Friday Finds – 14th 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.

What a week! Work continues to be busy right now so the weekend is definitely a welcome sight. Let’s get it off to great start with a little bit of reading material:

This week, something different to start us off. Normally I would begin with an interesting or topical article, but this time I have a poem for you. Yes, a poem. It’s a poem written by former pro athlete Lauren Fleshamn (you might know her from her “Believe” training journals). I think my favourite part is the second stanza. What about you?

Next, an article that enjoyed a fair bit of discussion when it was published earlier this week. The headline How to Stay Fit Forever was guaranteed to attract some attention, and I must admit I opened it fully expecting to find all sorts of suggestions that I didn’t agree with, so was pleasantly surprised to find advice to find your why and to have a purpose. What would your tip be?

Moving on, a couple of articles related to races, beginning with the hotly debated topic of plastic bottles. The subject of plastic bottles has formed part of the discussion around how to minimise the environmental impact of races, and now London is about to stage a half marathon that pledges to be free from single-use plastics. It will be interesting to see how this progresses.

The other race-related article is on the subject of the Berlin marathon, which is coming up this weekend. Berlin always holds a certain fascination as the nature of the course means several world records have been set here and Eliud Kipchoge, star of the Breaking2 project and favourite for this year’s event, has made no secret of the fact that he is out to set a record. I hope to be able to catch some of it as it could very well be an exciting race.

And finally, do you think you could spot a runner when they’re going about their daily lives? If it’s as simple as watching out for the signs in this article then I could be identified as a runner easily! How many apply to you?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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Friday Finds – 27th 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.

How can it be Friday again already? It feels like no time at all since I last wrote a Friday Finds post, yet here we are again. I’ve had a pretty chilled week and am looking forward to a weekend of running and yoga. Hope you have some great plans too.

Let’s begin this week by returning to the Nike 4% shoes that I included last week. Unsurprisingly, the revelation that the claims of a 4% improvement in performance may actually be true have attracted a lot of commentary, so I wanted to share a couple of other pieces I came across this week which look at the shoes from a more wary standpoint. First, Sean Ingle from The Guardian considers how fair the shoes are in terms of creating a level playing field, then Brian Dalek (I wonder if he likes Dr Who?) writing for Runner’s World discusses what is holding him back from trying them himself. Interesting food for thought.

Sticking with Runner’s World for now, and an update on a challenge I first mentioned on here back in April. Peter Thompson set out with the aim of running the entire Tour de France route and finishing ahead of the cyclists. Well he’s only gone and done it – and 3 days ahead of schedule! That’s a remarkable feat and I’m sure we’ve not heard the last of Thompson!

Speaking of challenges, those of you who are avid parkrunners may have come across this intriguing notion – 2 parkruns on the same day. Yes, it is possible in many areas to do two on New Year’s Day, but this challenge is a little more complex involving flights, the international date line and a lot of determination. Anyone up for it?

Speaking of challenges, I also came across this great idea for creating a challenge much closer to home. It’s a fantastic reminder than we don’t have to travel great distances or spend lots of money to create a new challenge – we can simply look to what’s around us and get creative.

And finally, you may have heard about the I Move London relay which is taking place this month as an attempt to set a new world record for the longest non-stop relay, but you perhaps didn’t hear about the “divine” intervention that took place a few days ago. Relay runner Max Livingstone-Learmonth chased down and stopped a purse snatcher – all while dressed as a bishop. I think my favourite part of this is that not only did our hero apprehend a criminal, but he kept hold of the relay baton the whole time. Brilliant!

Happy Reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 29th 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.

Happy Friday! And to my teaching colleagues in Scotland, happy summer holidays!

That’s right, the end of the school year finally rolled around and now it’s time to relax and recharge the batteries. But of course, I still have a few articles to share with you to start things off…

A bizarre story from the past week centred around a French “jogger” who found herself in trouble after she accidentally crossed the US-Canada border whilst out for a run. I had never even considered that such a thing might be possible and am a little alarmed at the subsequent action. What a thing to happen on a run!

Another story of “running crime” which has been much-discussed lately is that of the homeless man who picked up a dropped London marathon race number and crossed the finish line, claiming the medal. When I first heard of this I thought that claiming a medal you hadn’t legitimately earned was an awful thing to do and hoped that things would be resolved so that the rightful owner of the race number would be able to receive his medal. Since then, more has emerged about the “imposter” and he was ultimately sentenced to 16 weeks in jail. This, of course, has sparked a great deal of debate, such as in this next column from The Guardian. I’d love to know what you think about this one.

Also appearing in The Guardian recently was this article about the effects of running on our brains. If you run then I suspect you are already well aware of all the positives that come from lacing up your trainers and getting out there. Now, there’s plenty of science to back that up (and I do love a bit of running-related science!).

Related to this is the news that healthcare practitioners in the UK are to be encouraged to “prescribe” outdoor activities such as parkrun instead of medication for some patients. I know that running can’t solve everything, but how wonderful would it be to see more people turn to exercise to help them improve their health and wellbeing?

And finally, if all this glorious summer weather has been sending your hay fever symptoms crazy, then good news! Apparently gin and tonic is great for relieving symptoms. Now I don’t suffer from hay fever, but perhaps I should drink more gin just to make sure…

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 11th May

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.

Welcome to the weekend! If you had Monday off work for the UK bank holiday then hopefully this has been a nice short week for you, so let’s kick off this shiny new weekend with a bit of reading:

This week I had the privilege of going to a screening of the inspiring documentary film Skid Row Marathon. If you are a listener of the Marathon Talk podcast (I was mentioned – twice! – in episode 434…) then you have no doubt heard host Martin Yelling talking about this film at length, and now I fully understand why. Having been captivated by the film and the individual stories within it, I was drawn to this article from The Guardian, which references the film as a lead-in to discussing how running really can change people’s lives for the better. It’s worth a read.

Moving to another marathon, it was announced this week that the London marathon has once again beaten its own world record for the number of people entering the ballot for the next race. An increase of over 7% in a ballot where the odds were certainly not in your favour is not encouraging as an individual looking for a place, however the statistics relating to the types of people who have entered the ballot are certainly interesting. Of particular note, the number of female applicants:

This year’s edition of the London marathon remains in my news feeds due to the record temperatures and sad death of a participant. It was clearly a tough day out there and according to Derek Murphy of Marathon investigation, it looks like a number of runners may have cheated by cutting the course. I find it fascinating how Murphy works all of this out and the evidence he produces has helped catch out a number of marathon cheats in the past. Here’s his report on London:

Upon entering a marathon (or any other race distance) for the first time, a common fear is to come last. But how bad would that actually be? You would still have covered the distance, put in your best effort and (hopefully) enjoyed the experience. With that in mind, I found this next piece interesting as the writer completely re-thought his attitude towards finishing at the back of the pack.

And finally, it’s common knowledge that I’ve become quite the fan of yoga and am fascinated (often bemused!) by the assorted variations of yoga that can be found now, such as kitten yoga, goat yoga and Harry Potter yoga. But pizza yoga? Turns out it’s just a fun video, but I must admit if someone advertised a pizza yoga class, I would probably go. Yum-aste!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 27th 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.

Did you watch the London marathon on Sunday? What an exciting morning of racing it was! And what incredible fortitude was shown by the masses running in such hot temperatures. Thanks to high-profile incidents and extremes of weather, recent marathons continue to dominate my news feeds, and with my marathon now just 2 days away (eek!) I think I’ll stick with the marathon theme this week.

Let’s start back on the Gold Coast and that awful moment when Callum Hawkins succumbed to heat exhaustion. There have been so many opinions on what happened/should have happened and I’m not going to get into that now, but I did want to share some follow-up stories I read the week, starting with some reflections from Hawkins himself who shared his recollections of the event:

Sadly the eventual winner of that race, Mike Shelley, came in for some criticism for not stopping when he saw Hawkins as the side of the road. Personally, I find that criticism unfair given that at this point Hawkins was receiving attention and there would have been little Shelley could do to help – stopping would have lost him his place too. So it was refreshing to read this piece (by an Australian) to defend him:

Given these events and the subsequent conditions during the London marathon last Sunday, I found it interesting to read the latest offering from Alex Hutchinson’s Sweat Science column, in which he investigates the effects of heat exhaustion and how it is influenced by our own desire to push ourselves.

Speaking of London, I enjoyed several columns about the event this week and thought I would share one This was published ahead of the race, but I like how it captures some of the spirit of London that makes it such a special event.

Unfortunately I also have a less positive story to share as one runner was apparently not allowed to cross the finish line after losing his race number (as per the race rules). However it seems someone DID take his number across the line and claim the medal. If this is true, then it’s an awful thing to do and I hope that the investigation into this is able to resolve things and allow the correct runner to have his hard-earned medal.

But on a more uplifting note more in keeping with the marathon spirit and inherent good nature of runners, people around the country are pledging to “finish” the marathon for chef Matt Campbell who collapsed 3.7 miles from the finish line and later died in hospital. It’s always so sad when things like this happen, yet seeing people turning out in support of a stranger and donating to their chosen charity really does restore your faith in humanity. I hope it gives his family and friends some comfort.

And finally, if all this talk of marathons is too much for you and you’re looking for something a little more sedate, then I may have found the event for you. This race in Texas gently pokes fun at the more traditional races, yet I have to say there’s something quite appealing about the idea!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

 

Week In Review – Music And Excitement!

Oh what a week it’s been! It may have been the first week of a new school term, but from Thursday to Sunday everything was so exciting it was like Christmas for me! It was also the second week of my taper, the one when I tend to start noticing that sluggish feeling creeping in, but there was still a decent week of training (and some extra “rest” to combat a busy week). Here’s how it all looked:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – rest

A new term at school meant a new block of my Hatha yoga class. Although I have cultivated a decent home practice this year, I still enjoy going to my classes and miss it when it’s not on or I can’t go. It was so nice to be back on my mat in the lovely studio and I marked the occasion by giving my new leggings a whirl. I had a “whale” of a time! 🙄

ekUjbTiQQwqC5YKWYSe7tgTuesday had me back on the bike at the gym. Someone was on the bike I like (surely not just me that has preferences?) so I had to go on one I’m not so fond of. I know technically the bikes are all the same, but I’m sure the tilt of the seats differs a bit and the resistance doesn’t always feel the same even at the same setting. I’m still not sure if my workout felt tough because I was on a bike that feels “harder” or if I was just feeling a bit sluggish and tired. The important thing is that I got it done, event though my legs and my mind were telling me I couldn’t. Tenacious is my middle name!

Then on Wedensday I had a set of form drills to do. This time it was 10x 1km and I definitely felt sluggish. My calves were weary and my right hip was bothering me a little (it’s fine now, just a mobility thing I had been working through and a bit of phantom taper tension). At one point I thought I might bail out early but felt better as the run went on so completed the set.

3tRee26CTCeyXgtH1B4kSQIt was a super-quick turnaround as I got in the door at 6:30pm, showered, changed, ate and was ready for my sister to pick me up for an orchestra rehearsal that started at 7:30pm. Someone in my section had seen me out running and was most impressed that I had managed to juggle everything. To be honest, squeezing in a rehearsal at this point wasn’t ideal, but it was a one-off due to our concert from early March being postponed because of The Beast From The East. I figured I could manage one rehearsal plus I knew I had factored this into some extra rest and recovery at the end of the week to balance things up.

Thursday was probably the absolute highlight not just of the week but of my year so far. Back in October it was announced that GARY BARLOW would be performing in Perth as part of his solo tour and, since everyone knows he is my favourite, there was no way I was going to miss this. My sister sorted the tickets out and I was prepared to forego Ashtanga yoga for one night in order to see my beloved Gary (although I did some at home before I went). Oh boy was it worth it! I don’t think my sister really appreciated how good it was going to be, but there is just something so special about an artist who usually commands massive stadium audiences and huge venues to be in a far more intimate venue. We had seats but I was on my feet throughout and managed to notch up around 2000 “steps” just dancing and waving my arms about at my seat! I LOVED it!

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Yes, we bought the same T-shirt!

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fGA90h7vSwWCCFAfe7pTIwEven better, I appeared on Gary’s Instagram. Sort of😂:

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fullsizeoutput_24c1Of course this meant that I probably had the least amount of sleep I’d had all week, despite being home at a reasonably civilised hour, yet I felt amazing on Friday with songs going around my head and still on a high from the concert buzz. I took a rest day and went to get my nails done all ready for the race next weekend.

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All about the bling!

Originally my plan for the weekend had me doing parkrun on Saturday then 8 miles on Sunday, but since I was so excited about watching the London marathon, I knew I would need to move things around a bit. I contemplated getting up early to run my Sunday miles before the TV coverage started, but with the concert on Saturday night (and an afternoon of rehearsals beforehand) I knew I would want to rest so decided on getting some solid miles in on Saturday instead. I duly ran the scenic route to parkrun, took part in the run, then rook a different scenic route home. 10 miles total for the day.

Fb%Cfn5jQTGlNRBJB3giRAI definitely felt better than on Wednesday, but felt like “marathon pace” was about all I could manage on my run down. Perhaps because in my mind I was running much further, or because I was listening to Marathon Talk, my standard “long run” podcast, I just didn’t seem to have much more oomph. I really expected to run about 26-27 minutes for parkrun, but rallied a bit to get a 25:15, having been getting gradually faster throughout. I’ll take that!

Steve and I ran home together (he had left before me to go down as he wanted to do some drills) and at first my legs felt a bit heavy form the faster running, but I soon settled in and felt comfortable by the time I got to my front door (which I ran past twice to make sure I got my 10 miles – runner problems 😂)

I spent the afternoon rehearsing on the same stage Mr Barlow had been on two nights previously. Sadly no evidence remained of his presence, but it was still cool to think about it like that. Then after a short break to go home and eat, etc, it was back for the concert. We played a great programme including some movie music – The Magnificent Seven, The Jungle Book, Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter. Great fun!

Choosing a rest day on Sunday meant I got a decent sleep then transferred myself to the sofa in time for the coverage to begin. What an incredible morning of racing, despite less than ideal conditions for it. Now I’m feeling inspired to go out and do my best when it’s my turn next Sunday.

IMG_0496In case you weren’t aware, I’m running for the charity I got my cat Morven from back in 2000. I still miss her tremendously after saying goodbye back in January and decided to do something positive in her memory. When I find myself in a rough patch, I will be remembering Morven and using this to help me push on. If you would like to help, you can read more here. Every penny makes a different to the lives of cats without a fur-ever home.

Did you watch the London Marathon?
What was the last concert you went to?
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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 – 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 – 9th February

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 2nd February

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading,
The Running Princess