First Run

I’ve had an itch for quite a while. An itch to run. Folk that know me will know I’m not built for running. Always been big and not got a great engine so running is a bit of a challenge. After the hill walks my legs take days to recover and going back to school days, sprints were fine but cross country was awful. Despite all that, I still wanted to give it ago.

I kept putting it off. I was scared…of failure, of running in public. Daft but when you’ve got something like that in your head it can be hard to shake. However, if I want to run a 10k at some point I have to start somewhere so today was the day. Looking at Google maps I planned a straightforward door to door run which would take over 3km. The results are below and in more detail at RunKeeper.

Main snag is that I live on the top of a small hill so whatever I do it will involve a hill of sorts. Kept the pace slow and it was going ok until the incline up Gt Western Road and the climb up Cleveden. I could feel a bit of stich coming on so had to stop. I walked up the hill and ran the last 200 metres. So overall not too bad.

However my legs did feel pretty sore afterwards despite the hill walking, cycling and badminton I do. The impact from running on the road is not to be ignored. The good news though is that I enjoyed the run so the current plan is to do the same route midweek and if that goes well (and assuming my legs feel good tomorrow) then I’ll pay a visit to Achilles Heel and sort out a more appropriate pair of running shoes that will help with the impact on the roads. I may also look into running offroad to help with the impact but baby steps for the moment.

Reason for doing this is twofold. I want to build up a bit more stamina and endurance and also help with the recovery after the hill walks. Secondly, it’s something different and it gets me outside and off the bike (which will still continue). Third (I did say two but who’s counting) is the inkling to run a 10k, maybe before the end of the year. Depends on lot’s of things but it’s good to have a goal when starting these things.

So more posts hopefully soon, even if it is to say my legs are buggered and I can’t go on! One final thing – it’s nice to be using RunKeeper for, you know, running!

Ben Vorlich

Took advantage of a holiday on Good Friday to tackle my third walk. We weren’t sure whether to head further up North but we decided on something closer to home, and something a bit bigger. So we headed to the top of Loch Lomond to tackle Ben Vorlich. This would be my biggest walk so far and also my first munro – Ben Vorlich is 943m, so just over the magic 3000ft mark. It also turned out to be far more difficult than expected.

We started around 9AM and according to the guide books it should have taken around five hours. We took just over seven. Partly this was down to taking plenty stops as it was hard going. Partly it was down to never finding a path up or down Ben Vorlich which made it far more tiring.

Ben Vorlich

The weather started off a bit wet and we couldn’t see the summit due to the low cloud. We could still see snow though at the top. We hoped the low cloud would lift but unfortunately it didn’t so views were limited which is a shame when you look at some of the views we could have got. The ground was very heavy – boggy, muddy and it made most of the trip up quite a slog. Thankfully the rain lifted though and the cloud lifted a bit but as we neared the summit we lost quite a bit of visibility.

Danny in Low Cloud

The other problem with the low visibility was the false hope that we were near the summit. Quite a few times we thought we were nearly there…but we weren’t. However the feeling when we finally got there was great.

Danny, Jim and Ian at Ben Vorlich summit

After finding some shelter from the cold wind and having a well deserved lunch we found and followed a path that should take us west and down. However we lost the path again and after descending quite quickly came to a stop – a ridge with a fairly steep drop. So it was double back time. We ended up cutting across and following the route back down as at least we knew where we had come from. However even then we took a couple of odd routes which added a wee bit to the trek.

Ben Vorlich Runkeeper

Yet again RunKeeper worked really well. It tracked the route apart from the first 1/2 mile which was my fault for not starting the app. Oops. I’ve also just realised that the route can be exported into Google Earth so you can truly see what route you took in stunning 3D. Speaking off Google Earth, this kmz file will load locations and details of all 284 Munros.

This walk taught me a few things. Firstly, the next walk will need a bit more preparation. We didn’t follow the route, didn’t research it enough and made the walk far harder as a result. It would be also wiser to try and organise the walks for clearer days but this isn’t always possible and you just need to make the best of weather sometimes. Just a shame yesterday wasn’t a bit clearer. It also made me appreciate carrying cold weather gear just in case. At ground level yesterday it was quite mild. At the summit it was around zero degree’s and pretty windy.

Fitness is also an issue. It was a hard slog up yesterday but my legs, particularly my thighs, are really sore today. It’s not so much the fitness on the day but my recovery that is poor. Hopefully that improves with further walks through the year.

The aspect I liked most was the isolation. We were the only three on Ben Vorlich yesterday which made it all the more special. It was great to drive for just an hour and spend the day without seeing anyone else. The feeling on reaching the top was also good. A real sense of achievement. Full set of photo’s are now up on Flickr. Hopefully next months walk will have less cloud!


Another Sunday, another hill walk. This time we headed to the Campsies, just North of Glasgow (20 minutes from my house) to take on Dumgoyne. Dumgoyne is a volcanic plug and is 427m high. This was higher than last week and the total walk was also longer.

Dumgoyne Summit

The start was fairly tame and the first two and a half miles had hardly any incline. We started from Strathblane so if you want to cut out the walk to and from Dunboyne start from Glengoyne Distillery. This will save around 4-5 miles of walking. The climb itself was far steeper than last weeks. Lot’s of stops were required on the way up but the views as you ascended were superb.

Dumgoyne Panoramic

The wind picked up as we got near the top but nothing prepared us for the gale that was blowing at the summit. It was unbelievably windy and cold with it! The last couple of walks have really taught me to not underestimate the different conditions you can get as you start to get higher/more remote.

Dumgoyne Summit

While the ascent was tiring, the descent was quick but also very tricky. Lot’s of concentration required and a few tumbles on the way down but we got there in one piece. The full flickr set can be found here. I used Runkeeper again to track the walk and it worked really well.

Dumgoyne Runkeeper

One issue I had last time was battery life. This time I made sure wi-fi and 3G were disabled which helped but I also bought a battery pack to extend the iPhone’s life. The Kensington Battery Pack and Charger gives me 1 and a half extra charges on the iPhone. So instead of a three hour walk being the limit I should be able to get walks of up to 7-8 hours. It’s not the most ergonomic of deigns and isn’t as nice as some of the case models like the Fastmac but I needed one quickly and it will do for now. Some of the user reviews haven’t been the best for the Kensington sighting drop in charge capacity after a few uses – I’ll be sure to update the post if I find similar.

I just love the detail that Runkeeper provides like speed and height change and on the two walks done so far it has been very accurate. Highly recommended. Next walk – not sure. In four weeks time there is talk of a coastal walk which sounds a nice alternative. I may try and get out for a walk in a couple of weeks time though that depends on weather and schedules which aren’t too predictable right now. Feeling tired right now though and I’m sure I’ll be stiff and sore tomorrow but it was definitely worth it. I loved this walk today – might even do it again in the summer on a clearer day.

Cochno Hill and Jaw Reservoir

Today was my first hill walk. It was a walk in the Kilpatricks, Cochno Hill and Jaw Reservoir to be precise. Myself, Danny and Jim set off around 11:30 in drizzly rain and a small breeze. By the time we got to the top of Cochno Hill we had been through strong winds, heavy rain, hail and snow. Nevermind, the sun came out eventually!

Jim and Danny

The route is based on one of the walks in the book Glasgow: 40 Town and Country Walks which is a great little pocket sized book for beginners like me. We set off from Duncombe Avenue (safer parking for the cars) and it wasn’t too long before we were walking up through some fields. The rain started to get a bit heavier at this point and looking further ahead you could see some lying snow. Glad I took Danny’s advice and stuck on my waterproofs.

The ground was pretty muddy around here and on the way up to the first point of interest – Grey Mare’s Tail Waterfall. Wasn’t the biggest but it was nice to see and the first major waypoint on our walk. We kept climbing up to Jaw Reservoir. By this point the wind was really starting to whip up and the rain/sleet/snow/hail was starting to sting my face. The photo doesn’t really do justice but the water was being whipped away from our standing point.

We followed the reservoir round to supposedly reach Cochno Hill summit but we walked off the path and detoured slightly but we got there in the end after quick stop in a little sheltered valley. Time for some hot soup! We walked to the hill summit and by this time the wind was dying down, the rain and snow had passed through and there was the first sign of some sunshine. The views were good but limited due to the weather. We walked over to the northerly side of the hill and got some good shots of each other.

Me with a view

We then starting to head down the east side of Cochno towards Greenside Reservoir. A very slippy and muddy descent meant we took our time – no point doing anything silly at this point. We then followed Loch Humphrey burn, descending all the time back to Duncombe Avenue and our cars. Despite the weather it was fantastic to get out and about. It was a good test of all the gear I’ve picked up. Despite the weather I kept warm and dry. I was pretty surprised at how good the waterproofs were and also the wicking shirts which kept me dry. The shoes were excellent although my heels are a little sore as they haven’t broken in properly yet. The full set of FLickr pics can be found here.


The iPhone also worked well using Runkeeper. It accurately tracked the entire walk. The only thing I have to remember is to pause it when we stop or take a couple of minutes to look at the map. The only snag is the battery life. I had the iPhone fully charged and it was down to under 10% by the time we had finished and that’s was with wi-fi disabled. I’ll be ordering a battery pack which will hopefully arrive in time for next weekends walk which is double the distance. Just need to try and keep it dry – in the paclite jacket condensation was forming in pockets so I’ll need to keep the iPhone and charger in a bag.

