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 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