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

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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 – 20th July

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 6th April

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.

April means spring marathon season is upon us with highlights including Paris, Boston and London in the next few weeks alone. My feeds are jammed with stories of elite competitors, epic challenges and incredible inspiration, so I think that’s where the focus will be this week.

An interesting feat is Loren Zitomersky’s aim to run the Boston marathon backwards. That’s right, backwards! Personally I find it hard enough to cover 26.2 miles facing forwards and imagine I would probably fall over if I tried to run more than a few steps backwards! What I hadn’t considered was that in this endeavour the runner facing backwards will be actually facing other competitors (assuming they are not dead last!) and will be treated to all the strange looks sent in their direction for the duration of the race. I bet he gets a few interesting comments when he’s training too!

But in this day and age it seems the marathon is becoming “too easy” for some and bigger challenges are being sought. Thus the stratospheric rise of the ultramarathon. But what is it that’s driving more and more people to take on huge distances, inhospitable terrain and epic multi-day events? Adharanand Finn asks that very question in this column for The Guardian.

Sometimes, of course, that challenge isn’t an organised event but an individual challenge from someone brave enough to not only dream up the idea, but to make it happen. One such idea comes from Peter Thompson who this summer aims to run the Tour de France. That’s 30 miles per day for 70 days with the aim of finishing before the cyclists begin. That’s some challenge!

A very different kind of challenge is to continue running for years to come and inspire others. When centenarians Orville Rogers and Julia Hawkins set new records earlier this year they became an instant sensation, so here’s some of their advice to enjoy a long and healthy relationship with running.

And finally, whether you’ve got a spring marathon coming up or have been through the process before, here are some reminders of the weird and wonderful quirks of marathon training. I’ll admit to number 5. What about you?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 23rd March

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.

Did you miss me? I’m afraid scheduling meant there just wasn’t a way to get my Friday Finds post written and uploaded on time this week so for one week only I’m bringing you Saturday Stories instead…

Let’s start with coverage of an event I definitely wouldn’t want to take part in – an indoor marathon. That’s right, 211 laps of a 200m oval track (with a change of direction to break up the monotony!). It would probably be pretty interesting to watch, but what a lot of mental strength it must take. Nevertheless, both male and female world records were set at the most recent attempt, however – and this is my favourite part of the story – neither of the victors ran a lap of honour!

On the subject of world records, I also came across this piece which considers the importance of figures like the late Roger Bannister whose historic sub-4 minute mile provided the inspiration for more runners to reach the same mark. It seems to be true that once one person achieves a big goal like this is the running world, the belief that it’s possible leads to a flood of similar achievements and I’ve no doubt that once someone runs a sub-2 hour marathon there will be several more soon after. It just goes to show how powerful the mind can be, proving the adage “the body achieves what the mind believes”.

When wanting to run at our best, many of us try to caffeine for a little extra boost. It definitely works for me, but it seems that there are some people for whom caffeine actually leads to slower times. Here’s Alex Hutchinson to explain the science:

Another topical issue concerns plastic – both the amount of it in our oceans and the way it is used in races. Adidas has been trying to make positive use of ocean plastics by recycling them into shoes, and it seems that they have been popular:

And finally, if you love getting out in nature and following your feet then you might enjoy this new music video from singer-songwriter David Rosales. An ode to trail running which really captures the highs of getting out there.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 16th March

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.

Ah, Friday! What a time it’s taken to come around this week! Things are still pretty busy for me at work, but I hope you’ve had an awesome week and are ready for some Friday Finds to kick off your weekend…

This week I’m going to start with a bit of inspiration in the form of Ida Keeling. Miss Ida (as she’s known) is 102 years old and, having only started exercising at age 67, now holds a world record in the 100m for her age group. Life has thrown a great deal at her, and her resilience and positivity is astonishing. I LOVE her advice to younger runners “Stay strong, love yourself, and do what you need to do, not what you want to do” and hope that if I live to 102 I can be as inspirational as her. Best start drinking cognac 😉

Let’s follow that with a bit of Strava-related humour. I’ll confess to having found myself diverted by my times over certain “segments” before (there’s one in particular near my parents’ place in Florida that I once had the top spot for but have since lost it and only have one two-week window per year to try and contest it again!) but it seems that getting even more carried away with the quest to claim the crown is possible. Here’s what happened when one Outside columnist set out to do just that:

Now a different topic: the always controversial “running with music”. Personally, I like to use my running time to listen to podcasts but am equally happy without my headphones (unless I’m pretty deep into a reeeeally long run and then I want something else to focus on!). I actually ran the first 10 miles or so of my last marathon sans headphones and wouldn’t use them on a trail run, but I know plenty of runners who always prefer to run without music/podcasts and focus instead on their own thoughts and the sounds of nature. Here’s one runner explaining why:

Like the writer of the above piece, I would DEFINITELY want my headphones if I was running on a treadmill (something I try to avoid!) but I think perhaps I would ditch them if the treadmill was like the one created by Nike to promote their latest running shoes. Located in a pop-up shop in Chicago, it looks like great fun and waaaaay more exciting than the treadmill at the gym!

