Austin Lafferty's Fitness Countdown: "I have a new phobia - Paisley Road West!"

Two ( and a bit) weeks to go and it's better news.

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After my physical problems, I was able to do a long run on Saturday and some more short ones since.

I don't think for one minute that I will break the tape in any record time, but I do hope I will hirple in at least before the deadline for my flight back.

Saturday saw the long run being done.

The route was from Newlands to Shawlands, straight down Pollokshaws Road to the Clyde, crossing on the bridge then turning left and crossing back by the George V Bridge to link up to Paisley Road West.

Then all the way down to Arkleston. And back by the same route.

It was hellish.

On the back of the food poisoning then the leg injury, this was me trying to get back up to the necessary mileage for the race.

I was almost successful. Intending 18 miles, I manage only 14, but was happy enough that I was not too far back after the said difficulties.

By the 10 days before the marathon, I will have got up to 20+ miles and that is where I wanted to be for the tapering-back in the last period before Belfast.

My weight has continued to reduce so although it might be a tight squeeze, everything will fall into place at the last minute.

I have to say at this point that I have developed a phobia.

And its name … Paisley Road West.

Now don't get me wrong. The people in Tradeston, Ibrox, Cardonald, Crookston, Ralston, Arkleston and any mini-areas in between are lovely.

There have been plenty of smiles and even cheers as I passed by on the pavement.

But by now I have been up and down that thoroughfare probably a dozen times, and I know every junction and traffic light, every bus stop where I have to juke round off the pavement into the gutter to avoid knocking down kids and old folk waiting innocently for a bus.

But fundamentally it is the length of the road that saps the will. From Barshaw to the Mosspark turn-off, it is more than three miles, and to the Clyde is more than six, which is not too bad on the way out, but moderately soul-destroying on the way back. So why do I persevere? Why don't I go in a different direction? Well, bad as it is, the alternatives are far worse. South would be towards Kilmarnock on the old A77 up and down many undulations into wild countryside having to judge the distance by finding the correct unnamed pond or field to measure the outward half mileage.

East is to Rutherglen, and involves a large hill at Kings Park Avenue and a dodgy route via some unpopulated industrial and waste landscapes.

North would have me running through the city up to Bearsden or through Townhead, and west is down the Clyde on the north or south side to Clydebank or Braehead respectively.

I am not familiar with those places and would lose focus working out where I am. So PRW is at least part of home territory.

On the positive side, I am now aware of all the cafes, restaurants and pubs in Paisley Road West as I have run past all of them so often.

Once this project is complete, I intend to return to this battlefield and have a right few good visits for food and drink.

There was one great encouragement though. I watched a fair bit of the London Marathon on TV on Sunday.

What a spectacle that was, and uplifting in all sorts of ways. Being one of the biggest races in the world, with 36,000 participants, it does attract the extremes.

From the elite African athletes all the way down to the joggers in rhino costumes and even the guy who was going to do the course four times - with a fridge strapped to his back. Puts my Batman T-shirt in its place.

Sport

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