Category Archives: Iain

Gran Canaria (Iain)

Last week I went on vacation to Gran Canaria. I did some biking, running and swimming.

Some athletes would claim this is winter weather training but why train in the sun when 90% of Scottish races are in the cold and rain?

If I want to race faster I should go somewhere I can train in weather worse than my planned events. Then, on race day, I’d wake up, see the bad weather but be relieved that it’s not as bad as the time I trained in hailstones and a gale in the the Arctic circle.

So last week wasn’t winter weather training, it was a holiday!


Gran Canaria is very hilly! Be prepared for long ascents. The road surface is great because they don’t get frosts that break up the concrete. is a great place to hire a bike.  Although, minutes after receiving one, I accidentally dropped it against a concrete column. I spent the rest of the hire period worried I’d damaged it! Thankfully it was OK.

At home I use a 11-25 cassette. On vacation I used 11-32. What a difference it made to climbing hills. I’ve now ordered an 11-28 for my own bike so that I can change it depending on the event.

Electric bikes are amazing! I set a speed and then started cycling. The bike takes my pedalling speed and then then gives the bike a boost to get the speed up to what I’d set. I wasn’t aware of the boost whilst cycling on the flat but as soon as I reached a hill I could feel it kick in. It meant I could race up hills without breaking a sweat. If you’ve ever worried about getting sweaty biking to work then get an electric bike. You’ll never sweat again!

Spanish roundabouts are lethal! You go round them on the right but cars seem to come onto them at high speed. I found it easier to stop and let the cars clear before crossing when it was empty.

Spanish pedestrian crossings are even worse than roundabouts. They don’t have traffic lights so you step out onto the road and the cars will stop. That’s the theory but in practice I ended up eyeing up the driver hurtling towards me and only starting crossing if they registered they’d seen the fear in my eyes. A number of cars didn’t and failed to stop.

Once I’d left the main town the roads were very quiet and I’d hardly see any cars.


By the end of the week I’d cycled, ran and swam further than any other week this year! So this week I’ve done bugger all. Training is all about balance!

How to get hot and sweaty! (Iain)

Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs credited his long career to afternoons getting into awkward sweaty positions. He claims he was talking about yoga but the super-injunction he raised in the High Court said it was hotel romps with Imogen Thomas.

I too would like to extend my fitness “career” as long as possible. Unfortunately. Imogen Thomas has not replied to any of my tweets, letters, or standing outside her house holding a Boombox playing the song “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”

So, instead I do yoga (occasionally)

I first tried yoga ten years ago. It was in Edinburgh and I signed up for a ten week course. The tutor handed me an A4 bit of paper on the way into the class listing all the positions I’d need. As I attempted each position she would come over and tell me I was doing it wrong. I wasn’t interested in spending 10 weeks getting told I was wrong so I never went back for the other nine lessons.

It was years later that I returned to a class. This time the tutor went through the moves at the front of the class and all I had to do was copy her. There was no A4 paper and no telling me I was wrong.

Since then I’ve tried different teachers/classes with varying levels of success.

One tutor was so hungover he did the whole class leaning on a wall and sitting on a block.

Another tutor got us all to shut our eyes at the end of the lesson and then went round massaging everyone head! At least I hope she did everyone else and not just me! On second thoughts, I also hope it was her and not some phantom head groper who saw an opportunity.

But, the strangest experience was hot yoga. A sessions runs for exactly 90 minutes and consist of a set series of 26 postures (performed twice each). It takes place in a room heated to 40C with a humidity of 40%.

It’s so hot all I needed to wear was a pair of shorts. I stripped off. At this point I got confused as I could see a fat man in the mirror looking at me but I didn’t see him when I turned around. He must have left.

A fellow middle-aged man nods in my direction. If that happened in a pub we might become “mates” or “friends” but here it feels sordid because we’re the only men in a room of scantily clad young student girls. I think I’ve just joined his “ring” and you only ever hear that phrase when men get busted by the police. A hot yoga “ring” was arrested today….

