Friday Finds – 31st August

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 can August be over? I don’t think I’m quite ready to be done with summer but there’s most definitely a nip in the air first thing in the morning now. At least we’ve had plenty of good weather (and I’m on time with my post this week haha!). Here are the things that caught my eye over the past few days.

We’ll start with a serious one as the Mexico City marathon is once more attracting attention for the number of alleged cheats claiming medals without completing the course. The number of alleged cheats is staggering, however the problem appears to be arising from a desire to collect the medals – each year being one letter to ultimately spell out MEXICO. Looks like there will have to be much tighter measures in place to ensure those who claim a medal have genuinely run the course, otherwise it makes a mockery of those who put in the work to run.

As someone who has recently celebrated a milestone birthday, I was inexorably drawn to this next piece which has been getting some traction on social media this week. Some of the statistics about runners/triathletes in their 40s are incredible – numbers and speeds compared to other age groups – and the writer is comprehensive in exploring some of the motivating factors leading to this level of participation. As an added bonus, it was actually published on my birthday! Guess I’d better go and come up with my next crazy idea…

I also enjoyed this interview with Desi Linden, winner of the women’s race in this year’s Boston marathon. I know there has been plenty written about her since her historic victory back in April, however what’s interesting about this interview is that it was conducted by the US women’s marathon record holder, Deena Kastor. Worth checking out to see how two friends and olympians interact.

Moving to a more recent race, did you see this footage from the Diamond League steeplechase final this week? Conseslus Kipruto came through to win the race (dipping his opponent on the line) despite losing his shoe early in the race. Incredible! If you’ve not seen it, be sure to watch the clip.

And finally, this last article seems fitting as my weekly orchestra rehearsals began again this week. I’ve thought for a while it might be fun to put together a concert featuring well-known sporting themes (definitely The Trap) and look – Classic FM only went and produced the ideal list. What would you like to see on a list like this?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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Friday Finds – 27th July

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 can it be Friday again already? It feels like no time at all since I last wrote a Friday Finds post, yet here we are again. I’ve had a pretty chilled week and am looking forward to a weekend of running and yoga. Hope you have some great plans too.

Let’s begin this week by returning to the Nike 4% shoes that I included last week. Unsurprisingly, the revelation that the claims of a 4% improvement in performance may actually be true have attracted a lot of commentary, so I wanted to share a couple of other pieces I came across this week which look at the shoes from a more wary standpoint. First, Sean Ingle from The Guardian considers how fair the shoes are in terms of creating a level playing field, then Brian Dalek (I wonder if he likes Dr Who?) writing for Runner’s World discusses what is holding him back from trying them himself. Interesting food for thought.

Sticking with Runner’s World for now, and an update on a challenge I first mentioned on here back in April. Peter Thompson set out with the aim of running the entire Tour de France route and finishing ahead of the cyclists. Well he’s only gone and done it – and 3 days ahead of schedule! That’s a remarkable feat and I’m sure we’ve not heard the last of Thompson!

Speaking of challenges, those of you who are avid parkrunners may have come across this intriguing notion – 2 parkruns on the same day. Yes, it is possible in many areas to do two on New Year’s Day, but this challenge is a little more complex involving flights, the international date line and a lot of determination. Anyone up for it?

Speaking of challenges, I also came across this great idea for creating a challenge much closer to home. It’s a fantastic reminder than we don’t have to travel great distances or spend lots of money to create a new challenge – we can simply look to what’s around us and get creative.

And finally, you may have heard about the I Move London relay which is taking place this month as an attempt to set a new world record for the longest non-stop relay, but you perhaps didn’t hear about the “divine” intervention that took place a few days ago. Relay runner Max Livingstone-Learmonth chased down and stopped a purse snatcher – all while dressed as a bishop. I think my favourite part of this is that not only did our hero apprehend a criminal, but he kept hold of the relay baton the whole time. Brilliant!

Happy Reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 20th July

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! Friday once again (edit: it’s now Saturday – blame the jet lag!) and this time I’m back home in Scotland. It’s kind of weird to think that just a couple of days ago I was in the Florida sunshine! It was a great holiday and I hope you’ve had a great week. Let’s kick off the weekend with a few interesting articles…

First up, an interesting story about prize money as one ultramarathon is offering a financial incentive to set a new course record. As the article notes, money is likely to either motivate more people to enter, or provide a strong reason to train hard. But could it also lead to more underhand methods of performing well, something that so far seems to have stayed out of such events? What are your thoughts?

