Friday Finds – 19th 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! You may have noticed that I took a little bit of a blogging break while I was away on holiday, but never fear, I have plenty to share about the month so far and will catch you up with all the news (and photos. So. Many. Photos!) soon. In the meantime, let’s get back to the routine of sharing some articles on Friday. I suspect this one will be a bit of an odd mixture of things I’ve been storing over the past two or three weeks…

First up, a positive outcome to a high profile story from earlier this year. You might remember that some participants in the London marathon complained about the way they were treated during the race and, thankfully, organisers have listened and are implementing changes to ensure it doesn’t happen again. It really saddened me to read the original story, so I’m pleased that action has been taken and hope that those affected are able to return to the race for a far more positive experience.

On a lighter note, I was amused to read this piece about a recent school sports day. Events in our school are simply for pupils – no staff or parent races – but I know that up and down the country the prospect of parents racing can result in either a degree of worry and/or overly competitive performances. But we can all be reassured that even being an Olympic champion is no guarantee of success – just ask Mo Farah who was recently beaten by another dad who wasn’t exactly attired for sporting greatness!

Next up, a story of real commitment. A great thing about travelling is finding new places to run, but when we have specific training goals it can be a little stressful to make sure we find the best route. Step in two butlers at a high-end Italian hotel who not only found a route for a guest who was marathon training, but actually ran with him and joined him for the actual marathon. You certainly don’t get that kind of service everywhere!

Catching my eye today was this piece in which one researcher attempted to answer an interesting question: why do we walk with straight arms but run with them bent? The results of their research may surprise you! Got any theories?

And finally, if you like to share your runs on Strava, you may have noticed the different approaches people take to sharing their posts, from the default “morning run” to a lengthy mile by mile essay. Here’s a rundown of some of the different types. Which one are you?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess  

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Friday Finds – 28th 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.

It’s the happiest Friday of the year! School finished for the summer at lunchtime today and this year I have seven glorious weeks of freedom stretching ahead of me. Hopefully that will be enough to recharge my depleted batteries and get on top of my health again after a difficult year. So for this first Friday of the summer, here are a few bits and pieces for your reading pleasure.

I’ll start with the latest news surrounding Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-2 hour marathon attempt planned for later this year. Despite earlier reports suggesting it would take place in London, this week it was announced that Vienna would be the location of choice. You can read more about it here:

Next up, some science. When it comes to running I am frequently fascinated by maths and science, when in other areas of my life I tend not to see the practical application (even though I understand that there is one!). Earlier this week the results of a study were published which set out some interesting findings when it comes to the gut microbes of endurance athletes. It seems that marathon runners have a higher concentration of one particular microbe after a marathon/ultra than at any other time. This poses interesting questions about how that might be used to enhance performance. This will be an intriguing one to keep an eye on.

Speaking of ultras, last week I included a couple of articles on the subject and this week came across another interesting piece, this time focusing on how the lessons learned in distance running can be applied to our work. Again, I think a lot of this is true of running in general and would be interested to know what running has taught you that you can take to other aspects of your life.

Now, everyone’s favourite activity tracking app, Strava (if it’s not on Strava, does it even count?). This is an interesting read detailing some of the developments the company is looking to make in order to broaden their user base. I recently listened to a podcast interview with one of the Strava founders so I think I had this in mind as I was reading about how they see the platform in the future.

And finally, what three words make you happy? According to this humorous article, when it comes to running there just might be a few combinations that work. I’m not sure which one is my favourite as a few of these would make me happy. How about you?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 21st 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 one and all! This week I’m actually organised and have written this in advance as I’m spending Friday evening at a show with my mum and sister. I’m sure I’ll share more in my next Week In Review so you can watch out for that. In the meantime, here are the things that have been catching my eye lately.

I want to start with one of my favourite things: running data. I have written before about previous studies from Run Repeat and their latest study, The State of Running 2019, is a fascinating and in-depth study of global participation. For me, the things that really stand out are the findings that there are now more female runners than male (go girls!), that runners are older (good news for me!) and that travelling to race is increasingly popular (definitely something I enjoy). It’s really worth taking some time to check out the graphs and data in the report, and I bet you won’t be able to resist using the comparison tool to see how you measure up!

Next up, a little something to watch. As I’ve previously mentioned, Eliud Kipchoge is going to have another crack at the sub-2 hour marathon later this year. The more I watch Kipchoge race, the more I like him and now we have the opportunity to follow along with his preparation for the sub-2 attempt. I suspect for us mere mortals simply watching his training will be exhausting!

Ultrarunning may not be my thing, but it’s still an aspect of running that I find fascinating. Recently I’ve very much been relying on running to give me some headspace, reset my mind and process some difficult times, so when I saw this article examining the impact ultrarunning has had on the lives of the contributors, I knew it would be one I would want to share. I’m quite sure many of the benfits they discuss will apply to runners everywhere, regardless of how often or how far they run.

On the subject of ultrarunning, I recently came across this excerpt from The Rise of the Ultrarunners, a new book from Adharanand Finn. I’ve previously enjoyed reading his books and his newspaper columns, so this will no doubt be another one for my reading list.

And finally, if you enjoy movies then a movie about running will no doubt be one you want to see. I’ve come across a few bits and pieces mentioning the movie Brittany Runs A Marathon, and having watched the trailer, I’m now looking forward to having a chance to see this later in the year. Can you relate to anything here?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 14th 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.

Hola! Yes, it really is me! You may have noticed that the blog has been on a bit of a hiatus while work and life were really busy. I’ve had my head down just working my way through things and now that it’s all a bit more settled, it’s time to get back to my regular posting schedule. So without any further ado, here are some of the things that have been catching my eye…

I’m going to start this post with a sad one. You may have seen already that US elite runner Gabe Grunewald died earlier this week at the age of 32. I first learned of Gabe and her story on Mario Fraioli’s Morning Shakeout podcast and as the final days of that story played out, I found I couldn’t stop thinking about how inspiring she had been and what a loss this is. I was touched by the number of runners sending her messages of love and my heart goes out to her husband Justin as he embarks on a new journey in life. One thing to take away from this is that we should all be #bravelikegabe.

Moving away from sad stories, something I found really interesting earlier in June was the results of a study into the limits of human endurance. We live in a time when it feels like someone is always pushing for more, to see how far they can push themselves, but there must, of course, be some kind of a limit. According to this study, it comes down to calories burned and how sustainable the metabolic rate is. Here’s a BBC article that sets out the findings. Worth a read if you’ve not come across these results already.

And if you want something a little more in-depth, Alex Hutchinson also dug into the findings in his Sweat Science column:

Another article I enjoyed was written by David Roche, whose book The Happy Runner is on my reading list for this summer. Roche tackles the subject of failure and its role in helping us make progress. Definitely worth a read since we often struggle to deal with times when things don’t go our way.

Speaking of books, when I saw this article combining the subjects of running and writing, I was hooked. I know I often come up with my best ideas when I’m running so learning more about how some running writers use their favourite sport to help shape their work was fascinating.

And finally, we all know I love an animal story and this great one caught my eye. A high school cross country team in California invited some shelter dogs to accompany them on a training run. They look like they had a great time and I think this is a wonderful idea, combining the therapeutic qualities of both running and access to a pet. I hope this is something they and other groups can do more often – it might even lead to more pet adoptions.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess  

Friday Finds – 17th May

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.

Well hello there! I hope you have had a great week and have an even better weekend ahead to look forward to. I’ve got a bit of a mixed bag for you this week, so let’s get started with your weekend reading material…

First, a follow-up on the recent story about London marathon pacer Elizabeth Ayres and her viral Facebook post detailing the experiences she, and the participants she was with, endured. While this is still being investigated, the stories shared in this piece about the abuse and shaming “plus size” runners encounter on a regular basis just appal me. I cannot understand why other people would think it’s ok to treat other human beings in the ways described here, especially when they are engaged in healthy activities. What right does someone else have to comment on the choices made by someone they don’t even know and which will not affect them in any way? At a time when the overall health of the nation is often in the news, surely we would be better to offer encouragement rather than knock people’s confidence. We were all taught that if we didn’t have anything nice to say, we should just keep quiet!

As I have often written, running is a great way to improve our mental health – I definitely know that it helps clear the cobwebs away and “resets” me during times of stress or pressure. Here in the UK this past week has been Mental Health Awareness week, so I want to focus the bulk of this week’s post on the mental health benefits of running, starting with a reminder of the benefits we get from running, beyond the physical:

Followed by some first-hand accounts of how running helped improve the mental health of some Runner’s World readers:

Then finishing with this more detailed piece from Grazia which demonstrates the huge difference running can make:

And finally, something a little lighter. Like many others, I’ll be getting my endorphins and boosting my mental health at parkrun this weekend. I’m really looking forward to running it again after being a volunteer for the past two weeks. Volunteering is easy and it gives us that fuzzy warm feeling of having given something back to the community. But spare a thought for Ian Guest, a parkrunner who ended up on quite a journey to get that volunteering glow after he realised he had accidentally signed up to help at the wrong event…but still went anyway! Now that’s commitment to the cause!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 10th May

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! If you had a day off work on Monday then I hope you enjoyed this shorter week. It was certainly nice to have an extra day to potter about! And now it’s time to kick off the weekend with a few bits and pieces to read.

I want to start with some updates on some of the big stories to come out of the London marathon, most of which I mentioned last week. To start, some news on what comes next for some of the big names in the event. It looks like Mo Farah has decided to defend his title at the Chicago marathon (ruling out an imminent return to the track which some had speculated about). But the biggest news comes from Eliud Kipchoge, who this week announced that he is to take another crack at a sub-2 hour marathon, this time in London this autumn. He certainly said that he needed a new goal to chase having fulfilled his London goal, so I have to assume he feels he’s in a strong position to have another go at this. It’s certainly very exciting and I’m looking forward to learning more of the details.

There was also some good news this week. You may have seen the story about the nurse who was aiming to set a record for the fastest marathon dressed as a nurse, but found herself ineligible for the record as her scrubs did not meet the “costume” requirements. This resulted in a Twitter campaign in which nurses tweeted pictures of themselves in what they wear to work – none of which matched up to the description in the record requirements. As a result, those requirements were reviewed and updated, with the record being awarded. Hurrah!

The other good news is that the Big Ben costume (which had resulted in some finish line hilarity before disappearing from outside a pub) has been returned (although possibly my favourite thing about this link is the mis-spelling of “London” in the headline 🤦🏻‍♀️)

Of course London (or ‘Lonodon’ – I couldn’t even type that as my computer kept autocorrecting it!) is not the only marathon – despite what the media might have us think – nor was it the only marathon to take place that day. I was running the Stirling marathon and this week it seems to have courted some controversy also. Mind you these days if a marathon takes place and there’s no controversy or upset, did it even happen? First, the winner of the women’s race criticised organisers over the prize money offered, and then today it emerged that the event will no longer be staged as it is not economically viable. I have to say, finding that out did upset me as it was a good event and I saw myself returning again in future. Having already cancelled the long-running Women’s 10k in Glasgow, I do hope Great Run are not going to cancel any further events as they operate a couple of other major running events here in Scotland and to lose them would be a real blow.

After all those updates, let’s finish this week’s post with a couple of more light-hearted stories, starting with the man who ran for 15 hours (!!) on a treadmill whilst wearing a full gorilla suit. I don’t know where to begin! It must have been hot, sweaty and itchy, plus running on a treadmill for more than a few minutes is a real mental battle. Well done that man!

And finally, we’ve all seen those “tap here for power” signs whilst taking part in a race, but what if that “power” wasn’t coming from a cardboard sign but the belly of a cute doggy? Yes, you did read that correctly. At a recent 10k in New Orleans, corgi Max was on the sidelines with his owner but began to get tired. His owner picked him up and runners just couldn’t resist stopping by to give Max a belly rub. Personally, I’d love a puppy or kitten petting station in a race. That would DEFINITELY give me a boost!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 3rd May

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.

Ooh it’s Friday and for many it’s the start of a long weekend. Perfect! It’s going to be a rather different weekend for me than last week as I’m having a little break from running to allow my body to recover post-marathon. It was really strange to miss the live coverage of the London marathon on Sunday, but I’ve since caught up on the elite races and actually have coverage playing as I write this (*edit – just this minute spotted Anna McNuff running over Tower Bridge!*). Given my current obsession interest in marathons, you won’t be surprised that this week I want to include some of the big stories to come out of the event.

Let’s start with the elite races and the amazing Eliud Kipchoge. What’s not to like about that guy? A fantastic runner with a smooth, relaxed style and always comes across so well in interviews. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

In the women’s race, Brigid Kosgei ran a great race, but it was Hayley Carruthers who really stopped our hearts as she took a tumble right before the finish line and crawled over to snag a PB! Thankfully she was ok but it brought her to my attention as an elite athlete also working a full time job (which she was back at the very next day). I do love her tenacity!

It was a record-breaking year what with a new course record, a record number of participants and the highest number of female finishers ever. There was even a new Scottish record for Callum Hawkins – go Callum! I always love all the totally random Guinness World Record attempts and 38 of 78 attempts were successful. Here’s the complete rundown:

Unfortunately there has, in recent days, been a more negative story emerge from the day after an official pacer discussed her experience of running behind the cleanup crew. While I do understand that organisers must get roads open within agreed times, if the event is going to be open to runners of every pace then appropriate provision has to be made to ensure they still have access to on-course support and are kept safe. I’m not going to comment too much on it while it is being investigated, but it is disappointing to hear and I hope that action is taken to ensure that this can’t happen again.

And finally, for the second time this year I’m featuring Lukas Bates, the runner who found the strong winds at the London Landmarks half marathon rather challenging. This time he made it to the finish line ok, but then found the finish gantry a little too low for his costume! And the story didn’t end there as the infamous costume later went missing and, to the best of my knowledge, is still to be returned. That’s quite the story to tell the grandkids one day!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

PS here’s a little bonus with some cool London marathon stats. You know I love a good running stat!