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

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Friday Finds – 5th 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.

Phew! This is one of those Fridays that feels like it’s been a long time coming around. After 8 weeks of school term, it’s time for a break here in Scotland and I’m looking forward to a chance to rest, relax and recharge. To start us off, here are some articles that caught my eye this week.

For the parkrun fan, this weekend is an exciting one as parkrun celebrates its 14th birthday. That’s right, tomorrow is International Parkrun Day. Not only that, but last week the 5,000,000th person registered for their parkrun barcode. That’s incredible! Here’s the always excellent Sean Ingle with a roundup of how parkrun has grown and developed over the past 14 years.

It’s also that time of year when everyone (and I’m including myself in this) goes a bit marathon mad – the results of the London marathon ballot are due to drop onto doorsteps in the next week and this weekend sees the next of the Marathon Majors take place in Chicago. With marathon fever tightening its grip, my attention was caught by these musings on the distance. I’d love to know your thoughts.

Speaking of Chicago, the elite field is looking exciting with appearances from Mo Farah, Gwen Jorgensen and “Citizen Runner” Yuki Kawauchi. Fans of the Marathon Talk podcast have been familiar with Yuki for some time and he became better known as a result of his Boston win earlier this year. With that in mind, you may enjoy this piece exploring Japan’s most well-known marathoner.

Following some high profile reports of cheats in marathons (most notably in Mexico City) race organisers in China are finding new ways to crack down on cheats. Having used facial recognition software in a half marathon last year, the software is now to be used in a marathon early next month. Good to prevent cheating or another layer of potential complication for runners? What are your thoughts?

And finally, I love those “expectation v reality” memes that pop up from time to time so this article appealed to me. It’s another classic from Canadian Running which has gathered together a variety of stock images related to running and compared them to the reality. I think my favourite is the one about winter running!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 28th September

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.

Hello Friday! I must admit, I’ve spent this week floating along in a bit of a bubble after my amazing weekend away and nothing I have planned for this weekend can ever be quite as exciting. Whatever you’re up to, here are some interesting bits and pieces to dip into.

First, I’ll touch briefly once more on Eliud Kipchoge and the new marathon world record. Now that a new record has been set, attention inevitably returned to the idea of the sub-2 hour marathon and one of my favourite columnists, Alex Hutchinson, spoke to physiologist Michael Joyner and compiled his thoughts on this for Outside.

Also from Hutchinson, this time writing in The Globe and Mail, the fascinating results of studies into identical twins which show that while our genes matter in terms of what we might achieve, what we do with those genes is also important. Basically both nature AND nurture matter. Always an intriguing topic.

Related to this is this response by evolutionary biologist Rowan Hooper to a short story called Lions and Gazelles (which sounds intriguing). This response considers various aspects of sporting performance and how science might help to enhance it. There are certainly times when I wouldn’t mind a boost to my motivation!

Another interesting study I came across, reported by Canadian Running magazine, caught my attention as it concerned smartphones. One of my goals for this year was to think more carefully about my use of my phone and social media, with the intention of being a little more mindful in using them and not getting caught up in the time-suck of infinite scrolling. My sense that it wasn’t that good to use my devices too much is supported by results showing that those making more use of smartphones exhibited fewer approach behaviours e.g. smiling. What does this have to do with running? Well next time you acknowledge another runner only to be ignored, perhaps overuse of a smartphone is partly to blame.

And finally, running is one of those topics that elicits (often unsolicited) advice from a wide range of people. Sometimes that advice is good, but often it is terrible. Here, Canadian Running has rounded up some of the best examples of poor advice to runners, some of which sound insane! What’s the worst running advice you’ve ever been given?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 21st September

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.

A very happy Friday! All being well, when this post goes live I should be on my way to Disneyland Paris for my magical running adventure, therefore this week I’ve written my post in advance.

To be honest, all of my usual sources are deservedly full of news of the Berlin marathon and Eliud Kipchoge’s amazing run for a new world record, therefore I’ve decided to make that the focus of this week’s post. So in a slight change to my normal format, here’s a roundup of some of the articles I’ve been reading since last weekend:

And to finish, a picture that has been fairly prominent on social media this week. How long could you keep up with Kipchoge?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 14th September

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.

What a week! Work continues to be busy right now so the weekend is definitely a welcome sight. Let’s get it off to great start with a little bit of reading material:

This week, something different to start us off. Normally I would begin with an interesting or topical article, but this time I have a poem for you. Yes, a poem. It’s a poem written by former pro athlete Lauren Fleshamn (you might know her from her “Believe” training journals). I think my favourite part is the second stanza. What about you?

Next, an article that enjoyed a fair bit of discussion when it was published earlier this week. The headline How to Stay Fit Forever was guaranteed to attract some attention, and I must admit I opened it fully expecting to find all sorts of suggestions that I didn’t agree with, so was pleasantly surprised to find advice to find your why and to have a purpose. What would your tip be?

Moving on, a couple of articles related to races, beginning with the hotly debated topic of plastic bottles. The subject of plastic bottles has formed part of the discussion around how to minimise the environmental impact of races, and now London is about to stage a half marathon that pledges to be free from single-use plastics. It will be interesting to see how this progresses.

The other race-related article is on the subject of the Berlin marathon, which is coming up this weekend. Berlin always holds a certain fascination as the nature of the course means several world records have been set here and Eliud Kipchoge, star of the Breaking2 project and favourite for this year’s event, has made no secret of the fact that he is out to set a record. I hope to be able to catch some of it as it could very well be an exciting race.

And finally, do you think you could spot a runner when they’re going about their daily lives? If it’s as simple as watching out for the signs in this article then I could be identified as a runner easily! How many apply to you?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 7th September

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.

Welcome to September! I hope the month has started well for you and you have something great to look forward to in the coming weeks. Perhaps an autumn (fall) race? Unbelievably, we’re already half way through our school term and my autumn half marathons are hurtling ever closer! But for tonight, let’s take a rest and settle down with something to read:

First, a very seasonal piece from Outside extolling the virtues of running at this time of year. I have to admit, generally summer is my favourite time of year and I love warm weather, but when it comes to running I love the slightly cooler air and crisp leaves. What’s your favourite time of year to run?

Another interesting recent read from Outside focused on age – something I’ve been a little preoccupied by myself of late! Here, Brad Stulberg examines some of the harder to measure benefits of ageing and experience, pointing to the age of recently successful athletes as proof that you don’t have to be in the first flush of youth to have your best performance. That’s a message I shall be hanging on to!

We all come to running for different reasons and at different ages. Some begin running in school, others find running as adults, but everyone who embraces running finds that it changes their life in some way. With that in mind, I enjoyed this piece in which the writer details the ways in which running has helped her and improved her life. For me, running has helped me to understand that I’m capable of more than I ever believed and widened my social circle. How has running helped you?

For many of us, our reason to run is to have a bit of an escape, some time to get away from the stresses and strains of life. But for one runner, that escape went even further when he decided to live “off the grid” for 4 years. You can read more about it in this piece, and it sounds like the book is going to be pretty interesting too.

And finally, if you think the marathon is tough now, imagine taking part in the 1904 Olympic marathon when conditions were far more gruesome than your average mass participation event now. Don’t believe me? Check out this article for the details:

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 31st 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.

How can August be over? I don’t think I’m quite ready to be done with summer but there’s most definitely a nip in the air first thing in the morning now. At least we’ve had plenty of good weather (and I’m on time with my post this week haha!). Here are the things that caught my eye over the past few days.

We’ll start with a serious one as the Mexico City marathon is once more attracting attention for the number of alleged cheats claiming medals without completing the course. The number of alleged cheats is staggering, however the problem appears to be arising from a desire to collect the medals – each year being one letter to ultimately spell out MEXICO. Looks like there will have to be much tighter measures in place to ensure those who claim a medal have genuinely run the course, otherwise it makes a mockery of those who put in the work to run.

As someone who has recently celebrated a milestone birthday, I was inexorably drawn to this next piece which has been getting some traction on social media this week. Some of the statistics about runners/triathletes in their 40s are incredible – numbers and speeds compared to other age groups – and the writer is comprehensive in exploring some of the motivating factors leading to this level of participation. As an added bonus, it was actually published on my birthday! Guess I’d better go and come up with my next crazy idea…

I also enjoyed this interview with Desi Linden, winner of the women’s race in this year’s Boston marathon. I know there has been plenty written about her since her historic victory back in April, however what’s interesting about this interview is that it was conducted by the US women’s marathon record holder, Deena Kastor. Worth checking out to see how two friends and olympians interact.

Moving to a more recent race, did you see this footage from the Diamond League steeplechase final this week? Conseslus Kipruto came through to win the race (dipping his opponent on the line) despite losing his shoe early in the race. Incredible! If you’ve not seen it, be sure to watch the clip.

And finally, this last article seems fitting as my weekly orchestra rehearsals began again this week. I’ve thought for a while it might be fun to put together a concert featuring well-known sporting themes (definitely The Trap) and look – Classic FM only went and produced the ideal list. What would you like to see on a list like this?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 24th 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.

So. Yeah. Today is Sunday. I’ll admit to making no attempt to write this on Friday as I was out at a friend’s birthday gathering then had a packed Saturday to navigate whilst feeling slightly delicate! So for this week we’re having some Sunday Stories 😂

Let’s start with a bit of science from the always engaging Alex Hutchinson (if, like me, you enjoy his columns, I can recommend his book which I am about to finish reading). This time Hutchinson digs into the recently published study on exercise and mental health, getting to the real science behind the headlines and debunking some of the more sensationalised elements. Worth a read if this is an area of interest for you.

An excellent companion piece to this comes in the form of Brad Stulberg’s column, also published in Outside, in which some pro athletes share their own mental health journeys and the strategies they use to cope when issues arise. It’s always useful to be reminded that those at the top of their game are no different to the rest of us, and we can learn a lot from their stories.

Another study which caught my attention concerned our memories of P.E classes at school and how they affect our attitudes to exercise as an adult. For me, P.E was a chore and I tried to avoid it as much as I could. I liked the idea of fitness and being able to take part in sports, but the setup when I was at school was quite off-putting and my strongest memory is of being absolutely freezing on the playing fields on a miserable day. Not overly encouraging! Yet as an adult I found activities I enjoy, hence why I happily run around in all sorts of weather conditions – I expect to have fun. What are your P.E. memories?

Since this is actually coming out on Sunday, you might fancy a longer read. How about this piece from National Geographic which examines how technology is helping athletes to push the boundaries of their sports? There are even some cool graphs, for those who like such things!

And finally, one of my favourite quirky events is the beer mile (although I’m not sure I’m fond enough of the idea to actually try it!) so was amused to find that at a recent event, the winner was ultimately disqualified…for not drinking enough beer! Now there’s a headline you don’t see every day!

Happy reading!
The Running Princess

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

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