Thursday, 17 December 2009

Old memories and fast times

Thursday 17th
No running to report this week so far as the niggle in my calf became a solid mass by Sunday morning. All week it has been slow to ease and today is the first day it felt okay to run on but I decided to leave running to the weekend. A friend at the golf club spoke to me yesterday and mentioned that he had been looking at my blog and saw the photo of the boys in Springburn Harriers and started to tell me how he and his brother used to go to Springburn Harriers when they were boys. He said that there was a old man who used to look after the boys and took to do with most of the organizing in the club. I said that would be old Jack Crawford who I became very friendly with even when he moved away to St Andrews in the 80's and we stayed good friends. I organised for the club to have an annual handicap race along the West Sands with the handicapping and presentation done by Jack that night in the Golf Hotel.  The race was a huge success and Jack was in his element meeting old friends and telling stories from years gone by. He was a master at handicaps and was the official handicapper for all the Highland Games and races for many years.  Jack loved his harriers and took great delight in telling you stories from 50 years ago.  He could remember times and places from any race all those years ago.  After the Second World War, Jack went down to the harriers hut and opened it up, started up the fire and got hot water ready for the runners, but nobody turned up (there were no races or club running during the war).  Jack continued with his Tuesday/Thursday ritual for weeks until eventually some runners started to appear again and the club started to operate again.  When I joined the club, Jack was still very active and along with Eddie Sinclair coaching they had made Springburn the top club in Scotland for all boys age groups, winning week in and out most individual and team prizes.  Jack died in 1986 and to mark his passing we changed the club's annual road race from the Springburn Cup to the Jack Crawford 10km as it is now known.  The photo above was taken in 1974 and shows National prizes won that year with Jack standing proudly in his suit with his boys.  The young boy two places along from Jack is Graham Williamson who would go on to set world class times for the mile and 1500m.  As a junior, Graham set 4 Scottish records -800m-1.47, 1500m-3.36, 1 mile-3.53, 3,000m-8.00.  All these records still stand today more than 30 years on! He also went on to run 1,000m in 2.16, 1 mile in 3.50  2,000m in 4.58 and 1500m indoors in 3.38 which used to be the British record  all of which are still Scottish records. Due to injuries and some bad luck Graham never really managed to get medals at any of the major games and also running at the same time as Coe, Ovett and Cram meant that you had to be one of the best in the world just to be picked for a British team never mind win a medal. These times that Graham set have never been under any threat for over 30 years and that is also the same for Nat Muir's 5,000m record of 13.17 set away back in 1980. The 10,000m record still belongs to Ian Stewart -27.43 from 1977 ! Why have times not improved in the past 30 years ?

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Close encounters with the wildlife.

Saturday 12th
Rowardennan- Inversnaid
Out in 1.12.45
Return in 1.13.15
A comfortable run out and back at 9 am with the weather cold but good for running in. Never bothered with any jacket even though there was an ice cold breeze coming over the water and I was glad I had not worn one, as once I got climbing up the loch side the trees sheltered me from any wind and I was fine. No problems on the run apart from a bit of tightness in my calf descending back to the car park, so I took my time not wanting to cause any serious damage. On my drive up to Rowardennan just past Strathblane I hit a pheasant head on and it smashed into my front grill, bounced onto the bonnet, smacked into the windscreen and disappeared over the roof. It all happened so quickly and I had no time to swerve and miss the unfortunate bird but when I arrived at the car park I discovered that my front grill was in bits where the bird had first made contact.  I was amazed at the amount of damage caused in a split second by such a small animal and wondered just what kind of damage a deer could do if you were to make similar contact. It wasn't my day for wildlife as while out on the run today I reached the Cailness burn where I  crossed the foot bridge and was trotting happily along when three black goats bounded out of the bushes with no warning  across the path, I literally  s..t myself as they ran in front of me some eight feet away and bounded down to the waters edge. The rest of the run to Inversnaid went very quick but I think it was the adrenaline pumping caused by my goat encounter. The exercises I mentioned below  on Thursday are now available to view online at Running Times if anyone wants to give them a go. The above photo is of Craig and me after this years golf  club presentation in November where Craig was awarded with the club junior champion trophy for the second year.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

How hip are you ?

