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

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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 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.

Well hello Friday! You took your time this week! This time of year is always really busy in school, making the weekend a welcome sight. Let’s start it off with a few articles to read…

Can you believe it was a year ago that we here in the UK were brought to a standstill by The Beast From The East? I enjoyed running around in the snow, but it was terribly disruptive to training, so when I came across this piece about a revolutionary approach to pavement clearing in one US city, I was stuck by what a great idea it is. I wish we had something like this here for those frosty, slippy mornings!

Next let’s have some science. The debate about barefoot running/heel striking/forefoot striking has raged on for some time now, but more recently researchers have returned to the original graphs plotting impact forces and considered what that means for runners. If this is something you’re interested in, then here’s the ever-reliable Alex Hutchinson to explain more:

Another study reported on this week surrounds another favourite topic in the world of running: the marathon world record. Based on prediction models, the conclusion is that a sub-2 hour marathon (by a man) is possible, but at current rates of change the prediction is that it will be 2032 before we see that happen. Is it just me or does that date sound waaaaaay more futuristic than it really is? Also interesting is that the same study suggests the women’s record, which has stood since 2003, could still be lowered much more. Given that no one else has really come close to Paula Radcliffe’s time of 2:15:25, I am astounded that a much lower time has been suggested. Still, I guess you never know in the world of sport.

Also turning to science is Claire Maldarelli, who has written this piece for Popular Science charting her training for her first marathon. Setting the science against the reality of her training, it makes for an interesting read about the demands of a marathon training schedule, especially for someone taking on their first marathon.

And finally, if running and food practically go hand in hand for you (and let’s face it, we runners do love our food!) then how about a new way to show your passion for insta-worthy dishes whilst out on a run? If that sounds good, then Saucony has you covered with their new trainers inspired by avocado toast. Yes, you did read that right! It sounds a little weird, but actually the shoes themselves look pretty cool. Would you wear them?

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 – 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 – 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 – 25th 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.

Wow! I feel like I was only just complaining about it being January already and here we are at the last Friday of the month! Where does the time go? There have been quite a few interesting things popping up in my news feeds this week, so here are some bits and pieces to get your weekend off to a start…

Last week I began with Jasmin Paris and her historic victory at the Montane Spine Race and I couldn’t resist starting with a little more on this story. In this piece from The Guardian‘s Adharanand Finn, Paris tells us more about how she prepared for the race and what the experience was like for her. I’m just so thrilled to have a woman accomplish this feat and set the course record. Even more so because her daughter is just 14 months old and Paris was still breastfeeding.

And now, the marathon. This week I came across a report packed with geek-tastic marathon stats and I LOVE it. I find it so fascinating to consider how I as an individual compare to the “average” times and to see how women’s participation varies in different parts of the world. For example, I’ve long been aware that there is near equal participation between genders in the USA, so was a little disappointed to see that we are not quite as close to that here in the UK where we are only a little beyond the average at 1/3 women. Still, at least there has been an improving picture. If you enjoy marathons and you enjoy stats, this is the article for you!

Sticking with the marathon, here’s an interesting piece from Runner’s World about Andrew Jones PHD, the coach who worked with Paula Radcliffe and was involved in the Breaking2 project. What is so interesting about him is that despite being a good runner in his day, he became an expert on marathon performance without ever actually running a marathon. Until now. This piece focuses on what happened when Jones ran his first 26.2 and what the experience taught him.

I was, however, sad to learn that there appear to have been a number of course-cutters at the Walt Disney World marathon earlier this month. I’ve said before that I just don’t understand cheaters – how could you accept a time/medal/race qualification knowing that you hadn’t legitimately completed the course. And cheating at Disney? Well that just makes it a million times worse. I’m pretty sure that every time someone cuts the course, a fairy dies 😦

And finally, we may have thought the UK weather had been pretty chilly in recent days, but it was nothing compared to conditions in Oymyakon, Siberia. In a recent event the “unbearable” conditions led to a distinct lack of finishers. I think I’ll give this one a miss!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess