31 Day Challenge – Day 16 (Andrew)

As a challenge, I’m going to run, bike or swim every day in January.

Day Sixteen

Thanks to Jon Bon Jovi we all know what to say when we’re halfway there – “Woah, we’re half way there!”

Still feeling tired but another good sleep through a Denzel Washington film – this time The Tragedy Of MacBeth – and I felt more refreshed this morning. To celebrate a fantastic clear day I decided to run in the countryside and park at Busby High School and take a circular route through some of the farm roads on the edge of Glasgow. Now, just another 15 days to go.

How was it? Great weather makes all the difference. The first couple of miles were heavy but the combination of sunshine, cold weather and no breeze made it ideal running conditions .

31 Day Challenge – Day 15 (Andrew)

As a challenge, I’m going to run, bike or swim every day in January.

Day Fifteen

Almost halfway and it’s taken to today to realise that my 31 day challenge should say “As a challenge, I’m going to run, bike or swim AND WRITE A DAILY BLOG POST every day in January.”

Today’s blog post is brought to by the letter “T” for tired. Last night I fell asleep while watch the film Training Day, which was an apt title to watch in the middle of this challenge. I felt sleepy before I started watching the film but I can’t solely blame days one to fourteen for the tiredness building up. The film was more overcooked than a egg left to boil for 24 hours and contained more ham in Denzil Washington’s performance than Porky Pig eating Bernard Matthew’s pork pie.

This morning was no better. Still tired. A persistent fatigue rather than the one off ache of recovery from a previous days effort. But, 16 days still to go… back to it.

How was it? Once I started, it was fine. Good even. But as soon I finished I felt more tired than when I started rather than invigorated by post exercise endorphins. Luckily my wife was trying to learn to make popcorn so for the rest of the afternoon I’ve had fresh popcorn every 30 minutes as she tries to perfect how to make it. Who needs a recovery shake when you’ve got fresh popcorn?

31 Day Challenge – Day 14 (Andrew)

As a challenge, I’m going to run, bike or swim every day in January.

Day Fourteen

An important lesson today. If you own an electric bike, don’t leave the battery part of it in a cold shed and expect it to work in the morning. I was ready to cycle to the pool to swim before work but, when I tried to switch on the bike, the battery flashed on then immediately switched off. Only 20 minutes of resting it against a radiator got it started again, but, by then, it was too late to swim before work. Instead, an after-work swim and a reminder to tuck my battery away at night with a hot water bottle if I want to use the bike first thing when it’s likely to be cold outside.

How was it? Instead of a swim, I went for an extended ride home after realising eight hours too late that… an electric bike is still a bike even if the batter doesn’t work! I could still ride it! D’oh! So, as I only had between 430 and 530 to do anything I switched the battery off and went to the Westend to try and climb the Clyde Tunnel on a small folding electric bike. What did I find? Blimey, Nora, jings, help ma boab, if you want to get thighs like Chris Hoy then trying to climb a hill with few gears and a large battery pack is the exercise for you. It was very tempting to switch it back on…

31 Day Challenge – Day 13 (Andrew)

As a challenge, I’m going to run, bike or swim every day in January.

Day Thirteen

Day thirteen – unlucky for some but, for me, a chance to run from another office and brave the hardest challenge for any runner: the lunchtime shower. Our shower is particularly challenging as it blasts water with all the force of a shot-putter with no arms. There is so little pressure the water almost drips up to the ceiling rather than down to the floor. If it was a waterfall it would be a cliff. A very dry cliff.

When running at lunchtime I have to factor in the fact I will have all the benefit of shower gel blasted with a hair dryer unless I get back in time to let the shower run for a couple of minutes. Although it’s only a few minutes it does make my run faster so that I know I won’t be returning to my desk unwashed and looking like I’ve been rubbed down by sandpaper. Oh, for a proper shower!

How was it? You may notice, about three quarters of the way round, I suddenly veer north east. I wasn’t lost. I knew where I was going. I just wasn’t going in the right direction to get there… However, it did fit in with the spirit of the run which was to try and explore some new areas around the office and the challenge to try and work out where I was kept me from thinking about whether I was tired. So, top tip, if you want to avoid fatigue, just get lost and you’ll be to busy trying to work out where you are to think of anything else.

31 Day Challenge – Day 12 (Andrew)

As a challenge, I’m going to run, bike or swim every day in January.

Day Twelve

I had a good night’s sleep and still woke sluggish and stiff limbed. I’d thought I would run again today but settled instead on an indoor session on the bike. I would have loved a swim to stretch out but, being back at work, I need to plan any swim with going to my office as I don’t have time to swim and work from home.

How was it? I thought it would be a big of a slog but once I’d warmed up, it was straightforward.

31 Day Challenge – Day 11 (Andrew)

As a challenge, I’m going to run, bike or swim every day in January.

Day Eleven

I was planning to run after work (see yesterday) but good weather trumps good intentions. A flash of blue sky and the promise of a run that didn’t require five layers and a rescue team on standby meant a lunchtime run instead. As I ran, I started thinking about whether a challenge like this should have minimum distances or times each day. I’ve just been running, cycling and swimming the same as I would any other day, without thinking about whether I needed to do more or do less to make 31 days more manageable. At the moment, without thinking about it, I’ve roughly followed a:

Run – 5 miles

Cycle – 45 minutes plus indoors and 1 hour plus outdoors

Swim – 1 km

I’m not sure these should be minimums as they all involve around an hour a day, when including travel to pool or getting changed and showered after running or cycling. For the moment, I’ll just keep doing what I feel each day, but I think I will look at this again at the end and think about whether the challenge is to do something each day for 31 days or whether it is to do a minimum of something instead.

How was it? Great to run in dry conditions and not be jumped on by a ninja shower or have to plough through mud or ice. Right calf was tight towards the end but otherwise I felt fresh.

31 Day Challenge – Day 10 (Andrew)

As a challenge, I’m going to run, bike or swim every day in January.

Day Ten

I have a theory that if I do something first thing in the morning and then wait until evening the next day before doing anything else then that’s the equivalent of a rest day as more than 30 hours pass between activities. I’m not claiming that there is any science behind this theory (because there isn’t) but it does provide a nice cheat to this challenge as I swam first thing and I’m not planning to do anything else until tomorrow night.

How was it? Legs were heavy after yesterday’s eight-mile run and I was a bit lethargic. If I’d waited until later in the day I’d have struggled for motivation but, by swimming first thing before work, I completed today’s challenge before I’d really even thought about it.

31 Day Challenge – Day 9 (Andrew)

As a challenge I’m going to run, bike or swim every day in January.

Day Nine

I had no plan going into this other than I would run, bike or swim every day. I didn’t plan how I would chose what to do, or a routine I would follow. Instead, I would decide day by day what I was doing depending on time, weather and location (work or home). Except that is for today as I’d already booked a place on the Glasgow Triathlon Club’s ‘Rugged Run’ around Chatelherault in Hamilton. That meant today I didn’t have to think about anything. I just went to the run as booked, did it and came home. It required no thinking, not that there’s much thinking in a challenge like this but anything that cuts down the amount of time required is a good thing – like former US President Barack Obama only having two colours of suit and two colours of shirt, so that he didn’t have to think about what he was going to wear. He just picked a suit and a shirt and got on with the important job of deciding whether he was going to run, bike or swim that day (or whatever other much more important things he was doing).

In future, if I was doing a challenge like this again I think I would plan more days in advance rather than do it day by day as I suspect day by day is what for US President Donald Trump would do…

How was it? Mud, mud, glorious mud. The park can get very muddy after heavy rains and with the last few days being particularly wet I almost brought my wellys to run in. I should also have brought ice skates for the car park. Anything but trainers… however a few sticky spots meant a slow run and a gentle end to the week.

31 Day Challenge – Day 8 (Andrew)

As a challenge I’m going to run, bike or swim every day in January.

Day Eight

After yesterday’s slump, today felt much better and was only spoiled by a common problem of running in Glasgow in January: ninja showers. It doesn’t matter if the sky is blue and the forecast is for a draught, in Glasgow, in January a shower can appear out of nowhere. Today was damp so a shower was not completely unexpected, I thought I had timed my run to miss it. However, if dodging showers was a game of Russian roulette then you have to always assume that there are five bullets in the gun instead of one and that chances are you are going to get wet. Why did I not attempt the challenge in June?!? I got soaked.

How was it? Felt strong again.

The Sound of Football: Ayr United (Andrew)

Every fortnight we cover the best and worst football songs from every club in the UK from our book ‘The Sound Of Football: Every Club, Every Song’. You can buy it here

Ayr United

Nickname: The Honest Men

Ground: Somerset Park

Stadium Capacity: 10,185

Song: Back In Black

Before Lionel Messi, there was Jimmy Smith.

World-famous ex-Barcelona striker Lionel Messi holds the record for most goals scored in La Liga. However, less well-known Ayr United striker, Jimmy Smith, has the UK record for most goals scored in a single season. In 1927/1928, he scored 66 times in just 38 games. To put this into perspective, this is more goals in one season than most Ayr United squads have managed in the last 25 years. Two decades of underachievement has meant that Ayr is now a solid if unspectacular side that has found its level in the first and second division. Yet, 25 years ago, the future of the club could have taken a very different path.

In 1988 Edinburgh businessman, David Murray offered to buy the team. Murray was a rugby man, but he wanted to use his wealth to own and run a football club. Controversially his bid was rejected by a vote of Ayr’s shareholders. It was said that the shareholders had been influenced by Ayr United’s then-current manager, Ally McLeod, who had threatened to quit if Murray was successful.

Ally was an Ayr legend. He’d led the club into the First Division and the inaugural Premier League. His side had defeated Rangers in front of Somerset Park’s record crowd, and he’d led the club to the semi-finals of both the League and Scottish Cup. A feat that saw him voted Ayr’s Citizen of the Year in 1973.

But, for most football fans, Ally is remembered for only one thing: Scotland’s ill-fated 1978 World Cup campaign.

Ally was a naturally animated character, so his confidence and enthusiasm proved infectious. After Scotland defeated England 2 – 1 at Wembley in 1977, the nation believed that not only would World Cup success follow, so would the trophy itself. Scotland was going to win the World Cup!

This self-belief was so strong even the official World Cup single, ‘Ally’s Tartan Army,’ sings of the team’s triumph. When Ally was asked what he would do after the World Cup, he said, “retain it.“. The song was just as optimistic. Its chorus sang: “we’ll shake ’em up when we win the World Cup.” Note: it doesn’t say “if” the team won it. Instead, it sang of “when” Scotland would win it.

The tournament was a disaster. An opening draw with Iran followed an opening defeat to Peru. To qualify, Scotland needed to win by at least four goals against its final opponents, Holland, but, despite scoring one of the World Cup’s greatest goals – Archie Gemmell’s celebrated individual strike – they could only win 3 – 2. It was not enough, and Ally’s tournament was over.

By 1985 Ally Macleod was on his third spell as manager of Ayr. His voice carried a lot of weight. When Ally said “no” to David Murray, the shareholders listened and rejected the offer.

After his bid was rejected, David Murray invested in Rangers instead, helping them win nine titles in a row, and coming within one game of the European Cup final.

Ayr, on the other hand, struggled. Ally managed to win the second division title before leaving the club for the last time in 1989, but subsequent managers have not managed to reach the same heights. A recent highlight was reaching the semi-finals of the League Cup in 2012. However, a 1 – 0 defeat to local rivals Kilmarnock and subsequent relegation from the first division later that year meant that the campaign was unsuccessful.

Ayr does have a musical claim to fame. Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro has claimed that it is named after a footballer who played for Ayr United. However, as Somerset Park has never seen a Mr. Biffy Clyro, the band has also claimed they got their name after a Finnish footballer from the 17th century and a Welsh astronaut who had tried to become the first man on the moon, this may be another tall tale. 

Ayr United walk out to ‘Back In Black’ by AC/DC. This is not a reference to its financial position: it’s always been in the red ever since rejecting David Murray.

AC/DC in Argentina

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.