Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Triple Taper Trouble

My training plan for the Great Scottish Run was a 3 week schedule of 1 week to recover from the 41 mile River Ayr Way, 1 week of training and for 1 week of taper - which is this week.  Recovery from the RAW went exceptionally well and was back in proper training last week culminating with the Trossachs 10k race where I did a course PB.  All looked to be going perfectly...

Two injuries have since appeared, the first I was aware of immediately after finishing the 10k - the ball of my right foot was sore.  I hadn't felt it during the race, in fact my whole body seemed in great shape during the race with no hints of injuries looming.  My foot wasn't too sore though, but in the afternoon after the race I walked to and from Callander town centre with my family, only about 2 1/2 miles of walking but on a sore foot, so perhaps not the best treatment.

My second injury came about when feeding our family rabbit, it's hutch is in the garden and requires a little stretch to pop the feed in and this little stretch was too much for my fatigued right calf. 

Why the "Triple Taper Trouble" when I only have two injuries to heal by next Sunday?  Well this is the third race that I've now attempted to taper for and got it wrong by over doing training in the week before taper and then ending up injured or overly fatigued.  The first compromised race was my Killin 10k back in August, the second was the RAW, and now the Great Scottish Run.  The only one I haven't screwed up was the Trossachs 10k where I didn't taper and in theory used it as a training run.  A race is race though, and I got carried away and ran a blinder, but am now paying for it...

I really should know better by now.  I know my body is injury prone, particularly when adding high intensity training. Doing so many races so close together is probably a big factor too - a 10k race, three weeks, 41 mile ultra, two week, 10k race, 1 week, Half marathon race this Sunday. 

My schedule won't end there I have a hill walk with friends along the Claunie Ridge the weekend following the half marathon, then two weeks later I'll be running the Jedburgh 3 Peaks Ultra Race.  This means it'll be a four key races each with 3 weeks in between, with extra stuff added in between.

I am loving the training and racing though, I'm in the best shape of my adult life, having PB'd in all races I've done this year, the fitness is their to do a PB at this weekends half marathon and the Jedburgh Ultra at the end of October.  All I have to get to the start line of each race in one piece, and excute them well.

So... back to familiar story, asking how to heal injuries within a week without loosing fitness.  I explored this topic in my "How to heal injuries as quickly as possible" and it worked a treat for the RAW. 

So far this week, on Sunday and Monday I rested up completely.  My right calf muscle is one the mend already and while not ready to run on should be fine in another day or so.  The tender area on ball of right foot is more of concern - it's settled a bit but still uncomfortable when I walk around the house.

Today rather than sit around an wait for my foot to heal I headed out for my first bit of cross training this year - I got on my bike and did a half hour interval session.  I warmed up for 10 minutes with steady cycling then started a series of 20 second sprints with gentle cycling in between waiting for my heart rate to recovery to 130bpm before starting the next sprint.  I managed 12 sprints before getting back to my house.  Getting off my bike I looked like I'd lost my horse, waddling round the house awkwardly with my quads fried.

I followed up the interval sessions with hot bath.  These hot baths can be as tougher than the training sessions as once your core body temperature gets up, your heart starts racing and sweat drips off you, it's not a relaxing bath to have.  My body is getting better at dealing with heat though so am able to get through these hot baths OK now.  These hot baths serve several purposes - gets you clean of course, but training wise the benefits are that it boost aerobic fitness adaptation and boost heat adaptation.

I will need to be careful with the cycling training - I don't want to go an introduce another injury before Sunday, but in general it's a low impact way of keeping the body tuned up.  More hot baths will help retain the heat adaptations that I've built up from all the training. 

A final bit of jigsaw will be getting as much good quality sleep as can this week to help my body heal the injuries.  I don't always manage it, but I will be having a post lunch lie down each day to see if I can get a short nap.  Even if I don't succeed in napping the quieten time will help lower stress and with it Cortisol levels and thus avoid suppressing my immune system when I need it most. 

The night time sleeps and naps are when the bodies does the bulk of it's healing, which is why it's such an important part of getting back to full health and injury free.  I have five more nights sleep left to complete the healing process, fingers crossed.

As the week progresses I'll see how my foot is and if it feels OK try out a walk, and if can complete it wihtout discomfort then the next day I'll try a short recovery run.  Ideally I'd like to have a couple of runs at the end of the week to dial back into running and if possible do a little running at race pace - 6:40 min/mile pace is my target.

Fingers/toes crossed.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Just a quickie : Trossachs 10k 2014 Race Report

As part of my training for the Great Scottish Run (Glasgow half marathon on the 5th of October) I had pencilled in an Fartlek interval session last weekend, a tempo run mid week and left the option open for the Trossachs 10k race this weekend before I do a weeks taper.  My tempo run on Wednesday went well but I overdid it in the last four miles putting them way 10k PB pace, so had DOMS for two days after.  This put my idea of using the Trossachs 10k as my last speed session in doubt... would my overused calf muscles be ready by Saturday?

Thankfully Saturday dawned with sunshine, which always perks me up, and legs that had mostly settled with just a little residual fatigue - I was good to race.  My parents were up for the weekend so drove myself and my two eldest daughter over to Aberfoyle for 10am.  I entered and at registration got chatting with Prasad, a local hill running legend who would be racing the on the relative flat, it's all relative though... the Trossachs 10k is still quite a hilly course with around 300ft of ascent/descent.  Prasad wen't on to win in it 32:30!

At 11am we all assembled at the start around and behind an arch made from Rainbow balloon's.  The arch was to signify the charity that the 10k was racing money for, but structural problems with the arch meant that it had to be reduced in size from one that could span the road to one that could span just a couple of metres.

Even me and my mum look tall next to the starting arch :-)

This little arch was placed at the start in the middle of road and we all assembled around and behind it not really knowing what to do.  This was a bit of of "Spinal Tap" feel to moment.  No time to dwell though, as soon as we were assembled the horn went off and we all scrambled through/around the arch.

My started a bit too far back from the front line of field so my first hundred metres were quite slow as I weaved through the field.

Shortly after start, plenty of road congestion, but sunshine so who minds?  Not me :-)
The start felt very slow as I weaved through the traffic.  My GPS trace suggests I was doing 7 min/mile pace for the first 100m so not too bad really.  I eventually got a bit frustrated an popped up onto the pavement and dropped to the pace to 6min/mile to get past the slowing field, and then slowed back down to pace pace once we turned right and up the first hill.

I'm the runner in blue on the pavement, getting a little impatient
I knew from my Killin 10k PB (39:14) back in August, and my last tempo run that I was in good shape and should be able to do a course PB, but as the course is different to Killin it was hard to know just how fast I might do it in.  I had attempted to go sub 40min at the Trossachs 10k three times before, failing each time as I slowed in the second half, my best attempt had been a 40:35 back in 2011.  A sub 40 min time felt like a good target, this meant 4 min per km.

Half a km into the race and I had made my way into the top ten, and by the first km marker I was in 7th.  The time was 4:08, ouch my slow start had meant I was quite well down on my target.  The next km was on average uphill so was slow too, I went through in 8:10.   Ouch.. A sub 40 min time wasn't going to come easy.

I was working comfortably hard, heart rate already up around the mid 170's - rather try and pull back the time quickly I just focused on running smoothly and keeping the effort level up to where I felt I could sustain it.  The 3km marker came with good news, I went through in 12:06 so I was now just 4 seconds down.  The 4km market came in 16:02 and I was slowly gaining on the 6th placed runner who was now only 30m ahead.

The half way point is always a key point in a race and my previous races at Trossachs 10k I had often got to the half way point just under 20 minutes.  This year was no exception I went through in 19:58, the difference this year was how I felt - I was pushing hard but felt stronger and more control of the race.  The second half has several more hills to tax ones legs so I knew the race wasn't in the bag yet.

I passed the 6km marker in 23:54, and 7km passed I was chipped some more time off my 4 min/mile target.  Each km also felt like it passed quickly.  Some races fatigued just warps time so every step, every marker seems to take forever, and previously couple times at the Trossachs 10k had been like this, with me desperately hanging on for the last few km trying to stay ahead of the 4min/mile target and loosing.   This year was different, I was running faster and still had a little in reserve. 

I had been catching the 6th placed runner from the 2nd km, and on the last hill before the 8km marker I got to within 5m on the ascent and waited till the descent to make a decisive move to overtake. I caught and passed strongly but knew the next few hundred meters were crucial, I couldn't just pass and then stay a few meters ahead if I wanted to secure 6th, I'd need to keep the surge going.

The last km you go from forest tracks and paths to tarmac path.  The path is very slightly uphill and when running hard at the end of 10k it can really drag.  For the first time in 8km I caught a glimpse of runners perhaps a couple of hundred meters ahead, I was closing the gap but they were way too far ahead to.  I steadily wound up the pace to best I could manage, racing against the clock, I was confident of a sub 40 min time, but how far below?

100 meters to go, my dad captures me flying!
 Massive crowds roared us in, ok, a few families and walkers, and for a bit of novely my dad was hear to capture it all.

