Active 2014

The Games are great, but I prefer to watch them on TV

WELL, here we are.

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At last, the Commonwealth Games are on. Seven years in planning, acres of effort and work by teams of technical, sporting, marketing, administrative - and legal - professionals have brought about a triumph.

The Games, the venues, the performances have been everything anyone could have hoped for.

Well done, Glasgow.

And of course the Commonwealth spectacle is what brings me here to this page.

As my contribution to Active 2014, this newspaper's campaign for better health and fitness for Glasgow, I have been recording my athletic progress from quite literally a standing start to completing a marathon and rejoining the land of the running classes.

The Games have been the cause and the focus of this campaign, encouraging Glaswegians to get involved in sport, activity or exercise with a view to improving health and happiness.

Okay, few or none of us can do what Hannah Miley does in the pool, or the Renicks sisters on the judo mat, but we can all benefit from the example.

Like most of Scotland I watched the opening ceremony on TV.

Let's just say the first part was, er, jaw-dropping. Highlights later were Nicola Benedetti, South African singer Pumeza Matshikiza and of course those Scottie dugs leading the teams out. You can argue about the taste, artistry and tone of the whole event, but it certainly got things going.

Since then, the actual competitions have been excellent. Coverage of the swimming in particular has been first class, and the Rugby Sevens also commendable.

I particularly liked the Marathon on Sunday morning, as it is such an iconic event, and most of the route was where I and thousands of other ordinary runners have trained and competed in various races over the years.

For the rest of the world to see Pollok Country Park, Glasgow Green, and my favourite Paisley Road West, was very special to us runners.

I even saw a bit of the Marathon for real. I had to be in town on Sunday morning and as I parked in the centre I heard shouts coming from down Union Street. I walked down in time to cheer on some of the male runners turning from Argyle Street into Jamaica Street.

All were going very much faster than I could ever do, of course.

The games have certainly bred goodwill and excitement around the city. In the streets you see spectators coming and going in high spirits, and the chat among citizens is all to do with medals, tickets, personalities - and travel problems and bus queues, though there is a lot of forgiveness when things go awry.

And the competitors clearly relish the crowd's support.

Indeed on that note, thankfully the Games have not been hijacked politically, even though we are only weeks away from the Independence Referendum.

Alex Salmond has given himself an ordination not to use the event for nationalist purposes, and in spite of arguments about whether the RAF were or were not intending/asked to trail blue and while smoke instead of British tricolour of red white and blue, politics has taken a back seat.

I am not overtly party political, but the one thing I will say is that as far as I can observe, the crowds have particularly cheered on English, Welsh and Northern Irish competitors - and not just the supporters coming along from those places, but Glaswegians and Scots have shouted up their fellow Brits in fine style.

So it's all good. But for me, I confess that I have not joined in as much as you might expect.

Yes, I celebrate the Games, but I am not much of a sports spectator.

I didn't apply for any tickets. Watching is enjoyable up to a point, but the hassle of travelling to a stadium, waiting in queues, waiting for the toilet, then struggling home in a sea of people, has no appeal to me. This sounds like an unseasonal Bah Humbug expression, but it is not meant like that. I am glad so many have gone and watched, and hopefully been encouraged and incentivised.

Some sports are not very easy to appreciate, or indeed televise. Judo is close to my own sport of karate, but it shows the problem.

I heard Scottish gold medal winner Euan Burton being interviewed.

He said that in some competitions he has been in, so technical is the sport now that it has only been when the referee has given the result of a bout that anyone knew how had won - and why. For the non-expert spectator, it is just incomprehensible.

When I watch sport, I actually prefer TV, or radio, as I like the analysis and context that good pundits and commentators bring.

Anyway, that's a minor confession. The Games have been brilliant, and worth every penny.

They have in part helped me to better myself physically, and I hope they have been instrumental in making many of us see what is possible if we just get active.

Sport

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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