Related to this, Martin Fritz Huber’s piece for Outside examining why we attach such importance to time “barriers”. It’s funny how we can become obsessed with these times, whether elite or not – note that recreational runners who are close to a time e.g. 4 hours in the marathon are recorded as slowing less than others during the final kilometres. From my own experience in Stirling earlier this year, I can see how that would be true as I pushed on when in the past, with any hope of the time gone, I definitely slowed more. Times certainly aren’t important to everyone, but to those for whom they are, it’s easy to become obsessed!

And on the subject of time, I was intrigued by this piece from The New York Times about the Nike Vaporfly 4% shoes. From their analysis of Strava data, it seems that the claims of a 4% improvement in race times may actually be accurate, and for me, that could equate to shaving around 8 minutes off my marathon time! Of course that only works if a) you can actually get hold of a pair of the shoes, b) are prepared to pay the hefty price tag and c) they actually suit you, but that’s mere detail! I must admit, I’d be interested in trying a pair on to see how they feel.

Another interesting study came from the IAAF who analysed biomechanical data from the 2017 World Championships in London. It’s fascinating to read about the differences between and within athletes which lead to their success and I’d love to learn even more about this.

And finally, since it was World Emoji Day earlier in the week, Canadian Running magazine put together a week of marathon training in emojis. Sunday definitely looks like my favourite. What’s yours?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 13th July

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 Friday again! If I’ve got this right, while this post is going live, I’m out enjoying myself in the playground of a certain Mr M. Mouse so I hope you’ve been having an awesome week too. Here are some bits and pieces that have caught my eye to share with you.

I think we have to start with Kilian Jornet who has been making history again. Not content with last year’s double-summit of Everest, he has now smashed the 36 year old record for running the Bob Graham round. The man is unbelievable!

A thought-provoking piece next as Martin Fritz Huber, writing for Outside, considers the fairness of elite runners racing in prototype shoes. This comes in the wake of an announcement that will require athletic footwear worn in races to be available to the general public, and points out various key occasions on which races were won by athletes wearing prototype shoes (and therefore not freely available to others). I’d love to know your thoughts on this one.

I also enjoyed this short piece published by Medium about how it feels when everything clicks into place. Yes, there are plenty of days when running feels hard, but those effortless days are why we keep on getting out there chasing those moments. When did you last feel this way?

Something I found interesting was this article in Runner’s World about injury risk. I know it’s something that’s studied frequently, and for the most part there is no clear correlation between injury and factors such as foot “type” or foot strike. This study actually found a correlation, at least among the study participants, between injury rates and what is termed “peak braking force” or the horizontal (rather than vertical) forces your body has to contend with whilst running. These days I tend not to put too much stock in these kinds of studies as they all seem so subjective, but nonetheless it is an interesting observation.

And finally, since we’re on a slightly scientific topic, here’s a column from Alex Hutchinson considering mental fatigue. I never used to give this a great deal of thought, but since reading more about the importance of sleep (and recognising my own mental fatigue at particular points in the school year) I have considered this a bit more. It’s why I back off a bit in the last weeks of the school year as I knew I was mentally fatigued and that my body would not differentiate between the mental and physical stress, leaving me more open to a niggle. An interesting point raised here, however, is that training for an endurance event could also be considered endurance training for the brain. I can definitely see how that would work.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 30th March

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! I hope Good Friday has been good for you. The weather here has been pretty miserable, but a day off work was definitely welcome! So as you relax into your (long) weekend, here are some bits and pieces for your reading pleasure…

Last week I included a piece with the startling news that caffeine might not make everyone run faster, so to counter that here’s an article from Runner’s World to remind us of all the benefits having a coffee. Just don’t drink it too late if you want to get a good night’s sleep!

Also from Runner’s World, the results of a study into the effects of stopping exercise on our mental health. Certainly any runner who has ever been sidelined by injury can attest to how their mood changes, but up until now there has been very little research done on the subject. Unsurprisingly, the study notes changes almost immediately in many cases, but what was most surprising for me was that females seemed to be affected much more. Perhaps that explains the way I have reacted to past injuries compared to Steve! I’d be interested in your thoughts on this.

If you’re needing something uplifting after that, then I have the very article for you. Sometimes the person who finishes last in a race is the most inspiring of all, so here are the stories of 8 runners who found themselves doing just that.:

This week’s near-obligatory article about Strava is a cautionary tale for those who pore over the data too much – but perhaps not in the way you think. Most of us (read: me!) like to geek out over the copious amounts of data the app provides, but for one user the only data she was interested in was who her partner was working out with. Can you guess what happened next…?

And finally, the tagline tells us that “America runs on Dunkin'” and now we can take that literally as Saucony’s latest running shoes to celebrate the city of Boston have a Dunkin’ Donuts theme. It may seem an odd partnership, but there’s something appealing about running shoes covered in sprinkles 😀 If you could design a pair of running shoes featuring food, what would you choose?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 23rd March

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.

Did you miss me? I’m afraid scheduling meant there just wasn’t a way to get my Friday Finds post written and uploaded on time this week so for one week only I’m bringing you Saturday Stories instead…

Let’s start with coverage of an event I definitely wouldn’t want to take part in – an indoor marathon. That’s right, 211 laps of a 200m oval track (with a change of direction to break up the monotony!). It would probably be pretty interesting to watch, but what a lot of mental strength it must take. Nevertheless, both male and female world records were set at the most recent attempt, however – and this is my favourite part of the story – neither of the victors ran a lap of honour!

On the subject of world records, I also came across this piece which considers the importance of figures like the late Roger Bannister whose historic sub-4 minute mile provided the inspiration for more runners to reach the same mark. It seems to be true that once one person achieves a big goal like this is the running world, the belief that it’s possible leads to a flood of similar achievements and I’ve no doubt that once someone runs a sub-2 hour marathon there will be several more soon after. It just goes to show how powerful the mind can be, proving the adage “the body achieves what the mind believes”.

When wanting to run at our best, many of us try to caffeine for a little extra boost. It definitely works for me, but it seems that there are some people for whom caffeine actually leads to slower times. Here’s Alex Hutchinson to explain the science:

Another topical issue concerns plastic – both the amount of it in our oceans and the way it is used in races. Adidas has been trying to make positive use of ocean plastics by recycling them into shoes, and it seems that they have been popular:

And finally, if you love getting out in nature and following your feet then you might enjoy this new music video from singer-songwriter David Rosales. An ode to trail running which really captures the highs of getting out there.

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

Friday Finds – 5th 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.

It’s the first Friday of 2018. The festivities are drawing to a close and most are getting back into a regular routine. As part of that routine, here’s the first Friday Finds of the year…

One of my favourite stories of the week is about Japanese marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (a name probably familiar to listeners of the Marathon Talk podcast). Kawauchi travelled to the US to run a marathon on New Year’s Day and the race took place in the sort of temperatures that would have had me seriously questioning my decisions! But despite the adverse conditions, Kawauchi went on to win the race, along the way claiming the World Record for the most career sub-2:20 marathons. Amazing!

Just in case you were wondering what it would be like to run in super-cold temperatures, Canadian Running Magazine included this piece in which elite runner Matt Setlack shares his experiences of running in -30C. Yes, -30C!!! I would DEFINITLEY be on the treadmill if I had a run scheduled in that sort of weather!

On a different topic, I really liked this post by Sarah Crouch for Motiv Running. The elite US athlete writes with great honesty about the nature of race photos, and what she says really rings true. If you’ve ever cringed at the photos taken of you during a race (and who hasn’t?) then you should really have a read of this:

I wouldn’t expect to be including a post form Bloomberg in my Friday Finds, but this one is an interesting read on the development of running brand Brooks. I’m not sure how I feel about some of their definitions of a runner, but charting the history of the company and how things have changed in the market over the years is just the kind of thing I like to find out about. I don’t currently wear Brooks but have done in the past so their shoes are usually on my radar.

