Swimming and the Coronavirus (Andrew)

This is not medical advice. I am the last person who should be giving medical advice. Except maybe for Doctor Who, who’s neither a medical practitioner or a PHD, just a conman with a phonebox, or Dr Hannibal Lecter, who’d eat you as soon as cure you. So, when I ask, can you still train with the coronavirus, I’m being half serious.

Can you train with the coronavirus? If it was a cold or flu or a broken leg then, for most runners, the answer is “yes, just run it off!”.

Amateur athletes are notorious for training and racing while ill. We assume that any cough or headache or Ebola virus is just a sign that the training is working. Of course, I’m not well, I’ve been training!

But yesterday I went swimming and I thought: “Should I be here?”. Should I be in a swimming pool that’s a coronavirus cocktail of sweat and spit and whatever else has washed off the bodies of a thousands swimmers?

What about the changing room? Do you need a hazmat suit just to change out of my birthday suit in a room filled with perspiring bodybuilders?

Or do you assume that this is no different to any other cold or flu or bug and live life normally until the government says otherwise?

It seems as if many have already started to panic. There are no toilet rolls or pasta on supermarket shelves. Personally, if I was stockpiling for two weeks I’d be stocking up chocolate biscuits and cake. Stuff fusilli pasta, if I’m coughing and hacking, I want a KitKat.

I don’t get the obsession with pasta either. After the virus started in China there were numerous people saying they wouldn’t eat Chinese food. Now the virus is in Italy, we’re eating Spaghetti Bolognese like our lives depended on it (literally).

Not to mention we’re washing our hands for 20 seconds. The Government says you should sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice. I don’t think you need a song though – just wash your hands like you’ve just killed a man and don’t want to get caught. You don’t need soap to clean hands, just pretend you have a guilty conscience.

But if water and soap is effective then all you need to do if you want to swim is pour some liquid soap in the pool. Turn it into a sink. That way 2000 metres will leave you cleaner than an Italian hypochondriac eating Kung Pow Chicken.

And if you’re adding soap then also add conditioner for your hair. I was told by a hairdresser that if you want to avoid damaging hair with chorine then apply some conditioner before you swim. Now, you’re not just training, you’re protecting yourself too. With all the soapy water, you’re immune from the coronavirus.


As I said, I’m not a Doctor, and this is definitely not medical advice.

But if you want proper advice then I’d point you in the direction of the Swim England guidance for swimming in swimming pools, which includes the following quote:

“Water and the chlorine within swimming pools will help to kill the virus. However, visitors to swimming pools are reminded to shower before using the pool, to shower on leaving the pool and to follow the necessary hygiene precautions when visiting public places to help reduce the risk of infection.”

You can read the full guidance here

Rugged Run: Antonine Trail Route (Iain)

This run follows the race route of the Antonine Trail 10K (https://antoninetrailrace.com/). The route passes by Antonine’s Wall. This was the furthest the Romans made it into Scotland. It is also referenced in the book World War Z which is about a zombie apocalypse. The wall was the last line of defence in Great Britain against zombies! I’ve done the route a few times and I’ve not seen any Romans or Zombies…yet.


Starting Point: Croy Car Wash (https://goo.gl/maps/DMs2xoq9yicpi32E7) There is a small space for parking next to it or you could jog up from Croy Train Station.

Distance: 10K

Elevation: 255m


Start at the Roman Shield. It’s on the grass bank next to the car wash.

If that is the size of a Roman Shield then the soldier must have been huge!

Head down the hill towards the canal. Keep an eye out for a Shrine to the Virgin Mary. it was built around a natural spring in the mid 1970s by local residents.

Follow the path onto Croy Hill. I’ve heard other runners call it Mt Cookie but I’ve never found an explanation for why. Please get in touch if you know why.

There’s a few trees on top.

Head down off the hill and cross the road. Follow the path past the fields until you reach the forrest. Stay on the path. Don;t head right up onto Barr Hill. That is the way back.

Eventually you will head downhill through the Forrest.

Run Forrest Run

The run comes out in Twecher. A local told me “only Feckers come from Twecher.” I assume he had a bad expereience there! It seems allright to me.

Follow the road until you spot a turnoff to the right signposted Barrhill Fort.

The roman ruins at the top is what I call “a maybe place.” It is somewhere where all the signs says maybe as in “maybe this was where the soldiers slept” or “maybe this was one of several out buildings” I’d rather the historians just made stuff up as they obviously don’t know. Just write “maybe this was the en-suite bathroom” or “maybe this was the snooker room”

From the ruin keep left and head up to the trig point for a great view of the campsies.

