New year runnings

Right, I am totally full up with cake and crisps and juice and all sorts of things I shouldn’t have been eating! Lugging this extra weight around with me for the next couple of weeks will be annoying but it needs to be done I suppose!

My first run over the new year period was on the 29th December at Strathclyde parkrun into the teeth of the strongest wind I had felt (since the last time I ran the parkrun!). I can’t say I enjoyed this run too much and my time wasn’t the fastest. One thing I have noticed is that for someone who claims not to care about times too much I have become a bit of a slave to the pace I am going at on my Garmin. I seem to check this a little too often and if I am running what I perceive to be too quickly I will slow down and if I am going to slowly I will beat myself up a little. I think I may make a big effort not to look at my watch at all the next time and just run how I am feeling. Another weird thing on Strava was that it looks like the entire run was done downhill slightly. Strathclyde Park is reasonably flat and Strava usually give me a couple of sections being downhill by a metre which is balanced out with a couple of sections being ever so slightly uphill. As you can see below, this whole thing was downhill which makes little sense, but not to worry.

Unusual downhill elevation

Then on Hogmanay I decided to go out for a 90 minute run. I should have did this on the Sunday but I thought it would be a nice way to end the year. I racked my brains trying to think of a nice flat area to run on nearby but I couldn’t really think of one so I took myself into Glasgow. As a Geography geek I knew that rivers in their lower course flow through quite flat land so I figured running beside the Clyde would be a nice wee run for me. I parked at the Transport Museum and paid for my parking (3 hours, £4.80) – I could have just went for the 2 hours but I was worried I may need to stop and rest a little too long.

Waverley, Science Centre and BBC

After 1km I stopped in the SECC to use the bathroom facilities. The Carnival was on. I used to love the Scout trip up the Carnival and was always excited at all the watches I would win in the grabber machines. The watches all broke within a couple of days but I still felt I had beaten the system! This area of Glasgow is really nice now. There was a time in the 70s and 80s when shipbuilding started to decline and this area became derelict and run down but the Garden Festival of the late 80s and subsequent regeneration have seen this area become a bustling hive of industry and commerce. This link here has plenty of information about all the different schemes.

This was a harder run than I thought it would be. You can see by my splits that the going wasn’t as fast as I usually go but, again, I need to blame the wind, and the hills that I didn’t expect!! I knew that running upriver would involve a slight incline so it was probably more psychological than anything else. As you can see from the map below, my route took me through some interesting areas of Glasgow. I passed through an area to the south of the CBD, then down into Glasgow Green. I only really see this area when running the final 500 metres or so of the Glasgow 10k or when at a busy event like a Stone Roses concert or the World Pipe Band Championship so it was strange to see it so empty. I did not know there were rowing clubs boat sheds in there. My run continued past Glasgow Green into an area with lots of vandalism. I saw a man not pick up after his dog after it had attended to its business and wanted to say something but I didn’t have the bottle to be doing that.

Science Centre to Dalmarnock – and back

As I continued along the River Clyde Walkway or whatever it’s called I noticed a load of rubber rings on poles, that must be pretty expensive to maintain. I also noticed a pretty horrendous smell. When I got home I checked the map and there appears to be a sewerage works around here somewhere. I turned back and passed the man with the dog again. I passed a load of other runners – only some gave a nod of recognition, maybe around half. I saw what looked like a marina type thing, or a place where people kept their boats out the water in winter and I saw a sign under the Kingston Bridge telling me it opened in 1970, I thought it was before that.

Slower going than usual but faster than if I was sitting on the couch

Not sure I enjoyed that too much. My friend Craig from Ireland who runs really fast told me that soon a 10 mile run will feel easy, I look forward to that day because this run was hard!

Now to New Year’s Day. Some parkruns are held on this day and neighbouring runs will stagger their starting times to allow people to do 2 parkruns. I had set my sites on the Strathclyde one at 9 and then Greenock at 11 but ended up just doing Strathclyde. I had wondered how busy this would be with it being so early on January the 1st but a quick check of the results showed a turnout of 392 – brilliant – and 14 volunteers too! I really enjoy seeing so many people out getting healthy and being sociable. The more the merrier! I first realised it was going to be packed when I saw how many cars were parking on the roads leading into the park. The road along to the car parks was closed so people had to park elsewhere and walk/jog – added an extra 2.6 km onto my day’s exercise but that was fine.

Thou shalt not pass

This was maybe my favourite parkrun since I broke my PB. The atmosphere was great as it was so busy and it was great seeing so many different running vests and run tee-shirts from around the country and around the world. I have recently joined a group on Facebook about parkrun and there are some right geeky statistics about attendances on it – and I mean geeky as a compliment here – which showed that loads of parkruns got record attendances on January 1st – amazing. I think about 150,000 people were involved all in.

Beautiful morning

Add to all this the classic “High Pressure in Winter” weather conditions and it was all set for a lovely start to the year.

Sunrise in Lanarkshire

I felt I ran quite well within myself here. I was cautious because of the previous day’s exertions so started off nice and slowly but, as the distance ticked by, I began to feel more and more comfortable. My splits below show I ran each kilometre faster than the one before, I think that is called negative splits, or positive splits. Whatever it is, I am happy with it!

After the run
Negative (or positive) splits

So, here we are. The start of a new year, one which I hope I can get right into running properly. I have the London Marathon in April to look forward to and I have entered the ballot for the Great North Run. I also have my eye on a few half marathons including Inverness in March which I have already entered.

Thanks for reading this. Please share it if you find it interesting or if you find it rubbish and want to laugh at it!

Training day 7 – 5 football grounds and a basketball arena

I’m not sure why I decided to do this but the end of my first week of training was a 75 minute “easy run” so I thought I would try to run from Ibrox to Celtic Park.  Looking at this on Google Maps though I saw this was going to be too short a route so I thought I would chuck Hampden in there as well, this was my mistake, Ibrox to Hampden seems to have plenty of hills!

At the start – Ibrox Stadium

Kirsty dropped me at Ibrox at 10am.  Rangers are playing today and there were already supporters about the place with the scarf and flag sellers, Ibrox catering staff and some of the burger vans were getting parked up, I love burger vans.  I decided to do a lap of Ibrox first, a really impressive stadium.  Last time I was there I saw Morton draw 2-2.  I have also been to a couple of Old Firm games, some Rangers Champions’ League games when my brother was in Spain and a Scotland game or two.  It was here I heard the loudest noise I’ve heard at a football match when Morton played there in 1995, I think it was Paul Gascoigne’s competitive debut and the roar he got literally did make the air seem to crackle.  Pity he elbowed Derek McInnes in the face and Paul Blair missed a sitter but there we go!

Nice big main stand

I did stop briefly to take this picture, I really like that main stand, from inside the stadium under the floodlights it looks pretty cool.

I plodded my way through the South side of Glasgow towards Cathkin Park, home of Third Lanark.  I think they went out of business in the 1960s.

A picture of my brother’s dog Buzz for no reason that I was sent during the run

I was a little bit lost at this point but there was a set of stairs that were undeniably football stairs leading up a banking so I thought this must be it, the sign below confirmed it.

Cathkin Park, home of Third Lanark

I know very little about Third Lanark other than they went out of business and were called the HiHi as a nickname.  I think football historian Bob Crampsey may have supported them.  I liked this peaceful little piece of Glasgow.  I think someone is trying to fix this park up and get a Third Lanark team playing there again, I really liked the terracing and I reckon it would be a great place to watch a game on a warm summer’s evening, not so much in the winter maybe though.

Inside Cathkin Park

Then I made it to Hampden surprisingly quickly.  I really had no idea Hampden was so close to Cathkin Park.  Kirsty met me here to make sure I was alright and to take a picture.

Outside Hampden

Hampden is the home of Scottish football, the SFA and SPFL are based here and it was recently confirmed Scotland would continue to play here, Murrayfield in Edinburgh put in a bid for all the big games to be played there instead.  I think my first visit to Hampden was in 1986 for Aberdeen v Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final, Aberdeen won 3-0 and Walter Kidd was sent off for Hearts. I also went to the under 16 World Cup final, Scotland against Saudi Arabia in 1989 where many questioned if the Saudi Arabia team were actually under 16!  When Hampden was refurbished a few of my friends and I drove up from Dunoon to see Holland beat us 1-0 with a goal from Brian Roy in the game to mark the re-opening.  I think these details are correct, I am going google-less for this!

I was getting tired by here

The run itself was pretty tough up until that point, Ibrox to Hampden is really steep in parts but I passed through a really nice part of Glasgow along Nithsdale Road.  Next, I set out to Celtic Park, it must surely be nice and flat?

Shawfield, former home of Clyde

As I left Hampden I passed Toryglen football centre where I used to play 7 a sides on a Thursday evening.  A few minutes later I passed Shawfield Stadium where we had a football night out, I had an uncanny ability to bet on the dog that finished last in something like 7 of the races.  Shawfield is a greyhound track now but Clyde used to play there until they started shifting about, they now play in Cumbernauld.  This part of the run was flattish and my speed was picking up a little despite me being at the 7km mark, I can run on the flat for ages but hills are tough!  Kirsty met me here and I checked the next part of my route, it seemed to drag on for ages but I was pleasantly surprised to see Celtic Park looming before me relatively soon.

Almost finished

Celtic Park is Glasgow’s biggest stadium and the venue of one of my happiest nights as a Morton fan, when we beat Celtic 1-0 in the cup with a Dougie Imrie penalty.  I have also seen us lose here a few times.  It is a really impressive stadium and can be seen from a long way off.  I was at a Scotland v England game here a few years ago and would love to go to a Celtic European match, the atmosphere always seems amazing.

The home of basketball

A new addition to the Glasgow sporting scene is the Emirates Arena, ideally I could have went in and ran a lap of their athletics track.  There is also the Chris Hoy Velodrome which I would like to try and, of course, it is the home of the Glasgow Rocks basketball team.

All done

At last I was done.  I chose to run from Ibrox to Celtic Park and not the other way around because I wanted the wind at my back most of the way.  In truth I didn’t feel much wind and next time I would do it the opposite way around so I didn’t have those brutal hills at the start.

Proof that I did it!

As you can see, it wasn’t the fastest time ever but my splits below kind of show that I was managing ok once it came to the flatter areas.  That was an enjoyable morning and it was great to see such iconic venues from a different perspective.

My split times, you can spot the flat areas.


Thanks for reading.  If you have made it this far and want to sponsor me for running the London Marathon for the RNIB then you can do so at this link here

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Please feel free to share this if you want, I enjoyed running it and writing about it.