Angus MacPhail is back on track with his training

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The rigours of running – part two

As promised in an article of early February, the following is an update on the rigours of readying myself for the Tiree half-marathon that Andrew and I promised to complete on April 29.

Since I stopped fishing in 2004, I have not given my body any prolonged periods of cardiovascular exercise and, since then, except for some short bursts of activity in Highland Games events, physical activity has been very limited.

So an uphill struggle was expected.

The human body, however, is an amazingly adaptable piece of kit and, while there have been a few set-backs, things are looking positive for the prospect of being able to finish without resorting to jumping on Andrew for a piggy-back.

I got off to a good start with the training in January but then did hardly a thing from mid-February till the end of March. The usual range of common, self-inflicted excuses were apparent. The combination of CD recording, stag weekend distractions and a muscle in my upper thigh complaining, accumulatively gave just enough credence to the inner lazy voice telling me to take it easy and that ‘there’s plenty time’.

But the vigorous healthy and proactive, pain-in-the-tòn fitness conscious voice sprung into action again a few weeks ago and I am back training.

A chance meeting with a great lady in the Fort William Morrisons has also been a great help in getting motivation going again.

Kathleen MacPherson, nee Connachie, was the first woman to run the Ben Race and a few weeks ago as I was trawling the shelves for fruit and veg, she struck up a conversation with me, initially about Gary Innes and Take the Floor. We moved on to her famous ascent of Ben Nevis and she regaled me in acute detail of how her pioneering race came about and of the events of the day itself.

Considering this was more than 60 years ago, her retelling was incredible and her delivery was as passionate as if her feat of athleticism had taken place last week. Compared to running up Ben Nevis with nothing more than a few weeks’ training, toddling a few miles along the flat sands and roads of Tiree is an easy task.

The mind is a strange and wonderful thing and how it interacts with the body is very interesting. On the last few training runs I’ve been on, when I have been feeling I really need to stop for a rest, a brief thought of having to run up Ben Nevis instantly gives extra energy and being aware of the relative ease of running on a flat surface gives immediate extra stamina. Thank you, Mrs MacPherson.

The concept of using comparison in any difficult or stressful situation is a useful tool to getting through times of perceived adversity. So as I am gasping for breath and struggling to stay upright on the last few miles of this daft escapade, I will be thinking how lucky it is that I’m not half way up Ben Nevis in a skirt with the rest of the mountain to run before reaching the finish.