Friday Finds – 5th May

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.

The biggest stories this week seem to be all about records. While one of the biggest news stories is the Breaking2 project, world records hit the news again with the announcement that world and European records set prior to 2005 are likely to be struck from the record books as athlete samples to combat doping have only been stored since that date. This of course means that athletes like Paula Radcliffe, who has always fought for clean competition (and successfully argued to retain her world record after previous attempts to change the criteria) stand to lose their record. I can certainly understand that something needs to be done as there will be many records set by athletes who were doping, however it angers me that clean athletes are set to lose out. Whatever happens, Paula Radcliffe’s 2:15:25 will remain the standard I compare other athletes to as it is a phenomenal feat of endurance that has stood unchallenged for over a decade.

Another controversial announcement surrounded the “exercise pill” which scientists have been studying for a number of years. It is claimed that the pill could provide some of the benefits of exercising, without actually having to work out. This could be of benefit to some groups of people unable to exercise, however it seems to me that it would also be open to abuse as the compound involved was banned by WADA in 2008 and concerns persist around the long-term prognosis of taking it regularly. Fitness benefits aside, exercising is about so much more than just gaining fitness: it’s about fresh air, endorphins and the simple feel-good factor of knowing you worked hard to improve your strength or stamina. No pill can really offer that, can it?

Something that’s really caught my attention is a new feature being rolled out by popular fitness app Strava. Their new Athlete Posts feature will initially be available to a small number of select athletes, but there are plans to roll it out to all users over the summer. Keen to delve even deeper into the social networking aspects of the platform, the new feature will allow users to write longer, blog-like posts to share in the Strava community e.g. tips, kit, training updates, etc. I can already see how this would really easily suck me in to spending more time in the app than I do at present, which may or may not be a good thing, however I will be very interested to see how this new feature develops and how it is used by different groups of people such as elite athletes, everyday runners and bloggers.

Phew! I don’t know about you but after all those serious stories at the start of this post, I’m in need of something a bit lighter, and fortunately I’ve found the very thing. Those of us of a certain “vintage” will well remember the opening credits of TV show Baywatch, with all the slow motion running. Well to celebrate the release of the new Baywatch movie a unique event was organised: the slow-mo marathon. Yup, it’s exactly as it sounds. If you’re in need of a laugh then I definitely recommend watching the video in the article below:

And finally, if even the thought of slow-mo is too much for you, then how about a gym class that’s all about sleeping? That’s right, sleeping. Designed to combat that scourge of modern life, a chronic lack of sleep, classes consist of a 45 minute afternoon nap. Now there’s a fitness trend I could get in to!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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Breaking2

Ever since Nike announced that they were going to attempt to break 2 hours in the marathon, I’ve been obsessed with the idea. Can it be done? Can a human being really run as fast as that? Information has been drip-fed to us for weeks now about what is going into this high profile attempt, and it seems the time has finally come. On Saturday 6th May Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa and Zersenay Tadese will try to make history at the race track in Monza, Italy.

So what is the formula for success? I thought I’d pull together some of the articles I’ve found on the topic that’s dividing the running world:

Shoes
The athletes will be wearing the new, specially-engineered Nike Zoom Vaporfly which features a carbon-fibre plate designed to increase efficiency. Unsurprisingly the shoe has been the focus of much attention and has caused a great deal of debate.

Fuel
In order to maintain the required pace, the athletes will have to fuel differently so they can consume more carbs than they are accustomed to in order to increase the supply of glycogen to their muscles. This has the potential to lead to GI issues – not what anyone wants when the world is watching!

Pacing
Not just as simple as “run as fast as you can”, the pacing strategy will have to be carefully worked out to give the greatest chance of success. This article makes some predictions about how the event will unfold as well as digging into some of the science behind the pacing.

Preparations
A few weeks ago there was a test run over half marathon distance which allowed everyone involved to see how things had progressed and evaluate whether or not they had to make any changes – a bit like testing out all your marathon kit on one of your long runs! While there were some positives, there were also a number of questions raised.

But Can It Be Done?
That’s the question that is dividing the experts. Some studies have suggested it is possible, but those writing for most media outlets have expressed doubts. Personally I think it’s going to be a really exciting attempt, and you have to admire those involved for having a go. It would be amazing if one of these athletes (experts think Kipchoge the most likely) breaks two hours, and the optimist in me would love to see this happen. The realist in me isn’t sure if we’re quite there yet, but does want to believe it’s possible…one day!

It seems that everything “controllable” has been planned out, so it now comes down to the “uncontrollables” – conditions and the performance of the athletes on the day. Whatever the outcome, the process has certainly got the running world talking and I for one can’t wait to see how it all pans out.

If you want to follow along then Runner’s World has the information here.

What do you think: is a sub-2 marathon possible?
What are your predictions for this attempt?