Friday Finds – 30th November

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.

Can you believe it’s the end of November? Festivities are getting underway and I’m planning what to get the kittens for their first Christmas! I hope you’ve got some lovely plans for the weekend, which we’ll get started with a little light reading.

As the end of the year approaches (!!), Strava has published its annual report and this year it reveals some interesting differences in activity preferences by gender. Although Strava is more heavily used by men, it seems that among women using the platform, running is more popular than cycling, however this is reversed among male users. Of course we can’t really extrapolate that to the entire running population (Strava began as a platform for cyclists) but I still find it interesting and wonder how far it is true amongst those I know.

This next piece is a little different, but I’m drawn to the idea it encapsulates. The first couple of paragraphs introduce ideas we wouldn’t immediately associate with running, however the consideration of the structured approach to training and how we cope when that structure is absent, is something I can certainly relate to. My favourite idea in the piece is neatly summed up when the writer tells us, “As in running as in life, structure isn’t something that binds us and oppresses us, but rather it’s the framework within which we’re able to thrive, test our limits and make sense of the world.” What do you think?

As someone with a definite penchant for leggings, I was interested to read this piece about the evolution of athleisure in US fashion. I found the history of some items fascinating, particular with regard to gender differences, and was amazed to learn that in the average wardrobe (especially the male wardrobe) there is far more “athleisure” clothing than we might have realised.

I also enjoyed treading this excerpt from a new book called The Happy Runner. In this extract the writers focus on self-acceptance, leading me to conclude that this will likely be a book that looks at the more mental side of running, something which really interests me. Check it out and see what you think.

And finally, if you’re looking for a challenge and have more money than you know what to do with, then this new race might be for you. It’s an Antarctic marathon that begins almost immediately you get off your plane. But beware – fail to finish quickly enough and that plane will be taking off without you! Anyone in? 😂

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Advertisements

Friday Finds – 23rd November

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 my friends in the US had a wonderful Thanksgiving. While it may not be a holiday here in the UK, we certainly feel the influence these days with the Black Friday sales. If you need a break from shopping madness, here are a few bits and pieces to read…

With Thanksgiving in mind, let’s kick off with this column from Brad Stulberg at Outside as he examines the role of gratitude in our performance. It makes for interesting reading and is perhaps a reminder for us all to embrace gratitude in our lives.

Also from Outside, Alex Hutchinson’s latest column delves more deeply into the Nike Vaporfly 4% – a topic I have mentioned a few times in Friday Finds. Rather than yet another piece about the efficiency they promote, Hutchinson seeks answers to two questions: how do they work and should they be allowed? If you’re curious, have a read.

These days there’s a multitude of technology available to help us improve our running, and debate about how reliant we might be on things like GPS watches and data is now fairly prevalent. With that in mind, I was interested to read this piece in which the awesome Des Linden discusses how she uses data in her running and how that helps to enhance the experience for her. I’d be interested to know how you feel about running and data.

Bur yes, it is possible to take our commitment to an activity too far. In this compelling piece from The Guardian, Richard Godwin looks at how competitive our lives have become and how even our leisure activities are becoming increasingly competitive. The long-term effects of a highly-competitive life is, of course, what is most worrying as it can fuel unhealthy perfectionism. What are your thoughts on this one?

And finally, let’s finish with something inspiring. Ginette Bedard is amazing, and if I can still be anywhere near as active as she is when I’m 85, I’ll be very happy indeed!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 9th November

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.

Hola! I hope you’ve had a great week. It’s been pretty busy over here, but mostly good and I’m looking forward to the weekend. But first, a little bit of light reading…

In the week following the New York marathon I knew my feeds would be filled with stories and reports from the event, but I wasn’t expecting one of the main stories to be the controversy surrounding a mid-race proposal! What, on the surface, appeared to be a fairytale story in which a woman running her first ever marathon was proposed to by her boyfriend at mile 16, has attracted a great deal of comment online with many quick to deride his timing. Of course we have no idea of the reality of others’ relationships and perhaps the runner was thrilled with this way of making her first marathon memorable, but I can also see the other side of the argument which suggests that it took away from her achievement and likely interrupted her rhythm – I’m pretty sure I would struggle with the remaining miles in that situation – so I’d love to know what you think about this one. Mid-race proposal: yay or nay?

I’ve not yet had an opportunity to watch any of the coverage of the NY marathon, but I know from experience that watching the London marathon on tv tends to make me cry (and I nearly always cry, or at least feel like crying, after crossing the finish line of a marathon). But where does this sudden emotion come from? Here’s a sports psychologist to offer some explanation.

At least in a marathon runners know exactly how far they still have to go, but how would you feel about a race where the finish line was not defined? That’s the brain-child of Barkley marathons founder Lazarus Lake – a race in which the winner is basically the last one standing! It sounds like a real test of mental strength, but I’m not sure it’s the race for me! Would you do it?

For those who prefer a slightly different kind of race, you might enjoy this exploration of the relationship between running and beer. There is, of course, the growing popularity of the beer mile, but there are also an increasing number of “recovery beers” on the market and even a few recommendations that runners should drink beer during their training cycles due to the reported benefits it offers. That’s good enough for me – after all, it is Friday!

And finally, have you ever watched as pedestrians attempted to cross the road during a big city marathon? In Paris it’s a frequent occurrence, which I’ve often seen result in collisions. Filmmaker Jeff Seal found himself fascinated by the strange dances and contortions of those trying to dart across the street, so decided to make a film of it. Take a look:

Happy reading,
The Running Princess 

Friday Finds – 2nd November

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 is it November! I actually don’t know where this year is disappearing to and I’m definitely noticing the difference now the clocks have changed. It’s looking chilly this weekend so let’s keep ourselves cosy and settle down to do a little reading.

With the New York marathon coming up this weekend and the autumn (fall) marathon season in full swing, a lot of what I’m seeing in my feeds is marathon related. Did you catch this particular gem from last weekend? Venice does have an association with water, but I can’t imagine participants in the Venice marathon expected to be wading through flood waters in order to complete their race. It makes the puddles I encountered in Aviemore look like a mere splash!

Speaking of New York, I came across this piece in Runner’s World about training for NYC taking over the writer’s summer. I just love the tongue-in-cheek way he suggests it’s all doom and gloom….but then reveals that he loves it! Anyone who has ever trained for a marathon can probably relate.

You may also have seen that a new half marathon world record was set last weekend as the previously unknown Abraham Kiptum lowered the mark set 8 years ago by Zersenay Tadese (one of the runners in last year’s Breaking2 project). But what is more interesting is that this same runner, now the proud owner of a world record, was unable to gain a place in the recent Chicago marathon as his credentials were “not good enough” to earn him a spot. This article sets out a few points I hadn’t thought of before when it comes to elite runners having a breakthrough. I wonder how many more undiscovered stars are out there…

While we’re on the subject of breakthroughs, I was fascinated by this piece from Brad Stulberg in Outside about what it takes to have a breakthrough in running or any other aspect of life. If the breakthrough performance is the result of many small, perhaps unnoticed actions, then I am once more reminded that focusing on the process over the outcome is what will ultimately yield results and that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it as sometimes it takes time. What are your thoughts?

And finally, there’s nothing quite like crossing the finish line of a marathon and knowing you’ve accomplished something amazing, but in the days afterwards there are a few things that almost every marathoner does. I think I’ve done just about everything on this list bar the day drinking (mainly because I’ve never run a race that started early enough for this to be an option!). Which ones have you done?

Happy reading!
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 26th October

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! I don’t know about you but I’m definitely ready for a weekend – the first week of term is always a shock to the system. So let’s kick things off with a few articles to read.

I’m going to start with a couple of more scientific pieces from Outside. To be honest, I’d never heard of the CMAH gene before, but it seems to be pretty interesting. Not only does an ancient mutation in that gene account for an increased risk of some ailments, more recent studies have revealed that it may also have made humans better distance runners. More interestingly, we don’t actually know if distance running was the reason for the evolution of that gene, or if that is simply a happy by-product. Fascinating!

Secondly, a recent offering from the always-brilliant Alex Hutchinson who has been examining a study into training data which aimed to ascertain which form is best. The headline point is that our own internal systems are just as sensitive as any high-tech gadgetry we choose to use and is another valuable reminder that we should tune into our bodies and learn to listen to the signals they are giving us with regard to effort level rather than always off-loading that job to a gadget.

I also enjoyed this letter to running from High School athlete Kate Cox. I love her reflection on the highs and lows of the sport as well as how it has helped shape her. To be honest, it’s exactly the kind of thing I’d love some of my pupils to write when I ask for some reflective writing!

With Halloween coming up lots of little (and not-so-little) girls and boys are planning their costume. With all the traditional ideas still popular – ghosts, superheroes, princesses, etc – it’s refreshing to see this article about two little girls who have decided to dress as their sporting hero, Shalane Flanagan! I think this is just the most amazing idea and only goes to show what an inspiring role model Shalane is for little girls as she is so visible and demonstrates that anything is possible. Love it!

And finally, did you catch Des Linden’s brilliant tweets about the reality of marathon training? I love how real she is and there are definitely a few things in there we can relate to! Which one is your favourite?

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!

Vt9GLAODTf6bqjqlFfBPCQ

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!

L4rfn9ijQveUKXXqkJK8YQ

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.

SQH4Rnl6Sdu2WjyjFgwtbw

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?
Do you ever theme your running outfits?
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Friday Finds – 12th October

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.

Where has the past week gone? Funny how holiday weeks go by so much faster than work weeks!

At this time of year there really is little other than marathons in the news, what with Sir Mo’s awesome win in Chicago at the weekend (did you see it?), excitement building ahead of next month’s New York marathon and, of course, continued discussion of Eliud Kipchoge’s incredible word record, there’s little room for anything else!

Speaking of Kipchoge, let’s start with a couple of articles looking at his record-breaking performance. To start, some consideration of what it could take to break 2 hours. Kipchoge himself came tantalisingly close in the Nike Breaking2 project, and a recent study suggests that a team of runners with similar ability to him could make it happen. Personally I’d love to see someone go below the 2 hour mark, but who knows how long that might take.

On a slightly lighter note, attendees at the Chicago marathon expo had the opportunity to test themselves on an extended treadmill set to Kipchoge’s record breaking pace. Funnily enough, there was a lot of falling!

Related to this, a bit of discussion surrounding pacers in marathons. I’m never sure how I feel about this, I mean the runner still has to actually run the pace, so having the pacers would reduce the mental fatigue of working out what speed to run at as it’s “outsourced” to someone else, leaving them free to “just” run. But for the men, it’s not easy to find someone fast enough to run the desired pace for long enough – especially if Kipchoge is part of the race – whereas there are plenty of speedy male runners who can pace women, and some see this as an advantage, hence changes to the way women’s records are classified. What are your thoughts?

Leaving the marathon aside, the other notable topic this week was World Mental Health Day. Of course I have frequently included links to articles extolling the mental health benefits of running, so it comes as no surprise that Runner’s World (among other sources) published material to coincide with the day. I certainly recognise the boost that comes from a run, particularly when I have gone for a short run before work as my mood is better throughout the day. How about you?

And finally, I don’t know about you but one of my favourite things about running, especially deep in marathon training, is being able to eat lots, but this caused problems for an Ironman triathlete who visited an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant in Germany. Apparently there is a limit to how much you can have!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 5th October

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.

Phew! This is one of those Fridays that feels like it’s been a long time coming around. After 8 weeks of school term, it’s time for a break here in Scotland and I’m looking forward to a chance to rest, relax and recharge. To start us off, here are some articles that caught my eye this week.

For the parkrun fan, this weekend is an exciting one as parkrun celebrates its 14th birthday. That’s right, tomorrow is International Parkrun Day. Not only that, but last week the 5,000,000th person registered for their parkrun barcode. That’s incredible! Here’s the always excellent Sean Ingle with a roundup of how parkrun has grown and developed over the past 14 years.

It’s also that time of year when everyone (and I’m including myself in this) goes a bit marathon mad – the results of the London marathon ballot are due to drop onto doorsteps in the next week and this weekend sees the next of the Marathon Majors take place in Chicago. With marathon fever tightening its grip, my attention was caught by these musings on the distance. I’d love to know your thoughts.

Speaking of Chicago, the elite field is looking exciting with appearances from Mo Farah, Gwen Jorgensen and “Citizen Runner” Yuki Kawauchi. Fans of the Marathon Talk podcast have been familiar with Yuki for some time and he became better known as a result of his Boston win earlier this year. With that in mind, you may enjoy this piece exploring Japan’s most well-known marathoner.

Following some high profile reports of cheats in marathons (most notably in Mexico City) race organisers in China are finding new ways to crack down on cheats. Having used facial recognition software in a half marathon last year, the software is now to be used in a marathon early next month. Good to prevent cheating or another layer of potential complication for runners? What are your thoughts?

And finally, I love those “expectation v reality” memes that pop up from time to time so this article appealed to me. It’s another classic from Canadian Running which has gathered together a variety of stock images related to running and compared them to the reality. I think my favourite is the one about winter running!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 28th 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.

Hello Friday! I must admit, I’ve spent this week floating along in a bit of a bubble after my amazing weekend away and nothing I have planned for this weekend can ever be quite as exciting. Whatever you’re up to, here are some interesting bits and pieces to dip into.

First, I’ll touch briefly once more on Eliud Kipchoge and the new marathon world record. Now that a new record has been set, attention inevitably returned to the idea of the sub-2 hour marathon and one of my favourite columnists, Alex Hutchinson, spoke to physiologist Michael Joyner and compiled his thoughts on this for Outside.

Also from Hutchinson, this time writing in The Globe and Mail, the fascinating results of studies into identical twins which show that while our genes matter in terms of what we might achieve, what we do with those genes is also important. Basically both nature AND nurture matter. Always an intriguing topic.

Related to this is this response by evolutionary biologist Rowan Hooper to a short story called Lions and Gazelles (which sounds intriguing). This response considers various aspects of sporting performance and how science might help to enhance it. There are certainly times when I wouldn’t mind a boost to my motivation!

Another interesting study I came across, reported by Canadian Running magazine, caught my attention as it concerned smartphones. One of my goals for this year was to think more carefully about my use of my phone and social media, with the intention of being a little more mindful in using them and not getting caught up in the time-suck of infinite scrolling. My sense that it wasn’t that good to use my devices too much is supported by results showing that those making more use of smartphones exhibited fewer approach behaviours e.g. smiling. What does this have to do with running? Well next time you acknowledge another runner only to be ignored, perhaps overuse of a smartphone is partly to blame.

And finally, running is one of those topics that elicits (often unsolicited) advice from a wide range of people. Sometimes that advice is good, but often it is terrible. Here, Canadian Running has rounded up some of the best examples of poor advice to runners, some of which sound insane! What’s the worst running advice you’ve ever been given?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 21st 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.

A very happy Friday! All being well, when this post goes live I should be on my way to Disneyland Paris for my magical running adventure, therefore this week I’ve written my post in advance.

To be honest, all of my usual sources are deservedly full of news of the Berlin marathon and Eliud Kipchoge’s amazing run for a new world record, therefore I’ve decided to make that the focus of this week’s post. So in a slight change to my normal format, here’s a roundup of some of the articles I’ve been reading since last weekend:

And to finish, a picture that has been fairly prominent on social media this week. How long could you keep up with Kipchoge?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess