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

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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

Friday Finds – 14th 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.

I don’t know about you but I’m so glad it’s Friday! Taking time off running this week to clear my cough has been so frustrating and I’m definitely feeling the effects of missing out. I have had plenty of time to find some articles to share this week, so let’s take a look…

Another week, another piece about the Strava annual report, but this time looking at some UK-based information. I was fascinated – but perhaps not surprised – to learn that in some places it’s quicker to run to work than to drive. My commute is far too long to run, so I guess I’ve never really given it much thought, but I can see how in big cities with lots of traffic that might be the case. I suspect if I worked closer to home I would probably run to work as well. Is it an option for you?

Also fascinating was this report on a recent study into mindset. We already know how important it is to have the right mindset to overcome a challenge, but what if your mindset affected much more than you previously realised? Participants in this study were affected both mentally and physically by being told they were predisposed to particular traits such as tiring more easily. The mind truly is a powerful thing!

We runners like nothing better than to talk about running shoes (unless, of course, we’re buying new running shoes, in which case that’s even better!) and shoes remain a somewhat contentious subject. Personally, I long ago gave up believing in all the “gait analysis” conducted in running stores and choose my shoes instead based on comfort – 26.2 miles is a loooooong way to be wearing uncomfortable shoes! The link between shoes and injury/injury prevention will not be figured out any time soon (if, indeed, there is a link at all) and in this column Alex Hutchinson sets out the history of the debate for us.

Something I never expected to cover in a running article was the UN. Yes, that UN. But it seems that many of the representatives regularly set their differences aside and run together in New York’s Central Park. It just shows how running can bring people together – although I’d love to hear what they talk about on the run!

And finally, you perhaps caught this video earlier in the week, but I just had to share it here since it made me smile. Perhaps sometimes a “signature move” at the finish line just isn’t a good idea!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 7th 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.

Happy Friday one and all! I hope you’ve had a good week and have some fun (maybe festive?) plans for the weekend. I’m here to share a few interesting bits and pieces I’ve been looking at this week.

To start, a little more on the annual Strava report that I mentioned last week. First, Sport Techie reports a huge rise in popularity for virtual events. I assume it to be testament to the use of social media and various apps that connect runners and cyclists, meaning that where previously someone might have worked out alone, they can now turn that workout into a shared experience.

Also delving into the details (with a US slant, that is) is Martin Fritz Huber for Outside. In this column, he looks at a few of the takeaways from the Strava report, many of which will not be a surprise. What I did find interesting is the massive increase in race participation for women and the fact that in the US women are racing more than men. Could that be the impact of recent amazing performances from the likes of Shalane Flanagan and Des Linden?

Meanwhile, Alex Hutchinson has been writing about the connection between fitness and life expectancy. He reports on some interesting studies comparing fitness gained from working out with the fitness impact of good genes. The results are perhaps not what you might expect, but unless you’re going for some lab-based testing I would still be recommending maintaining fitness through physical activity.

Which connects nicely with another piece recently written by Hutchinson for Outside. In this piece, he is considering the role of VO2 max on health and life expectancy. While VO2 max can be improved, genetics also have a part to play, and a higher VO2 max tends to point towards longer life expectancy. To be honest, I simply feel better the fitter I am so will continue to remain as fit as I can for as long as I can.

And finally, did you catch this story about a recent half marathon in Shenzhen, China? Sadly it made the headlines for all the wrong reasons as a whopping 237 runners were caught cutting the course…by a traffic camera! I just can’t understand why someone would enter a race then cut a chunk out of it. I couldn’t reconcile myself with that and would feel like the medal was a constant reminder of my guilt.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess 

Friday Finds – 30th 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.

Can you believe it’s the end of November? Festivities are getting underway and I’m planning what to get the kittens for their first Christmas! I hope you’ve got some lovely plans for the weekend, which we’ll get started with a little light reading.

As the end of the year approaches (!!), Strava has published its annual report and this year it reveals some interesting differences in activity preferences by gender. Although Strava is more heavily used by men, it seems that among women using the platform, running is more popular than cycling, however this is reversed among male users. Of course we can’t really extrapolate that to the entire running population (Strava began as a platform for cyclists) but I still find it interesting and wonder how far it is true amongst those I know.