Having fun running flat out

50m's to go.

I passed through the rainbow arch and stop my watch, 39:34 in 6th place out of 76th finishers.  A personal best for the route of 1:01.  I was completely out of breath at the finish so struggled to chat to my family and friends for a minute, but I was totally elated on running such a good race.

My thanks to Trossachs 10k organizers and marshals, it was another great race.  Thanks also to my parents for their support, and to my dad for the great photos.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Training for the Great Scottish Run (Glasgow Half)

Today my race number and timing chip arrived for the Great Scottish Run, time to reflect on what my goals and training will be!

Curiously the number comes in two parts, one for the front - my number 2581, and one for the back with a blank area for "I'M RUNNING FOR" for me to fill in. So what should I fill in.

My heart says "Scottish Unity" after all the divisions that Referendum created/highlighted. While the sentiment is how I feel, I'm not sure a running vest is the time or place for it. 

At a personal level I could just say "Personal Best" as that's why I signed up for the race.

If I was doing the Kielder Marathon again I could always use the tag line "A BUS" as nod to the daft bugger who skipped the last six miles when I ran it back in 2011, and yes I ran the whole way.

Chasing a Personal Best

So a half marathon "Personal Best" is what this race is all about for me.  My thoughts are primarily about Ultra-marathons these days, all my shorter races are fillers or as training for the Ultra's.  It's still nice to see progress with my fitness across the board though.  I've had a run of PB's this year across a full spectrum of distances, so it's only natural I'd want to a full set and have a go at bettering the 1:28:58 time I set back in November 2010 at the Buchlyvie half.

With PB's this year at the Killin 10k and Kielder Marathon one would expect the distance in between to be an easy target to achieve.  However, I ran a blinder at the Buchlyvie half, running much faster than I ever expected that frosty, still morning back in 2010.  Even now I still don't know quite how I kept up 6:47 pace for 13 miles as this wasn't much slower than my 10k pace back then.  Some days everything goes right and you run out of your skin.

I can't assume this will happen this time around, but I'll need to train and taper pretty flawlessly if I am to achieve my goal of PB.  My training for the Killin 10k last month went really well till the last 7 days when I over stretched myself and then screwed up the taper.  I did pretty well the same thing for the River Ayr Way Challenge (RAW) - injurying my calf in a 21 mile long run just 7 days before race day.

This time around I have to get the taper right, and this is dependant on the training I do now as well.  To complicate matters I ran a 41 mile ultra just 9 days ago, and there are only a totally of 22 days between the RAW, so within this three week block I have to recover from the RAW, training, then taper.

If I get everything right, then I think I should be able to get a few minutes under my old PB, but this means aiming for a sub 6:40 min/milling, this pace is right around the fastest pace that I can manage tempo runs at.  Hanging on at this pace for a full 13 miles rather than just the 8 miles I during tempo runs feels pretty daunting but doable.

The following is roughly how  I'm breaking my preperation for the Glasgow half up:

Ultra marathon race recovery : 1 week.

The classic rule of thumb for marathon's is that it take you a day per mile to recover fully from a Marathon, so 26 days.  If we use this rule of thumb for the RAW I've just done then it'll be 41 days, which is 19 days AFTER the Glasgow half.  OK. We'll bin that, it just won't do.

If we make a small adjustment from 1 day per mile, to 1 day per 6 miles than we have just under 7 days to recover.  Yep that's sounds doable.  What's a factor of 6 between friends?

So I've done my recovery week.  I took two full days off, just walking a mile the first day, then two on the second.  For the rest of the week I ran a four mile recovery run, then a couple of six milers and then last Saturday I ran a lazy 13 miler along Loch Venachar and had a lovely time in the sunshine.

My run on Saturday went really well, my legs felt relaxed and comfortable most of the way, just a little discomfort in my left calf and left quad in the last couple of miles.  Pretty amazing really, one week after an tough race and not far off fully recovered!

Training : 1 Week

My training started yesterday (Sunday) and consisted off at Fartlek session where I did a combination of 20 second hill and flat sprint intervals with a gently job in between.  I would start the next sprint when my heart rate got back down to 150, run fast but not fully flat out counting to twenty then easy off.  My aim was to maintain my running form at speed, keeping relaxed as much as possible as fatigue built up in the last 5 seconds of each interval.

