Friday Finds – 22nd March

It’s Fabulous Friday! I hope you’ve had a great week and are looking forward to the weekend ahead. I’m just stopping by to share some inspiring stories from the week gone by…

I want to begin this week with an update on a story I shared last month about a visually impaired runner aiming to be the first to run the New York half marathon with a team of guide dogs rather than a guide runner. Happily, he achieved just that, making Thomas Panek (and his dogs Westley, Waffle and Gus!) history makers. Here’s some more information courtesy of Runner’s World:

It was quite the weekend for inspiring performances, as here in the UK it was the ever-popular Bath half marathon. The biggest story to come out of this event is that of Harmonie-Rose Allen. The five year old lost all her limbs to meningitis as a baby, and was being wheeled around the course by a team of family and teachers, however the little trooper wanted to walk the final few metres to cross the finish line herself. I imagine it would have been a very emotional scene to witness and such an amazing achievement for those involved.

Speaking of half marathons, did you see Will Smith’s latest challenge? I hadn’t previously come across his Facebook Watch show Will Smith’s Bucket List (presumably because I’m old and don’t know about such things!) but the idea is fascinating – travelling the globe and ticking off personal challenges. But for his latest challenge, he had to get half marathon ready in just 3 weeks! It’s one thing taking on a last-minute half when you’re seasoned runner with plenty of miles in the bank, but quite another when you are not in your best shape and have never run the distance before. An impressive undertaking and perhaps worth a watch.

Someone else who’s no stranger to a challenge is Anna McNuff. The adventurer behind the awesome books The Pants of Perspective and Fifty Shades of the USA has just announced her next challenge…and it’s a great one. Starting in June, McNuff will run 100 marathons (yes, 100!) through Britain. Oh, and she’s going to run them all barefoot! Check out the link below to see how you can follow along/join in/help out:

And finally, if you missed last year’s collaboration between Saucony and Dunkin’ Donuts, then good news! They have worked together again to produce another pair of donut (doughnut?) themed running shoes. I still find the idea rather appealing, but I know not everyone would go for it. Would you wear them? What food would you like to see on a pair of running shoes?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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Friday Finds – 8th 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.

Happy Friday and happy International Women’s Day. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to focus on female-related articles this week.

To start, a post from Runner’s World to mark International Women’s Day, charting key moments in the history of women’s running. So many amazing achievements in here and I look forward to seeing what the future brings for the sport.

Another source focusing on women’s sports today is Outside, with their piece looking at advances towards equality for women in sport. There have been so many positive steps made, but more could still be done to ensure EVERYONE has equality of opportunity.

One change that was announced this week was around the prize money at the forthcoming Boston marathon. There was some controversy last year after some runners in the open categories finished in prize-winning positions, but were initially ineligible for prize money due to not starting as elite athletes. This was later addressed and it looks like this year’s race will offer further opportunities for women to achieve.

And finally, let’s finish on a positive note with the latest Nike commercial celebrating women breaking down barriers. Narrated by the awesome Serena Williams, it points out many of the double standards women are often held to and reminds us to keep pushing forward with our dreams and being “crazy”. I love it!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 22nd 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.

Ah, Friday! I’ve had a much better week this week but I’m definitely still ready for my weekend. I hope your week has been good and you have fun plans for the weekend. To start it off, a little light reading…

I was most interested this morning to learn that my chance has finally come to take part in the Olympic Games…sort of. In a bid to make the public more involved in the Paris 2024 games, organisers have announced that they will stage a mass participation marathon, on the actual marathon course, on the same day as the elite events. And while there’s no hope of an Olympic medal, I wonder if there will be some kind of race souvenir for those who take part. It would be pretty cool!

Speaking of elite athletes, last weekend was quite the one for records and record attempts. First, Hayley Carruthers had a go at breaking the recently set parkrun women’s record and although she missed out, I love her determination tion to try again as that means this particular record is shaping up to provide lots of healthy competition this year and keep women’s running firmly on the radar.

And this was followed up with another record-breaking woman (and one of my favourites) Laura Muir smashing the women’s indoor mile record. I’ve written before about how much I love Muir’s attitude and determination, but now I also love how sensible she as she has her sights set on another event and is making sure to protect herself from February germs. I think I could learn a thing or two about that!!

I’ve also made no secret of my admiration for Jasmin Paris and I know I’m not alone in this one, but here’s a piece from a source I never expected to be including in one of my posts… Vogue! That’s right, Paris did an interview for Vogue! Also pretty cool.

And finally, what if the miles you ran added up to free beers? Well that’s exactly what’s happening in a new joint venture between New Balance and Strava. At the moment it’s only in London, but I definitely like the idea of paying for drinks with miles. I’m sure I must have earned a few…!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 15th 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! Yes, it is indeed Saturday rather than Friday but an ongoing issue with my computer has left me a bit out of sorts and relying heavily on other devices. Keep your fingers crossed I can resolve things soon, and in the meantime I’ll do my best to keep my regular posts coming.

I want to start this week by returning to last week’s story about the runner who was attacked by a mountain lion whilst out on a run. As you may remember, in order to survive this attack the runner had to kill the mountain lion, but little further was known of the story. In the last couple of days, a little more was made public so I wanted to follow up the story with this piece, one of several I saw in which the runner was able to discuss what happened.

The rest of the articles I’m sharing this week are ones where we can get a bit of inspiration from the amazing things that are being achieved in the world of running. Let’s start with the World Marathon Challenge and runner Susannah Gill who not only completed what must be a pretty exhausting (and at times gruelling) challenge, but set a new female record whilst doing so. The idea of 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents is pretty intriguing, but the cost is prohibitive. Would you have a go if money was no object?

Also setting a new record is the incredible Camille Herron who, despite being in a car accident just two weeks prior, set a new women’s course record at the Tarawera 100 mile race. She really is unstoppable!

Another woman showing us what can be done is Marianne Heading who won the 300 mile Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra. Yes, ARCTIC! I can’t even begin to think about how cold that must have been, and the added challenge of pulling all your kit on a sled really ups the difficulty level of this one. There really are some mightily impressive people out there!

And finally, as if that wasn’t enough inspiration then here’s one to watch out for at this year’s Western States 100 mile: Kyle Robidoux. Why? Because Robidoux is going to be the first entrant in the event’s 45 year history to have a visual impairment. In an event brutal already brutal enough, Robidoux is going to be making history. I wish him all the very best for his training and preparations.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Ice Ice Baby!

Yes, I know the title of this one probably made you groan, but this past week has really been all about the ice (and not in a Torvill and Dean kind of way!). It required a little flexibility in my plan – although let’s face it I’m the queen of changing things around! – but ultimately I did complete all my workouts, albeit with some at a lower intensity than I would have liked.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

My week began with a lovely Hatha class on Monday evening. Sadly I’ll be away from this class for much of February for a variety of reasons, so to plug the gap I’ll be making sure to do some home practice using Yoga with Adriene videos on YouTube. I’m still conscious that I’d like to fit a little more yoga into my weekly routine as I know I felt really good at this point last year when I had a couple more sessions in there, but somehow it’s just not been a priority yet. Something to work on moving forward.

Just for a change, Tuesday morning was cold and thus a bit slippy. For my easy-paced recovery run this wasn’t much of an issue so long as I was careful, but I was already concerned about the forecast for increasingly cold weather (although thankfully not as cold as for those under the Polar Vortex!) as I didn’t want to miss out on my Thursday drills again. Cue me stalking the weather apps on my phone to try and figure out what to do…

The picture selected for this story amused me!

It was in the car on the way to work on Wednesday that I was struck – far too late – by the solution: we have a fitness suite in the PE department as school. There is a treadmill there. Therefore on days when running outside isn’t possible, there’s a Plan B. Except for this to work I would really have needed kit with me to go that day after school. D’oh! However I did know that the temperature was going to be reasonable that evening, so decided to move my Thursday morning drills to Wednesday after work. It meant skipping orchestra as it’s just too tight to fit it all in, but I was able to get out and complete my reps. Ok, so there were still some spots where I had to be careful, but it was a far more satisfactory run than waiting until the following morning when, as it turned out, the temperature was about -7C!

On the plus side, not gettting up for a morning run meant I could sleep a little longer on Thursday morning and I was feeling good when I went to yoga that evening. It was pretty cold outside, but the studio was cosy and I always find I’m pretty warm after the opening sequences of sun salutations, so really enjoyed it. I remembered the adjustment I had made in Wheel last week and again found the posture much easier, and my headstand felt good as well.

Steve had a space for me on Friday afternoon when I got back from work and I was thrilled(!) to find he had another circuit lined up for me. This time we used very little in the way of kit, it was more a form of HIIT training but with running-specific exercises to work on form and intensity. Each round was progressively harder so the skill was built up and by the end of the session my hip flexors were definitely feeling a little weary!

That evening there was a little snow and I wasn’t sure what that would mean for parkrunday. I was certain the run itself would be on, but I was hoping to run there and back so long as the underfoot conditions were ok. Steve had an early client so I awaited his report when he came back in and it was good news, so off we went to run down the road.

It was an exciting parkrun this week (and not just because it was pacer week haha!). We had a crew from Sky TV there making a film commissioned by one of the parkrun sponsors. This series of films is featuring the stories of parkrunners and is intended to demonstrate the positive physical and mental benefits that regular community exercise promotes. The film being made in Perth was about parkrunner John McPhee who has Parkinson’s. John featured in the weekly parkrun newsletter last year, and I also know him from my Monday night Hatha yoga class. While the focus was on John, all runners had to be informed about them filming as they would likely be in some of the background shots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So obviously, I made sure I was wearing a pair of leggings that would ensure I would be able to spot myself on camera when the film is ready!

Actually, as the pacers were lined up during the (very thorough, because TV!) briefing, the cameras were on us so fingers crossed I may show up in the final edit.

Capturing our “best sides” 😂

I had my usual 28 minutes and knew there were one or two people hoping to follow me. I know an average of about 9:05 per mile takes me round our route in about the right time, so that is generally my aim and although the first mile was slightly slower due to congestion (and a cameraman in the middle of the path!) I settled in very slightly too fast after that, but the runners who were sticking with me were right there and I do let the pace push on a bit if I think they are coping as I can then offer some advice and encouragement to help them get a better time. I finished in 27:47, a little ahead but perfect for those looking to run sub-28. I even learned afterwards that a couple of people got a PB from following me and it’s so nice to see the joy on their faces and have them seek you out to say thank you. I really love pacing and happily do it even when I don’t think anyone is running with me, but knowing I have been a part of an achievement for someone else is so gratifying.

Trying out our new selfie frame

We hung around a little to chat to John, who by this point had finished the run at least twice – once just in front of me and once for the cameras – and caught up with a few others before we set off for home. We knew we were a little tight for time to get back into town to meet Steve’s brother, and Steve actually suggested that I could stay in town while he ran home, got the car and then met me at the cafe, but I wanted the run so decided to run home, make a couple of quick, tactical changes in kit then jump straight in the car with Steve to meet his brother “parkrun fresh”. I have to say, I’m not that fussed about not squeezing in a shower and change, but do make sure to spray something nice to cover up any less-than-fragrant aromas for the benefit of those around us!

Waking up on Sunday I could see it was a bit slippery looking again due to the temperature dipping below freezing again overnight. My original plan was to run 10 miles steady – i.e. approaching marathon pace – but Steve said that in these conditions it was more about getting out the door and seeing what happened (ideally not falling over!). Neither pace nor distance were particularly important anymore. To account for the underfoot conditions when I set out, I decided not to run my usual 10 mile route, but to take a route almost entirely on main roads, going out to the woodland park and back. I did know this wasn’t 10 miles, but figured I could find a way to stretch the distance if the conditions were ok.

Most of the paths were fine, but between miles 2 and 4 it started to snow and I wasn’t sure if that was going to be it for the rest of the run. But when I got to the woodland park, it stopped. To be honest, I was a little disappointed as I had plans to take pretty, wintery photos there in the snow. I still took the pictures, I just no longer had the bonus snow falling in them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I added a couple of extra looped sections on my way home to stretch the distance out, and in mile 8 it was clear that I really needed to a faster run as I ran that mile much quicker than even my original goal pace for this run had been. It was a nice flat section which had been well-treated against ice, and although I made no conscious decision to speed up, my body obviously knew what it wanted to do. All in all a good run and I’m feeling ready to start increasing the distance through February.

I hadn’t intended to take another photo post-run, but when I caught sight of the state of my hair when I finished, I couldn’t resist!

It was kinda “crunchy” from the cold air haha!

Working around the weather has been a little frustrating, but right now time on my feet is probably the most important thing and there’s plenty of time to build pace and endurance through the next couple of months. For now, I’m happy I have a solid base and am feeling good.

How has your training been affected by the weather this week?
Have you ever been on film/tv (either directly or in the background)?

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 – 18th 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.

Happy Friday everyone! Have you had a good week? It’s been pretty busy over here and I’m looking forward to the weekend now. In Friday Finds world I seem to have gone from not much to share over the festive period to having loads pop up this week, so I’ve selected a few interesting things to share. Here we go…

I have to start with the incredible story of the Montane Spine Race and the amazing victory by Jasmin Paris. I’m completely in awe of anyone who took on this brutal 268 mile race, but even more so Paris since she was the outright winner – and first ever female to claim the victory. Not only that, but she only gave birth to her daughter 14 months ago. What a fantastic achievement and proof that we really can do anything we set our minds too.

Another race getting a bit of publicity this week was the London marathon and their announcement that World record holder (and arguably greatest marathoner ever) Eliud Kipchoge will be going head-to-head with European record holder (and home favourite) Sir Mo Farah. After stellar performances from both of these athletes in 2018, this will be an exciting race to watch. Here, Kipchoge is interviewed about the upcoming “battle” with Farah and his comments reveal much about how he thinks tactically and psychologically about races – even if his reference to Farah’s 2:05 in Chicago as “not really fast” reminds us of how relative these terms are! I do love both of these athletes and can’t wait to see what happens in London this April.

While we may not run at the blistering pace of the Kipchoges and Farahs of this world, we can all benefit from taking part in organised events. In a report perhaps a little obvious to those who regularly take part in races, a recent study has found that taking part in an organised race leads us to feel happier and more satisfied with life in the weeks after. I would extrapolate from this information that parkrun would have a similar effect as it also creates the sense of achievement and camaraderie which leads to that wellbeing boost. Time to encourage more of your friends to join you for a run?

Sticking with good news stories, I was pleased to read about the steps taken at the recent Walt Disney World Marathon weekend to reduce waste and promote recycling. I was already aware of races seeking to reduce their use of singe-use plastics such as water bottles and most runners are hopefully conscious of disposing of their gel wrappers responsibly, however I had never really thought about races providing bananas and what would happen to those peels. But banana peels from the Disney races were not only collected, rather than going straight to compost there were measures in place to turn them into electricity or fertiliser. I hope more events, especially major ones, follow suit with recycling receptacles along the race route (I know the Paris marathon does this for plastic bottles) and look for ways to reduce waste.

And finally, perhaps a little more grim as stories go, but I found this one absolutely fascinating. Apparently analysing your Garmin data might tell you a lot more than your miles splits and heat rate…it could link you to a crime! You have to read this one if you haven’t see it already and learn a bit more about how Garmin data helped to convict a hitman. My favourite line has to be “As seriously as Fellows seemed to take his preparation, he did not appear to consider witnesses would notice a cyclist wearing both commando gear and a hi-vis safety vest while toting a gun.” Right. Brings a whole new meaning to “Strava or it didn’t happen!” 😂

Happy reading,
The Running Princess