Friday Finds – 15th 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.

Welcome to Friday! Has anyone else noticed that the days seem just that little bit longer of late? Perhaps a sign that spring might be on its way. I’ve had a much better week this week and am looking forward to a restful weekend to recharge my batteries. If you have similar plans, here’s some light reading to start things off.

After last week’s story about the impact breast size has on women’s participation in sport and my comments about a need for further development of suitable sports bras to allow all women the opportunity to take part, this week one of the first things I came across was a story about sports bras! This one is from the ever-popular Lululemon and is aimed at those running longer distances as it is designed to carry water and gels. Basically it’s a combination of a sports bra and a hydration vest. At first I thought it sounded a bit odd, but having read a bit more I’m now intrigued and would be interested to try one. Would you wear it?

I have an Alex Hutchinson double-header this week as his columns from two different publications are pretty interesting. First, his column for Outside examining the impact of exercise on our experience of anger. Given the established connection between exercise and mental health, this makes for an intriguing read.

The second, from The Globe And Mail examines the science of recovery. These days there are so many recovery “aids” available and Hutchinson, referencing a new book by Christie Aschwanden (which I’ve added to my list!), discusses how useful these are. Certainly recovery is important in order to build strength and endurance, and I have long held to the belief that much of what I do is probably psychological rather than a scientifically proven approach, but as long as it works for me that’s good enough. What are your thoughts on recovery?

One of my reasons for making sure I recover properly is that I want to be able to run for many years to come. I want to be one of those older people who are still out there giving it a go – one of those people like Ernie Lacroix. This World War 2 veteran recently turned 100, and what better way to celebrate than running a 5k…for the 20th consecutive year! What an amazing man and a real inspiration to keep on running.

And finally, it’s been a blustery few days what with Storm Gareth hitting the UK early in the week and forecasts of Storm Hannah joining us this weekend. Yup, that naming the weather thing again! To be honest, I haven’t noticed any point that it WASN’T windy, so can only assume there was a brief overnight hiatus at some point as one storm headed out and the other began its approach. It might make some of our runs this weekend “character building”, but however hard it gets, you can console yourself with the fact that at least you’re not running through a storm whilst dressed as Big Ben! If you haven’t seen it, here’s some footage from last weekend’s London Big Half, featuring a particularly tenacious chap who picked the wrong day to run in fancy dress!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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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 – 8th 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.

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve had a good week. It’s pretty stormy here right now so I’ll be hunkering down for the night and keeping cosy, which gives me plenty of time to write this post and give you some reading material.

Let’s begin with an update on a story I recently shared about the London marathon and happily a positive change has been made to the policy surrounding guide runners. Now, those who take part to support visually impaired runners will receive a medal as well as a chip time so their marathon achievement is recognised. Good news for those who selflessly take on this role.

On the subject of London, you might enjoy this analysis of some of the Strava data on the 2018 event. I do love a bit of data, and this confirms what we likely already know – the fastest marathoners run further and more often in training than those with slower finish times. Simple, huh!

With that done, there’s now going to be a definite theme to my remaining Finds this week: animals. Following last week’s story of the women who ran most of a marathon carrying an abandoned puppy, I came across a number of other stories featuring animals. First, something in a similar vein. The story of how elite runner Stephanie Pezzullo was “adopted” by an abandoned dog she encountered during a training run is just beautiful. I feel sad that the dog wasn’t wanted by its previous owners, but it brings joy to my heart to know that she found just the right person to give her the love she deserves.

Sticking with dogs, it seems that some runners in the New York City half marathon will be making history as the first to complete without a human guide…because the event has become the first long-distance race to allow the use of guide dogs for visually impaired runners. Even better, the article suggests that as official participants, the dogs will also earn a race medal. That only seems fair!

And finally, you may already have caught this week’s big story around running and animals, but in this one the animal sadly didn’t come off so well. In a quite startling story, a runner in Colorado was attacked by a young mountain lion and managed to kill it in order to protect himself. It is sad that this happened to the big cat, but I do totally understand why it was necessary. I know how scared I was that time I was attacked by a buzzard, so this must have been terrifying!

