Friday Finds – 16th February

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 Fri-yay! You would think that having a couple of days off work would mean I would be super-organised with my Friday Finds post, yet somehow I’ve contrived to be very busy (doing nothing of note) and find myself getting to this a bit late in the day – oops! I’ll perhaps be a bit briefer in introducing this week’s articles.

Let’s start with some geekery (and we all know I love a bit of running-related geekery!). Ian Williams of website Fetch Everyone has used the data uploaded to the site to update the formula for predicting marathon finish times, his assertion being that the old formula just didn’t seem to work for most runners. Realistically there’s no sure-fire way to predict as the marathon is a rather unpredictable beast, but it’s still interesting to look at the numbers and work out the possibilities.

Of course arguably the greatest marathoner of them all is Eliud Kipchoge, who has contrived to come to my attention several times this week through some interviews he has done. He may be the fastest marathon runner in history thanks to the Breaking2 project, but it’s good to know that he still struggles with the stairs the next day like the rest of us!

Taking a slightly different tack is this piece from The New York Times about challenge races. It’s US-based, but the principle remains the same regardless of where in the world you are. From my own (limited) experience of taking on such challenges, I have to agree that it does provide a new level of challenge, one in which it’s no longer about pace but more about keeping on going through multiple races or up flight after flight of stairs. For those who are looking for something new, a challenge race/event might just be the answer.

But for many running is not about racing lots (although that can be great fun) but about chalking up experiences. Yes, a race can be an experience in itself, but what about all those training runs to prepare? This year I’m trying to focus more on the the process rather than the outcome so this article from Trail Runner Magazine really resonated with me. I’d love to know what you think.

And finally, with a “significant birthday” looming this year (I know, hard to believe I’m 21 already 😂😂😂) I’m thinking about how to mark the occasion so my eye was caught by this article in The Guardian. I must say, running my age in km or miles all at once would be a little further than I would want to go on a weekday in term time (damn you increasing age!) but perhaps a variation where I run my age that week or run my age in minutes might be more do-able. What would you do?

Happy reading!
The Running Princess

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Friday Finds – 9th February

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! And a most welcome one at that after another loooooong week! Time to get the weekend started (at long last) with a few bits and pieces I’ve been reading this week.

I’ll start with a rather philanthropic story my sister sent me. I knew that many races collect up the throwaway clothes runners use to keep warm before the start of the race – a practice particularly true of marathons – launder them and donate them to charity. I never really thought about how much they were actually collecting until I read this, though. I suppose I always imagine it to be a few bags, but with thousands upon thousands of runners in some bigger races, there’s massive scope to collect a hefty amount. And that’s exactly what is being reported about the Walt Disney World marathon weekend. Across all the races that weekend over 13,000lb of clothing was collected! To be honest, I had no idea what that really meant but the ever reliable internet tells me that it’s not far off 6000kg! That’s a massive charitable donation, but I wouldn’t really fancy being in charge of the laundry!!!

Also catching my eye was this piece from Canadian Running magazine. Of late I’ve been changing my use of social media to avoid having my precious time sucked away, yet when I do log in it’s generally to interact with select groups I am involved with. The writer of this piece seems to share my view that while there is a lot of time wasting content out there, there is also value to be found…so long as you are selective in who you follow! What do you think?

In a similar vein (and from the same source) comes this short discussion of coach Mario Fraioli’s philosophy on training. This really resonates with me given my goals this year to focus more on the process and prioritise rest and self-care.

But I also couldn’t resist including something a little more inflammatory this week. I have been getting excited over the field for this year’s London marathon and the prospect of world record attempts, however Martin Fritz Huber, writing for Outside, takes issue with the use of pacers. It’s an interesting debate, and perhaps his idea to have different records for paced and unpaced records has some merit, but for now I’m simply excited to see some of the best in the world fighting it out along the streets of the capital.

And finally, I recently found myself quite excited to try a couple of new flavours of energy gel (marathon training is thrilling that way 😂) so was amused to find I’m not the only one obsessed with the flavours. Step in Runner’s World who have “selflessly” tested all of the flavours from prolific brand GU to create the definitive listing of the best (and worst!). Based on some of these flavours, perhaps it’s time I gave this brand a go!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 2nd February

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 and welcome to February! I hope you’re ready to attack the new month with enthusiasm. I’m here to bring you your first instalment of Friday Finds for this month…

I think we have to kick off with the story everyone has been talking about this week – Strava. Back in November the popular app/website (if it’s not on Strava then it didn’t happen, right?) launched their latest heat maps, an interactive map showing the most popular running/cycling routes worldwide. To be honest, it looks really cool! But this week it became apparent that military personnel were inadvertently revealing the location of their bases by uploading their workout data, leading Strava to release a statement. It seems to me that some users’ privacy settings might need a bit of attention!

There’s more news from the London marathon this week. UK readers will likely remember the big story from last year’s race came not from the elite race but from the club runners right behind them as Matthew Rees stopped to help David Wyeth, a complete stranger who was struggling in the finishing straight. The moment was televised and drew a lot of attention, including Wyeth’s running club offering to pay for Rees to run in the 2018 race. And run it he will, but alongside Wyeth. The two have become good friends since their paths crossed in London, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them featured on the TV coverage this year. I love when running brings people together and makes good things happen.

Another runner with a challenge ahead is Colin McCourt. If the name seems familiar then it’s because his 2017 challenge to break 16 minutes in the 5k featured in a post back in November. Now, he has set himself the new challenge of a sub-2:30 marathon by the end of 2018. He may be a former GB international competitor in the 1500m, but the marathon will be a very different experience for a man who has never run longer than 90 minutes before! His first marathon will be London, so I suspect he’ll also make it into the TV coverage – I’m already so excited to watch this year’s event!

Speaking of challenges, many people have set themselves the challenge of walking 10,000 steps per day. In fact, with so many people using fitness trackers/apps, it’s something the majority of us are keeping an eye on. But journalist (and doctor) Michael Mosley, in a programme for the BBC, claims that perhaps this isn’t the measure of health so many believe it to be. That may shatter the illusions of many, but I must say I feel much better when I move more and that must be important too. I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

And finally, runners often find strange things when they’re out putting in the miles, prompting Runner’s World to ask readers to share some of theirs. Some of them are truly bizarre and you have to wonder how these items came to be left/lost. What’s the strangest thins you’ve ever seen on a run?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 26th January

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 again! It’s the last Friday in January and hopefully some lighter evenings (and better weather!) are on the way. For now, here are some bits and pieces for you to curl up with on this chilly January evening…

Given the time of year, you might be forgiven for having ditched your New Year’s Resolutions already. Motivation tends to dwindle quite quickly, hence the frequent failure of resolutions. But what if there was something else you could do to help those motivation levels rise? That’s what Brad Stulberg discusses in his latest column for Outside, which reinforces the idea of creating habit. Once that habit is created, motivation levels matter much less.

Also from Outside comes the Sweat Science column by Alex Hutchinson. For those of us worried about becoming injured, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the better rested we are, the more robust we will be – no brainer really! As soon as I’ve finished this post I’ll be heading to bed to make sure I get plenty of sleep to help my body repair and ward off injury.

One of my favourite TV events, and one which is often the inspiration for others to start running, is the London marathon. In recent years it has taken place after my marathon and I’ve enjoyed a lazy morning on the sofa watching the action. This year will be a bit different as I’ll be on my final Sunday run before taking part in the Stirling marathon, however following the announcements of this year’s elite competitors I’ll be making sure I time my run so I can still watch the races unfold. It was already looking pretty exciting with a head-to-head between Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele, but now things are really hotting up with the news that Mary Keitany is targeting the World Record which has been held by Paula Radcliffe since 2003. She’s probably the runner who has come the closest, so this will be a great story to follow. I’m excited already!

Something slightly different comes from Tony Phillips in his column for Runner’s Radar. Since 2010 Phillips has been running at least a mile each day and uses his column to reflect on what that journey has taught him. This column is about leadership and is a reminder to us all that being a leader isn’t necessarily about charisma and public speaking, but listening to others and believing in them. Taken that way, we all have leadership potential, and since leaders are also great influencers, those of us who run are in a position to influence others frequently. But do we all see ourselves that way?

And finally, if you’re looking for some entertainment than why not check out some of the stories Runner’s World has gathered together that gently poke fun at the running community. It’s one of those cases where many are funny because they’re not too far from the truth!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 19th January

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! How has your week been? If you keep up with my other posts then you’ll know last weekend wasn’t the best for me and it’s been a bit of a strange week as a result. Sticking to my routine is helpful though, so I’m here as usual with some Friday Finds for you. Here we go…!

First, an interesting thing I came across just this morning. Adidas has teamed up with Berlin transit to create a shoe with a transit pass sewn into the tongue! The pass is valid until the end of the year and the shoes quickly sold out. I suppose that eliminates the need to fumble around for a pass and is a novel idea which has scope for development. Would you go for something like this?

I also loved this next article featuring some NYC marathon photos. Photographer Eddie Cohen wanted to capture runners in the moment of “exhaustion and euphoria” at the finish, a description which I find very fitting. The photos, along with “before” photos of the runners, feature in his new book. I don’t know about you, but as I look at those “after” photos, I understand just how they feel as all those marathon finish lines come flooding back to me.

Particularly striking this week was this letter written by US Olympian Bruce Berian. We all know a little of the commitment and hard work that takes an athlete on their journey to the top of their sport, but we don’t always learn the full story. In this heartfelt letter to his future self, Berian tells us of his journey from working in a fast food chain to the Olympic village Rio. Well worth a read.

Speaking of fast food, it seems that pro runners are not all the pillars of healthy eating that we might assume. Many fuel their running with some most unexpected foods. I certainly enjoy a treat AFTER a race, but tend to be quite cautious with my pre-run food. Some of these would definitely not sit well with me during a run, much as I might enjoy them at other times! Anyone else got any unconventional choices?

And finally, I’m becoming more and more keen on regular yoga practice and am also curious about some of the more “novelty” yoga classes now available (cat yoga and Harry Potter yoga are particularly appealing!) but if you’re anywhere near Baltimore then you can go along to a yoga class at the Maryland Zoo where you have an hour of yoga alongside the PENGUINS! I love penguins! If this happened at a zoo near me then I would be straight there!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 12th January

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 imagine you’re back into the regular routine now and the recent festivities seem like a dim and distant memory. Never fear, I still have some Friday Finds to get your weekend started.

Let’s start with something inspiring. You may have seen the headlines that US marathoner Molly Friel recently qualified for the 2020 Olympic marathon trials. On first reading that doesn’t sound like anything special…until you find out that Friel is 50! I LOVE seeing “older” athletes still performing as well as younger competitors as it reminds us all that age is just a number.

One of my goals for this year involves getting a bit more sleep as I know that I will perform better in all areas of my life if I’m better rested. With that in mind, I read with interest the findings from studying all the sleep data gathered by Fitbit. While  some of it is US-based, some of the basics are bound to be true for everyone else and are very revealing about how poor our sleep in general can be. It certainly inspired me to think more about this basic, but important part of life.

Of course one of the benefits of running is that it helps us in other areas of life, including improving our sleep. If you’re new to running, or your running has taken a back seat lately, here are some reminders of how it can help you (beyond fitness):

It wouldn’t be Friday Finds without some stats, so here are the results from the Running Shoes Guru reader survey where participants were asked a variety of questions about their running habits. I don’t know about you, but I always like to see where my answers fall compared to the others…

And finally, it’s the return of Strava art! London cyclist (and Strava artist) Anthony Hoyte created a fantastic festive design which involved 88 miles of cycling through busy city streets. Making this story even more appealing is the fact that he actually intended to do this a year ago but had to postpone due to illness. Definitely worth waiting for!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 5th January

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 first Friday of 2018. The festivities are drawing to a close and most are getting back into a regular routine. As part of that routine, here’s the first Friday Finds of the year…

One of my favourite stories of the week is about Japanese marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (a name probably familiar to listeners of the Marathon Talk podcast). Kawauchi travelled to the US to run a marathon on New Year’s Day and the race took place in the sort of temperatures that would have had me seriously questioning my decisions! But despite the adverse conditions, Kawauchi went on to win the race, along the way claiming the World Record for the most career sub-2:20 marathons. Amazing!

Just in case you were wondering what it would be like to run in super-cold temperatures, Canadian Running Magazine included this piece in which elite runner Matt Setlack shares his experiences of running in -30C. Yes, -30C!!! I would DEFINITLEY be on the treadmill if I had a run scheduled in that sort of weather!

On a different topic, I really liked this post by Sarah Crouch for Motiv Running. The elite US athlete writes with great honesty about the nature of race photos, and what she says really rings true. If you’ve ever cringed at the photos taken of you during a race (and who hasn’t?) then you should really have a read of this:

I wouldn’t expect to be including a post form Bloomberg in my Friday Finds, but this one is an interesting read on the development of running brand Brooks. I’m not sure how I feel about some of their definitions of a runner, but charting the history of the company and how things have changed in the market over the years is just the kind of thing I like to find out about. I don’t currently wear Brooks but have done in the past so their shoes are usually on my radar.

And finally, if you’re getting your 2018 fitness regime underway and considering training with your significant other, perhaps you should heed the cautionary tales in this piece from The Guardian and look elsewhere for a training partner. You have been warned…!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 29th 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.

Hello! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Another week has gone by and now we’re somehow teetering on the brink of a brand new year! Since this time of year is all about reflecting and setting goals, this week’s Friday Finds brings you a selection of articles looking back over 2017 in running and looking forward to 2018…

Runner’s World shared their roundup of the best running stories from the year. I certainly recognised a few in there:

Similarly, Outside shared their best running moments from the year. Some degree of crossover, but still a great reminder of some of the awesome things that happened this year:

Canadian Running magazine shared both the moments they found most jaw-dropping and a roundup of some of the best running-related books and movies to come out this year. Perfect if you’re still looking for something to do in this weird post-Christmas limbo!

And of course Strava published their year in stats – enjoy geeking-out over the numbers!

When it comes to looking ahead, Motiv Running is helping us with our goal-setting (including some useful questions to ask ourselves to aid reflection on 2017 before planning for 2018).

Canadian Running magazine suggests some running resolutions to give you inspiration:

And Runner’s World is making some predictions for the trends we’ll see in the year ahead. It will be interesting to see if they are right!

However your 2017 went and whatever you have planned for 2018, I wish you the happiest of new years and look forward to sharing more with you in the coming months.

The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 22nd 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.

Ho Ho Ho! It’s the last Friday before Christmas and hopefully your “out of office” notification is on so you can enjoy the festivities. Let’s get things started with a little something to read…

At this time of year most runners are probably hoping Santa will leave some snazzy new gear under their Christmas tree, but let’s face it every race feels like Christmas what with all the swag we get! But what happens to all those race T-shirts? Stuffed in a drawer? Turned into a blanket? Or used as a duster? In this first article, Runner’s World contributors share some of their favourite race T-shirts and the stories behind them. Many of mine have a story too. What about yours?

Do you wear a fitness tracker? Perhaps you’ve asked for one for Christmas? These days just about everyone, myself included, has some sort of tracker clamped to their wrist to monitor all kinds of metrics. Articles appear every so often debating the pros and cos of such devices and waxing lyrical about the impact they have on our lives. Here’s the latest: a piece for The New York Times examining whether or not the data from a fitness tracker can help runners to race better.

At this stressful time of year escaping into nature can be a great way to calm down and get things back in perspective. With that in mind, I enjoyed this piece which takes the form of a thank you letter to Mother Nature. It’s a lovely concept and something I might try writing myself. What would you thank Mother Nature for? I’d love to read your responses…

I know lots of runners have made a Christmas Day run part of their festive traditions, while others prefer to rest and have an indulgent day. For many years I treated Christmas Day as a rest day, choosing instead to beat the sluggishness with a Boxing Day run, but in recent years Steve and I have preferred heading out for a run. It’s so nice to stick on a festive hat, run at an easy pace together and greet the people we meet. This year we will be heading to a special Christmas Day parkrun and are really looking forward to it. If you haven’t tried a run on Christmas Day, perhaps this next piece will persuade you:

And finally, if Christmas has you stressed out and desperate to drop everything and run, you might enjoy these GIFs exemplifying how to respond to some classic Christmas conundrums. I think my favourite is the first one!

Happy reading and Happy Christmas!
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 15th 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.

Phew! Another Friday in the bag and another Friday closer to the festivities of the 25th. Let’s take a look at a few bits and pieces that have caught my eye in the last week…

I’ll start with one of the hot topics of the year, Nike’s Vaporfly 4% shoes (aka the Breaking2 shoes). Since I love a stat, I was fascinated to find out that 19 out of the 36 possible top-three podium places in World Marathon Majors this year were occupied by athletes wearing Nike’s ground-breaking (some would say controversial) new shoes developed for the Breaking2 project. I have come across a number of articles suggesting the shoes really do make a difference to finishing times, so Tim Huebsch at Canadian Running magazine did his sums and added 4% to the finishing times of the athletes wearing the shoes to see what they could have been otherwise. Interestingly, they are probably a bit slower than one might expect for this level of athlete so I think it’s fair to say that there’s more to a speedy time than a pair of shoes, but I wonder if there was a psychological impact too?

Taking a slightly different approach to research is Alex Hutchinson in his Sweat Science column. Rather than provide details of the latest study related to running/fitness, the column this time looks at smaller studies that didn’t produce the “right”result and therefore didn’t hit the headlines.

Meanwhile over at The Guardian, Kate Carter is taking a look at the Strava Year in Sport report that I highlighted last week. Rather than looking at some of the more “serious” statistics, this time things are brought to a level of far more importance to many (all?) runners – food! Once those miles start racking up then I can say with absolute certainty that food becomes one of the most important things in my life, but what would your guess be for the most popular food mentioned in Strava activity titles? You can click through to see if you were right:

Another fascinating idea from Canadian Running magazine pits a number of world leaders against each other in a hypothetical 5k. Funnily enough, their own leader takes the top spot but he does have the advantage of actually being a runner. Some of the others can certainly hold their own so imagine if this race actually took place…

And finally, whether you’re a seasoned yogi able to twist yourself into a pretzel or someone who struggles to touch their toes, these illustrations of yoga expectations versus reality are sure to raise a smile. This was probably me when I started doing yoga, but it’s amazing how quickly you improve.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess