Get the Tunes on

Aloha, my wife tagged me in this picture today on Facebook:

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Scary…

and it scared me a little, I thought it was frightening.  I was also stuck out in the rain for a lot of today:

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Disappointingly wet

I couldn’t stop marrying up the frightening aspect of the 150 days post with thinking about thunderbolts and lightning being very, very frightening due to being out in the rain and I made a note to stick that onto my running playlist.  Then I thought I may as well write a short blog about it – so here it is.  At the end I will try to ascertain what I would have on a 1 hour long running playlist.

Before I get going remember you can sponsor me here for the RNIB – a charity that does wonderful things for so many people.  You can also text SMTR76 £5 to 70070 to slip me a fiver – for the charity!

I often wonder what the best type of music is to run to, there are loads of differing opinions and lots of playlists available.  My first instinct is do go with a bit of rock music.  For starters I would look towards “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.  Ever since I saw WWE/ECW One Night Stand and The Sandman’s epic entrance I have associated this song with exercise and aggression and for some reason that helps me run!

It takes a while to get going  but it is worth it.  Another obvious one is Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills”, it seems a nice speed and motivates me well.

These were pretty cool blasting out at full blast as I jogged along but then I discovered the tremendous Leo Moracchioli.  He seems to do a load of pretty awesome metal covers of more mainstream songs.  I think he is touring Scotland soon, if it wasn’t a school night I would be there!  Here are his covers of “Africa” and “Mamma Mia” – honestly, they rock!

Enough of the metal though, anyone that knows me will know that I love my cheesy music, alas though, ,Build Me Up Buttercup doesn’t work for me!  Summer of 69 and Livin’ On A Prayer are alright but this song here:

has a pretty perfect beat to help me along.  I should have mentioned this in my podcast blog but I used to love listening to the Christian O’Connell breakfast show podcast, what a funny guy he was – with Richie too.  I could also have mentioned him in my blog about how running makes you feel because listening to that podcast every morning on the way to work helped take my mind off things that were worrying me – a colleague once asked me why I was so happy in the mornings – this guy’s breakfast show was the reason.  But anyway, he re-introduced me to Spagna, “Call Me” – I think he got into trouble for playing it once on Absolute Radio.  If you live in Melbourne listen to him on Gold 104.3 or here if you are elsewhere in the world (I listen on an app called Simple Radio.)

Classical music is also another interesting one.  I say this without a word of a lie but the following tune gave me a warm glow in the final kilometre of the parkrun when I got a PB.  A genuine, literal warm glow all over my body, it was weird!  It’s the music that the BBC use for the London Marathon:

Another inspiring and uplifting tune that I can’t find on Deezer anywhere is from the soundtrack of one of the best films ever – not Happy Gilmore but Remember the Titans.  It’s called “Titan Spirit” and would be on my playlist if I could find it.

These links are taking ages to appear so I will cut them out now!

Other music I find motivates me or helps me run include: “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac, “Stronger” by Kanye West, “Cum on Feel the Noize” by Quiet Riot and “Enemies” by Shinedown (another nod to the wrestling).  “Party Hard” by Andrew WK is perfect for the speed I run and “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters helps out.  For some weird reason my first song is always “Fascination” by Alphabeat – go figure!

One final link actually, I think this is a Glasgow or Scottish band but this tune is just so happy and catchy I couldn’t miss it out, it’s by Tom McGuire and the Brassholes – filmed under the M8 somewhere, give it a watch!

Anyway, here is my hour long playlist, let me know any other decent tunes I could get in there!

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Running playlist – it would be on random so this isn’t the order.

 

 

What’s happened and what’s happening?

Hello, I’m just going to post a small update on where I am with things, typing this on my mobile so it will be a short one probably.

Random picture of a run I did.

First of all, my fundraising is going really well, a massive thanks to everyone who has supported me. Every single donation I get is really important to me and gives me a boost. I’m currently at almost £1,000 as can be seen below.

Justgiving page

My Panini draw raised £188. It should have went for £138 but I got a coupe of extra donations for it. It turned into more work than I thought getting rid of all the stickers but I got there eventually!

I also managed to book flights and hotel for the weekend in London in April, this has near enough bankrupted me coming in the same month as car service, MOT and insurance, I should do something about the service and insurance next year and move it to another time of year I guesd. We are flying down with British Airways into London City Airport Friday evening, I even splashed out extra money on emergency exit row seats in both directions! Booked a hotel in Croydon too for 2 nights. With work on the Monday morning I can’t hang about after the run, straight to Heathrow and a flight home, does anyone know where I would be able to have a shower by the way?

