Christmas Runnings in and around Dunoon

Has anyone else put on half a stone over Christmas? Just me then? I reckon if I hadn’t gone a few runs over the festive period that would be closer to the full stone.

Yo ho ho etc

The Christmas Holidays got off to a good start with a parkrun on the 22nd. I had looked out an elf hat to wear but it had a bell on it which would have only been slightly annoying with every step I ran! A quick Asda stop on the way down to Strathclyde Park and I had bought the above hat / beard combination. The beard is lost already though.

Could not run with that beard on

My time was ok, I’m still not getting beneath the 25 minute mark that I’ve only managed once but I’m happy enough to be running around the 26 / 27 minute mark pretty comfortably.

My splits show that I still have a bit left in the tank going into the final kilometre so maybe it’s time to try running that first kilometre a little faster although it is pretty crowded at the start so I will need to move further forward nearer the start line, a move I’m not happy making!

Sunday I was meant to do a 75 minute easy run but I sacked that off until Monday, Christmas Eve, a day I had loads of other jobs to do, as you can see below.

My jobs

I got them all done by 6pm though, I surprised myself with that. The Christmas Eve run was rather convoluted. I started in Hamilton which was choc-a-bloc packed with last minute Christmas shoppers. I ran from Hamilton over into Strathclyde Park, did the parkrun route then came back over and ran around a playing field type area for a while before finishing at a statue of Scottish football legend Davie Cooper. He scored the penalty in 1985 that put Scotland into a playoff for the 1986 World Cup. I’ve never been so nervous watching a penalty and had to lock myself in the toilet. Jock Stein also sadly died that night.

Davie Cooper Statue

This is quite a nice area of Hamilton, the mausoleum is here and this is where the Commonwealth Games baton ended up one sunny evening in 2014.

One thing that slowed me down was the bridge into Strathclyde Park, it was awfully icy and I had to walk over it.

The River Clyde, I would be running past the same river in a couple of days where it is 2 miles wide

You can see from my split times below the two times that I crossed the bridge slowly, kilometre 2 and kilometre 9.

Onto Christmas Day, a drive to Dunoon for dinner with the family but first of all a stop at Cappielow!

Then onto a parkrun. This was the first time I had been to Greenock parkrun and what a friendly bunch they were. Someone was dressed as a zebra loads of people wished me a Happy Christmas as they overtook me! I was a bit too out of breath to say it back clearly so if anyone is reading this that thought me a miserable git then I’m sorry. There were a load of serious runners here and, because of the layout of the course, they run past you a few times.

Greenock parkrun start

The speed these people are the front go at is amazing, I can only imagine what kind of speeds Olympic athletes must go at, it’s not until you start trying to run yourself that you fully appreciate the fitness and athleticism of these runners.

Again, looking at these splits, I could push myself more at the start. An encouraging thing from this run was my pulse being lower than it has previously been whilst running, a sign of improving fitness maybe?

Then onto the ferry to Dunoon. It was a foggy day and here is a poor photo of a ferry emerging from the fog.

McInroy’s Point

Another great family Christmas Dinner in Dunoon. My Auntie Irene’s Turkey Broth was spot on as always and my cousin Moira did a great job with the turkey.

Table always looks great

Because I had that morning run I figured I could have 3 puddings!

I got home well and truly stuffed and had an early night.

Next morning I woke up around 5 and decided to go a run around Dunoon, right around the outskirts of Dunoon. Halfway up Kilbride Road I thought about sacking it off but I decided to just keep going, I’m glad I did.

The route involved starting at my Dad’s house on the dangerous Dunoon / Kirn border and running along the West Bay, past the swing park before turning right up Kilbride Road (which is surprisingly steep). I ran along there, past Neil Walker’s house send along over the bridge that I used to think trolls lived under.

From there I ran past where Highland Mary was born. My wife calls her Dirty Mary but that’s another story.

Along Alexander Street next and down McArthur Street, I missed out Cowal Place and Valrose because I couldn’t face that hill! Along King Street, down Jessie Place and then around to join Argyll Street at the Police Station. I ran out past the hospital and then onto Bencorrum Brae where I had to walk. You can see by my split times exactly where Bencorrum Brae was in the run, kilometre 6!

Next I ran along Ardenslate Road stopping for a wee seat on the bench at the school in memory of my Mum. It was nice stopping here, I would like to say i reflected upon life and how lucky I was to be able to do this at this poignant spot, but i was knackered and trying to catch my breath!

Next, left along Hunter Street, past the school hostel, round that weird curvy, scary bit with the trees, onto James Street past the haunted house (called Bonnie Blink I think) before turning left onto George Street and passing my old house. Then down onto Cammersrianach Brae where I got a view of the deserted ferry terminal that would be mobbed in a few hours.

Then back along to my Dad’s house where I went back to my bed, I was shattered!

So, here we are, lying on the couch on the 28th December, half a stone heavier, watching the darts and getting ready to start again with another parkrun tomorrow – bring it on.

As always, people can donate if they want to donate to the RNIB for me running the London Marathon at

www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stuartmtaylor

Thanks a lot for reading this, hope everyone has a great new year.

Official training week 1

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A thing on the wall in the Nike shop

That’s the end of the first week of training, it went alright I think. The way my training is written out it seems Sundays should mark the end of the week but I like to think of Sundays as the start of a new week so I am doing it this way!

Monday saw me doing 30 minutes of “conditioning” work. I am not too sure what is meant by that, the internet throws up many different ideas – one of the things seems to be press ups and stuff like that, I am not so sure I can do them anymore so I am just going to do a really gentle run on conditioning days. At the moment I am doing most of my running on a treadmill because it is nice and warm in the Aquatec gym and there are no hills – I don’t like cold or hills but I know I will need to dry my eyes and deal with them at some point.

Tuesday was 40 minutes at “easy” pace. I did 7.5 km in 41 minutes, it felt easy enough so I figured I had done ok. I am not sure if this is normal but sometimes the start of a run, the first kilometre or so feel hardest – then I seem to settle down and it gets easier – who knows?

Wednesday I was to do a gym class or cross training for half an hour. I hate the cross trainer, I went on it for about 3 minutes but couldn’t get going well at all. So I just did a 30 minute run instead. Is the reason I am to mix it up with cross training and stuff so that I don’t over-run and hurt myself? I will need to get that sorted.

Thursday I had to do 10 minutes easy, 10 minutes steady then 10 minutes easy. This was not bad. I chose 10.5 km/h for easy and 11.5 km/h for steady. I think 12 km/h is my threshold pace for when I have to do that. Again, this was not bad.

Friday was a rest day – I celebrated by going to Dunoon and visiting Anselmos for the first time in years! It has been taken over by someone else and the sausages have changed. Anselmos always had different sausages but now they just have the ordinary battered ones you get everywhere else – progress! Apart from that the new menu and everything looked great – as always, a tasty dinner, my dad’s haggis looked amazing, I have never had haggis from a chip shop.

Onto Saturday, 30 minutes cross training or gym class, I went for a parkrun. I think I will always do this on a Saturday. Parkrun today was a lot quieter than usual today, probably due to the horrendous weather forecast and cold wind, hail, snow, freezing rain and rain.

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A hardy bunch in lesser numbers today

153 people braved the elements though, plus the poor cold volunteers who did a great job. I was not feeling up for this at all this morning but I figured the most important runs are the ones you don’t want to do! Plus, if I start slacking off on the training I am in trouble, I need to get into the habit and make it an every day thing rather than an additional task I have.

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Trying to get in some kind of zone

The run went ok, for a few weeks now I have been meaning to have an easy parkrun to see if I could make it without feeling too tired and with the slippy conditions today it was as good a chance as any to try it out. I aimed to run it in 27 minute and 30 seconds and I did 27.44. I was quite pleased that I felt fairly fresh when I finished, it’s not always faster times that indicate progress I guess.

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A cold looking Strathclyde Loch

So then I went home and had 2 rolls and sausage, I felt I deserved it! Tomorrow is a 75 minute “easy” run so I will get a podcast downloaded and get on with it in the tropical surroundings of Aquatec rather than the icy environs of Mothewell.

A well earned couple of hot rolls

10 points to anyone who can name what programme is on the telly…

My running stuff

Right now I should be doing the Santa Dash in Glasgow but, because I didn’t open all the attachments in the email they sent me after I registered I didn’t know you had to go into The St Enoch Centre in the days before the event to pick up your number and Santa costume. So, I thought I would go in on the Sunday morning to get it all but alas, this was not possible, the shop was shut. Hopefully next year they make it clear in the actual email that you can’t pick up your stuff on the day of the event, somewhere obvious that a daftie like me can’t miss it!

Anyway, this blog isn’t about that, it’s about the stuff I wear when running. Firstly, probably the most important thing – the shoes. I got myself these bad boys (Saucony Guide 10 I think) from the good people at Achilles Heel.

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My dirty running shoes

You should always buy them from a proper running shop I think where they will look at how you run and recommend you a pair of shoes. I got my shoes from Achilles Heel in Glasgow https://www.achillesheel.co.uk They were really helpful as I thought the shoes didn’t fit me properly at first but on taking them back they explained a few things about how they were making my feet feel and gave me some advice and, hey presto, 2 weeks later after resting, they fitted me like a dream, very comfy and they feel pretty bouncy and everything.

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The most excited I have ever been about a pair of shoes
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I chose the tongue symbol, colours and ST and 76 myself

These shoes were bought for me as a Christmas present by Kirsty. I got them from Nike ID and designed them myself. I think I will keep them for indoor running as I don’t want to get them dirty! So far I like them.

Now the shoes are done I guess it should be socks next. I used to hate trainer socks and would often go running in the socks I wear to work – dress socks, This wound Kirsty up something awful and she would always want me to go for trainer socks – I resisted though. Now I wish I had listened to her – trainer socks are far superior – as long as they are decent ones that don’t slip down off the bottom of your heel.

Jackets now. I have a load of these, firstly this one:

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Ronhill

It’s made by Ronhill, I think my brother got me it a few years ago but it never fitted me, was always a little on the tight side. Thankfully now it fits me fine! I like it because it has a hood on it. Next, I have this old trusty top, again bought for me by Kenneth. Again, this was too tight at first but I really enjoy running in it, now it is probably a little big for me but it’s really comfy and warm and nicely fitting.

Puma – a favourite running top

I went out in it one night for a run but I think Kirsty thought it wasn’t bright enough to protect me from the threat of being hit by a car so she kindly bought me this shiny specimen, it lights me up like Blackpool Promenade in October and I love this too!

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In normal light – made by BTR
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With the flash on…

As you can see from the 2 photos – it reflects light really well, even me driving with my dodgy right eye would be able to spot someone wearing this thing! This jacket is also nice and warm but it does generate a little bit of sweat, taking it off and leaving it in a pile on the bedroom floor is not a good move (sorry Kirsty!). Finally I have this jacket underneath, following on a common theme, I have managed to slim down to fit into it and, again, I like wearing it. There isn’t much to it, it is very thin but ideal for running on days that aren’t too warm but aren’t too cold either!

Made by Ronhill – think my brother must have a sponsorship deal with them

Next, the contentious issue of shorts. I would like to make one thing clear here, I will never go running with those tights things on! I am sure they are great but I am not sure of the point of them, I always think I would get too warm wearing them. I do not own any running shorts although with Christmas coming up hopefully that will change soon. Here is a picture of me finishing the Glasgow 10k in the year they messed my time up – I look nothing like a runner. I wear an old Uruguay away shirt as it does something weird with the sweat that comes off me, I can’t quite explain it but it seems to draw the sweat away from me better than any other teeshirt I wear. You can also see me wearing a pair of Glasgow Rocks basketball shorts, they are knee length and spare anyone having to see too much of my pasty white legs!

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Finishing the 10k

I have never actually bought a pair of these shorts, I usually win them in raffles. Here is a picture of me being presented with them by a Glasgow Rocks’ basketball player, none of the 4 people in this picture look happy to be there!

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A very awkward photo

Finally, my trusty earphones. I resisted wireless earphones for ages but finally I succumbed. I keep losing these and have another pair in the flat somewhere. I can’t remember who makes them, I think it may be Soundbuds? They are nice and loud anyway. I quite fancy the bone conducting ones, they wouldn’t  keep FALLING OUT MY STUPID EARS EACH TIME I RUN!!! Sorry, had to get that off my chest!

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Any excuse for a plug

Thanks for reading again, the number of people reading my stuff is pretty cool. I start proper training tomorrow so I will post again during the week looking at my training plan. I will give a wee fundraising update too – I am so close to halfway there and would love to hit the £1,000 mark by Christmas. I have a collecting tin for loose change on my desk at work so if all else fails that will be getting emptied in 2 weeks and paid in to the account!

If you wish to sponsor me running the London Marathon for the RNIB then you can do it here:

www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stuartmtaylor

Text SMTR76 £1 to 70070

(or 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10 pounds also available!)