This next piece is a little different, but I’m drawn to the idea it encapsulates. The first couple of paragraphs introduce ideas we wouldn’t immediately associate with running, however the consideration of the structured approach to training and how we cope when that structure is absent, is something I can certainly relate to. My favourite idea in the piece is neatly summed up when the writer tells us, “As in running as in life, structure isn’t something that binds us and oppresses us, but rather it’s the framework within which we’re able to thrive, test our limits and make sense of the world.” What do you think?

As someone with a definite penchant for leggings, I was interested to read this piece about the evolution of athleisure in US fashion. I found the history of some items fascinating, particular with regard to gender differences, and was amazed to learn that in the average wardrobe (especially the male wardrobe) there is far more “athleisure” clothing than we might have realised.

I also enjoyed treading this excerpt from a new book called The Happy Runner. In this extract the writers focus on self-acceptance, leading me to conclude that this will likely be a book that looks at the more mental side of running, something which really interests me. Check it out and see what you think.

And finally, if you’re looking for a challenge and have more money than you know what to do with, then this new race might be for you. It’s an Antarctic marathon that begins almost immediately you get off your plane. But beware – fail to finish quickly enough and that plane will be taking off without you! Anyone in? 😂

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Fairy Tales and Furry Tails

Aloha! I am back home in sunny Scotland. Missing the Florida lifestyle but still plenty of training and life moments to fill you in on (get ready for lots of photos again!). Here’s how last week worked out training-wise:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – run
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – rest
Sunday – rest

Having aborted my run last Sunday, I decided a day off on Monday would be a good idea. Most of the day was spent reading in the sunshine, interrupted only by a light lunch of soup and sandwich thins.

bmsfEwKDTuu4DQi4Y5IQ4QThen it was time to get changed ready for an evening excursion to Disney’s Grand Floridian. Months ago dad booked a meal for us all at 1900 Park Fayre (a character dining location) within the hotel for us all to celebrate my Big Birthday, so for the second time on this trip, I was required to wear a badge and pretend it was my actual birthday 😂

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c15w3ZioRkiLjwQvqcZFgQIt was a fully buffet meal and throughout it we were visited by Prince Charming, Cinderella, the Ugly Sisters (Anastasia and Drizella) and their mother, Lady Tremaine. Great fun!

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I always knew that some day my prince would come! 😂

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2+Ofxb+FTe2Hqe1aVVSJrgI made a decent go of the buffet, taking several plates with small portions of various things I wanted to try. The desserts were AMAZING!

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8avHkL%CRYy+0JY0783ZBwWhen I returned from collecting my desserts I found that I had been brought a Mickey Mouse birthday cupcake, which I asked to have put in a box to take home as there was no way I was fitting it in after everything else!

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X4FPq1kPQzOewY8X+LlN7QAs we left the restaurant there was a photo op by the glass slipper, so we got a few pictures taken.

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IMG_0021And then we headed outside and walked along to the jetty as you can actually see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from there and the soundtrack is played on speakers at the jetty too. We may not have been able to see the projections onto the castle, but it was still a really nice end to the evening and a fantastic (early) birthday celebration.

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IMG_8127The next morning Steve and I got up for a rather sluggish run to try and burn off some of the buffet. It wasn’t our speediest effort, but it was good to move and being up early meant I had time to get my suitcase packed before breakfast, freeing up the rest of the day to soak up the last of the sunshine.

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kwTnSn03RGSOJiLGHa70agOf course, mum made a nice lunch. This time, sausages.

x0O0+%jOTeaf7sV7a2mlPAWe had another meal out that evening as Steve and I always take my parents out on the last night of our holiday. Mum likes The Red Lobster so we headed over there so she could have a plate of snow crab legs. I’m not a massive seafood fan so opted for a New York strip steak instead.

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FyFx2fXyROmWmY4Y0myoAwAnd when we got home, my dessert was the cupcake I had saved from the previous evening. If you ever get one of those Mickey celebration cupcakes, I can tell you they’re delicious!

We began Wednesday with another run as we knew we would be cooped up on planes for the rest of the day. Our route took in another Strava segment and despite feeling tired, I scored a PR on that segment and propelled myself to second on the women’s all-time list. Not a bad effort!

