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

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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

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 – 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

My Year of Running 2017 (Link Up)

This time last year I linked up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC to reflect on my year of running. I really enjoyed writing that post so am joining in again this year.

  • Best race experience 
    Apparently I’m getting fussy in my old age and hardly raced this year even though I ran loads. It would be tempting to choose Paris here (as I did last year) but I’m going to mix things up and choose the Loch Ness marathon. It was third time lucky for me having previously entered the race and not made the start line and although I didn’t quite reach my goal of a marathon PB, the scenery was stunning and I finished with my second-fastest marathon time ever (and the only sub-4:30 outside of my PB). I have to be pleased with that!

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  • Best run
    My best run came in September, just one week before the Loch Ness marathon, when I wanted to test myself at parkrun. I had no expectation of a PB but felt in shape to run my fastest time of the year. I ran well, felt good all the way round and was stunned to find myself just 5 seconds outside of what had been, until that moment, a “rogue outlier” of a PB. Most unexpected result of my life and I was probably just as pleased as if I had run the PB!

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  • Best new piece of running gear
    Got to be my Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones. I love to listen podcasts when I’m running and had begun to move away from wired headphones, but all the wireless ones had fairly bulky earpieces and/or plugged my ears too much. I love my Aftershokz as they’re not only comfortable, but use bone conduction to send the sound to my ears so I am fully aware of noises around me. Out of all the new kit I’ve bought this year, these have been the biggest game changer. Pricey, but worth it.

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  • Best running advice you’ve received all year
    Not strictly advice, but this year I did try out a method of approaching my long runs that my husband has found useful. Combining the idea of running at a slow pace to build endurance with the idea of faster pick-ups during the run, I ran every 3rd mile at a quicker pace. This taught me that I could pick up the pace when I needed to and was a useful strategy heading into my goal race.
  • Most inspirational runner
    I’m inspired by many people, but for this one I’m going to pick Laura Muir. Laura has had an amazing year of setting records, challenging records and stepping up to the mark against strong competitors. I have been impressed by her attitude as she never shied away from her goals but was upfront about what she wanted to achieve. Even more impressive is that she has done all of this around her studies to become a vet. Incredible!
  • Favourite picture from a run or race this year
    More of a post-run choice, but I loved the pictures Steve and I took in the Champ de Mars after the Paris Breakfast Run. I think my favourite is this one of me in Warrior Pose!

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  • Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat
    If you don’t race very much but one of your race experiences was in Paris, what else are you going to choose? It may have been a ridiculously hot day, but even though my time wasn’t as I had hoped I was still running through the streets of Paris on a glorious spring day and there’s not much that can top that!

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  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be?
    Making progress. I had a very consistent and solid year of running, with a new half marathon PB, improvements in my marathon time and some very pleasing parkrun results. I tried a bit of international parkrun tourism and just this month reached the milestone of my 100th parkrun. All in all it’s been a great year!

Despite a pretty light racing schedule, 2017 was an awesome year of running. I kicked it all off with a mega New Year challenge, went to Paris, raced in Florida and racked up my highest yearly mileage yet. Now bring on 2018…!

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Want to join the linkup? All the instructions are here.

Eat Pray Run DC