Another cool thing that has been happening is that loads of people are asking me about this and showing me loads of encouragement. I was at a growth mindset training session at work today and we were talking about goals and how to achieve them, this is certainly a goal that will take a bit of achieving. The messages and conversations are all great though, keep them coming!

Training is going ok but I’m in a bit of a paradox, I’m running well but that makes me think I deserve a burger or something so I’m not shifting weight like I want to. I reckon dropping a stone and a half would make my life so much easier, must focus on getting that right!

Finally, I’m volunteering at parkrun on 8th December, as promised in my parkrun blog. I’m also running in 2 Santa races over 5k. One in Cumbernauld and one in Glasgow so they should be fun.

Coming up, I’m trying to organise a quiz night in Glasgow in February or March and I’m trying to get a few well known runners to interview to try and attract done more traffic to the blog, I guess it’s a case of keep chipping away! If anyone wants to write anything give us a shout because I can see me drying up soon! I’m also going to try getting to a track in Glasgow over Christmas to compete against my 10 year old self in a Thistle Award challenge. I will find out the points values for a man in his early 40s and see if I can score more than this wee guy here:

Aside from that there’s just the countdown to Christmas, Kirsty is getting me a pair of Nike Pegasus which I’m scarily excited about and I will return the favour with my annual donation to Jo Malone, the amount of money I’ve given her over the years she can’t refuse me a wee donation for a raffle prize surely? If anyone has any hints or contacts that maybe able to get me something then please let me know. My good friend Cory has already secured me something really decent and a few other people have said they will help me out too.

For once, I’m not going to link my justgiving page or text number, I just wanted to give a wee update towards the end of the month.

Thanks for reading and for your support,

Stuart

Does running make you feel good?

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A nice sign my wife made me

First of all let me say thanks for all the feedback on my Dunoon sporting blog!  I forgot to mention my unreasonably successful basketball exploits and some of the names that helped out at the sporting clubs, I may go back to that later.  Also thanks to everyone who has shared my blog, donated money or even sent a message to me.  All of these things are really important to me and keep my motivation up.

I made a good bit of progress today – I wasn’t having the greatest day in the world and my initial thought was “I can’t wait to get out a run tonight”.  For me, that is progress!  In the past I would have thought “I can’t wait to get to McDonalds for a Large Signature BBQ burger meal with chilli cheese bites and a strawberry milkshake” or “I can’t wait to go to KFC for a large Fillet Burger Box meal with a small popcorn chicken (with beans and a Pepsi) or “I can’t wait to go to Burger King for a large Whopper meal and 2 chicken strips”.  Ha, reading back there I see I think about that too much 🙂 Then, if Kirsty was working, I would get home, go to bed about 6, waken up around 9 and feel awful!  But today, today I decided to go for a run instead.

I can pretty much pinpoint the exact moment I knew I was a “bit of a worrier”.  In Primary 2 David Mitchell (who was in Primary 3, I was in a composite class) brought in a Dundee United pennant to school.  At the end of the day I held it aloft as if I were celebrating a win – but it broke.  I went home that night worried sick that I was going to get into trouble for breaking this pennant but the next day nothing was said about it.  I felt a little relief but then I realised I had forgotten my library book so I started to worry about that.  Then, and I remember this as clear as yesterday, I thought to myself “Hey, I am always worried about something” – for a 6 year old that is a pretty weird thought!

Fast forward 36 years and I still hold the same thought.  I know myself I need to make a real effort to calm myself down and to stop worrying but it isn’t as easy because, I will always find something else to occupy my mind negatively.  It could be a health thing, a work thing or something as trivial as someone not saying hello to me when they pass me, I will immediately go to the worst case scenario and let it play over and over.  These feelings get worse at times of high stress in my life, for example when my Mum wasn’t well.  It could also have played a part in what happened to my eye so I am trying lots of different things to help me out and prevent it happening again.  At a visit to the doctor I was told my blood pressure was too high and the thing that brought it down the best was relaxing (as well as losing weight, cutting down on the salt and the blood pressure pills!).  I wouldn’t say I suffered from anxiety, I have seen people have an awful time with that, I am definitely an anxious person though.  One aspect I am really lucky with and which helps me out a lot are my family, friends and colleagues, a more supportive bunch of people I couldn’t hope for.