I managed 10 of these sprints before my left calf felt a bit too uncomfortable to risk doing more.  I jogged the final three miles home and nice gentle 9 min/mile pace.  On my return leg I was caught by another runner and we got chatting and he said he recognized me.  Eventually he asked whether I had a blog... Small world!  It turned out that he'll also be doing the Glasgow half too.  Doubly small world!!  (Hi to David if you're reading)

After the speed session I took the whole family down to Loch Venachar to enjoy the sun and go for a walk along the loch side.  What I way to wind down. ;-)

Loch Venachar walk and chill

Classic Paragliding style selfie in my F-Lite 232's

Today I did a 6 mile recovery run at 10 min/mile pace to help build some aerobic fitness and also loosen us muscle tensions created by the faster running.  After a 10 days of elevated heart rate when resting and running today was a pleasant surprise - I'm already back to where I was earlier this month before the RAW and in the run up to the Killin 10k back in August.

To help with adaptations I had a hot bath right after my run rather than a shower.  Studies on mice and athletes have found that heat stimulus can help stimulate the immune system to improve aerobic fitness as well as providing adaptations for handling the heat itself.

The recovery run did it's job and since the run my legs have felt much more relaxed and ready for more training.

The next run I'll need to work around will be a possible 10k race next Saturday - the Trossachs 10k in Aberfoyle. While my focus is the half marathon this local race is always friendly and fun to run so it'd be a shame to miss it.  Training wise I can use it as a tempo run.

This gives me four days till the 10k to fit in any other training, which provisionally I'll break up into a Tempo run on Tuesday, Recovery run on Wednesday, Fartlek session on Thursday and another Recovery run on Friday.

This is potentially four speed sessions in one week which is a lot of stress to place on my body.  Sleep will need to be a priority, avoiding stress and eating well will all need to respected to make sure my body has the chance it needs to recover.  My recovery runs will be just that too, they'll be kept very slow, and down to four miles if I need it.

I will also listen to my body, if I'm not recovering quick enough I will either cut out the speed sessions or cut down the length, number or intensity of the speed segments to avoid overloading my body.

My aim with these training sessions is primarily to tune my body up rather than build a great deal of fitness.  You physically can't built that much fitness in a week, but you can adjust your blood volume and muscle tension and tune in the central nervous system (CNS) so that it's primed for running fast.

Taper : 1 week

The key things I need to achieve with the taper are:
  1. Recover fully from training week
  2. Maintain heat adaptation required to keep cool while running fast
  3. Maintain blood volume and aerobic fitness
  4. Maintain Muscle tension appropriate for 6:40 pace
Item 1 means that I need to cut my mileage down and the intensity of the training runs.  To do it would probably be best to do a series of recovery runs at the beginning of the taper week to iron out any niggles.

Once I'm recovered from the hard training runs I'll then mix easy runs with short stride sections at around race pace.  These race pace sections will be kept short to avoid creating a training load, but be enough to keep my muscle tension and CNS tuned into race race.

Finally to maintain blood volume and heat adaptions more hot baths and/or sessions in the sauna will be required.

Also staying relaxed, sleep well and eating well will all be a priority as well.

Race Day: Go FAST!!!

I'll there to get a PB, anything less and we'll... my PB streak will be at an end and where's the fun in that :-)

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Scotland, let this land inspire us to be united once more

I can think of no better way to gain a fresh perspective on the our place in Scotland than to go for a run through it's beguiling lochs and mountains.  The geology of this great land is unmoved by politics, it's mountains have watched over this land from well before humans first walked on this Earth. Storms, wars, volcano's, earth quakes, ice ages, all making their mark like lines on an old fisherman's weathered face.  Our little human epoch is just a blink of eye in geological time.

So here's my pictures from my humble little run, 13 mile out/back from Callander alongside Loch Venachar past Invertrossachs house and back.

Just leaving Callander, running along Invertrossachs road looking towards Ben Ledi

Camera Phone accidental photo... it was such a lovely day even the shadows and texture looked cool to me... OK might be suffering low blood sugar :-)

Arriving at the wast end of Loch Venachar looking east towards Ben Venue

Phone was playing up, couldn't handle the sunshine!

Red squirrel ran along across the road in front of me and up this tree - spot it if you can!  Trossachs is one of the remaining strongholds for these gorgeous wee creatures, but even so you only get to spot them a few times each year

Looking back east towards Callander.

Invertrossachs house nestles amongst the forest.  Ben Venue in background

Return leg, loch is so incredibly low right now, it's been an dry summer

Sunshine too warm for Highland Cow and her calves

With my shaggy hair and red beard, and short sturdy legs, I do wonder if I might be related to a Highland Cow...

Does Scotland not fill you wonder and pride? Does me, what an awesome place we live!!!

River Ayr Way Challenge 2014 : Race Report

Aaraaghggh!!! Fecking shitty Blogger ate my REPORT!!!!!

