26th March 1980 (same day as The Boy but a good bit wiser)
When did you start running?
Unlike Jack I am a relative running novice. Like most people I’d done the odd 5k / 10k having been inspired by a former colleague, fairly decent runner, and former Olympian Lynne Macdougall at Glasgow University. However, it wasn’t until my 30th birthday in 2010 that I started running consistently when I secured a charity slot in the London Marathon. This had been a long-term ambition of mine and I really enjoyed the experience and discipline of training, eating healthier and the rapid gains that came during this early phase.
Prior to this I played a lot of team sport but probably hadn’t been as fit as I should have been during my 20s. Although I would say I have been running for about 5 years the first couple included several running sabbaticals after my goal races were over. I definitely have the running bug now and I run, and race, consistently throughout the year having two good winters of training under my belt.
What is your favourite distance?
I’d have to say 10k or the Half Marathon. As I refuse to warm up a 5k generally catches me short as it takes me a good couple of miles to get into my rhythm. I’ve enjoyed my marathons but frustratingly I haven’t been able to achieve my potential yet at this distance.
10ks and Half Marathons provide the ideal balance of challenge and recovery. They are over relatively quickly and give a great opportunity to chase PBs on a more regular basis than the longer distance. Both distances allow me to race and vie for position which is something I am coming to enjoy more and more.
What is your favourite race?
This is a tough one. I love any race which has a turnout of normal runners. Although I enjoy watching elite level sport one of the things I love about running is that elite and normal runners toe the start line in the same events. There is something inspirational about people running for charity and seeing people of all shapes and sizes, ages and backgrounds coming together.
Racing is terrifying and exhilarating in equal measure and I genuinely still arrive at most races expecting to be the slowest person there. But I have found the sport to be incredibly inclusive, encouraging, friendly and thankfully relatively short on arrogance and egos.
So back to the question. London has a special place in my heart as it was my first marathon. The build up, the atmosphere, the elites, the celebrities and the sights make it a really special event which is hard to beat. But my last experience was brutal with an 8 mile walk to the finish line as the wheels came off in Canary Wharf. Having 1,000s of people encourage you is a truly humbling experience though and I have been proud to wear the Oxfam vest on 3 occassions at this event.
The Great Scottish Run in Glasgow is also great. I love running over The Kingston Bridge and seeing the city from a perspective you’d not otherwise enjoy. I love the buzz of seeing the streets packed full of spectators. For similar reasons the Southside Six is another great race. The depth of field in this event was amazing and the distance provided a really new challenge between the much faster paced half and full marathon events.
But if I could only run one race again it would have to be Mok Run, a half marathon in Campbeltown. This event offers it all; a great course in a spectacular rural setting, friendly and supportive marshals, people achieving personal bests and firsts throughout the field and a cracking weekend of events including a ceilidh on the Sunday evening. A great way to spend a bank holiday with like minded people and I’ve been lucky enough to secure a gold dust entry into the race in the last two years.
What would be your dream race?
To take part in a marathon in Glasgow would be amazing. I thought the Commonwealth course worked well although psychologically I don’t think I could cope with two laps (or Jack lapping me J) so perhaps a single lap course that took in some of the best sights including our amazing parks.
Although I love road races my preference is definitely to run off the road. Somehow I’ve ended up in a lot of hill races as a result of this but my dream race would be an undulating trail race. I love getting out the city and the freedom and peace trail running affords. Working up hill (providing it is runnable and not too long) is worth it for the incredible adrenaline rush to be gained in picking up speed on a down hill section. The ground is also more forgiving than running full time on the road.
A dream route for me would be a trail event in and around my hometown of Dunoon. The trails above the town and around Loch Eck are stunning and I enjoy getting out with old and new friends when I am visiting family.
What is your favourite parkrun?
Jack and I have been on a bit of a tour of Scottish Park Runs but I am always amazed at how few Park Runs I have actually done given the amount I bang on about it to other people. I love the whole concept of Park Runs and started at Pollok before moving to a more regular run at Victoria. It is great to see more and more events popping up all over the place and I am full of appreciation for those who dedicate their time to putting on the events and providing a great platform for beginners to get into running. The best thing for me about Park Run is its accessibility and I love the fact that several colleagues and friends have taken the plunge after telling them about it.
As for my favourite course I’d love to say Tollcross was my favourite as I was given a slice of cake on finishing the race but the hills count this one out for me. The best would be between Eglington or Falkirk though as both include trail sections in stunning settings with stretches of softer underfoot / trail conditions.
What is your favourite thing about running with Kenny/Jack?
Jack is an incredibly humble runner who doesn’t realise how good he actually is. He should be lording it up at the front of the pack before the gun goes off but he always makes time to chat and hangs about (sometimes for quite a while) to see how I have got on at the end of races. He doesn’t mind training with me despite the fact I am a much slower runner than him and he embraces the mental ideas for runs that we come up with despite the fact his coach regularly tells him these probably set his training back.