1 thing that helps my state of mind most though is getting out a run.  I have a few ideas about why this may be, here they are:

  • Breathing – people say deep breathing helps you relax – when you are running you do a lot of deep breathing (too much if you are like me and not the fittest!)
  • Short term, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed goals.  Ha, it’s like a job interview here…On a treadmill you are constantly looking for when the kilometre is over, when the mile has passed, how long you have left etc.  When you meet each of these milestones you get a wee boost.  One wee 5k run sees you aim for the 1k, 2k, 3k, 4k, 5k, 1 mile, 2 mile, 3 mile, quarter way, third way, halfway, 2 thirds way and 3 quarters way – that’s 13 mini targets in the space of about 26 minutes, one feeling of success every 2 minutes – you don’t get that success rate in too many places.  Your mind is also fixed on these goals, on your breathing and on putting one foot in front of the other, you don’t have time to think about anything else really.
  • You are listening to something you enjoy.  I have a few good podcasts that really make me laugh that I love to listen to – this in itself will put you at ease, never mind the fact that you are running about.
  • Endorphins – I don’t know too much about these but apparently they are things that make you feel good and are released when you exercise.  The so-called “runner’s high” can leave you feeling amazing after a run
  • The social aspect of running – this is something I really like.  When you are out running other runners will say hello to you!  It doesn’t seem much but everyone from the fastest Callum Hawkins to the slowest Stuart Taylor will give you  nod or a smile as they pass you by and that wee bit of sociability isn’t too present in many other areas of life nowadays – don’t get me started on the self-service scanners at the supermarket.
  • Being able to chart improvement – who doesn’t like getting better at things?  The more you run, the better you get.  That’s one of the things I love about parkrun, being able to chart your progress over the months – again, a feeling of satisfaction.
  • Increase in self-esteem and confidence – for many reasons running can boost confidence.  It may be that you can lose weight and fit into a jacket you haven’t been able to in a while or you may feel fitter when you don’t get out of puff going up the stairs – it all combines to boost the old self-image.
  • Being able to enter races like the London Marathon give you a target, something to look forward to, something to aim for and the chance to help a great charity like the RNIB.
  • Spending quality time with the wife!  Kirsty and I often head to the gym together, it’s something different than sitting on the couch watching Netflix.

Hopefully this blog is ok.  I know there is still a bit of a stigma talking about things like this but I reckon it is important.  I know I am very lucky and have a really good support system around me but other people aren’t so lucky.  I also know that some people may be reading this and thinking they need a lot more than just going out a run to help them and for those people, I really hope they get the help that they need, mental health services in the UK are brutally underfunded – although real progress is being made in this regard.

You can visit my justgiving page here if you would like to help me raise money for the RNIB or you can do the following:

Text SMTR76 £1 to 70070 to donate £1

Text SMTR76 £2 to 70070 to donate £2

Text SMTR76 £3 to 70070 to donate £3

Text SMTR76 £4 to 70070 to donate £4

Text SMTR76 £5 to 70070 to donate £5

Text SMTR76 £10 to 70070 to donate £10

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My modest sporting background in Dunoon.

Postcard view of a chilly Dunoon

Today I was in Dunoon. It was my Dad’s birthday (happy 73rd birthday Dad) and I always like visiting my hometown. Kirsty says we can retire there but I am not so sure I believe her. This blog is going to be a look at some of my background in sport in Dunoon and there are plenty of old clippings from the Standard and some pictures of current day Dunoon. There are plenty of names in the old paper cuttings, if you can’t make them out or zoom in too much give me a shout and I will zoom in on my copy and send it to you. As always, I am writing this to try to promote my sponsorship efforts for my London Marathon run for the RNIB. You can sponsor me by clicking http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stuartmtaylor or by texting SMTR76 £3 to 70070 (other amounts can be done as well.)

School Sports results

What better place to start than the school sports. I loved these days and was gutted when injury ruled me out of my P7 school sports day. These are the results of my final sports day, hopefully you can enlarge this to read the names. Not a stellar year, 2nd in the skipping race, joint 3rd in the obstacle race and 3rd in the 3 legged race.

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Dunoon Fun Run from the mid 80s. I am number 31 on the right.

The Dunoon fun run was probably my first taste of an organised run outside of a school sports day. Registration was held in the Argyll Gardens then we all ran to Western Ferries and back – 4 miles. I enjoyed it. My friend Innis suggests we ran it together one year and I stopped in Kirn Variety for an ice lolly, probably a Lemonade Sparkle or a Mini Milk.

Finishing straight in the fun run and the swimming pool
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A view down to Innellan

Another really fun race was the Innellan Fun Run. The view above shows part of the route. A current 10k and half marathon goes down this stretch of coast. I did the 10k this year, running into the prevailing South West wind was brutal! The Innellan fun run was organised as part of the Innellan Festival, a fine event which also had a 5 a side competition (picture of that later) and a pool competition in The Osborne, I didn’t enjoy that so much as I was always playing someone miles older and I was scared!

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Me and Innis finishing the Innellan fun run
Dunoon Stadium, home of athletics and Dunoon Amateurs and Cowal Games

Next is my time in Cowal Amateur Athletics Club, hosted at Dunoon Stadium. I always fancied myself as a bit of a long jumper but was no real use at anything else. Gary Clark was bullet fast over the short distances and Neil Walker was the long distance man. I was reminded earlier of the rocket fuel drinks of diluting orange we got in a room in that main stand – if the anti-doping federation had been about they may have had something to say about this – that stuff was potent and oh so tasty.

A Thistle Award

In Athletics club we competed for Thistle Awards, you got points for different distances or times in different events and they were combined to get you a number of gold, silver or bronze awards. These were then presented at the end of season awards ceremony in the Masonic Hall after we had spent all night doing the Conga and the weird “Superman” dance – great times! We got wee badges and patches to go with these.

I have just given myself the idea to try and see if my 42 year old self could beat y 10 year old self!
Can’t believe we lost

Occasionally we would have competitions against other Athletics clubs. Loads of names here, click and share if you want! I hope people can read this.

2 silver – no gold for me…
Modern facilities much better than they used to be.

Now onto my football career. Not a very successful one! I remember playing in the DYFL with some massively older people. My first game was for the Wizards against the Stings at the Grammar School. It was pouring down and someone passed to me straight from kickoff and I miscontrolled it. My confidence was shot. Who knows what could have been had I controlled that ball. Dunoon actually produced a large amount of players: Andy and Gavin Galloway, Neil MacFarlane, David MacGregor and Andy Graham. Recent additions include Lewis Strapp and Declan McDaid. I eventually got placed in the Nursery League with the Phantoms and started to play well (against younger people) I enjoyed that more.

Me at the Toward 5 a side competition
My favourite clipping ever!

Football was always great fun, I wish I was better at it. I was not the worst and sometimes was called up for “Select” teams that got to play on Dunoon Stadium in the black “Legends” strips. A local nightclub sponsoring 12 year old football teams may not be quite as welcomed these days! I also played for an under 18 team in Dunoon, the most memorable moment being whenwe lost 13-0 to Ferguslie Youths and our goalkeeper David Mitchell still won man of the match! Or the time a big fight started (I was not involved) and the referee called over Dunoon number 9 to send him off and was our best player. Someone then distracted the referee and our number 9 swapped strips with one of the weaker players so the wrong person got sent off – the Erskine manager went bananas!

Newly refurbished Queens Hall

In here was all sorts of things. 5 a side football and badminton being the main ones for me. Badminton was on a Monday evening and used a series of metal rings to indicate who was playing who. I once was runner up in a mixed doubles competition, see below! I also played badminton at Friday Club out in Kirn, I think it was only meant for Kirn Primary pupils but I was allowed to go and made new friends.

I was a runner up
Putting Green

We used to play mammoth putting competitions here in summer, 90 holers! Sadly no longer used for putting.

Finest view from a tennis court anywhere

Every day in the summer holidays was spent here at the tennis club – we did near enough everything except play tennis! Football, cricket, urban golf, chess, mountain bike men, table tennis, pool and running about the Castle Gardens – but not much tennis. I was junior champion in 1991, beat Mark Johnstone in the final. I tried to attack in the first set but Mark kept tapping it back to me and let me make mistakes so in the 2nd set I just tapped it back to him as well. It went down as the most boring tennis match in history. Umpire Neil Lea said he felt sick because his head was swinging back and forwards so much.

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We did play tennis sometimes
Castle Hill
Argyll Street – home of the bed race

There used to be a bed race in Dunoon, we took part once with the Scouts, racing hospital beds up Argyll Street!

The “family jewellers”

I’m just whacking in a picture of this shop because they always provide me excellent, quality service! Plus I used to play tennis against Timothy J Sharp and his younger brother.

Argyll Hotel and Argyll Gardens

Here I used to work on the bouncy castle and try to perfect flips and kicking the inflatable crossbar at the front of it. There also used to be trampolines here and little buggies as can be seen below.

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Those cool wee humbug things in the Argyll Gardens
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I did make the swimming team once

I also went to swimming club every Tuesday, it eventually became a little competitive for a non-competitive wee guy like me but loads of the members did really well, a really successful club.

Dunoon Pier

Finally the Pier. We used to engage in a spot of Pier Jumping off the waiting room roof that you can’t see here. We waited until the Waverley came in so the pier staff were all too busy to come and stop us. That was pretty dangerous now I think about it. Nowadays they have a mountain biking competition here and the ultra race and triathlon finish here.

So, there we have it. Having written all that it further reinforces how lucky I was to grow up in a town like Dunoon with so many adults willing to give up their time to help us get into sport. I am also really grateful to have supportive parents who ferried me to all those things and encouraged me to stick at it even when I wasn’t enjoying it too much – thanks Mum and Dad 🙂

Parkruns are Gallus

Parkruns are amazing, they are great, they are fun and you never regret running them (although you will regret not running them). I would probably say they are the biggest and potentially most important thing to improve health in the UK since the smoking in public places ban. I am incorporating parkruns into my training for the 2019 London Marathon which I am running for the RNIB (text SMTR76 £1 to 70070 if you want to sponsor me a quid). This blog is about today’s parkrun at Strathclyde Park, a great parkrun, where else would you get views like this on a Saturday morning while keeping (or getting) fit?

I am not too sure of the history of parkrun, I know it began in London at Bushy parkrun and Leeds University played a big part in its growing popularity and now it is in many locations around the world. You could find out more at their UK site.

Parkrun is a free timed 5k race which happens all over the UK in various park at 9am (0930 in Scotland – we get a longer lie up here). They set you all off on your run and start a timer. As you cross the finish line you get a token which is then scanned with your own personal barcode and hey presto – later on that morning you get a text message telling you your time. Today’s parkrun seem to have been heavily supported by the CO-Op.

It was another crisp morning, not cold enough for frost and ice but cold enough! Classic anticyclone in winter weather (one for the geography geeks).

Here is where we got our goody boxes at the end, more of that later
Well branded by the CO-OP
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I liked these inspirational messages

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Always a welcome site at the end

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Dogs always welcome

Watch out, it will break your arm apparently!

Soon we got to the start of the event. I always like this bit. First of all everyone has to stand on the grass! We don’t have priority in the park and everyone has equal access etc. This is a decent moment because they wish people Happy Birthday, congratulate people on milestone parkruns and ask for volunteers. Parkrun couldn’t operate without the amazing volunteers and I really should make the effort to volunteer myself but I am always scared I will mess it up! I have volunteered at junior parkruns a few times but not at Strathclyde Park, that will change next month, I promise.

So, we set off. It is important to remember that parkrun is not a race, it is a run, you are running against yourself and your previous times or you are running for the fun of it. I realised this on my 2nd parkrun. I struggled round and was stuck for ages behind 2 younger children. In the last 200 metres I “sprinted” past them, feeling all smug and a little guilty, but mainly smug that I was defeating them. When they tore past me 100 metres later I came to the convenient realisation that it is not a race!

You very often see the same people at these runs. One of my favourites is the man with the pram who always effortlessly runs past me despite pushing his child in a pram. I also was running behind a lady in a New York City Marathon jacket, again making it look effortless whilst I struggled on! I couldn’t get past her at all! But she summed up parkrun for me by asking people who looked like they may be struggling if they were ok – all runners seem to be really nice.

The massed start

As we continued through the run I realised I wasn’t going to crack 25 minutes today. I came pretty close. My final time according to my Garmin watch was 25 minutes 11 seconds, my second best time I think.

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My splits show I could have probably pushed kilometres 2-4 a little more, but I am always scared of burning out, I need to trust the training! After the race was finished we got our little boxes from the CO-OP, it contained a healthy recipe book, a tin of chick peas, some tinned tomatoes (I love them) and a bottle of extra virgin olive oil.

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So, there finished another parkrun. I can’t quite get over to you how much I enjoy these. They tick every box for what a good ethical organisation should be. They combat lots of problems we are facing at the moment. They benefit you physically, mentally and socially and if I were a doctor I would be prescribing them left right and centre.

Just as i was about to publish this my result came in. You get it sent as a text and you can also see it on the parkrun website along with your progress if you want. 295 runners today, brilliant!

Thanks to parkrun UK, the amazing volunteers (especially the wee girl with the cowbell at the turning point) and the CO-OP for today, that was great – again.

If you have managed to read this far and want to find out more about the work of the RNIB who I am running the London Marathon for you can check them out here and if you want to sponsor me you can do so here or text SMTR76 £1 to 70070. You can also donate 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10 pounds that way too.

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My reward for finishing today