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

Friday Finds – 11th 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! It’s finally Friday after possibly the longest week of the whole year – nothing quite like returning to work after the festive break to really make things feel like a grind! Still, If you’re reading this then it looks like you survived and are ready to kick off your weekend with a little light reading.

First, hot on the heels of last week’s news of the second fastest parkrun time ever, comes the news that the women’s parkrun record has been broken. I think my favourite thing about this is that Charlotte Arter, who set the new record, finished just a second behind the first placed male in the run. Go Charlotte!

And on the subject of parkrun, the news coming out of HQ after the first “proper” (i.e. Saturday) parkrunday of the year is amazing as it was the biggest weekend EVER! Given that there were so many attendance records set on New Year’s Day I suppose it shouldn’t have been such a big surprise to see an increase, but it’s so cool to think about how far the event has come since that first ever run in Bushy park. Were you one of the 340,000+ that took part last weekend?

On a slightly less positive note, a story that came to my attention in the early part of the week. I was aware that visually impaired runners may choose to take part in races with a guide runner, and have always marvelled at the connection between the two – running a marathon together can’t be easy and the guide has a lot of responsibility. However I hadn’t realised that guide runners in the London marathon didn’t actually receive a medal. I suppose I just assumed that anyone who legitimately took part in the event and crossed the finish line received a medal, so can fully understand the campaign to change that rule. At present guide runners are not “official” participants in the race, and while I can see the point, it does seem a little unfair to not receive that recognition at the end. Guide runners are clearly marvellous and unselfish people who give their time to help another achieve their goal, and that is to be commended. I’d love to know your thoughts.

Next, a little something from the always-fascinating Alex Hutchinson, and this week he has encouraging news for those of us who like a nice long soak. It seems that there is evidence to suggest some targeted hot tub sessions might actually help us to acclimate better to hot weather. That certainly sounds appealing in the middle of January!

And finally, it’s pretty common to see runners out with their four-legged friends, but less common for that four-legged friend to be a goat. Yes, a goat! I highly recommend this short video about Norwegian Dwarf goat Penny running with her owner. Sure to bring a smile to your face!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Always Have a Plan B…!

The first week of my October break presented an opportunity to press reset and get caught up on a few things. Yes, it would have been nice to go away somewhere, but on this occasion it was good to be at home. With a half marathon to run at the weekend, I took the chance to mix up a bit of training with some decent rest:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 5 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – half marathon

Start as you mean to go on, I say. I don’t generally like to sleep in (although obviously don’t set my alarm for as early as a school day!) but it is good to have a lazy start to the day and I decided I wanted to spend the first week of my holiday getting back into a habit I had back during my Easter break. So when I awoke I headed for the kitchen to make a cup of tea which I took right back to bed to read for about an hour. The kittens quite liked this and after running around daft for a bit they settled down at my feet for a snooze. Bliss!

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Nothing better than a long lie with Gary!

I then spent some time on the afternoon on my “homework”. I’m studying this with my Advanced Higher class and felt in need of a re-watch of my favourite adaptation of my favourite novel. Such a hardship lol!

fullsizeoutput_28ccOn Tuesday I followed my tea and book in bed with a run – not totally lazy! I set myself up with a kind of “mini taper” into my race so headed out for 5 miles. It was nice to get out in daylight after early morning runs last week, and the weather wasn’t too bad either.

RAHqgPkQRIGW3ynzZZhW5AWhen I arrived home I could spy a red package through the glass and knew exactly what it would be – my annual subscription to the London marathon rejection magazine. At least the running jacket I got with it is pretty good.

zTGJBzEOSzWboebQdiEYVwGiven the numbers in the ballot I didn’t expect to get a place, but until that magazine arrives there is always a glimmer of hope that this might be the year. Still, with 7 rejections (and counting…) I know to have a Plan B in mind for what I’ll do when that inevitable “nope” arrives, and for 2019 I knew my Plan B would be to sign up for the Stirling marathon again. I really enjoyed it this year and liked how conveniently close to home it was, so by the time the day was done, this had happened:

fullsizeoutput_28cfWednesday was another rest day. I had a few errands in town so clocked up loads of steps walking there and back (after some time spent reading with my cup of tea, of course!). At least my mail was more pleasing as I got some new casual leggings – and got photobombed by the kittens when I tried to take a picture!

fullsizeoutput_28f8On Thursday I doubled up – run in the morning and Ashtanga yoga class in the evening. My self-styled “mini taper” called for a 4 mile run and this time it was even pleasant enough to break my shorts back out of hibernation. I do love it when I can still wear my shorts without freezing to death!

