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

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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

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

Friday Finds – 4th 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 New Year! I hope your 2019 has started well and you aren’t suffering too much from festive excess. My news feeds are still looking a little “light” in terms of interesting articles, but I’ve still got a few things to share with you today.

Let’s start with a longer read. At this time of year we are surrounded by “new year, new me” attitudes and lofty resolutions which people believe will transform them overnight. With so many resolutions relating to exercise, it’s worth remembering that there’s more to leading a long and healthy life than a flurry of activity every January! In this article for The Guardian, Vybarr Cregan-Reid traces some of the history of exercise fads and how changes in lifestyle have led to where we are now. Interesting stuff.

Next, a bit of science. When I saw the word “physics” in the title of this one I was worried that it would be beyond me, but actually it’s pretty fascinating. From applying scientific understanding of how liquids move, scientists have been able to predict the movement of runners towards the start line of a marathon. It’s worth watching the video in this one which shows it speeded up, and I can see how the runners do have a “liquid-like” motion. See what you think.

On the subject of marathons, one of 2018’s most prolific runners had to be Yuki Kawauchi. Already well-known in some circles (especially Marathon Talk listeners!) Yuki shot to fame after his win at the Boston marathon. But that only tells part of the story as competing in multiple marathons and clocking pretty resectable times is pretty standard in the life of Yuki Kawauchi. If you’re not sure what I mean, here’s a breakdown of his year:

Hopefully 2019 will continue to offer incredible marathon moments like we saw in 2018. To that effect, Martin Fritz Huber wrote the following column for Outside with some of his predictions for the year ahead. I wonder what we’ll think of this a year from now…

And finally, if you’re heading to parkrun this weekend then perhaps you have your eye on a new PB (or at least your fastest time of 2019 😉). I can only assume triathlete Alex Yee was looking to end 2018 on a high when he clocked the second-fastest parkrun time EVER last weekend. It’s a phenomenal time and I’m trying very hard not to dwell on the fact that I would only have been a bit over half way round when he finished!! Best get to work on that speed…!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

My Year Of Running 2018 (Link Up)

For the last couple of years I’ve linked up with Courtney @ Eat Pray Run DC to recap my year in running (2016 and 2017). To be honest, it’s one of my favourite posts as I get to think back over all my awesome adventures from the year just gone by. Here’s how 2018 looked…

Best race experience
Hands down the Disneyland Paris half marathon. I know I’ve gone on about it A LOT, but it was probably the best race experience of my life. No pressure to run a certain time, it was all about celebrating my Big Birthday by combining all my favourite things – running, Disney and Paris.

Best run
For this one I’m going to choose the Stirling marathon. My training was really consistent and I came super close (as in, less than a minute) to the PB I set back in 2014. This is probably the best I’ve paced a full marathon and it really gave me a lot of confidence in what I could do.

Best new piece of running gear
I’ve bought several pairs of amazing, funky leggings this year and you would be forgiven for thinking I would choose one of those…but I’m not! The best thing I bought all year was this reflective “vest” which means I’m visible on my runs through the winter darkness but can wear whatever top I want, rather than being tied to the same old “high viz” one all the time.

Best running advice you’ve received this year
To switch from running after work to running before work. I’ve always been an evening runner, but was feeling increasingly pressed for time so began to consider early morning runs instead. With Steve’s encouragement, I took the plunge and have to say it’s been one of the best things I’ve done for my running as it fits so much more easily into my day. I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed getting up early, but so far it’s been worth it for the extra time it creates in the evening.

Most inspirational runner
This year I’m going to choose my friend Tina Muir, founder of Running for Real. The Superstars community she has created on Facebook is so inspiring and uplifting. I’ve made new friends there and love some of the random discussions we have. Tina herself has been a fantastic role model in her decision to stop running in order to overcome amenhorrea and become pregnant. She will shortly be taking part in the WDW half marathon as her comeback race and I’m so excited for her to have this experience (and, admittedly, a little jealous as I’d love to be there too!). In case you missed it, Tina interviewed me earlier this year.

Favourite picture from a run or race this year
Duh! Obviously a Disney one! The hardest part was narrowing it down…

Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat
Can you guess? Why DLP, of course! I would repeat that experience any time. Good thing it wasn’t a one-off event!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be?
Freakin’ awesome! 2018 was the self-styled Year of Me!!!. I set myself some fun goals, and celebrated a milestone birthday with an amazing racecation. There was also a marathon, lots of parkrunning (including in Florida) and the chance to connect with lots of amazing people both online and IRL. Here’s to an equally awesome 2019…!

Want to join in? I’d love to read about your year in running.