And finally, if you’re getting your 2018 fitness regime underway and considering training with your significant other, perhaps you should heed the cautionary tales in this piece from The Guardian and look elsewhere for a training partner. You have been warned…!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 15th December

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! Another Friday in the bag and another Friday closer to the festivities of the 25th. Let’s take a look at a few bits and pieces that have caught my eye in the last week…

I’ll start with one of the hot topics of the year, Nike’s Vaporfly 4% shoes (aka the Breaking2 shoes). Since I love a stat, I was fascinated to find out that 19 out of the 36 possible top-three podium places in World Marathon Majors this year were occupied by athletes wearing Nike’s ground-breaking (some would say controversial) new shoes developed for the Breaking2 project. I have come across a number of articles suggesting the shoes really do make a difference to finishing times, so Tim Huebsch at Canadian Running magazine did his sums and added 4% to the finishing times of the athletes wearing the shoes to see what they could have been otherwise. Interestingly, they are probably a bit slower than one might expect for this level of athlete so I think it’s fair to say that there’s more to a speedy time than a pair of shoes, but I wonder if there was a psychological impact too?

Taking a slightly different approach to research is Alex Hutchinson in his Sweat Science column. Rather than provide details of the latest study related to running/fitness, the column this time looks at smaller studies that didn’t produce the “right”result and therefore didn’t hit the headlines.

Meanwhile over at The Guardian, Kate Carter is taking a look at the Strava Year in Sport report that I highlighted last week. Rather than looking at some of the more “serious” statistics, this time things are brought to a level of far more importance to many (all?) runners – food! Once those miles start racking up then I can say with absolute certainty that food becomes one of the most important things in my life, but what would your guess be for the most popular food mentioned in Strava activity titles? You can click through to see if you were right:

Another fascinating idea from Canadian Running magazine pits a number of world leaders against each other in a hypothetical 5k. Funnily enough, their own leader takes the top spot but he does have the advantage of actually being a runner. Some of the others can certainly hold their own so imagine if this race actually took place…

And finally, whether you’re a seasoned yogi able to twist yourself into a pretzel or someone who struggles to touch their toes, these illustrations of yoga expectations versus reality are sure to raise a smile. This was probably me when I started doing yoga, but it’s amazing how quickly you improve.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 1st December

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.

Ok, ok, I know it’s Saturday not Friday. Unavoidable I’m afraid due to a retiral dinner on Friday evening and no time to get my post prepped in advance. Still, I’m here today to share a few interesting stories to see you into the rest of your weekend.

First up this week is a post about shoes. If I’m honest, I’m way more interested in running shoes than any other kind of shoe, probably because I spend so much time in them and have spent a long time seeking the “perfect” shoe for me. In this post, Jonathan Beverly examines some of the changes that have taken place in the design of running shoes over the past decade or so. Anyone who has been running for a while will no doubt recognise some of these:

Next, some interesting news from parkrun. I read recently that there were moves afoot to launch parkrun events within some UK prisons and the effect of this has been extraordinary. Because of a 5k run once a week, many participants have been motivated to adopt a more healthy lifestyle, make greater use of the prison gym and encourage others to follow suit. Since studies have noted that sport can engage prisoners in education and help prevent re-offending, this is a very positive step and one university is looking to measure the long-term effects of the initiative on both the prisons and the prisoners.

Now a quirky story from The Washington Post. As the city pilots a number of different bike-share systems, the newspaper decided to test them out with a race. The results came down to more than just the fastest cyclist: the bike itself, the pickup/parking locations and routes taken also played a big part. I love these kinds of ideas which really put various transport options to the test.

On a different topic, I enjoyed reading more about the positive benefits of yoga. It’s fairly well-know what a difference yoga can make to both physical and mental health, and I definitely noticed this when I did yoga every day as part of a 100 day challenge. Reading this has reminded me that I really need to get back into the habit of daily yoga. I think I feel a new goal coming on…

And finally, it was the headline of this final article that caught my eye -how on earth could Harry Potter help someone to run a marathon? Did I overlook something in my reading of the books? Perhaps some kind of “Fleet Feet” potion. But no, sadly no marathon-related sorcery to help someone to run 26.2 miles, more the power of having something good to listen to on the run. I’m a big podcast listener, but one day I’ll maybe try an audiobook instead.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess