Friday Finds – 5th June

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

Hello! did you miss me last week? The thing about working from home, is that all that time spent in front of a screen means putting together a blog post is much less appealing – plus last Friday the sun was out and my sister came for a (socially distanced) garden visit so something had to give. Sorry! Still, I’m back today with a super-quick post to round up a few interesting odds and ends:

Although I had no marathon-related plans this year, I was still shocked (although probably not hugely surprised) at the cancellation of this year’s Boston marathon. I fear that many other events will follow suit and 2020 will become a bit of a wasteland when it comes to competitive events

Mind you, it looks like some runners are finding other ways to be competitive throughout lockdown:

And I enjoyed this photo story of how professional athletes have been maintaining their training from home:

I have mentioned one or two times that coming back out of lockdown makes me feel worried. I have become so accustomed to avoiding people that the idea of closer contact feels almost alien. I knew I wouldn’t be alone in feeling that way and Runner’s World has put together some advice:

And finally, a little bit of Strava humour. Which one best describes you? I’m definitely the “looper”.

Stay safe. Be kind. Wash your hands.
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 6th 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.

TGIF!! I’ve had a crazy-busy week and am so in need of my weekend now to get a bit of headspace. Let’s start things off with a few bits and pieces to read…

I’ll begin with a little news from the ultra community as marathoner Aly Dixon didn’t just win her first 50k championships, but set a world record at the same time! Not only did she complete it in a smoking fast time, but she was still finished long before I would have finished a marathon, showing how amazing elite athletes are.

Given the success of Aly Dixon and recent high-profile performance by female athletes, this seems a good time to consider a recent BBC article about female endurance and ultra distance events. It has long been recognised that the longer the event, the more likely it is that women will outperform men and this is something I find fascinating. Do you have any experience of this?

Also from the BBC, this informative piece about how tracking menstrual cycles can help women to organise their training in order to get the best results, work with their hormones and (hopefully) avoid issues. Acknowledging that women’s bodies just don’t work the same way as men’s  – and that there needs to be more female-specific research – is long overdue, so I’m glad to see it highlighted here. I can definitely see a pattern in my energy levels and performance across different point of the month and knowing how to capitalise on that is crucial when chasing goals. Female readers, what do you think?

Next, an interesting social experiment around race medals. I do tend to wear my medal for the rest of the day after a race and have been known to take certain ones into work with me as I know some of my colleagues are keen to see them, but after that they are hung on a display (or stashed away waiting to be displayed!). But one Boston marathon runner from this year decided to keep wearing his for weeks afterwards in order to see how others responded. What I find most interesting here is that while it was clear some people thought it a little odd, not one person ridiculed him or suggested it was time to remove it. Perhaps an interesting experiment to conduct!

And finally, perhaps only the most tenuous of connections to running, but I wanted to share the news that Mars is apparently bringing back the Marathon name…for a limited time at least. By the sounds of it, the original UK name for a Snickers bar will only appear on packs bought in just one of the major supermarkets, but I still fancy buying some just for the nostalgia value! Who else remembers when Snickers was Marathon?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 19th 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.

Friday once again, and Good Friday no less. If you have a long weekend ahead, then I hope the weather is good and you have fun. I was able to watch coverage of the Boston marathon on Monday and it was fantastic, so this week’s finds will still have a bit of a Boston slant to them. Enjoy!

First up, the incredible Joan Benoit Samuelson who first ran the Boston marathon 40 years ago with a very respectable time of 2:35:15. Now in her early 60s, she hoped to finish within 40 minutes of that and absolutely smashed it with her time of 3:04 – within 30 minutes of her winning time from 1979! Just amazing!

Next, the remarkable Boston story of US marine Micah Herndon. Herndon was running in memory of 3 fallen comrades, so when his legs gave out around the 22 mile mark, he kept on going to finish the marathon on his hands and knees. The footage of him crawling towards the line is really very emotional.

The results in Boston prompted this next piece from Runner’s World, looking at the reasons why marathoners perform so much better in their 30s than their 20s. It makes for pretty interesting reading and is proof that it’s not just wine that gets better with age!

On a lighter note, I was also pleased to see my favourite Boston supporter was on duty again. Therapy dog Spencer became the subject of a viral video last year as he supported runners from the sidelines whilst wearing his owner’s raincoat (remember those awful weather conditions in Boston last year?). Well this year he was back again, proudly sporting his own wet weather gear and looking every inch as adorable as in 2018. I really hope he becomes a fixture of the event for years to come.

And finally, a little marathon-related humour from Canadian Running magazine. If you’ve run a marathon before then some of these might be familiar! Which ones resonate with you?

Happy Easter reading!
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 12th 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.

I may not having been posting my usual updates recently, but I’ve still been saving up plenty of interesting things to share with you and now is as good a time as any to get back into my regular posting routine. And with spring marathon season really kicking off with Paris on Sunday, Boston on Monday and London coming up in a couple of weeks, this week’s finds are going to be loosely race-themed. Let’s get started…!

First up is everybody’s nightmare scenario: travelling to a race only to find that your luggage has gone missing (this is why I ALWAYS carry my race day kit in my hand luggage!). In many situations it can be reasonably easy to sort out some replacement kit, but not always, and that is exactly what happened to Peter Messervy-Gross who found himself at the start line of a 100 mile ultramarathon across a frozen Mongolian lake, without all the kit he had been carefully gathering in the months previously. But rather than miss out, Messervy-Gross took part in the race anyway…in his jeans and brogues! Now that’s tenacity!

Of interest here in the UK, the London marathon recently announced the steps they are to take to become more environmentally sustainable. Several new initiatives are to be trialled at this year’s event and I look forward to reading more about how successful these are. Anything that reduces the amount of waste – especially plastic bottles – is a fantastic step.

Meanwhile in the US, all eyes are on Monday’s Boston marathon where it looks like weather conditions may be quite tough again. This year the Grand Marshal for the event will be fan favourite Men Keflezighi. I’ve recently been reading his first book and am really beginning to see why everyone loves him so much. I’ll probably go on to read his new book at some point, so here’s an excerpt in which he reflects on his first experience of the the Boston marathon:

The other one to watch in Boston is, of course, 2018 winner (and another firm favourite!) Yuki Kawauchi who recently turned pro. He also recently raced a half marathon dressed as a ninja, proving once more why he is such an amazing character to follow. Yuki will be running again on Marathon Monday, but in what is very likely a marathon running first, the defending champion will also be running in the same race as his mother! I hope Mummy Kawauchi doesn’t keep her son waiting around too long at the finish!

And finally, we all know I enjoy stories which combine running with animals, so here’s the latest one: the dog that joined this year’s Marathon des Sables. How (p)awesome!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess 

Friday Finds – 1st 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.

Congratulations! If you are reading this then you have officially survived January – all 57 days of it (or at least that’s what it felt like!). February is certainly not coming in quietly with bitter cold and disruptive snow in many areas, but it’s still good to know that the dreariest month of the year is behind us. So if you’re cosied up inside avoiding the arctic blast outside, here’s some reading material to keep you occupied…

On the subject of cold weather, while it’s been pretty chilly here in the UK the temperatures endured by our American friends under the polar vortex have been unbelievable, so I was surprised to learn of the 146 crazy hardy competitors who braved the elements to take part in a 135 mile ultramarathon in Minnesota. I think that would definitely be a “nope” from me, but I wonder if any of my readers would fancy giving it a go?

Next, I ask you to indulge me in just one more piece on Jasmin Paris. I’m still totally fascinated (and impressed) by her performance at the Spine Race and really hope to hear her talking about it on some future podcasts. This piece is from the always-excellent Sean Ingle at The Guardian and reminds us that perhaps the most captivating thing about this story is the sheer simplicity of it in a world of sponsorship and carefully calibrated media exposure. I love that Paris is staying true to her values and wants to continue doing things her way and keeping it fun.

Which brings me nicely to the latest Alex Hutchinson column and his examination of gender differences in endurance. While the data can, as Hutchinson rightly points out, be read in different ways, it’s still interesting to look at the trends over the last 40 years and see how the gap between men’s and women’s times have changed. However possibly one of the best parts of this piece is Hutchinson’s praise for athletes such as Jasmin Paris and Camille Herron for the amazing performances they are putting in.

Another fascinating piece of research has found that there are many similarities between children and well-trained endurance athletes, which is perhaps good news for those of us who long for the freedom and energy of childhood. Reading the article it makes sense how trail running, in particular, is similar to child-like play, however one of the things I love about running is the feeling of freedom and being able to go on and on, something that probably has its roots in childhood play. I’d love to know your thoughts on this one.

And finally, this week I came across what is possibly the cutest running story of all time: a beautiful tail tale about a woman running the majority of a marathon whilst carrying an abandoned puppy she found early in the race. I just love that she did this and that she later adopted the adorable pup. It got me thinking about what I would do in a similar situation, and I suspect that given my tendency to stop and pet all the animals on training runs, helping a puppy (or kitten) would definitely become more important than the race – there are always other races but a helpless animal may only have that one shot at a better life. Well done Khemjira Klongsanun.

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 – 20th 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.

I don’t know about you but I am gripped by marathon fever. Since last Friday we have had the Commonwealth Games marathon, the Boston marathon and, this weekend, the London marathon. I’m so excited and pretty much have marathons on the brain right now. Unsurprisingly, that means this week’s Friday Finds is a marathon special.

I have to start with last Sunday’s Commonwealth Games and Callum Hawkins. As a Scot, I was backing Callum to perform well, so was shocked to see the footage of how his race ended when I awoke on Sunday. Quite the controversy ensued, however I found this piece by Tom English for the BBC worth a read:

Soon, news feeds were taken over by the Boston marathon on Monday. It was the coldest on record (I think), with wet conditions to boot and the results were, in some respects, unexpected. While the eyes of the world were on the US women challenging for the win, there were several surprises thrown in along the way, which is exactly why I love marathons. Here are some articles I enjoyed to round up the key stories:

Of course now the London marathon is right around the corner and there have been plenty of articles looking forward to the big event on the UK sporting calendar. The BBC really summed it up with these compilations:

I for one will be comfortably ensconced on my sofa with a cup of tea taking it all in – the stellar elite fields, the possibility of records being broken, the icons  – whilst willing those I know towards the finish line. But if you need just a little more cheer this evening, then here’s a video of a therapy dog supporting runners in Boston. You’re welcome!

Happy reading. And if you’re racing this weekend, happy running!
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 – 30th 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.

Hello! I hope Good Friday has been good for you. The weather here has been pretty miserable, but a day off work was definitely welcome! So as you relax into your (long) weekend, here are some bits and pieces for your reading pleasure…

Last week I included a piece with the startling news that caffeine might not make everyone run faster, so to counter that here’s an article from Runner’s World to remind us of all the benefits having a coffee. Just don’t drink it too late if you want to get a good night’s sleep!

Also from Runner’s World, the results of a study into the effects of stopping exercise on our mental health. Certainly any runner who has ever been sidelined by injury can attest to how their mood changes, but up until now there has been very little research done on the subject. Unsurprisingly, the study notes changes almost immediately in many cases, but what was most surprising for me was that females seemed to be affected much more. Perhaps that explains the way I have reacted to past injuries compared to Steve! I’d be interested in your thoughts on this.

If you’re needing something uplifting after that, then I have the very article for you. Sometimes the person who finishes last in a race is the most inspiring of all, so here are the stories of 8 runners who found themselves doing just that.:

This week’s near-obligatory article about Strava is a cautionary tale for those who pore over the data too much – but perhaps not in the way you think. Most of us (read: me!) like to geek out over the copious amounts of data the app provides, but for one user the only data she was interested in was who her partner was working out with. Can you guess what happened next…?

And finally, the tagline tells us that “America runs on Dunkin'” and now we can take that literally as Saucony’s latest running shoes to celebrate the city of Boston have a Dunkin’ Donuts theme. It may seem an odd partnership, but there’s something appealing about running shoes covered in sprinkles 😀 If you could design a pair of running shoes featuring food, what would you choose?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 15th 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.

For the first time this year, I just didn’t manage to pull my Friday Finds post together while it was still actually Friday! I tried, but was just too tired after a busy couple of days to finalise my article choices and finish it off. So this week, let’s call it Saturday Stories – sorry!

As marathon day edges ever closer (one more week – eek!) my thoughts inevitably turn to the big day. The result? Some reading material with a marathon slant this week…

First, something rather disappointing. While I understand the strong desire to set a BQ (Boston Qualifying) time and secure a coveted place in the Boston marathon, I find it appalling the lengths some people will go to in order to claim that place, often depriving more genuine applicants of their chance. This week it came to light that thousands of runners have been accused of cheating at the Mexico City marathon, many of whom were recorded as having BQ times. I find it incredible that something like this could happen on a large scale, but am pleased that the vigilant Derek Murphy at Marathon Investigation is always looking out for such things. Here is his analysis of the results from that race:

Speaking of Boston, race director Dave McGillivray finally managed to stage an event that first entered his mind decades ago and which he has been planning for years – a marathon entirely inside a Major League Baseball stadium. Just 50 runners were accepted into the 100+ lap (!!!) USATF certified event at Fenway Park which took place as I was pulling this post together. The winner? The one and only Mike Wardian, of course!

This next article had me intrigued. It’s a report on a study of language learning and whether or not exercise could help. Findings suggest that working out can improve our ability to memorise, retain and understand new vocabulary, giving further weight to the theory that exercise boosts brain power as well as physical fitness. Perhaps I should switch to language-learning podcasts on my training runs. I could be much more adept with foreign languages after a cycle of marathon training!

For me, one of my favourite things about marathon training is the eating I can do. I LOVE my food so being able to put away huge meals without any difficulty is a real joy (I just have to remember to stop once the race is over and I’m not training so hard anymore!). Funnily enough, it’s not just me and I enjoyed this short piece from Women’s Running which beautifully sums up my feelings up with regard to food:

And finally, not a new video by any means, but I recently came across this again and with a marathon on the horizon, found it rather entertaining.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess