Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 22

This was the first “proper” week back in school as we had all year groups in and following their normal timetables. It was also the first real test for me of how it would feel to continue my run streak whilst being back at work (as opposed to working from home where there was no commute and I could be more flexible with my hours). I knew I didn’t want to make a choice to stop, but also wasn’t sure how sustainable it would be with changing work demands. However having adjusted my “streak rules” from 30 mins/5k per run to include just 1 mile (under exceptional circumstances, my preference would still be 30 mins/5k as before) made it seem much more achievable. Now I had 2 months to test this out.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s what I got up to in this particular week. You will see that outside of running, my workouts and yoga sessions dropped back while I adjusted to my new routine.

Monday – 5k + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 4 miles + home yoga
Wednesday – 5 miles
Thursday – 5 miles
Friday – 4 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Saturday – 6 miles
Sunday – 10 miles

Despite trying to relax over the weekend, I did feel tired on Monday. It always takes a week or two after the summer holidays to get used to the physical and mental demands of school life again, but this time it was after a gap of almost 5 months since I had last been in the classroom. Of course it was also a huge adjustment for pupils returning to school after weeks of home learning. To help, I kept my run to a super easy pace and was very glad of my yoga session in the evening to help me wind down.

I felt much better on Tuesday after a really good sleep. My run felt better and I had enough oomph left later in the day to call in on my parents (opting to stay in the driveway rather than go inside – still allowed at that time – for fear of bringing germs with me from school). There was no time for a workout, but I did make sure to complete a yoga session before dinner and took a short walk with Steve before bed.

Wednesday was pretty nondescript. My run was probably the highlight of the day as the conditions felt nice for running – dull, but dry and cool with plenty of daylight. The rest of the day, however, was just getting stuck into work, trying to learn the names of all my new pupils (approaching 200!) and trying to get on top of my planning. Steve and I have still been watching assorted box sets in the evening, and on this day we started White House Farm after hearing lots of good reviews of it earlier in the year.

On Thursday morning the weather was dreadful and Steve was postponing his run until later in the day. Being at work doesn’t leave me as much room for manoeuvre as when I was working from home, but on this occasion I decided it would be better to wait until I was home rather than have to take extra time to get dry (and sort out my no doubt soaking and tangled hair) before heading to work. I did feel a little strange all day without those early morning endorphins (and my Apple Watch kept hounding me about not making my usual progress in closing my activity rings) but it was definitely the right decision as my evening run was quite pleasant. It was actually day 150 of my run streak, so I much preferred the conditions in the evening than an early morning soaking for this occasion! I have a full teaching day on a Thursday so don’t tend to hang around as late at the end of the day since my brain feels pretty fried, so this was a nice way to help me reset, even if it did cut down on the time I had in the evening, That said, I did manage a 10 minute yoga session between running and dinner, which helped me to unwind after the evening activity.

An evening run meant there wasn’t so much time between my Thursday and Friday runs as I was able to get back out in the morning again on Friday. It was a little wet by the time I got home, but I was treated to a beautiful sky as I set out. I was conscious that I wouldn’t have morning light for much longer so wanted to appreciate sights like this while I could.

Later that day I got a message from my mum with an article from the local paper. They had covered the flooding I mentioned in my last post which had gouged a channel out of the grass banking at the bottom of the main road. She told me to look closely, and it turned out the photo they used had Steve in it as he headed off on foot to take care of some errands! He had mentioned there being some pictures taken down there, but hadn’t realised it was for the paper. Good thing he didn’t wave for the camera haha!

My working day was broken up with some home baking at lunchtime. I have been wary of “communal food” and sharing anything like this, however a lovely colleague had taken the time to bake this for me since it was my birthday over the weekend, so I cleaned my hands and donned some disposable gloves to take charge of slicing it up so that I felt an extra level of safety. I’m glad I did as it was delicious and I was sent home with the last bit of it. Only after Steve had gobbled up his slice did I reveal the secret: it was vegan cake! Honestly you wouldn’t be able to tell if you didn’t know.

I was also give some beautiful flowers which brightened up my kitchen table once I arranged them in a vase (I use the word “arranged” loosely – I have no idea what I’m doing with flowers ha!).

For the first time that week I managed a workout with the resistance band before a yoga session while the dinner was cooking. We then had a relaxing evening watching tv then taking a short walk before bed.

My actual birthday was Saturday, so I was in no hurry to get out of bed early. I had some presents to open and it quickly became clear that the kitties have no sense of other people’s birthdays and instead were captivated by the wrapping paper!

Amusingly, both Steve and my parents ended up getting me the same card. The sentiment suits me just fine!

I had originally expected a “parkrunday birthday” this year so in the absence of parkrun I was doing my best to bring celebrations into the day. I actually had a parkrunday birthday on one previous occasion and marked the day with post-run Bucks Fizz. I had remembered this so our post-run coffee/bacon roll also included some Bucks Fizz this week.

It was also a double parkrun quiz day since we were still a week behind after my trip away, so did one in the morning and one later on. We got 8/15 and 9/15 respectively but, to be honest, this seems to be our score most weeks so I’m tempted one day to open up the answer sheet and guess at all the answers without hearing the questions, just to see if it makes any difference 😂

In the afternoon I amused myself by FINALLY sorting through my DLP purchases and tidying them away, then Steve and I went out for a walk. He had been running on a path which winds between nearby fields but I had never been up there and was curious to see it. It was a really nice walk and it felt like being in the middle of nowhere even though the bypass was really close by. Perfect.

I was also amused to note that rather than hound me about closing my activity rings, my Apple Watch kept wishing my a happy birthday. It even “gave” me balloons!

When we got home it was time for the cake Steve had got for me. I had wanted my favourite unicorn cake, but there weren’t any available so he got me red velvet instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I opted to have mine in the bath with a glass of wine. Very indulgent!

I had requested steak, peppercorn sauce and homemade chips for my “birthday tea” and Steve set abut getting that ready. It was delicious.

It may not have been quite the birthday I would have expected at the start of the year, but by 2020 standards it was a pretty nice day.

It did, however, mean that I wasn’t best fuelled for my Sunday morning run. Who knew that cake and fizz wasn’t the best preparation for running haha! Still, I enjoyed my 10 miles  and was pleased that I had kept my run streak alive through the first full working week of the term.

We spent the afternoon with my parents as dad had invited us up, allegedly so Steve could watch the football, but I suspect the reality was mum would only let him watch the football if he invited us up so she could chat to me at the same time. With social restrictions changing all the time, I was glad to have that time to sit and chat rather than have a quick driveway/doorstep catchup.

And so the week drew to a close with my usual Sunday night bath (accompanied by the last of the birthday fizz – decadent!) and I was ready for another week in school.

How did/will you mark your birthday in 2020?
If you’re a parkunner, have you experienced a parkrunday birthday before?

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 – 7th 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.

Welcome to September! I hope the month has started well for you and you have something great to look forward to in the coming weeks. Perhaps an autumn (fall) race? Unbelievably, we’re already half way through our school term and my autumn half marathons are hurtling ever closer! But for tonight, let’s take a rest and settle down with something to read:

First, a very seasonal piece from Outside extolling the virtues of running at this time of year. I have to admit, generally summer is my favourite time of year and I love warm weather, but when it comes to running I love the slightly cooler air and crisp leaves. What’s your favourite time of year to run?

Another interesting recent read from Outside focused on age – something I’ve been a little preoccupied by myself of late! Here, Brad Stulberg examines some of the harder to measure benefits of ageing and experience, pointing to the age of recently successful athletes as proof that you don’t have to be in the first flush of youth to have your best performance. That’s a message I shall be hanging on to!

We all come to running for different reasons and at different ages. Some begin running in school, others find running as adults, but everyone who embraces running finds that it changes their life in some way. With that in mind, I enjoyed this piece in which the writer details the ways in which running has helped her and improved her life. For me, running has helped me to understand that I’m capable of more than I ever believed and widened my social circle. How has running helped you?

For many of us, our reason to run is to have a bit of an escape, some time to get away from the stresses and strains of life. But for one runner, that escape went even further when he decided to live “off the grid” for 4 years. You can read more about it in this piece, and it sounds like the book is going to be pretty interesting too.

And finally, if you think the marathon is tough now, imagine taking part in the 1904 Olympic marathon when conditions were far more gruesome than your average mass participation event now. Don’t believe me? Check out this article for the details:

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 19th 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! How has your week been? If you keep up with my other posts then you’ll know last weekend wasn’t the best for me and it’s been a bit of a strange week as a result. Sticking to my routine is helpful though, so I’m here as usual with some Friday Finds for you. Here we go…!

First, an interesting thing I came across just this morning. Adidas has teamed up with Berlin transit to create a shoe with a transit pass sewn into the tongue! The pass is valid until the end of the year and the shoes quickly sold out. I suppose that eliminates the need to fumble around for a pass and is a novel idea which has scope for development. Would you go for something like this?

I also loved this next article featuring some NYC marathon photos. Photographer Eddie Cohen wanted to capture runners in the moment of “exhaustion and euphoria” at the finish, a description which I find very fitting. The photos, along with “before” photos of the runners, feature in his new book. I don’t know about you, but as I look at those “after” photos, I understand just how they feel as all those marathon finish lines come flooding back to me.

Particularly striking this week was this letter written by US Olympian Bruce Berian. We all know a little of the commitment and hard work that takes an athlete on their journey to the top of their sport, but we don’t always learn the full story. In this heartfelt letter to his future self, Berian tells us of his journey from working in a fast food chain to the Olympic village Rio. Well worth a read.

Speaking of fast food, it seems that pro runners are not all the pillars of healthy eating that we might assume. Many fuel their running with some most unexpected foods. I certainly enjoy a treat AFTER a race, but tend to be quite cautious with my pre-run food. Some of these would definitely not sit well with me during a run, much as I might enjoy them at other times! Anyone else got any unconventional choices?

And finally, I’m becoming more and more keen on regular yoga practice and am also curious about some of the more “novelty” yoga classes now available (cat yoga and Harry Potter yoga are particularly appealing!) but if you’re anywhere near Baltimore then you can go along to a yoga class at the Maryland Zoo where you have an hour of yoga alongside the PENGUINS! I love penguins! If this happened at a zoo near me then I would be straight there!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

#teamparkrun

Ah my beloved parkrun. Today, 19th August, things were made even more special by a UK-wide event in partnership with UK Sport and The National Lottery – #teamparkrun.

Here’s the gist of the event:

“On Saturday 19 August 2017, following the World Athletics Championships in London, the UK’s National Lottery funded Olympic and Paralympic athletes are teaming up with parkrun to encourage the nation to get active with #teamparkrun”

You may remember that last August, following the Olympic Games in Rio, returning athletes took part in a celebration called I Am Team GB which not only welcomed home our athletes who had performed so well, but encouraged the nation as a whole to be more active. Around 60 GB athletes took part in parkrun events that day, and this year’s event, backed by Sport England, Sport Scotland, Sport Wales, Sport Northern Ireland, The British Olympic Association and Paralympic Association as well as a number of governing bodies, was designed as a thank you from our National Lottery funded athletes for getting behind them. At parkruns across the country this morning, those athletes were right behind us this time as they volunteered as tail walkers. Nobody finishes last at parkrun so this event highlighted how inclusive parkrun is.

We’re fortunate enough to have an Olympic athlete right here in Perth – the swimmer Stephen Milne who was part of the silver medal-winning 4x200m freestyle relay team. He also won silver in the same event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Stephen came to Perth parkrun last year for I Am Team GB and returned again today to be tail walker.

 

Our event began with a rather longer than usual run briefing as we thanked the volunteers, acknowledged those with milestone runs and heard a few words from both Stephen Milne and our local MP Pete Wishart who had also come along in support of the event. There was a huge turnout, no doubt due to a combination of #teamparkrun, a beautiful morning and the cancellation of our nearest parkrun event which brought a lot of visitors to us. We now have a new attendance record of 303!

There were also some photos taken. Everyone else was getting ready to run but I spotted the photo op and sidled in at the back – parkrun ninja lol!

Slightly late, we were counted down by our MP and were off. I had it in mind that I could run well today and found I naturally slipped into the form I have been practising during my recent form drills. I ran the first mile rather quickly and slowed a bit over the next couple of miles, but felt strong throughout. Perhaps like last year I was inspired by having an Olympic athlete around and was really pleased to finish in 23:42, a pesky 3 seconds outside of my best time this year. However I felt good and think I might still be able to find another few seconds before my marathon at the end of next month.

I really wanted a photo with our guest tail walker so waited around the finish, cheering on other runners and chatting to people I knew.

And then my chance came. I got a lovely photo and, as a bonus, managed to get a shot of me wearing the ACTUAL OLYMPIC SILVER MEDAL (last year I only got to feel the weight of it while its owner was still wearing it). Of course I did my standard medal pose. It’s pretty heavy so I’m not sure I’d have managed a jumping shot 😉

#teamparkrun was a fantastic event. Parkrun is always friendly and inclusive, but I’m quite sure the presence of Olympic and Paralympic athletes drew more people to parkruns around the UK today – after all, how often do you get the chance to say you were faster than an Olympian haha!

Thank you Stephen Milne for contributing to a fantastic event today.

 

Photo: Stephen Milne on Twitter

Did you take part in #teamparkrun?
Ever tried on an Olympic medal?

Friday Finds – 7th 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 can’t imagine it will be much of a surprise that I’m going with a marathon-centred Friday Finds this week! Due to travel timings I’m writing this (quickly!) in advance so it may turn out a little shorter than I normally like. C’est la vie!

First up, some breaking news from the elite ranks and the disappointing information that the 2016 Olympic champion (and defending London marathon winner) Jemima Sumgong has failed an out of competition drugs test. I remember watching her stunning comeback to win after suffering a fall and hitting her head during the London marathon, so am saddened to hear that this has happened.

Next up, another piece of disappointing news, this time about participation. I was thrilled to learn that women would be able to compete in the 2017 Tehran marathon for the first time, however the sting is that it has now been announced that female participants may have to compete on an indoor track rather than outdoors with the male field. This seems to be a move forward from a previous announcement that women would not be able to participate at all. It’s clearly a difficult ongoing situation, but I’d love to see women having an equal opportunity to participate.

Moving on to a much more positive story, I have been quite intrigued of late by Nike’s plans to try and break the 2 hour barrier, however in this next piece from Outside, consideration is given to the female equivalent. The record is, of course, held by my great favourite Paula Radcliffe (remember that time I met her?) with her 2003 time of 2:15:25. And now it seems that science and maths (not my strongest subjects outside of running topics!) suggests that the equivalent marker for women is 2:16, meaning that for we women, that “barrier” has already been broken! As they shout along the route in Paris, allez les filles!

While the less elite among us may not have our sights set on quite such speedy times, in all likelihood those of us with a spring marathon ahead will have a time goal in mind, but working out a reasonable estimate of what we might achieve is very difficult. The marathon is full of pitfalls and no matter how well training has gone, anything can happen on race day, especially after 18 miles. Ian Williams of Fetch Everyone has used the data available to him on his website to come up with a formula which might help.

And finally, one of the things we can’t control in a race is the weather. I’m expecting warm conditions on Sunday in Paris, which will be tricky, but I think participants in this recent 14k race in France had a much tougher time with some very different conditions. I recommend watching the video to get the full effect!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Tunes on Tuesday – Rise

Many studies have shown that working out to music can have a number of positive effects and help us to push ourselves further. Music is also strongly linked to personal memories and hearing certain tracks can transport us to a particular moment in time. In this occasional series of posts, I’d like to introduce some of my favourite tracks from my workout playlist and share some of the memories they have given me.

Rise – Katy Perry

As our lives begin returning to “normal” and reality hits us hard after the festive season, it’s easy to feel bit down. Not only does work have a little less shine to it without the tinsel festooning every last inch of the room and the dulcet tones of a certain Mr Bublé filling the air, but the festive excess is probably catching up a bit. So to help us along as we try to get work/life/training back on track in this fresh, new year, here’s a song I find uplifting and motivational. Hopefully it will give you a boost too.

This particular track is a newer addition to my playlist. I first came across it back in the summer when US broadcaster NBC used it prominently throughout their coverage of the Rio Olympic Games. At the time it was shared prolifically on social media and I remember it featuring in one or two blog posts I read. And while there is an official video for the song featuring Perry herself, I much prefer the promotional “Olympics” version at the top of this post as it pays tribute to a variety of athletes including some very familiar faces such as highly decorated swimmer Michael Phelps, extraordinary gymnast Simone Biles, speed demon Usain Bolt and Team GB favourites Chris Hoy and Mo Farah. Even now, watching some of the footage from London 2012 included in the video brings back fantastic memories of being glued to my sofa during those historic moments (I had to be forcibly removed on Super Saturday to get some fresh air!), and a lump once more takes root in my throat seeing the pride on the faces of the athletes. This is what makes me feel inspired to keep training hard to improve my own performance. I won’t ever be going to the Olympics, but I can still become fitter, stronger and faster than ever before.

It’s the sort of track that really epitomises my ideal running/workout track, with its slow build, strong beat and lyrics which speak of victory, rising above an opponent and triumphing in the face of adversity. I like to choose upbeat, motivational songs, songs with a good tempo and which speak to me through their lyrics, particularly themes of survival, thriving, not letting others define you, fighting back and toughing it out through difficult times:

“When the fire’s at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They’re whispering, “You’re out of time,”
But still I rise”

If this track comes on during a race or training run, it helps to give me that focus to keep working hard, push on and try my best. It reminds me why I’m out there and what I’m striving for. I might even have been known to imagine myself as an Olympic athlete during the chorus!

“Oh, ye of so little faith
Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
Victory is in my veins
I know it, I know it
And I will not negotiate
I’ll fight it, I’ll fight it
I will transform”

Just writing about it gave me the motivation to get today’s workout done, so if you’re in a bit of a slump about returning to work or worried you’ve bitten off more than you can chew with your goals for this year, let Katy Perry and this fine selection of Olympians help to set you on the path to success.

“I won’t just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive”

Let 2017 be the year that you Rise

Please note that under UK Athletics rules, racing with headphones whilst on open roads is banned. If you choose to train with headphones, please be careful and make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.

Feel free to share your favourite workout tracks in the comments below…

Friday Finds – 21st 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.

I have to begin today with the amazing Ed Whitlock. I’ve heard one or two interviews with him on podcasts and have always been stunned at how well he has continued to run throughout the decades, setting numerous age group records. The reason I’m including him this week is his latest record for the fastest marathon in the men’s 85-89 age group: an unbelievable 3:56:33! The fact that he still runs so well at age 85 is inspiring enough, but when I consider the fact that he is STILL running a faster marathon than I’ve EVER run at less than half his age, I’m overawed. Now I have even more motivation to go for it and get my own sub-4 hour finish!

If I do want to run well for years to come, then perhaps I need to heed the advice of the veteran runners featured in The Guardian this week. Whenever I have any setbacks in my running, I find myself wondering if it’s all over, so it’s inspiring to read of those who found running even later than I did and are still going strong. I’ve spent some time recently thinking about how to structure my training and mulling over nutrition, so I was particularly interested in those elements of each woman’s story. I’ve been eating a lot of avocado this year, so fingers crossed that’s the secret to longevity!

One of my athletic heroes, and one I’ve mentioned on here a few times, is Jessica Ennis-Hill who this week announced her retirement from athletics. I’m disappointed not to see her compete again, but she did hint at this after the Rio Olympics and has made no secret of her desire to develop her family life. I hope she leaves behind her a legacy of inspiring more young girls to take part in sport as she has been such a positive role model in a world of “instagram perfection” and airbrushed, carefully-curated online lives. Of course the retirement of such a high-profile figure in athletics resulted in many articles devoted to Ennis-Hill, one of the best being one written by her coach Tony Minichiello. Here are some of my favourites:

Speaking of women’s sport, one of the pivotal figures in the women’s marathon movement was, of course, Kathrine Switzer. I never tire of the story of her first Boston marathon and how that helped change attitudes to women in endurance sports. I recently heard her interviewed on a podcast and it was fantastic to hear the story in her one words. I know I’ve shared Switzer stories before, but came across this one earlier this week and decided in a week of sharing inspirational athletes, I would share this one too:

And finally, if you’re in need of some inspiration of a more musical nature, why not check out this workout playlist featured in The Guardian a couple of days ago. Whose playlist? Oh, just Barack Obama’s! I’ve spotted a track on there that’s on my playlist too, so I guess we have something in common 😉

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 16th 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.

Imagine it’s race day. You’ve trained long and hard for the 26.2 miles ahead of you: early starts, punishing speed workouts and tricky weather conditions. You’re in peak form and feel ready to run a good time and qualify for that mecca of US races, the Boston Marathon. What would it take to derail your plans? Perhaps you pick up an injury along the route; perhaps you fall; perhaps you make an error with your nutrition. The last thing you expect is to be stopped on the course for some time, yet that is exactly what happened to runners in a marathon in Lehigh Valley when a slow moving train crossed the race route. Many runners were halted for around 10 minutes, which had a knock-on effect for their finishing time. As I understand it, Boston organisers have no plans to accept any adjusted times from this race, meaning that many have likely missed out on their chance to qualify for the 2017 race. Knowing how hard people work to get a BQ (or GFA for London), this must be a massive blow. Hopefully the runners affected will have another opportunity to BQ in future.

Meanwhile, the Paralympics have been taking place in Rio with further incredible feats being recorded to add to a fantastic summer of sport. You may have seen headlines around social media declaring that in the men’s T13 1,500m final (an event classified for visually impaired athletes) the top 4 finishers were faster than the gold medal winner in the 2016 Olympic games. Sounds extraordinary, yet why shouldn’t a Paralympic athlete run faster than an Olympic athlete? It all comes down to the field on the day, the tactics employed and the race that unfolds. Martin Fritz Huber, writing in Outside Online, explains further:

Someone else doing well is Ray Matthews. Heard of him? If not, then you should know that 75 year old Matthews just ran 75 marathons in 75 days to raise money for a local school. That’s a phenomenal achievement at any age, however I think my favourite part of his story is that Facebook rejected an ad about the challenge due to it “making claims that are unrealistic or unlikely”. Sounds like a red rag to a bull to me, and what better motivation to spur someone on through their final days of a challenge. Fantastic!

Moving on to calmer pursuits, two stories have caught my eye with regard to yoga. I know I feel less stressed and experience less anxiety since making yoga a regular part of my life this summer, so I was intrigued to learn that yoga can help to calm the fight-or-flight response. Furthermore, the suggestion that learning yoga and meditation in schools would benefit our young people sounds sensible. Our young people seem to find it harder and harder to switch off, to simply “exist” without a device in their hands (and if they do, they spend the whole time worrying about what they’re missing out on!) so any help they can get to “unplug” should be welcomed. It would also be a valuable resource for young people to have access to ahead of exams to help them feel calmer and more receptive to retaining information. It will be interesting to see if such practices are adopted on a wider scale.

And finally, think you know your world cities? Why not put yourself to the test with this fun quiz from The Guardian. Using heat map data from platforms such as Strava, we can see the digital tracks left by runners overlaid on street maps. Can you identify them? I spotted London and Paris, but I think the rest will be guesses since Geography is not my strong point!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

I Am Team GB

Readers in the UK are probably aware of the I Am Team GB celebrations taking place around the country today, but for those elsewhere, or those who may not have come across it, I Am Team GB was created to help get more people active. The entire nation was invited to join our returning Olympic athletes today, 27th August, to say, “I am Team GB” and create the nation’s biggest ever sports day.

The day was brought about by The National Lottery, a main sponsor of Team GB athletes and their training, and ITV, a commercial television broadcaster. One of the most interesting things was that for one hour, at 9:30am, all ITV channels were switched off, to encourage more people to go out and get active. Sports clubs and venues around the country offered free sessions throughout the day for people to go along and try something new. People were also encouraged to do their own thing and get active by taking the dog for a walk or cycling with their kids. It didn’t matter what the activity was, as long as it got you moving.

Quite honestly, this is a fantastic idea, and to make it even more attractive, many events were lucky enough to be visited by an Olympian, something sure to provide further inspiration. And my chosen event was one of them…

Parkruns around the country, while already free, were getting into the spirit and celebrating #IAmTeamGB this weekend. Perth parkrun was one of many lucky enough to be visited by an Olympian, in our case swimmer Stephen Milne who was part of the silver medal-winning 4x200m relay team. Stephen was born in Inverness but has lived and trained in Perth since he was a young child, so he’s our local Olympian. It had been announced in advance that he would be attending so I decided this was a fine time to dust off the replica top I bought in 2012!

 

I arrived about 10 minutes before the run start and spotted our visitor straight away – the Team GB tracksuit and silver medal adorning his neck was a dead giveaway! He was chatting to people and posing for photos, mainly with children. Obviously, I made sure I got a photo too!

 

There were a good number of people there and the atmosphere felt different to usual. I find our parkrun, as I’m sure others are, to be very friendly and positive, but today there was even more of a buzz in the air. I spent the time before the run briefing chatting to someone I’d not spoken to before and everyone seemed really upbeat. Of course our visitor was introduced during the run briefing and everyone gathered in closer than ever, especially when we became part of an enormous selfie…

Can you see me?

Photo: Stephen Milne on Twitter

After that, it was business as usual. My intention was to run a bit easier this week as I have a 10k race tomorrow, however as soon as we started I realised that my body had other ideas. Fuelled by coffee and inspired by the Olympic spirit, I was gliding along (or at least that’s how it felt to me) with a spring in my step, but when the first mile ticked by in 7:26 I realised I’d better slow down a little! I did, but was still running sub-8 minute miles and ended up crossing the line (which today was marked by some festive bunting) in 23:36 – my fastest time this year and the closest I’ve ever been to that lofty PB of 23:14 I ran around this time last year. Maybe we should have Olympians visit us every week!

 

Post-race and floating along on a runner’s high, I was able to get another photo, and this time I asked if I could have a wee feel of the weight of the medal. One or two others had done this before the race and had reported that it was really heavy, but I was still surprised by just how weighty it was. Far heavier than any medal I’ve earned so far!

I had to dash off for my Saturday yoga class, but had a fantastic morning, probably one of the most memorable parkruns ever, and couldn’t resist a few bonus jumping shots before I left:

Anyone taking part in #IAmTeamGB today was encouraged to use the hashtag and post their photos on social media. In the afternoon I was delighted to receive the following response  from The National Lottery on Twitter:

What a great surprise and a fantastic way to round off what was a brilliant initiative, a brilliant parkrun experience and a brilliant way to spend a Saturday.

Thanks to Stephen Milne for coming along and inspiring everyone, and well done to all our wonderful Team GB athletes.

Did you take part in #IAmTeamGB today?
Any Olympians near you?