And finally, interesting news for those who, like me, have a penchant for leggings. I hadn’t previously been aware of how the UK Office for National Statistics calculates the cost of living, but it seems they create a “basket of goods” which “reflects contemporary habits and technology to calculate the changing cost of living, as measured by the inflation rate.” This year, women’s leggings have been added to the basket and, given the further addition of action cameras and last year’s selection of speciality gin, this is increasingly sounding like a basket of goods I would rather enjoy! What would be in yours?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 9th March

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 and what a difference a week makes when it comes to the weather! After last week’s epic snow there’s now just a hint of spring in the air – perhaps I’ll be back in my running shorts again soon…

However it was a sad start to the week with the news that running legend Roger Bannister had passed away. His historic breaking of the 4-minute mile was a pivotal moment in the history of the sport, so unsurprisingly many articles have been written about him in recent days. I thought I would share a few of them:

As the week drew to a close there was news from another running legend, this time much happier. As if I wasn’t already excited enough about watching this year’s London Marathon, it has now been announced that pioneer of women’s running Kathrine Switzer is to take part in the 2018 event. This will actually be the first time Switzer has taken part in this iconic event and I can’t wait to follow her progress on race day.

Moving to a different topic now and one close to my heart – food! We’ve long been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and now Alex Hutchinson of Sweat Science is here with a bit of scientific evidence to prove that our energy is better when we shift more of our calorie consumption to breakfast time. Sounds pretty good to me!

Next up, as an injury-prone runner I really connected with this piece from Motiv Running. Having an injury that prevents you from doing the thing that you love can really affect how you feel about lots of things, and I remember back in 2014 I struggled with a lengthy injury and began to wonder if I would ever be able to run again. What did that mean? Could I still call myself a runner? Who was I? These are the kinds of questions examined by Hillary Allen in her meditation on life as an injured runner.

And finally, always a sucker for a story featuring cute animals, here’s a great one about how rescuing a dog helped one runner to find the motivation to run again after one injury too many. I’ve never tried running with a dog but it looks like such good fun!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 2nd March

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.

Brrr! I hope everyone has kept safe and warm this week. Given the unusual weather we’ve been experiencing here in the UK, I thought I’d bring you a wintery edition of Friday Finds this week.

I’ll start with Laura Muir. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Laura and her determined attitude. Yesterday she earned a bronze medal in a world class field at the Indoor Championships in Birmingham. That in itself is fantastic, but what really caught my attention was what it took to get from Glasgow (where she is studying to become a vet) to Birmingham for the race as The Beast From The East made travel incredibly difficult. That’s one determined athlete!

Also pretty determined is this coach in Vancouver who spent THREE HOURS shovelling snow from one lane of the athletics track so his team could still get their workout done. Shovelling snow is a pretty intense workout in itself (and there’s always the risk that your handiwork is quickly obliterated by fresh snowfall) so well done Coach!

If you’re anything like me then you’re probably not letting the weather stand in the way of going for a run, but it’s still important to make sure you dress appropriately and adjust your expectations. For me that means layering up and forgetting about pace/mileage and just having fun. For a little extra help, here’s Alex Hutchinson’s Sweat Science column from earlier this year with some cold weather running advice.

Of course many may see it more as skiing weather right now, so here’s an interesting article about the calorie intake of elite cross-country skiers. It turns out they have to eat an enormous number of calories each day to support their training and that’s not as easy as it might sound. I know from past experience of marathon training (and those days immediately after the race) that a huge meal seems to be quickly burned off and hunger sets right back in, so can understand this difficulty to an extent. Mind you, I wouldn’t mind a go at eating 8000 calories, just for a couple of days…!

And finally, it seems that some people just never seem to feel the need for warm clothing for their run – even in the most frigid temperatures. Looking at this, it seems our friends in Canada are a particularly hardy breed. I think I’ll stick to my thermal kit, if it’s all the same to you!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 23rd 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.

Thank goodness it’s Friday! It’s felt like a pretty long week over here and I’m definitely ready for the weekend. Let’s kick things off with some Friday Finds

At the start of the year I highlighted a piece from Bloomberg in which the Brooks CEO made some comments about runners which to me were a little confusing and which, in the running community, provoked some controversy. As a follow-up, Women’s Running examined the article in full and spoke with the CEO to gain a bit of clarity. Here are the conclusions they drew:

Next up, some thoughts on the brain’s role in performance. I recently listened to Sweat Science columnist Alex Hutchinson on a podcast discussing his book on this topic. To me, what he said made sense: if we believe we can (or can’t) do something then that is the likely outcome. Remove the barrier of “can’t” and who knows what might happen. In this extract from the book, printed in Outside, he explains in a bit more detail and it seems like a fascinating read.

I’ve often thought that running teaches us a lot that we can apply to other aspects of our life, for example not giving up on things, and there are certainly a number of lessons that we can take into our working lives. Here’s Monica Zent, writing for Inc, to explain further:

Regular readers will maybe remember that this year for me is all about processes rather than outcomes. I want to think about adding positive habits rather than striving for impossible goals. I recently listened to a podcast interview where the guest pointed out that if you’re in a race with hundreds (or thousands) of other people, every one of them will follow the same path to the finish line. But every one of them has also followed a completely different path to reach the start line. That simple thought really resonated with me and the same idea appears at the start of this next piece which encourages us all to give greater thought to our own journeys. I really enjoyed it.

And finally, if all that talk of endurance and battles for the win has got you thirsting for more, here’s Runner’s World with 25 exciting race finishes for you to watch. Time to get those elbows sharpened!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess