Tag Archives: mantra

Breaking the cycle

Wow I have been running daily for 18 months, I am a fully fledged #runstreaker. Forcing miles here and there just to make sure I got my daily run in. I was never going to stop this streak, I was going to be one of those guys who had run daily for 10 years, the I got injured and it all went wrong…. Or did it?

In all honestly the running I was doing for the most part was pathetic! It was silly little miles, 3 here 4 there and sometimes just the 1 mile, that magic mile to ensure the streak continued. I could have been much more productive with my time, even the 10 or 20 minutes that some runs took. I could have cross trained, I could have cycled and enjoyed it, I could have spent more time at the gym lifting weights building specific muscles that would have helped me running the longer distances that I enjoyed, but I didn’t. I spent at least 6 months just getting by without anything changing, I wasn’t getting any fitter or any stronger, something had to change and call it fate call it Chris Asquith call it what you like, but upon sprinting down hill up the Pentland Hills I managed to thump my right foot down hard and get an instant surge of pain unlike anything I had ever felt wash over my right knee. I knew it was bad. I hobbled the last few miles to the car and headed home.

Now to cut a long boring story short, I done what I always do, kept going, strapped it up and waited for it to go away, some 3 months later it hadn’t gone away and I still wasn’t able to run or cycle or play football and I was starting to get worried. After weeks going through the NHS I was on a 3 month waiting list to see about my knee. Once I was told this I went and got myself checked out. In about 1 minute 11 seconds I was relieved to find out it was nothing serious but something rather annoying. It was a recurring problem I had with my hips being incorrectly aligned and having a weak core, and instability in my hips (something cross training and weights could have helped with). All the symptoms I had/have on and off over the last year or so are linked to this, my piriformis pain, my runner’s knee, my ITBS, the pain in my calf and hamstring. Ironically all the running was just keeping everything moving until I crashed my right foot down one sunny evening up the hills and twisted my knee and further abused my body.  I am now doing daily strengthening and flexibility exercises/stretches to correct all the wrongs I had forced my body into by my laziness and obsession with doing a silly run daily.

Poor me poor me I know, but is there something positive about all this Stuart? Why yes there is Mon Ami, let me explain.


The first thing I thought to myself when I knew I wasn’t able to continue eating the way I had been, which was “I can eat anything I run every day”. No the reality was my diet, whilst not terrible was FULL of carbs (well I am running daily I need the fuel) and I was most certainly overeating, especially the late night cheese raids that were almost daily occurrences. The carbs seemed to disappear without much effort really when I started to take notice of my intake. I just wanted more vegetables and by doubling my portions of greens there was so much food on my plate something had to go. Secondly due to being quite ill for a few days around the same time, I hadn’t eaten in almost 2 days so my stomach had shrunk and suddenly I couldn’t finish my usual sized portions, let alone go back for the nightly cheese session. So all of a sudden I had cut carbs and reduced my portion size. I thought to myself right then lets get serious about the intake of food whilst I’m unable to do any cardio and make sure I don’t put any weight on over the summer whilst I recover and who knows maybe I’ll shift a few lbs at the same time, win win. 4 or 5 months later I am eating barely any carbs in my diet and have lost over a stone in weight without really trying or setting out to do so (annoying isn’t it).


Right then, I can’t do any cardio, even swimming is causing me discomfort I must have done something pretty bad, maybe a tear, maybe ligaments!! I’m not doing anything until I find out what’s wrong with my knee I thought. But I have a gym membership so all I can do really is lift some weights. I had gone through phases of enjoying lifting weights to hating them. I was doing half-hearted session after or before a run thinking, if I double this up with my running I will be super strong and super fit! It turns out a combination of doing pathetic little runs and lifting weights that were probably not light enough to make any difference, didn’t in fact do anything like that, it just fed into me thinking I was fitter and stronger than I actually was. It wasn’t until I got injured I realised how weak I really was.

Until recently I was just lifting a few weights, doing a few bicep curls, a few lat pull downs and using some of the other machines in the gym without any real focus or intention. Now I am following a proper program and find an hour fly’s by and I’m almost wishing I had more time to do more, than the other way around wishing the time away just to say I had done half an hour of weights after a run!. I only ever use free weights now (machines have their place though) and understand the muscles I’m working much better than before. And best of all I am really enjoying lifting weights which surprised me. I don’t enjoy however, spending so much time with giant tanned men in tiny vests grunting. Anyway back to the gym…

Overall my diet is much better, I have lost easily over a stone in weight and added lean muscle. Maybe everyone needs to take some time off training to reflect on what it is you are actually doing and of what benefit it is actually of, or like me are you just getting by, quoting facts and figures that are maybe not as impressive as they could have been with a little more focus and knowledge.

“If you think you are training hard enough, double it”


Assault on Arran

The Isle of Arran is sometimes described as Scotland in miniature, and at 874 m (2,866 ft) boasts Goat Fell, the beautiful and rugged Corbett and highest point of the island. With Arran being only 20 miles long myself Andy Sommerville and of course Andrew Milne felt that running the length of the island was easily achievable, maybe to easy…

So we decided to make the route roughly 30 miles long and include a trip up and down Goat Fell for good measure. As with any long distance run I have been involved with we haven’t planned much else and should get lost at least twice. Things we haven’t yet arranged are as follows

  • What time we are getting a ferry to and from Arran
  • Who’s car we are taking 
  • Are we going by car?
  • How many cake’s Andy Milne will need to eat before during and after the run
  • How are we getting back to the car at the end of the run
  • Where are we leaving the car
  • Did we agree on the cakes for Andy yet

The above list is non-exhaustive  

What I do know is this is going to be another great little adventure and provide another decent training run for next months Speyside Way hurtfest.

Guest blog from Elaine Campbell

Baggy Trousers

I don’t often wear long pyjamas  I’m very much a short PJs girl, but in the last few nights it’s been cold enough to make me dig out the long breeks and long-sleeved jumper at bedtime.  It’s probably been a year since I have had them on, so I was delighted to find them very baggy on me.  So what?  Pyjamas are meant to be baggy and comfortable, right?  Well, I don’t suppose your average reader will ever understand fully, but, and this is quite a confession to make, I genuinely cannot recall what it feels like to not have items of clothing pulling across the waist, hips, chest, stomach and uhh posterior regions.  So is this really something I should be proud of?  Yeah, you bet it is.  For even though I still have a long, long way to go, I am VERY proud of how far I have come so far.

I turned 40 last year, and the old adage “life begins at…” I have found to be staggeringly appropriate in my case.  Yet this has not been a set plan, more a journey.  A journey which began with a stark realisation, continued through an affirmation and, finally, an ultimatum from someone whose opinion I value dearly.   Following this, in a spur of the moment decision, I entered the Glasgow Race for Life, and I thought about how I would make this a success this time, rather than follow my umpteen previous failures and give up.  Entering the race for life gave me a focus, as well as my twitter username, and blog address.   I revisited the blog in particular on many occasions as a source of support when I was low, and as a source of inspiration and motivation.

This was a new race I was entering.  Not just A race for life, the race for MY life!  I started following fitness and diet related feeds on twitter and consuming everything I could read on interval training, which I felt was my best chance of success.  Having realised immediately that I would be unable to do any of the plans I’d found online, I set about devising my own.  First I walked a mile from my home.  Half a mile there and half a mile back.  I wasn’t initially able to do it without stopping for breath, much to my embarrassment.  Despite wanting to chuck it on almost every occasion, the thought of the Race for Life kept me going.  Soon I was managing to do the mile walk without stopping, and so I moved up to walking around a nearby loch.  My trusty Endomondo app, and spreadsheet kept accurate distances and times for me.  And I happily watched the kms tot up.

 I did the race for life in a comfortable 63 minutes, and by now was completely hooked on this fitness malarkey.  I had been tremendously inspired by those running the race for life, and later by a friend running the Edinburgh marathon. I was high on the rush of crossing the Race for life finishing line as a walker, inspired by seeing all the runners at the marathon in all shapes and sizes, and I thought; I now want to feel the rush of crossing that line having run it.

However; walking along the public highways and byways at my size is embarrassing enough.  I had got around this self-conscious feeling by wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, with an ipod in my lugs, working on the old childish proviso of “If I can’t see you, you can’t see me.”   But actually running would be a huge issue.  There was absolutely no way I could do that in public.  No way.  But I’d come so far, I couldn’t chuck it now……… so I hired a treadmill.  I downloaded the NHS podcast and had a go.  Again, no use, I was nowhere near fit enough to complete the first week, but still undeterred, I again created my own version.  I absolutely astounded myself by managing to get up before work and do my bit before I even got out the door at 7.30am too, aided of course by the fact that it was summer, and even in Scotland, the mornings were light and motivating.

 I kept doing this 2 or 3 times a week during the rest of June and start of July, but I was still getting nowhere with the treadmill (no pun intended) When I was trying to increase the jogging intervals, with hindsight I was trying to jump from 30 seconds to a minute, to 2 minutes etc week on week and getting nowhere.  Again with hindsight too – pacing was an issue.  With the treadmill, of course, you have to run at the pace you tell it to make you run at. This makes it much harder, as at least running outdoors you are able to vary your pace to suit your “knackeredness” levels 😀  I was becoming more disillusioned by the day and more frustrated at my inability to even achieve the suggested “beginner” level at anything!

It was at this point, by sheer chance, that I started chatting on twitter to @jogscotland, who assured me that my local group would be happy to have me on board.  I took some convincing however, given my previous self-esteem frailties, and it was a fortnight or so later when I had thought more about it and concluded that the issues were all of my own making, that I wandered along and took the plunge.  Little did I know it was about to be the best move I have ever made.

I was still nowhere near their beginners’ level; abundantly clear after my first night.  So I felt that I had failed.  Again.  That was not unexpected though, because that was the norm. I tried a keep fit regime… I failed.  It was the way things were, I always failed.   Except, this time, here was a group of people at JogScotland Chryston who were willing to work with me.  Willing to spend time working out a plan for ME, not for “A Nonymous-Beginner” but for ME and MY abilities.  Or lack thereof.  So I’ve been out with jogScotland 2 nights a week since the beginning of September, bless them because it can’t be much fun watching me huff and puff on my paltry wee jogs, and have now just started my third block with them.

Throughout this whole jogScotland journey I have astounded myself with how much I have enjoyed the whole experience.  From battling the elements; the wind, the rain, the cold, the icy ungritted pavements, to getting myself out and mobile on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year’s day.  Previously – this period would have been spent lazing around the house, feeling sorry for myself.  I struggled really badly, mentally as it turned out, with managing the task of 2×2.5 minutes jogging with a 2.5 minute walk in between.  It took me three full weeks to get over that hurdle.  Much mental anguish, and chatting with my friends about how useless I felt followed, and bless them too they put up with it all, and kept encouraging.  Now, only 4 short weeks later, this current week is 5×3 minute jogs, with 2minute walks in between.  Well on my way to this block’s target which is as near to 15 minutes continuously as I can.

I HAVE lost weight.  How much?  I have no idea, nor do I really want to know right now.  I decided against monitoring my weight from day one.  Purely because it’s what I’ve always done, and how any success has always been measured.  Ultimately too this was often the tipping point for chucking it.  There was nothing more soul-destroying than denying myself food all week, on some mad fad diet or another, along with working as hard as I could at exercise classes, to turn up at a weigh in meeting and be told “You’ve lost nothing” or “you’ve put on a pound.” It’s utterly devastating.  This time I decided to monitor progress on how I FEEL – hence the blog and the twitter feed – on how my clothes fit and on how I look in the mirror, another thing I had avoided like the plague for years, because I hated what I saw.

While I have totted up the Kms actually traveled  it’s impossible to quantify how many millions of miles I have journeyed outside my comfort zone.  What I can say though is that I have enjoyed the journey greatly, and despite having immeasurable pride in what I have achieved so far, I still do not see what I have done as a success….. yet.  The first big milestone I have set is to be able to run a 5K completely.  Then I will start to say I have been successful in my endeavours.  After that?  Well, who knows? Anything is possible.  Especially after a baggy breeks boost! 😉

Am I training hard enough?

I have always enjoyed training, whether this was football training or training for an upcoming endurance event I had planned. Before each event I always doubted that I had done enough training in the previous months in the lead up to the event! I would often try to recap what I had done and justify every last mile I had run or cycled and every poor gym session or swim thinking it was always better than doing nothing and that’s probably true but no matter what I always felt I could have done more.

I’m well aware that this is no doubt a common feeling for anyone in a similar position, whether just about to run a 5k, 10k, a marathon or in the case of Andrew Murray either running from Scotland to the Sahara or 7 ultra marathons in 7 days on 7 continents!!

However any doubts about the level of training I had done or not done would be forgotten about upon my triumphant return to Edinburgh after cycling from Athens in the summer of 2011. Nor would I have doubts about my level of training once completing a very hilly (equivalent of twice the height of Ben Nevis) 47 mile run around Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh after never running more than 13 miles before, And in the summer of 2012 giggling my way to the steps of Hampden Park after dribbling my way down 300 miles in 10 days from John O’Groats it was all too easy wasn’t it?

Well no of course it wasn’t easy but I’m proud of getting to the end of each challenge running and cycling through the pain/swelling/blisters. I like the fact that when the going got tough I got going! But could I have prevented some of the pain, had I trained hard enough?

They say “If you think you’re training hard enough…double it” and for 2013 this is my mantra. I will ask myself ‘am I training hard enough’

Treble12Challenge #4 – Double Trouble

Treble12Challenge #4 – Double Trouble

On Saturday 12th May Myself, Andy Milne & Ally Howie will be attempting to climb Ben Nevis twice back to back. The average time to ascend and descend Britain’s highest mountain is around 6 hours for someone of a relatively decent level of fitness, so as with all of these challenges we are looking at 12 hours to complete the double.

We will be taking the popular Mountain Track (pony track) as this is the simplest and most popular route up the beast.

This will be the first time I will have scaled Nevis and im looking forward to the challenge. I’m also sure this might be the start of some ‘Munro Bagging’ in the future.

A bit of history for you….The first recorded ascent of Ben Nevis was made on 17 August 1771 by James Robertson of Edinburgh. So here’s hoping another 3 men from Edinburgh can complete the climb just as successfully come saturday.

Here is the link to the summit webcam, have a peek on saturday we will be waving…

Wish me luck