The poses start easily enough. I lie on my back and breathe. Which is so easy I could do it in my sleep. Actually that is how I sleep. As the poses get harder the sweat runs off my body like rats from a sweaty ship. It pools on the floor all around me.

Is everyone else this sweaty? The instructor says we can finish with some more lying down exercises but this time face down. I have to lie down and put my face into a pool of my own sweat. If he was an interrogator and this was a torture scenario then I would confess anything.

At the end of the class I lie in darkness and contemplate what I have just achieved. The instructor said take as long as I need. It takes me two seconds to think – if I leave now then I’ll get into the showers before anyone else. I’m away and out before you can say “Sa Ta Na Ma Shanti

Alloa Half Marathon (Iain)

I mostly travel on canal paths whilst biking to work. Now that the the weather is getting better more people are using the paths. Where were you all in the depths of winter? Probably nice and warm indoors , rather than biking in the freezing cold like this idiot!

I have a bell to warn people of my impending passing but, one time, I biked round a corner and a women was in front of me. I politely said, “Sorry, excuse me,” as I thought the bell would be too loud as I was very near her. She told me to “F**K off!”

The lesson here is people can be twats no matter how polite I try to be.

I was reminded of this yesterday when taking part in the Alloa Half marathon.

Just after the start I had to pass a blind runner. They were attached to a sighted runner. They were going slower than me so I passed them on the right hand side. As I passed they shouted angrily “PASS ON THE LEFT!!!!”

I immediately wondered whether I had done something wrong. Is there an etiquette for passing people? Is there an etiquette for passing blind people? There was plenty of room to pass on the right…

I’ve asked around and the consensus is that you can pass on either side as long as your polite about it and don’t get in the way.

The lesson I’ve learnt is that even blind people can be twats.

Other than that the race was enjoyable. The weather was beautiful with hardly any wind. It can be a tough course if a westerly wind blows due to a five mile east to west section.

I was four minutes faster than last week’s race (when I ran with Andrew)

Andrew wasn’t taking part this week so this proves his boring chat has a drag effect of 20s per mile!


Buy cheap. Buy twice. (Iain)

There’s a stereotype that girls love shoes. I’d argue that men have an equal passion for protecting our feet but our collection of foot warmers is much less glamorous.

Here’s what I own:

Mountain Bike Shoes, Road Bike Shoes, Running Shoes (work), Running Shoes (home), Running shoes (old pair), Squash shoes, Golf Shoes, Hiking Boots, Work Shoes, Summer Shoes (x2), Smart Shoes (x 2), Sandals, Crocs and a pair of slippers.

If I ever appear on hit BBC2 programme Dragon’s Den it would be to flog a shoe that does everything. The top part of the shoe would be normal, but the sole can be screwed off so it can be changed to a different sole. I’d then screw on a golf sole or a squash sole or a… you get the idea.

I suspect Duncan Bannatyne would say “I’m ooooooot!!!”

Why all the shoe talk?

This week I ran the Balloch to Clydebank half marathon. See Andrew’s post for a more detailed view of the race.

I wore a pair of Asics trainers. They’re the second pair of Asics I’ve ever owned. I hated the first pair, they were very uncomfy.

That didn’t stop me from buying a second pair. My principle of buying running shoes isn’t how good they are but how much of a discount I get on a sale.

This new pair were very cheap (60%off!)

By the end of the race my right foot was very sore. I won’t buy a pair of Asics’s ever again!

  • Iain goes to shoe shop
  • Iain spots trainer with 80% of marked price
  • Its a pair of  Asics
  • Iain buys them!

Hey. Don’t judge me. It was 80% off. That’s a bargain!

What’s the point of a plan?

This is an interesting perspective on training.

I think it mainly applies to people who are already quite fit but I do agree with some of the points.

  1. No brick sessions. I never do them. I know I’m tired after biking so training isn’t going to change that. Some people claim “It helps you train your body to move after the bike” What do you think I do after biking? Lie in my bed for the rest of the day? I’ll walk, have other commitments and continue with the rest of my day so I think my body gets plenty of practice of moving after biking without a brick session.
  2. Shorter distance exercises when training for long distance. When training for the Iron man swim I swam mostly 1.5KM  (30min) a day. I rarely if ever swam an hour and less often for more than an hour BUT I did swim allot (3/4 times a week) so my weekly swim distance was the equivalent of two long sessions. I swam the iron man swim in a good time and I didn’t feel tired.
  3.  1 long bike ride and 1 long run a week. I think this is essential part of training. I’m not too bothered by what I do during the week (as long as I bike commute to work and get a couple of runs in) but I like to get these two sessions done.

The key message is don’t follow a plan for the sake of following a plan. Question everything you do and then alter it so it fits into the way you work/think.

PS – this week I didn’t manage to get a long run in but I did climb a hill instead. Even the best laid plans can be thrown out. Never be a slave to a plan!



Should I speed up or slow down?

I ran towards a cross road. My plan was to reach it and turn left back along a path towards home BUT coming from the right path was a group of 6 runners.

We were going to reach the crossroad at the same time.

At this point I had to decide:

a) Do I speed up and get to the crossroad first? The problem was that there’s a mile until the next opportunity to change direction. I’d have to keep ahead of them for all that time. I’m competitive about most things so there was no way I’d let them overtake me!

B) Do I slow down and let them go ahead and therefore avoid the shame of getting overtaken?

I quickly sized them up. They all had good gear on, they looked to be running within themselves. I decided it was safer just to drop in behind them.

I soon realised the problem this presented. As I ran for a mile about 10 metres behind the group we passed a number of dog walkers. Each walker looked at me with pity! They assumed I had been dropped by the group and was trying to catch up!!!

I wanted to shout at each of them

“I’m not with them!”

Instead I dropped off from behind them as soon as another path appeared.


Kirkintilloch 12.5KM – 14th February – 01:03:01 (Iain)

“C’MON IAIN!! You can kick this blog’s ass!”

“Iain! You’re an amazing blogger!”

“Don’t let yourself down Iain!”

If, whilst writing,  I said those things out loud most people would consider me a weirdo. Especially if I was in a room full of other people.

Yesterday I did the Kirkintilloch 12.5KM race. I’ve done the 10K race previously so I assumed it would be the same but with 2.5KM added on. I was wrong. This meant that

a) I expected to start at a primary school. I didn’t realise there was more than one in Kirkintilloch. The races don’t start at the same one. I did wonder why the first school I drove too was very quiet.

b) I expected a flat fast course but it was hilly and slow.

c) I expected a selection of cakes and biscuits at the end of the race as that what I received last time. Instead I got a banana! I was looking forward to cake.

The weather was cold but sunny. There was a number of patches of Ice on the route so I had to be careful on some downhill sections. I had no expectations for the race so treated it as training jog. I therefore chatted to Andrew for the first 10K. When we got to a hill I heard him breathing heavily. I decided to make a break for the win. I picked the correct moment as he didn’t have the legs to keep up the pace  and I was able to hold him off until the finish.

He beat me last time so I was determined to get a win here!

During the last 2.5Km I ran next to a guy called Steve. I know that’s his name because he kept talking to himself.

“”C’MON STEVE!! You can kick this course’s ass!”

“STEVE! You’re an amazing runner!”

You get the idea! This would be fine if he wasn’t wearing headphones!

it didn’t seem to help his performance as he conked out on a hill towards the end. Maybe if he’d spent less energy shouting at himself he’d have had some left to finish the race.

So if you feel like talking to yourself whilst running amongst strangers at least take your headphones out. Its only polite. You wouldn’t keep them in if someone else was trying to talk to you! So treat yourself with the same respect 🙂


With the correct technique you can tackle anyone (Iain)

“With the correct technique you can tackle anyone!”

This was the last thing a rugby coach told me before I tackled a guy twice my size and weight. I bounced off him, hit my head on the ground and ended up with concussion. I never played rugby ever again and it left me with a lifelong distrust of coach’s!