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C3aQ2OUfQNSZJz3lpzUUBwSteve and I both had a free stack of pancakes to claim at IHOP so we got showered and dressed then walked around there for breakfast. We both chose double blueberry pancakes and they were delicious (although Steve had to take one for the team and eat my last one – I’m such a failure!).

yGcumllHTYmorNO527I3aQThere was a bit of time to double check and finalise our packing, then dad drove us up to the airport for our flight to Newark Liberty. During the trip we had watched the short 4-episode season of Dancing with the Stars (like a little Strictly Come Dancing taster for me!) which dad had recorded earlier in the year. All the competitors were athletes, one being figure skater Tonya Harding, so I was keen to watch the movie I, Tonya on the flight. If you’ve not seen it, it’s really good.

g49lA7OnTJaRqWT2IGJZ7gOnce at Newark Liberty we had a little time to find our new departure gate and have a snack before boarding for the transatlantic flight. This is my least favourite part of the entire process as you don’t really get a good sleep on this overnight flight. I dozed a bit but mostly read my book and relaxed (as much as I could) ahead of landing in Edinburgh on Thursday morning.

Since we arrived home first thing, we actually headed to bed to stretch out and sleep for a couple of hours before trying to spend the day as normally as possible. I was tired, but was doing ok so decided to go to my usual Ashtanga yoga class as the idea of stretching my body out after being folded up into an airline seat for hours just sounded so good – I even managed not to fall asleep in savasana! I enjoyed doing the Ashtanga sequence again as I although I did some yoga while I was away, it was always Hatha yoga using Yoga with Adriene videos.

I made it to about 9pm then went to bed and slept right through until the morning. Steve was at work on Friday morning so I got the house tidied up then got ready for the one thing that made returning from holiday worthwhile… KITTENS!

Yes, you read that right. Kittens!

You might remember me having to say goodbye to my beautiful (but elderly) cat at the beginning of the year. She was my best friend and had been with me through my entire adult life. For the past few months I’ve found it really strange not having a pet about the place (for a number of years I had two cats but the younger one went first). After the Stirling marathon, which gave me a bit of closure through my fundraising efforts, I began to feel ready for a new furry friend, but knew that I would have to wait until I got back from Florida. Still, I began a conversation with my local branch of Cats Protection and was told about a litter of kittens that would be ready to be re-homed at just the right time. We went to visit them in June and were greeted with this adorable sight – a pile of kittens!

aRrnZam3QSutneNkZuOqowWe chose two (yes, two!) who seemed to be good friends and played together a lot. We then visited them again the day I finished work for the summer so that we could see how they had grown as it seemed an awfully long wait until we got back. And finally, on Friday lunchtime, a lovely representative from CP brought them to us.

Allow me to introduce… Sooty (the wee girl on the left) and Smokey (her brother on the right). Two from a litter of four (the other two were re-homed together as well).

EZnNyD9uReyRGYVBOdH1BQBasically the rest of Friday was spent making sure the kittens were settled, playing with them and beginning to bond with them. So far Sooty has been very affectionate, with a VERY loud purr; Smokey is playing things cool but he enjoys attention and plays enthusiastically. I can’t wait to see how their little personalities develop, and just can’t get over how cute they are when they groom each other and sleep all curled up together ❤️. Apart from anything else, it’s just so good to have pets in the house again and having this time off work for the summer means I get to spend plenty of time with them before term begins.

s5g3m8%CRh2wdOC5fl+brQI should have been at parkrun on Saturday, but for the previous few days I had been aware of a niggling tightness on the outside of my left ankle so decided to skip parkrun so I could do a little work to help it to ease off rather than prolong it. And having the kittens to play with made skipping a week sooooo much easier to bear!

fullsizeoutput_2650For the same reason, I took Sunday off and stayed at home with the kittens while Steve went for his run. My ankle is already feeling much better so I should hopefully be able to try a run during the week ahead. And if I can’t? Well I have kittens so everything is ok!

fullsizeoutput_2658In many ways it’s been a funny week. It’s always strange to think that as the week began I was basically in Disney World then finished the week at home in Scotland. Stranger still (in a good way) to have new furry friends to think about, but it definitely took the edge off coming home from our holiday!

Any tricks for coping with long haul flights?
Are you a cat person or a dog person (or both, like me!)?

If you would like to help more cats like Sooty and Smokey to find a loving fur-ever home, my Just Giving page is still open here.

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