Active 2014

Pedalling my way to fitness

You never forget how to ride a bike once you've learned, probably as a youngster after you shook off stabilisers with a guiding parental hand on the saddle.

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Austin Lafferty is making sure he is ready to take on a gruelling marathon test
Austin Lafferty is making sure he is ready to take on a gruelling marathon test

For many of us, biking was a childhood pursuit, cycling to the park to play football or meeting pals to race around the spaces outside Hampden Park - that's what I did growing up within the sound of the Hampden roar - more of that another day.

But in adulthood cycling is different. Indeed those who stayed with it are likely to be in lycra, powering down country roads with a ­plastic helmet and a grim expression.

A colleague I had not seen for a few months ­appeared at the office and I gasped at his new-found trimness. He had, in middle-age, ­rediscovered the bi- cycle, and more or less found a new religion.

"I am doing around 200 miles a week, and when I was on holiday in Lanzarote I did 550 kilometres in 4 days," he said proudly.

And the weight had just fallen off.

The other benefit for him was that years of football and five-a-sides had taken their toll on his knees and ankles, but pedalling is low-impact and he gets no joint pain.

Me? I cycle. I have a cheap bike - not fancy but okay - and I go out on it.

However, I am not Lycra Lafferty (what a disturbing image…). In fact I cycle like a lawyer - my idea of a good afternoon out on two wheels is to ­meander round the streets of Glasgow looking at buildings to work out their age, construction and ­conveyancing history.

Sad I know, but it combines moderate exercise, fresh air and professional interest.

Meanwhile for my marathon training I am up to 12 miles at a time, though it is rather hilly around where I live so I am going to have to hunt out some flatter roads.

Look out for the guy in the Batman top, and I now even have Batman earphones for my running radio.

Remember my charity page for the hospice movement www.justgiving.com/AustinLafferty

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Tips to help you keep active from the Glasgow Club

  • Be realistic about what you want to achieve
  • Build up the intensity and frequency of your activity sessions gradually
  • Find an activity which you enjoy
  • Exercise with a friend
  • Use the stairs as often as possible
  • Make active choices as part of your daily routine
  • Get out at Lunchtime! Why not go to the shops or park at lunchtime instead of staying at work? The walk will also make you feel more awake in the afternoon