving the marathon aside, the other notable topic this week was World Mental Health Day. Of course I have frequently included links to articles extolling the mental health benefits of running, so it comes as no surprise that Runner’s World (among other sources) published material to coincide with the day. I certainly recognise the boost that comes from a run, particularly when I have gone for a short run before work as my mood is better throughout the day. How about you?

And finally, I don’t know about you but one of my favourite things about running, especially deep in marathon training, is being able to eat lots, but this caused problems for an Ironman triathlete who visited an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant in Germany. Apparently there is a limit to how much you can have!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess