Friday Finds – 1st 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.

Hello and welcome to November! Where did that sneak up from? Hopefully you have a fun weekend planned, but while you’re snuggled up keeping cosy, here’s a bit of reading material for you.

One thing to keep an eye on this weekend is the New York marathon. And while the elite race is sure to be exciting, like many city marathons it’s the other stories to emerge from the event which can be far more interesting. Take this one for example. How can you not be inspired by an 86 year old woman running her 17th New York marathon (she ran her first aged 69)? What an incredible story! I would LOVE to still be running (and enjoying my running) in my 80s!

Speaking of marathons, I found this next piece really interesting. I know I’m not the only one to have felt an overwhelming surge of emotions at a marathon finish line, so it was good to learn a little more about just why that happens. I have to say, I’m also one of those people who wells up a little in Disney Parks (not always when I’m running!) so I guess the theories can be applied to other aspects of life too. What are your thoughts?

Interestingly, that wasn’t the only piece I came across this week linking running and crying, leading me to wonder if everyone is out there sobbing and sniffling as they run! Normally running makes me feel fantastic, but I’ll admit to a a couple of occasions when I’ve been dealing with some emotional “life stuff” and a run has kind of unlocked the tears. Have you ever cried during a run?

Meanwhile, after recent high-profile marathon runs, footwear – more specifically the Nike shoes worn in Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-2 hour run – continue to generate interest and stimulate debate. I’ve listened to a number of commentators and read various pieces all discussing this topic and can’t help feeling that it is at it’s core a technological advancement akin to those seen in other sports. It’s just that this development has resulted in a significant gain in a short period of time, thus courting controversy. That said, I’m happy to consider both sides of the argument and found this well-crafted piece by Geoffrey Burns to be an excellent examination of the shoe debate.

And finally, on the topic of Eliud Kipchoge’s historic run, have you seen this video in which Olympian Nick Symmonds demonstrates just how incredible a feat it was? So good to see athletes at that level feeling just like we mere mortals do when pushing our limits!

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 – 17th 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.

Helllo! Thank goodness it’s Friday! I’m rather looking forward to a relaxing weekend, but first some reading material…

After her historic win in New York the woman of the moment is most definitely Shalane Flanagan. Here, Lindsay Crouse, writing in The New York Times, examines what she refers to as the ‘Shalane Flanagan Effect’:

Next up, an article with a headline featuring a word which usually prompts a sharp intake of breath from me: the word “literally”. Thankfully, this particular writer has used it correctly and it turned out to be fairly important in introducing the idea in the article – that exercise helps an area of your brain to grow. Studies therefore suggest that exercise could play a similar part in brain health as we age as things like puzzles or taking supplements. Another big plus for regular exercisers!

Now, one for the data fans. If you’re a committed Strava user then you might already have come across the heat map the company recently released. Compiled from countless hours of running and riding (over a billion activities!) it shows the most popular routes around the world and is absolutely fascinating.

On a lighter note, if you race regularly then you probably have some awareness of the sort of sights you often see when it comes to other runners. Women’s Running staff have obviously been thinking along similar lines and have compiled a list of spectator types you always see at races. I’ve definitely seen them all…have you?

And finally, we runners can be fairly easy to poke fun at, but at least sometimes that humour is spot on. Check out this cartoon from The New Yorker that really captures the modern connection between running and social media. Guilty as charged!!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 10th 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.

Welcome to the post formerly known as Friday Finds, which this week is taking the form of Sunday Stories thanks to some difficulties with fitting in everything I had to do at the end of the week (I’ll cover this more in my Week in Review so watch out for that if you want to know more about what I’ve been up to). But never mind, let’s just call this one fashionably late and crack on with some of the articles that have caught my eye this week in the aftermath of the New York marathon.

First, a follow-up to one of last week’s stories about blind runner Simon Wheatcroft and his bid to make history by using some new technology to help him run the marathon without a guide. Here’s a more in-depth article about Wheatcroft, his background and how he got on in New York:

This next article was written in advance of the marathon, however it still remains interesting for the statistics it pulls apart. Time magazine has studied finish times of NYC marathon runners over several decades and come to the conclusion that finishing times are getting slower. Not a massive surprise as this is consistent with recent studies indicating a general slowing in times, however what I liked about this article is the discussion of possible reasons behind this, all of which are dismissed by a spokesperson for the New York Road Runners who simply points out that they want to make the distance accessible to all. Hear hear!

However the New York Times seems to suggest that the popularity of the NYC marathon (probably the biggest marathon in the world when we look at participant numbers) flies in the face of a US trend for declining participation in races. I’m sure I’ve come across this kind of thing before, however I would shy away from saying that the running boom is “over” as race participation does not necessarily correlate with the number of people running. I see more and more runners out and about when I’m training and numbers at parkrun continue to grow. Perhaps the decline in racing has more to do with costs and/or an increase in available revents which inevitably thins the field. What are your views?

History buffs may enjoy this next article which gives details of a marathon distance race in New York in 1896 – quite a bit before the NYC marathon as we know it which was founded in 1970 and a year before the inaugural Boston marathon! I do love having random facts like this up my sleeve!

And finally, everyone loves a high five as they run a race. Usually these high fives come from children lining the route but in New York one spectator went one better and positioned their dog to give runners a high five. That would have made me smile for several miles if it happened to me!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess


Friday Finds Extra Edition – 4th November

Me again! I already posted my Friday Finds for this week, however with the New York marathon taking place on Sunday my news feeds have been packed with interesting marathon-related articles which I wanted to share. I posted a marathon special recently so didn’t want to have another so soon as I know that’s not what everyone is interested in, but equally didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share some great content. And so, this week I’m bringing you an extra edition – think of it like bonus content on an album or dvd – for those interested in reading a bit more marathon goodness…

The Great Slowing of the American Runner – an intriguing investigation into why the times of the best amateur marathoners are slowing.

The New Yorker
The New York City Marathon Quadruplets – the story of what is believed to be the first quadruplets to take part together in the marathon’s history.

The First Five-Borough New York City Marathon – the story of how the event as we know it today came about.

Are Smartphones Ruining Distance Running? – a look at how technology has changed the marathon experience over the years.

The New York Times
Diary of a New York City Marathon, Now With a Finishing Kick – a detailed breakdown of the course, in case you want to feel like you’re there!

NY Mag
Why the Fastest Runners are Astonishingly Chill – further evidence of how taking it easy can boost finishing times.

Runner’s World
Sole Sisters of ’72 – a piece from the RW Selects series featuring the 6 women who lined up for the 1972 event and how it was about so much more than running a race.

Two sources looked at the costs of running the marathon:
Here’s How Much it’s Costing Me to Run the NYC Marathon (Time)
Think Running is a Cheap Sport? Check Out What New York City Marathon Runner are Spending (MarketWatch)

And for those who are fed up of trying to explain why they HAVEN’T run a marathon, Sports Illustrated has you covered:
The Case for Not Running a Marathon

And with that, I promise I’m done with Friday Finds for this week! Good luck to everyone running New York (or any other race) this weekend.
The Running Princess