IMG_9861Yoga was, as always, great. I had been curious to see how I would get on with the headstand after my breakthrough last week – was it a one-off or could I actually manage the posture by myself? As it turned out, there was no need to be concerned as I once more moved into the headstand on my own. I didn’t hold it for as long, probably because  I rushed to straighten my legs out before I had my balance feeling as secure as last time, but now I know it wasn’t a fluke I’ll take more care to move into the posture more mindfully as I go forward.

Steve offered me a training session on Friday morning (at a time which still allowed me my “soft start” to the day with my book and tea!) so I headed over to the studio. I was reluctant to do anything that would make my legs feel heavy on the Sunday, so we used the TRX and Core Momentum Trainer to do some work on my arms and upper body instead. Somehow I neglected to take a picture during the session, but did manage to take a photo of the coffee I had afterwards. Not sure what that says about me haha!

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The new “cordusio”. I think I ordered it because I thought it was a funny word!

The rest of the day was about as busy as things get during school holidays. First I had my flu jab (definitely want to avoid getting the flu!) and then I had my nails done which meant a good chat with my friend who does my nails.

Saturday, as ever, began with parkrun. I’m not always good at taking it easy when it’s not pacer day, but I was determined not to overdo things and risk having weary legs for the following day. I started out at a fairly steady pace and allowed myself to push on a bit as the run went on (securing a nice Royal Flush Negative Split) but still coming in at a slower (for me) time of 25:44. I had thought averaging 8:20-8:30 pace overall would be ideal so that was perfect.

IMG_9884Steve’s brother was away on holiday, but the Steve and I still went for a post-run bacon croissant before getting the food shopping done (such Saturday glamour!).

5xGLC%9CReanCYiH2wKjugI actually felt a bit “off”, kind of like I was going to get a headache but without actually having a headache. Not sure if that makes any sense, but I could feel my body telling me to have a nap so once home I had some soup then settled down for a nap. I did feel a bit better after that, but decided to take it easy and spend the afternoon watching a film. Time to break out Beauty and the Beast, because sometimes only a Disney film will do.

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As the evening wore on I began to realise that the reason I felt “off” was because my upper back and shoulders were tight and this was travelling up my neck and into my head. I got Steve to work on it a bit and began to feel a lot better. Good thing too since we were getting up early for our race!

We had decided not to stay in Aviemore the night before, and instead get up early to make the journey north into the Highlands – only about an hour and a half away and the roads are pretty clear at that time of day. We were away before 6:30am and got into Aviemore just before 8. I’ll write a separate post with all the details of the race, but it was all pretty familiar even though I hadn’t been up there since 2013.

This was my last serious race of the year. Anything else from this point will be more in the “fun run” category, so I also made it the last hurrah for my fundraising efforts. I teamed my Cats Protection running vest with paw print leggings (actual running leggings) and a hairband with ears (an actual running headband). It got me a fair amount of shouts and made a few people smile along the route!

DrgrJJvKTpCFm6VK7VXaegPost-race we tidied ourselves up a bit and on the way home called in to see a lovely couple Steve trains. They are in their 70s and so fit! I had never met them before but they had insisted we call in on our way home for a cup of tea, and despite being “race fresh” they were perfectly happy to sit and chat over some refreshments for a while and were so kind, waving away my apologies for not being at my most presentable! It was a nice way to break up the journey home and the cups of tea and choccy biccies were definitely appreciated!

The remainder of the day was pretty chilled and I headed to bed feeling really tired from the combination of an early start, racing a half marathon and having the long-ish car journeys as well.

When was the last time you needed to call on Plan B?
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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