The Top

Head off the trig point down back to the sheep fields. Just before you get to the main road keep an eye out for a left turn. This will take you down to the marina. From here head back up to the top.

Heading off Barrhill

Rating: 10/10

An excellent route. Varied terrain, challenging hills and great views. What more could you ask for?

Outdoor Swim Review: Loch Chon (Iain)

Last year I went to the Scottish Winter Swimming Championship. It was a great event full of nice people and good energy.

I vowed I would do it this year. I trained for it until Xmas and by swimming outdoors regularly I had become comfortable in 8C water.

Since then I’ve not had a chance to swim outdoors (for various reasons – see previous blogs)

The event is this weekend (7th March) so I decided I should test whether I could do it?. The answer was a very clear no! The water temperature was 3.6C. I struggled to get my face in the water. My hands and feet were ok but my body tensed up too much whenever my face got close to the cold water.

It took me 5 minutes to do 100m!

My face didn’ look great after the cold water. I hope this was because of the cold water and that I don’t look this rough all the time!

I realise it would be stupid to do the event. If it takes me that long to do 50m in a wet-suit then I wouldn’t stand a chance without it. I’ll aim for next year instead.

The training hasn’t gone to waste. Previously, I struggled to go in the water when the water temperature dropped below 13C but I can now get in at 3.6C.


Ease of Access: There was plenty of space in the car park and the water was just a 2 minute walk away. (https://goo.gl/maps/gvBbjcmostRTnj9W6)

Water quality: It seemed OK but I’d have to go back in Summer. I didn’t spend long enough swimming to decided whether the water was good or not.

Swim Quality: Baltic! I’m please I went in but I was even more pleased to get out

Other People: It was quiet but a couple of cars were there. Folk were admiring the view of the Loch.

Would I go back: Yes. It looks like a nice pl;ace to swim. I’ll be back!

Night Running (Andrew)

If you say “I’m not lost” then that is a sure sign that you are, in fact, lost. Not that I was lost when I said it. I knew exactly where I was – in a wood, near Elgin, at night, in the dark, surrounded by deer – but I admit I may not have known quite exactly which path to take to get back to Elgin and not end up, hours later in Inverness…

Last week, I decided to try some night time trail running. I was in Elgin and, while there is a lot of nice varied routes to run round, there is one thing missing: hills. Elgin is flat. If you dropped a slinky, it would not slink. Elgin’s completely flat. Run through town, flat. Run through Cooper Park, flat. Run to Maggot Wood (one of my favourite place names as it does make you think how many maggots must there have been to name a whole wood after them), all completely flat.

For a change, I decided to run out of Elgin and try some trails I could see through the hills on Elgin’s western edge. I brought my head torch, found a willing companion who didn’t baulk when I said “fancy going to the dark woods tonight”, and we decided to see if we could find a route through the trees. 

Problem one: we didn’t know where we were going or where any path might start.

Problem two: we didn’t know that everything looks like a path when you only have a head torch to guide you. A flat bit of grass between two trees looks like the start of a patch when you can’t see further than three metres in front of you. 

Problem three: Dear, God, what are those glowing eyes in the woods!!!! Head torches, we discovered, make every deer glancing in your direction and caught in your headlight, look like they’re possessed by the eye of Sauron. 

Problem four: sometime the darkness in front of you is not just darkness but a twenty-metre drop from the side of an old quarry. A good tip, quickly learned, was to only step where you can see the ground in front of you.

Problem five: if you hit an A road, turn back. A roads don’t have pavements and cars racing at 70mph to Inverness pass very close to you if try and venture onto the verge. 

Problem six: if you turn back, remember where you have come from as, when you finally meet three mountain bikers out cycling with powerful beams you don’t have to say “I’m not lost but, do we turn left or right here to get back to Elgin?”.

Apart from that, night running is fun, just remember to keep safe though when out!

Celtman Training – Feb (Iain)

Water Logged Pitch

February is the month everyone looks forward to until it arrives. A bit like your relatives visiting at Xmas. You can’t wait to see them and then you can’t wait to see the back of them.

In January people say “I can’t wait for February”, “It feels so long since I got paid” and “will winter ever end?” Then February arrives and everyone gets a massive high. “YES! I’ve been paid”, “Thank feck January is over” and “At last spring.” The latter is spoken by people who only have a flimsy grasp of the dates of the seasons.

And then after a couple of days of February people realise they have spent all their money on a massive “just got paid” bender, its still cold and dark and winter is most definitely still here. At that point you hear say People “is it not March already?”

This year Febraury has been pretty bleak. Terrible weather and changeable conditions meant planning any outside training was tricky.

My aim for the month was a long run and one long bike ride (indoors) every week. I managed that and I was consistent with my midweek running/swimming and biking. Last month I managed 35 hours of training. This month I managed 34. The month was shorter so I’ll take that as being on track for consistency.

Next Month – I have the John Muir Ultra Marathon at the end of the month. My aim is to run further than I did last year when I conked out at mile 20. I run/walked from mile there to the finish.

Training For Celtman: February (Andrew)

February Goals

More cycling. I’ve been restricted to indoor cycling and I’d like to get at least one 50 mile ride outdoors, weather depending.

Did I achieve it?

In a word: no. But it wasn’t through a lack of effort, more a lack of opportunity as February was, according to the Met Office, the wettest month ever recorded. 

Every weekend we saw a different storm hit the UK. For three of the weekends, we were hit by named storms, including Storm Jorge, who had been named by Spanish weather authorities when it developed in the Atlantic on the basis that it was due to head south and not north. When it started moving towards the UK not even a Brexit passport and an Australian style immigration system could stop this storm exercising its right of free movement. 

I don’t understand why we name storms. In Stornoway, the crofters will name their sheep, but only before they slaughter them. Maybe, it’s similar thought. If it’s going to hurt then you need to make it personal. Let’s name the storm. 

Maybe it’s to make the weather more approachable? Storms sound less dangerous if they are called Kitty (a genuine name from this year’s list). But to that I say: “I don’t want to be friends with the weather!”

It’s also pointless naming the weather when the weather is happening every weekend. In Scotland we already have name for the weather: it’s called Winter and it lasts from September to May.

With Storm Winter brining strong winds, heavy rain, near freezing conditions and even some thundersnow, a 50 mile bike ride was out of the question. I did manage one ride outdoors for 90 minutes in the middle of a dry spell during the first storm but my goal for March will definitely be to ride more outside. Instead, I concentrated on some hillier rides on Zwift including a couple of sessions including the lower slopes of Alpe Du Zwift.

In general, a weaker month than I would have liked but with some business trips, my Dad spending two weeks in Glasgow for medical tests and, generally, February living up to its annual claim to be one of the busiest months of the year at work, I’m pleased to have at least been consistent, if not as long as I would have liked. I did manage my first race and achieved a personal best. I’m taking confidence that my run training must be heading in the right direction.

Also, swimming was weaker this month after I missed two training sessions because of work trips but, as one of the sessions was a 2500 metre session, I was glad to miss out! 

March’s Goals

Keep swimming at least one 2k session a week, keep running at least 10 miles most weekends and ride at least 50 miles outside (weather permitting!).

Board Games (Iain)

I previously wrote about board games here.

Since writing the blog I discovered that one of the guys I play with is a European champion. No wonder he wins all the games we play. It’s like playing five a-side football and discovering the quiet wee chap who scores all the goals is actually Lional Messi.

He is very good at board games – my mate. Not Lional Messi. I’m sure Messi has better things to do than challenge his team mates to a game of Trivial Pursuit.

My mate has a a room in his house dedicated to games. If I had a room in my house devoted to games I’d write “Sex Dungeon” on it because it would be too embarrassing to write “Board Gaming Room.”

He has spent over £1,000 on just one game! Yes – you read that correctly. £1,000 on just on just one game. He will kick himself when he discovers how many copies of Monopoly he could have for that amount.

Over the last few months I’ve learnt there are different types of games:

Co-operative games – which are exactly what they sound like. Games where you co-operate with other players to complete a goal.

Combat games – similarly it does exactly what it says on the tin. Players fight each other.

Area Control – a game where you have to take over and contol parts of the board.

Euro game – A game with a set number of rounds and a strong theme usually involving a board and cards.

Economy Games – encourage players to develop and manage a system of production, distribution, trade, and/or consumption of goods. The games usually simulate a market in some way. They are usually very boring but some people love them!

RPG Games – Games where you play a campaign. Each time you play you progress the story and your character.

I’ll list some examples of games I’ve enjoyed (and the one I didn’t) in a future blog.

Learning to swim outdoors (Andrew)

Coll Beach

One summer, when we were 10, our auntie Margaret hired a caravan on Coll beach, just outside of Stornoway and near our granny’s house. It was a typical Lewis summer. Grey sky. Cold wind. Rain likely. So, perfect weather to go paddling in the sea. We lasted 30 seconds.

I’d brought my trunks to the caravan, wrapped in a towel, of course.  We changed there and ran down to the water’s edge. By the time we got there we’d invented Avatar, 25 years before James Cameron thought of his race of blue skinned people. The water was even colder. 


We ran back to the caravan.

And that was my outdoor swimming experience. One dip. Barely up to waist. And that was it. 

Today, people say it’s invigorating. Soul clearing. But when you’re 10 the only thought you have, when the waves reach your crotch, is “Eeeeeeeek! I can’t feel my balls!

I didn’t venture back to the sea until I was 25. I was on holiday in the United States, I was driving from New York to New Orlean via a book called “Roadside Attraction of America”. Every night I’d decide a different attraction – the house shaped like a shoe, the dinosaur park – and drive there while generally heading to New Orleans. Yes, it was a boy’s trip. What gave it away…?

We’d reached Florida and was staying near the oldest town in the United States, Augustine, which was settled in 1500s then comprehensively rebuilt by to be a Walt Disney version of a historic town. If you like your McDonald driv-thrus to be housed in a replica Spanish villa that looks like it was just built by a Spanish conquistador, then Augustine is the place for you.

We have a motel beside a beach and we decided it would be fun to swim in the sea, despite the fact I’d not swum since school and I didn’t have any trunks or, naturally, any goggles. 

It’ll be okay,” I thought, “I’ll soon get used to it!”, remember my school days in halcyon terms and not the chlorine induced acid eyeball bath they actually were.

Waves were crashing on the shore as I waded out. The water was warm, which was the first shock. Water could be warm? The ocean could be a bath? The second shock was when I ducked under a wave. Salt! What the effing eff was salty water doing to my eye. It was like Tom Cruise had taken my acid eyeball bath and placed it in a mixer with a cheese grater and was recreating his finest tricks and flicks from Cocktail.

Disorientated, eye shut, frantically trying to clear the water from them, I swam out further and further until I thought I should really turn back. Except I couldn’t. 

I couldn’t understand it. The waves were going towards the shore. They were big and powerful and heading in the direction I wanted to go but why, when I swam towards the shore, was I not going forward? 

I tried to swim faster by kicking harder, the only way I knew how to swim faster because my arms were as much good to me when swimming as Douglas Bader’s legs. 

I went backwards.


I thought of shouting, there were some people on shore, when I had another idea. There were surfers up the beach. They were further out but they were making it back in. And the only difference between them and me was that they had a board. So, I should pretend to be a surfboard and I’ll surf back in. Genius.

Next wave. I lay as stiff as I could and kicked forward just a s the crest of the wave passed through me. I did the same again with the next wave, and the next until I reached the shore, thankful and ecstatic that I’d discovered the secret to not drowning. Don’t swim.

So, I didn’t. Not for another 10 years. And during those 10 years I can confirm that I didn’t drown once. 

Rugged Run: Glen Loin Loop

Ben Vane – 2009 Andrew

I used to be member of a Rambler’s club called Glasgow Young Walkers (https://glasgowyoungwalkers.ning.com/)

It was a great way to meet Glasgow folk who were young and liked walking. I wish all clubs did exactly what they said. I’m still scarred by my experience at a Glasgow Naturist Swimming club. I thought they were swimmer who liked being out in nature… I was wrong. It should have been called Avert Thine Eyes When Swimming Behind A Naked Swimmer Doing The Breaststroke Swimming Club.

The Young Walkers club would organise walks most weekends. One trip was a loop of Glen Loin. It was a beautiful route and ever since then I wanted to do it again.

So, last weekend I headed out to run it. It was 10 years since that walk so I was really hoping I could remember the route.


Starting Point: Loch Long Car Park (https://goo.gl/maps/tLTqyVNTqekoBhFN9)

Distance: 11.5 Miles

Elevation: 450m


Park at Loch Long car park. There is a car park charge so bring some loose change. Cross the road and enter the nondescript road beside the bridge.

Follow the road until you spot a turnoff to the right.

Eventually the path will open up and you’ll get great views of the Arrochar hills.

Keep on the path and you’ll eventually come to a crossroads. The road to the right takes you down to the A82 and the Inveruglas Power Station. The road to the left head up to Sloy Dam

Head left towards the dam but there’s a turnoff to the left before you reach it.

Keep on the road and you will eventually spot a very small dam blocking the river.

The turning across the river just before the dam. Keep on the path for a couple of miles until you see the sign heading back to the car park.

Its now an easy downhill/flat jog back to the car.

Head to The Perch Cafe for some food and some great home baking. Although don’t go in hungry. I’ve always had a long wait for the food!


Rating: 8/10

The first half of the route is excellent with beautiful views. The second half isn’t as interesting as it’s mostly in trees with no view.