In training for a great route around the city

AND so it begins, again.

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A race ­beckons, and a plan forms ... the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run on Sunday October 5.

From last weekend it is a straight seven weeks to the event, and my training commenced then.

Although I have been running, swimming and fighting over the summer, I need to re-establish a routine of runs, and a mileage increase between now and the race.

I need to be conditioned for the right distance, but without overdoing it beforehand.

I mention a race, but in fact there are two - the half marathon I am doing, plus the fantastic 10k.

Between the two, I expect many thousands of runners and supporters out to enjoy the day.

Indeed there's more, with the junior and family events on the Saturday.

But leaving those and the shorter race to one side, let's examine the half-marathon.

It is quite a few years since I last did this run, and I went on to the website to see if the route had changed. I don't know if it is new this year, but there are several differences from when I last stepped out.

The main thing to catch my eye is the run-in at the end. Previously we came through the Gorbals to go round Caledonia Road towards Bridgeton, turning into Glasgow Green from the east- less than glamorous.

We now cross the river far west at the squinty bridge and head east along the Broomielaw, leading straight on to the park.

That's a huge improvement, not least because we will have a straight run for the last mile through the city, cheered on by more than the one man out for a pint of milk with his dug.

As ever, Pollok Country Park features heavily, but now we run what I can only call the wrong way round and through.

Apart from the original 1980s marathons, in every race over the decades I have always come in from the Bellahouston side then re-emerged on to Haggs Road.

Now we go into the park at Shawmoss, run clockwise around and back out at St Andrews Drive end, left along Haggs to Bellahouston.

From there, I am on familiar territory as we swing out on to - yes, that's right, Paisley Road West, which constant readers will recall became my loved/hated training route for the Belfast marathon.

This time, it will be an excellent stage.

Like other non-elites I will be tired at this point, some nine miles in, but now will know exactly what is coming up, what the landmarks are, and how to judge the pace running up to the river and re-crossing at the Clyde Arc.

Speaking of the river, I see there is still what to me is one of the great city running highlights: we all get to run over the Kingston Bridge.

The west side is completely cleared of traffic and thousands of Glaswegians and others clamber up one ramp then down the other north to south.

You have probably driven over or been a passenger in a vehicle hundreds of times going to work, shopping or out on the town. You don't even notice it any more.

But when on two legs in the fresh air, jogging on to the road surface, up, across and over, it is a fantastic experience.

You are not in danger of falling off, but do notice the height and the exposure, and it is definitely one of those Titanic King-of-the-World moments as you race over the skyline looking down on the city and the water far below.

One of the things about the Great Scottish that won't have changed is the personnel - ­thousands of runners and fellow athletes of varying ability but one goal and attitude.

With it being a Glasgow race, the camaraderie will be superb.

I must say that when I was in Belfast, one of the highlights was the friendship, support and encouragement I got from the locals running and spectating, and I cannot put my hand on my heart and say Glasgow is better - but I cannot imagine that races in any other city can compare with the atmosphere of these two great centres of running and the craic.

Of course, I will have not just my fellow runners, but the Lafferty nearest and dearest around me.

My daughter Hannah is booked in, and my son Jonathan and his girlfriend are also set for the event.

I am still trying to ensure the First Lady is willing to run the 10k. We'll see. But whoever is at the start will be in Batman tops, so I will ensure we get a good photo for this page.

So we're off. And running.

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