I was also surprised at how quickly, on a small hill, the weather changed and drew in. We had maps and one of us has done lot’s of walking but it was an eye opener at just how quickly the weather can change and disorientate you. Next up is Dumgoyne starting at Strathblane. Higher and longer than today…and my legs are aching right now. Can’t wait!

Weight Update

Back in December I posted the last update on my weight loss. I’d lost over two stones and decided it was time to at least post an update, set a target and give me something to aim for. Well, it’s just over 10 months since I started trying to lose some weight and I’ve hit another milestone.

Weight Loss

In total I’ve lost 25.5kg, 56.2 pounds or 4 stones 2 pounds. The fourth stone was a lot more difficult than the others but in truth the biking has calmed down recently so I kind of know why. There’s also been some blips along the way (Christmas, some illnesses etc) but overall there’s a nice shape to the graph above.

So my total weight is now 98.6kg or just over 15 1/2 stones. Another 1.5kg will see me reach my true target, a BMI under 30 which would mean (according to the BMI scale) that I’m no longer obese but overweight. To some reading this that will sound crazy but for me it’s a massive difference to what I was less than a year ago.

What brings it home are things like clothes – some of them are hanging of me now and look really baggy. My waist size has dropped a few sizes and the belts are to big now. The neighbours had their two kids in yesterday and their combined weight is 4.5 stones, just over what I’ve lost. When you see the physical space that they take up and that has disappeared of me over the last 10 months. Well, it made me smile. Reactions from friends and colleagues have also been good, especially those I don’t see often.

I also feel a lot fitter. Two hours of non stop badminton holds no fears, something I couldn’t say last September. On the bike I can now push for a solid hour cycling for just under 19 miles. Some might laugh but it works for me and I’m pretty pleased the way my weight loss and fitness is progressing.

So what next? Well I expect to lose that kilo and a half over the next 3-4 weeks. I thought I would really struggle to hit this target but it’s not been too bad. So I’ll crack on and try to lose another stone by year end. And then? Maintain it!


Almost a year ago I did a quick best of 2006 and also mentioned that I had some goals for the year. Well one of the goals was to lose some weight and I’m pleased to say that I have.

It took until August before I actually did anything when I bought an exercise bike and started playing badminton again. It was hard going at first as it wasn’t just the fact I was obese. I was totally unfit. Really, really unfit. When I think back a few years to when I was at uni I was doing lot’s of sports and I walked everywhere. Fast forward 12 years and there is no sport and almost no walking – everything is done via the car now. From leaving uni to now I reckon I’ve put on around 6-7 stone. When I started exercising in August my weight was 124kg (19.5 stones). My BMI was 38.3. Shocking.

Weight Loss

Over the last four months though I’ve lost 13.4kg (just over 2 stones) and the BMI has dropped to 34.2. I’m really chuffed with the progress so far as it’s not been without hiccups. I had a quick trip to hospital, a really heavy cold (man flu – honest) and I also managed to tear my calf playing badminton in mid October. Despite this the weight loss has been slow but constant but I won’t be stopping there. I first need to work off the Christmas excess as I’m in no doubt that I’ve put on some weight while I’ve been off and away from home. However I’m keen to keep going and see if I can get the BMI away from obese so that I’m just overweight. That would mean getting down to 97kg – another 13kg so I’m halfway there at the moment. A big ask but something I’m pretty confident of achieving. Once I get to that point? Not sure really. Probably a wardrobe shop is required as I’m already noticing that some of my clothes are looking a bit looser than they used to.

At the moment I’ve not changed my diet really. I’ve cut out snacks and also reduced biscuits – my main failing. However my diet as a whole is pretty poor so I’m sure there is a lot to be done with it. As for exercise, I’ll continue with the bike at the current rate and also return to badminton. I’m a bit fearful of badminton as the calf is still not recovered 10 weeks on from the injury but a proper warm up and gentle introduction should see me OK. As for the bike I’m currently doing 50-70 miles a week and I think that is OK. Since the end of August I’ve done 770 miles on the bike burning off 23000 calories. Allegedly.

Apart from that I’m looking forward to a new job next year. Still at the same firm but moving to IT rather than Engineering so should see quite a change in day to day work. I can’t wait. I’ve been stagnating for a while now and I’m hoping the change will work out well.

Apart from that I’m itching to start programming. I’ve a couple of web app’s that I’ve been wanting to do for a while but I’ve never got round to it. It’s also been a long time since I’ve hacked anything together so it will be great to brush up on skills. There also a couple of house projects to get done that I’ve put off for a while.

And that’s it. Happy 2008 to anyone that has the misfortune of reading this blog and getting this far in the post. Hope it turns out well for you.