The 5.30am club

When the alarm went off this morning at 5.30am, I’ll admit that for a fleeting second I thought about switching it off & going back to sleep. But this training isn’t going to do it on its’ own, I need to be involved! So up I got.

Today’s session was 4 x 8 minutes at threshold heart rate – that’s 152-159 beats per minute (bpm) – with 90 second recoveries. It’s one of those sessions that’s hard (especially as you go out the door at 5:45am) but on this side of do-able. The first interval is always the hardest as your body adapts to the shock you’re inflicting, even after a good warm-up. For me this session means running at approx. 7:00/mile, so it’s hard work but you know you can do it, so you grind through.

Today’s stats: –

7.9 miles; ave pace 8:13/mi; ave HR 143 bpm

Recovery day tomorrow ūüôā

The 5.30am club

A wee bit of ‘cross

I went out on my ‘cross bike for a recovery ride this morning, just 90 minutes around the local lanes and dirt paths. I love getting off road and really enjoyed racing ‘cross back in the winter of 2013. 

As I was out this morning it occurred to me that my last big race of the year, the Aviemore half marathon, is on 11th October, which is roughly when the ‘cross season will be starting here in Scotland. Racing ‘cross would be a great way to round off the year, switch off from running for a wee bit, and recharge whilst keeping up the base of fitness that I’ve built this year.

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll see me back racing a bike before the year is out…..

A wee bit of ‘cross

A change of sporting direction…

Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve written on here. Need to get better at doing this, and after listening to Lauren Fleshman on the Marathon Talk podcast last week I’ve decided to start writing about my running journey.

As many of you will know, I’ve raced my bike for the best part of the last decade. My last race was the Haughcross summer cyclocross race in August 14. I felt empty that day and didn’t have any enthusiasm to keep racing. I started training for the winter season, which involves doing a bit of running and just kept on going!

I’d run a bit before, back in 2011 after I broke my collarbone, but stopped when my shin splints returned with a vengeance. So this was a risky thing to do but what the hell. And so I stopped training to race a bike and started running.

That was October 2014, and since then I’ve done a few 5k races, a handful of Parkruns, a couple of 10k’s, a 10 mile race, and the Edinburgh half marathon! And the best bit? No sore legs!

I’ll write more soon about the training that I’m doing, the kit that I’m using, and the races that I have coming up, but for now I just wanted to get back writing. So to finish, here’s a picture of me racing. Adios for now!

Brig Bash 5 mile race, 1st July 2015
Brig Bash 5 mile race, 1st July 2015
A change of sporting direction…

What is the Enterprise #pop-up?

We’re holding the first Enterprise Pop-up at The University of Dundee on 2nd April and the tickets have been going like hot-cakes. But what is it exactly and how will it work?

The format for the pop-up is based loosely on the monthly ‘Jelly’ that @michjbarclay and I used to hold in our Creative Space in Aberdeen. And that means there isn’t much of a format at all! 

It’s a drop-in session, between 5&9pm, in the EduZone in the main Library. It’s a cool space as you can see from the pictures below.  So by drop in session, we mean that people are able to pitch up at any point in the evening, bring their ideas, their laptops & tablets, work on their ideas alongside like-minded people, and have some ‘experts’ and mentors in the room to bounce stuff off. We may put some tunes on, or you may want to work with headphones on. It’s entirely up to you.

What it’s not, is a structured, programmed evening, so don’t expect to turn up and be given tasks or work to do. You are the consumers but also the creators of the event.

At 7pm we’ll have a workshop on sales with Sandy McCurdy. Sales is where most businesses fall down, so Sandy will share tips and ideas, as well as answer your questions. It will be an interactive, high energy and fun session.

We’ll have coffee & pastries to keep us going, but the reality is that you, the participants and co-creators of the event, will create the real energy.

It’s something new, it’s something different, and it should be fun. 


What is the Enterprise #pop-up?

People make Glasgow….

I spent a fascinating day in Glasgow on Friday as a guest of David Capaldi, co-founder of Opinurate. David’s company is based at the Hub at pacific Quay, a thriving creative digital hub on the banks of the Clyde next to the BBC & the Science Centre.

As well as hearing about David’s story I was also introduced to a handful of other tech-startups including Swarm Online, an innovative software development company and my1login¬†– whose cloud-based solution securely stores all of your passwords.

Each of these startups had an interesting story to tell & what came across loud & clear was the passion that each of the founders have for their business and the problems that they’re trying to solve. It was also fascinating to hear of the support that they had received from agencies such as Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise & E-Spark.¬†

I was also lucky enough to meet the guys from DEG Рa city council funded Accelerator program, with incubators in a number of colleges & universities across Glasgow as well as the one they have at the Hub. 

What struck me was that Glasgow has a thriving startup culture and eco-system that includes access to investment funds – several of the startups I met had gone through at least a couple of funding rounds. This collaborative, supportive, environment¬†gives¬†these companies the best chance to flourish. Something we need to consider for Dundee….

People make Glasgow….

So the season has started….


It’s been great to get the season started – my first ‘proper’ race season since 2010.

After a solid winter of racing ‘cross and then slowly building up, the training camp in Lanzarote was a welcome break from the cold. After we got back, I continued to train well and before I knew it it was time for my first race – the Ythan APR.

What I hadn’t realised when I entered the race was that this was the weekend the clocks changed, so I found myself getting up at 4.45am to get ready, have breakfast & then drive up to Ellon. The things we do for our sport! It was a really cold day and despite doing a good warm up on the turbo by the time we set off my legs were like blocks of ice. To make matters worse, I’d decide to #MTFU and ride in shorts, albeit with some of Jon McComisky’s magic Soigneur embro on my pins. It took me the best part of a lap to get any feeling in my legs, during which time we’d had to make our first climb of the brutal Raxton hill – not long but a killer 14%. Our group split to pieces on this climb & I found myself in a small group riding through & off into the headwind. We quickly caught a bigger group and this group worked well together before we were caught at Raxton on the last lap by the scratch group. The pace went up as we tried to catch the two groups that were still up the road, but sadly our chase was in vain and we rolled in some 51 seconds behind the winner.¬†

Two weeks later, and after a good few of Gaz’s “Full Gas” sessions, it was time for my next race and my first proper road race since 2009 – the Nick Hardy Memorial race at nearby Monikie. This was now a Cat 3/4 race after the recent changes in race structures and was a full field of 80 riders from all over Scotland. Again, I had a good warm-up on the turbo and made sure I was at the front of the bunch as we rolled out of Monikie. Within a couple of miles the pace in the peloton jumped up as the Deeside guys went to the front. I found myself quickly on the back foot, and once again my cold legs refused to do any hard work or put out decent power and before I knew it I was sliding out the back door. Within 5 miles the bunch had been smashed to pieces – a combination of the pace and the strong cross / head winds that we endured for most of the race. I put my head down and caught a few riders, quickly establishing what was to become the Grupetto! Five of us worked well together, riding in a neat echelon in the sidewinds and taking short turns in the headwinds. We rolled in 20 mins behind the winner with our tails between our legs, but we had worked hard as a small group – my average HR of almost 160 for 2 hours 35 mins of racing was proof of that!

It’s been a hard re-introduction to racing and without a doubt there are some strong Cat 3’s out there that mean many races will split this season. The key is going to be making sure I stay near the front of the bunch and to do that my legs are going to have to respond right from the start and not wait for 10 miles before deciding to work. As always I’m taking the positives and looking forward to the next race in a fortnight’s time. In the meantime it’s time to up the effort levels in training and really push myself beyond the red zone. I started this with last night’s session and after a recovery ride this evening I’m doing the Deeside chaingang in Aberdeen tomorrow night. That should certainly be a hard shift if Sunday is anything to go by!


So the season has started….

Building up nicely

cropped-20140207-111554.jpgI can’t believe that it’s now four weeks since we were in Lanzarote at training camp! After a few days of rest & recovery, it was back onto the training plan and Gary was increasing the intensity. Before Lanza it had been a block of tempo work, and most of the sessions I did out there were at tempo too. ¬†This next block, however, we’d be moving onto threshold work.

Threshold is essentially eyeballs-out, full-gas, race pace. This was going to hurt, as other than a couple of efforts up Fire Mountain in the sun & heat of Lanzarote, I hadn’t done anything like this since my last cross race in November.

Over the next three weeks, we’d build up from 4 x 12 minute intervals, to the final week (ending this weekend) where I’ve got 1x13min, 1x15min, 1x17min & 1x20min to look forward to this afternoon! I’m doing these efforts twice a week – one on a Tuesday on the turbo & then on the road on a Saturday.

The turbo sessions are amongst the hardest thing I’ve ever done on a bike, they are just horrible. There’s no change in elevation, no corners, no tailwind or headwind, none of the chances you get on the road for micro-recovery, a chance to re-group and get back on it. Nope, on the turbo it’s just one long intense effort. Absolutely brutal.

It’s no surprise that the numbers I produce on the road are always better than on the turbo, it just feels more ‘real’. Like Mark Cavendish (the only thing I have in common with him!), I find it hard to replicate the effort on a static bike that I can produce on the road.

But one of my mantras is ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, and that’s the mindset I’ve taken to these intervals. Coupled with the gym sessions that I’m doing this block, I can feel it all working, my strength growing and my form building.

Tomorrow brings a 4.5 hour ride, with 90 mins of tempo and also the end of this block and a week of recovery. It’s also four weeks to my first race, the Ythan APR on Sunday 30th March. I can feel myself getting more and more excited about racing with every passing week, something I never expected to feel, or be doing, again. But having made a few major changes in my life for the positive over the past six months, I have a renewed energy and passion for racing my bike.

Let’s see what this season brings.

Building up nicely