Sidenote: Afterwards Andrew told me that people with concussion die eight hours after it occurs. I stayed up late that night watching the clock tick down to my impending death! Jools Holland was on TV and I my “death” was going to occur half way through the show which really annoyed me as the band I liked was due to play last!

The coach was correct, I could tackle anyone but he forgot to mention that sometimes I will fail no matter how good my technique is.

When doing events I look back at this and thank the coach for unintentionally giving my a good perspective on events and challenges. Yes, I can train hard, yes I can have the right technique but that doesn’t mean I’ll succeed.

Years ago, I climbed Kilimanjaro…actually I got 9/10ths of the way up. I stopped as I’d had enough. I’d reached my summit! When people asked afterwards whether I was disappointed not to get to the top I’d reply:

“No, the walk up was a boring queue of people trudging up a path but when I went down by myself it was amazing! I had the whole mountain to myself and got excellent views of the sun rising over africa.”

So the lesson is – I don’t worry about whether I succeed or fail. I just worry about whether I enjoyed trying because sometimes failing offers up much better experiences!

Feb 5th – Who’s that weirdo? (Iain)

“Have you seen that weirdo who comes in and reads a paper whilst sitting on a bike?”

I was listening to a personal trainer at my gym speak to another.

“Oh yeah. He comes in at lunchtime and sits there pedalling and reading! Does he not know a gym is for training?” Replied the other.

Unfortunately, I’m the weirdo who would reads a paper!

It happened when I worked in Edinburgh. The highlight of my working day was to pop out at lunchtime to the gym but rather than sit bored on an exercise bike staring at a wall I’d read the complimentary Daily Mail that the gym provided.

It helped to pass the time during a very boring working day.

The other reason why I did it – I was training for a marathon and would run in the evening so I didn’t want to kill my legs at lunchtime.

So I’m not a weirdo. I’m just making the best use of my time by learning and exercising.

Which leads me to the reason I write this. The strangest things I’ve seen in the gym

  • Today, I jogged next to a women who was wearing a big grey hoody jumper with the hoody up. Which is OK if you’re outside and its cold but we’re inside on a running machine in a very warm gym!
  • A man sitting naked cross-legged on a bench cutting his toenails. Not a care in the world as his nails ping’d this way and that!
  • A man doing ballet on gym mats. It would have been beautiful and graceful if he wasn’t wearing a see through leotard. The gym made him get changed
  • A man singing Cher’s hit song “Believe” a the top of his voice as he did his weights. For a big guy he could really hit the high notes well!
  • A squad of cheerleaders working out….actually that one was pretty good.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen?





Jan 24 – Nigel Barge 10k (Iain)


How long after getting a new pair of trainers do I wait before I wear them in the rain?

I delay as much as possible. My new pair will initially be used only in the gym, then they might be used on a nice day whilst running on on cocrete before finally, 3 months later, being used offroad.

Which is why Nigel Barge 10 was a dilema for most runners. It rained heavily the night before and part of the course had puddles so big I couldn’t jump over them. Do I sacrcifice time or the cleanlieness of my trainers?

I decided to run straight through the first puddle. The fear of getting wet and dirty is much worse than actually getting wet and dirty. After that I ran happily through every pddle and muddy path. My trainers now look terrible but at least i don’t feel like I cheated my performace on the run. On a side note – why do trainers never look as good as before a run no matter how many times I put them in the washing machine?

The race itself was two hilly laps of a course that won’t win any prizes for scenery. It was twice past the rubbish dump, a car wash and an industrial estate. Andrew beat me which was surprise as I can’t remember the last time he beat me!

We’d both done a 90 minute bike ride the day before. He’d gone outdoors on a course where half of it is downhill. I’d done a spin class and a stationary bike. I think the running result proves my 90 minutes were harder than his. After all, it can’t be because he was better than me. Can it?

The fourth discipline of triathalon is lying. Lying to ourselves about results and lying to ourselves about training. Of course I ran 10km even though my watch said it was only 9.8km and of course Andrew beat me because I trained harder than him…