Railway path to Chryston and return.
47.13-6.02 miles
Started quite slow as I was a bit stiff this morning but once I got the joints moving things were fine and the pace was about same as the last few days. At this moment I am staying away from any sort of interval sessions  and just concentrating on steady runs, getting some miles in  and staying free from any serious injuries. I missed 6 weeks training from the end of September to mid November with sore achilles and a sore hip which I had struggled with all summer. While in America at the start of October a magazine called Running Times had an article about how a lot of injuries in the lower legs and knees are a result of weak hips and core muscles. Without going into things in great detail, they took 283 injured athletes and gave them a series of exercises to strengthen the hips over a 8 week period and the results were dramatic especially in people who pronate inwards causing strain on the knees and achilles. Participants experienced 57% less pronation at the ankle joint, a large increase in leg strength and lower leg stability. I did the test to see if I  had weak hips.  The test was to stand on one leg and bend the free leg behind you then squat on the other leg. The leg you squat on should remain straight from thigh down to your toes and not collapse inwards, I failed miserably so I started the 6 exercises and at first it was shocking and my attempts to complete them left my muscles screaming no more. As the weeks went by and  I increased the reps to 3 times a day I started to feel the difference as my hips and the surrounding area became more flexible and so much stronger.  The sore achilles I had since June was gone as I started jogging and for the first time in a year the hip pain had nearly gone.  I have continued to do the exercises every day and even though things aren't 100% they are a lot better and I know they have made a huge improvement to my hips and surrounding muscles. You will be able to see the set of exercises in the web site of the magazine when that issue becomes available on line (issue 372). It is a very good magazine aimed at the serious distance and ultra distance runner and issue 371 has a article on The Western States 100 where Jez  Bragg finished 3 rd this year.I believe you can subscribe to it from the UK and the subscription telephone number is 001-610-967-7290.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Cawder Loop

59.38-8.00 miles
A steady run down onto the canal and out to Torrance where I joined the path along to Cawder Golf Club. Did the loop around Cawder and back along canal into Kirkintilloch. Very mild today and after less than one mile the hat was off and tucked away.  I enjoyed the run today and have felt a lot more comfortable during the last few runs and not just slogging away feeling tired during and after each run.  Weather forecast for next few days and weekend is that it is to turn a lot colder but be more settled than it has been for the last few weeks.  Last week Craig finished his prelim exams and has been getting his results this week.  So far they have been very good and if they are all of a certain standard then his birthday and Christmas present is a new set of golf clubs.  He was custom fitted for new irons and woods at the Titleist fitting centre in Edinburgh a few weeks ago and we are now waiting to see if I have to order the new set or tell him to keep using the ones he has.  He has had 3 results out of 8 so still a long way to go yet he has been told!  Glad I am well past that stage in life .

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Retaining young people in sport.

Milton of Campsie  loop
44.55- 6.00 miles
Steady run in darkness along the walkway to Campsie. Legs felt fine after weekend's run and yesterday's cycle which was 2 hours long up and down the hills out by Gartshore.  I am just back from a seminar organised by the  Scottish  Golf Union which was about marketing your golf club and trying to keep and recruit new members.  One of the statistics we were given was that over 70% of children in Scotland do not do any sport by the age of 17 and they are looking at the reasons behind this and how to stop kids leaving golf when they leave school.  I think this drop out of sport has always been there and it's only now that we are more aware due to the rising obesity rates.  When I was a senior boy and youth  in the Harriers the drop out was even higher and the above photo taken in the summer of 79 shows a large group of boys of which only 3 or 4 actually made it to senior level.  I think that it is hard for children to keep up a sport as a hobby due to all the changes and outside pressures that is thrust upon them when they leave the safe environment of school.  I kept running because I love running and it was not a problem for me.  My son Craig loves his golf and I think he will always continue with his ambitions to play at a good level and improve.  In our local golf club we have had 150-175 juniors each year for the last 6 years and on average only 2-3 per year keep playing after they turn 18 and move up to Youth level. As I said earlier, this is a problem for all sports and I certainly don't know what the answers are but it is now an even bigger problem due to the health issues. Just going back to the above picture,  behind the boy wearing red tracksters and holding the baton is none other than a very young Billy Minto of the Billytheshoe blog!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Winter Golf Tour 2009 Rd3

Lundin Links Golf Club
Sunday 6th December
This was the third round of our winter tour around some of Scotlands best links courses and what a cracking day we got for golf. There was 16 players yesterday down from the usual 20 and as the second game set off the clouds cleared and blue sky appeared for the rest of the day. The scores were very good as the wind stayed reasonably calm and with 41 points Gerry Cullen took first prize followed by Danny Totten and Craig Chalmers. Our 4 nearest the pin prizes went to Paul James ,Billy Gibson and young Craig got two. As usual we had a excellent meal in the club house and gave out the prizes for the day including the 4 foot wooden spoon that is awarded each round for being the worst on the day and Jamie Carroll successfully defended it from 2 weeks ago ( this is a prize that no one wants). A good day out was had by all and we now have a break to the 17th January when we go to Powfoot Links . We have our own web site for our tour called the hackers tour and if you want to see it click on the link up on right hand corner of this blog and just use my name as username and password (robert).

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Winter time on the West Highland Way.

West Highland Way 
1 hr 19  mins - out 
1 hr 28 mins - return
15.55 miles
Balmaha -Rowardennan car park then return.
Ran easy out to Rowardennan and felt fine at turn  where I had some beans and drink. Started back and felt fine until about a mile or so before Balmaha when all of a sudden legs got very heavy and stiff.  Was a bit drained at end and I think it was maybe a bit of  dehydration over the last few miles.  I am finding the time on my feet the main difference at this moment in time and the last 2 weekends are the longest I have been on my feet for maybe 15- 20 years.  In the past if I was running 12- 15 miles it would be all over in 1 hr 25-50 mins  on a Sunday run and my legs at this moment are a bit tired as time goes on.  My brother Alex  said to me 'how do you think you will feel with another 30+ miles to go?'  I replied 'it's not worth thinking about' and over the next  4 months hopefully my legs and body will become more accustomed to the time on the run.  The other big change for me is the type of terrain that the Fling is over as my runs tend to be on the road or canal paths and  this to will take time to get used to.  Nevertheless I enjoyed today's run and underfoot it was fine considering the recent rain and the loch seems to have got down quite a bit.  Off to Lundin Links tomorrow for round 3 of our winter league competition and the 4 hour walk should help with tomorrow's stiffness and if the golf score is bad I can always blame today's run.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Marathon Boom in the 80's

In my earlier post I mentioned the marathon boom of the 80's and this article is from that peroid when Bob Dalglish was the organizer of the first few marathons and  they became a huge
 success . The above photo was from a 5 mile race in Rutherglen in 1983 that was getting used as  film for a STV drama and we all had to do numerous starts for the director. I am in my Springburn vest and the gentleman next to me is Danny Wilmoth who 6 years later became my father -in -law . Danny had grabbed me at the start and said lets run behind the two runners in black and white as they were the main actors to make sure we get in the film. So we made sure all our starts were next to them and we ended up in the drama when it was aired on tv.

Woodilee/Stoneyett Loop

44.00- 5.79 miles
Steady run up the old hospital grounds and onto the hilly country roads to Stoneyetts where the new motorway extension cuts right through the countryside . The shape of the road can now be seen from the top of  the hill at Stoneyetts and vast amounts of earth have been shifted to create this extension.
The run was a steady one and I am starting to find the runs a bit easier now as my fitness improves but I have a long way to go top approach the level I was at in August/September .
Last night I came across a old photo of my dad,brother and me in South Africa getting ready to start a road race during 1977 . When we lived in SA the running scene was huge and most road races were getting fields in the 1000's and in 1978 my father ran the Comrades Marathon where I was his seconder and ran the last 14 miles with him . When we returned to Scotland it was 82/83 before the distance boom took of with races like the Glasgow Marathon at the forefront . 

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Hayston Loop


Canal -Hayston- railway- canal

Legs feeling a bit better and felt a bit more comfortable running today. Since I started back after being injured for 6 weeks  I have struggled with most runs but today was a bit quicker and I was fine at end of run . I aim to gradually increase my Wednesday  distance  and it along with my weekend run will be the main runs of the week . 
I am planning to run from Balmaha to Rowardennan this Saturday and back that should give me about 15miles . I last ran this part of the whw in 1992 in the clubs relay and according to my diary I ran it in 47 mins but we ran the stage on the road that year  . I think that might have been one of the last years the club ran the whw as a relay . Will stick to the path on Saturday as much as possible if it is okay with all the recent rain we have had. The above photo is from 1987 the fourth year we did the West Highland Way as a relay.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A Frosty Start

41.50 -5 miles
Easy run along railway path as legs were still a bit stiff from Saturday . Very cold at first but was fine after 10-15 mins  . The above photo is from 1985 our second attempt at the West highland Way.