Since he’s said what annoys him most about me I’ll do the same. His running shorts really are ridiculously short (see some of the pictures on this site) and he should really be wearing a short made of material a little sturdier than crepe paper.
What are your favourite training shoes?
When I started running I got some great advice from my then local running shop – Achilles Heel on Great Western Road. They really do provide a great service and take time to understand your ambitions and goals each time I go in. Katie has given me some great advice and encouraged me to join a running club when I was first getting into running. I always get a great deal too as I am not precious about running in the most up to date model or colour. Recently I’ve moved to the South Side and it’s been great to see a Run4It shop open in the area. I got a cracking deal in their flash sale recently and they’ve done a lot to equip the Dunoon Hill Runners by travelling to the town and offering a face-to-face service in the town.
I currently own 5 pairs of running shoes which is ridiculous given the level I run at but I am a sucker for a new purchase. I have road shoes, racers, road to trail shoes, trail shoes and fell running shoes.
What shoes do you race in?
For training I run in Brooks Adrenaline GTS as they were relatively cheap (I invariably pick up the last pair in my size of whatever model is left from last year’s stock) and provide the support I require. I had previously trained in Nikes but to be honest getting a good shoe at a decent price is probably more important to me than sticking to one brand.
My favourite shoe at the moment. These are my first proper racing shoes – Nike Zoom Fly Racers. They are much lighter than my other shoes but still offer a good deal of support. I feel light on my feet in these guys and they’ve been the shoes on my feet for each of my PBs.
What is your favourite song to run to?
Biffy Clyro are probably the only band I listen to when I run although I don’t tend to run with headphones in as most of my running is now with other people. Like Jack I am addicted to Marathon Talk and if I had to choose I would probably opt for a podcast over music.
What is your ultimate pre-race meal?
Eh, I am going to really show the difference between Jack and I in this answer. I run so that I can eat the foods I like. I realise the importance of carbs and part of the reason for my shambolic positive split in London in 2014 was the fact that I’d listened to a podcast the week before about running on fats – I had stupidly ignored the bit that said it could take several years for your body to adapt. However I don’t tend to think much about what I am eating before a 10k or Half and I regularly finish runs with a cooked breakfast or french toast in the North Star café in my sweaty gear.
My diet really needs some work and I do over-rely on processed foods too much. However I can’t imagine getting up 5 hours before a run to eat. For my other marathons my pre-race fuelling strategy has been fairly predictable, pasta on the Saturday night and porridge with banana the morning of the race.
Up until June 2015 I was running with the Westerlands Cross Country Club in Glasgow. I had been training with them on a Monday night on and off for about two years. They have some cracking midweek training runs although I don’t tend to get to as many as I would like. I have been to two or three hill races on Wednesdays although I am definitely not an uphill fan. The Westies are a massive club full of some unbelievable runners who would not look out of place at the front of the pack on many of the UKs top road races. As a Geography teacher I can’t help but admire the knowledge many of the Westie’s have of Scotland’s landscape.
In the last few months Jack has persuaded me to join Bellahouston Harriers. I’ve enjoyed adding a greater level of consistency to my training and making new friends on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
More importantly I am club secretary of the booming Dunoon Hill Runners and I really enjoy reading and hearing about the various exploits of the members. They have a strange fascination with Ultras and I am in awe of their adventures. I love running around Dunoon and am proud of the very small part I have played in the club’s rapid growth since inception in 2013. Some of my favourite running memories have been simple training runs with The Dunoon Hill Runners – like the time we ran 14 miles in awful conditions and returned to the car to find Ian had dropped his keys out on the route. After retracing our steps we returned furlong only to find his keys in the lock of his door 🙂
Update 2016 – Jack and I launch TheRunbetweeners running club. Watch this space.
Why I love running?
Watching normal people finish the marathon reminds me of the power of running. It is such an imitational experience and I am in complete awe of everyone who has this to their name as I know how tough a discipline it is. I have seen runners sacrifice their own race to support others (both on the course and in the crowds) and I am amazed at the levels of encouragement and interest shown by runners to one another. I love the places running has taken me and the people I have met and befriended as a result.
I am sounding very cheesy now so I’ll also say that I love being able to gorge on junk food after a long run on a Sunday after a long run without feeling guilty.
Dunoon Hill Runners (www.dunoonhillrunners.org.uk)
Westerlands Cross Country Club (www.westerlandsccc.co.uk)
Bellahouston Harriers (www.bellahoustonharriers.co.uk)
5km – 18:30 (Linwood parkrun – 4th November 2017)
10km – 39:08 (Brian Goodwin – June 2017)
10Miles – 63:30 (Tom Scott – 2017)
1/2 Marathon – 1:24:40 (Great Scottish Run – October 2017)
Marathon – 3:22:30 (London Marathon – April 2017)