Just now I logged in to finish up my River Ayr Race Report and the browser editor for Blogger just deleted all my text and pictures and left me with an empty document.  I had been writing over several evenings, quite a few hours work all gone with a single keystoke.  I never saved the empty document, but somehow blogger deleted all my work and saved the empty document with no way for me to roll it back.

If you wish to shout scream lots of expletives on my behalf please do.  I'll join in.   F*** S*** A*** #£$!1

After wasting lots of hours trying to write a blog post on my RAW race I simply don't have the time to pour more time into, so we'll just need to accept the following:

Race start, 9am at Glenbuck, the source of the River Ayr, time to race 41 miles to Ayr at the coast!

I turned up not feeling quite 100% after injury and lack of sleep due to worry about the Scotland's future but otherwise OK.  I raced, heart rate high right from the start, 15 bpm higher than my training runs at same pace!  Second half it was pretty warm as the sun shone relentless and temperate was up in the twenties.  I was on target for 6hrs based on even splits at the marathon point which I passed through in 3:54, but the hills, cramp and heat in the final 15 miles put paid to ambitious 6hr goal.

I finished in 6:15:18, a PB by 32 minutes which is effectively about 15 minutes faster than last year if you take account of the advantage of going downhill and running half a mile less with finishing at the Dam Park athletics stadium.  Came 5th overall, if it wasn't for cramp there is good chance I would have had my first podium finish - so I really need to fix this.  However, pretty happy with result as I felt I raced as well I could have on the day.  My average HR was 160 for the whole race, max HR was 180 during "sprint" finish as I tried to get under 6:15, but alas missed.

What next?  Recovery week, One weeks Half marathon training, then one week taper then the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow - I'll be chasing my half marathon PB of 1:28:58 I set back in 2010.  Jikes, changing from training for 9 min/mile ultra race to a sub 6:40 min/mile 13 mile race!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

River Ayr Way Challenge 2014 : Race Results

Many thanks to Anneke Freel and all the marshals for putting on another friendly race on the beautiful route along the River Ayr Way.  Follows are the race results, that Craig McKay, kindly passed on.  Congratulations to all those who run, especially to Robert Soutar and Gayle Tait for their race wins.

Position Name Time FFFM/F
1 Robert Soutar 05:44:58 M
2 Roger Greenaway 06:04:20 M
3 (Joint) Colin Milligan 06:11:02 M
3 (Joint) James Connelly 06:11:02 M
5 Robert Osfield 06:15:18 M
6 Steven Morrison 06:28:33 M
7 Gayle Tait 06:39:17 (1st)
8 Richard Whittaker 06:39:43 M
9 David McCauley 06:48:24 M
10 Craig Mackay 06:50:46 M
11 (Joint) Shona Young 06:59:55 M
11 (Joint) James McPhate 06:59:55 (2nd)
13 Mark Caldwell 07:00:50 M
14 Myvanwy Fenton-May 07:03:52 (3rd)
15 Glenn Gemmell 07:09:06 M
16 Chris Boyce 07:09:50 M
17 Neil McRitchie 07:11:26 M
18 Campbell Wilson 07:15:18 M
19 Bobby Miller 07:15:35 M
20 Eryk Grant 07:17:16 M
21 Andrew Crichton 07:17:40 M
22 James Murray 07:21:20 M
23 Alan Robertson 07:21:38 M
24 Kenny Tindall 07:23:11 M
25 Kevin Cameron 07:36:48 M
26 Norrie Hunter 07:37:54 M
27 John Donnelly 07:38:18 M
28 Kate O'Brien Temple 08:00:18 F
29 Graham Templeton 08:00:42 M
30 Stephen McAnespie 08:00:56 M
31 (Joint) Stuart Chalmers 08:15:05 M
31 (Joint) Raymond Quinn 08:15:05 M
31 (Joint) Paul Markac 08:15:05 M
34 Frank Skachill 08:16:04 M
35 (Joint) Carol Martin 08:30:48 F
35 (Joint) Alan Cormack 08:30:48 M
37 Bridget Halewood 08:32:15 F
38 James Scott Elliot 08:34:33 M
39 Katie Hall 08:48:18 F
40 Ailsa Taggart 10:03:31 F

Friday, 12 September 2014

Why all sides in Scotland should vote NO(T YET) to Independence.

I care passionately about Scotland and it's people, while I normally avoid posting political opinions on a running blog, I feel compelled to write a blog post about the Scottish Referendum on Independence as I a deeply troubled by the divisive nature of the debate and possible outcomes.

A Divided Nation is no way to begin Independence.

What is very clear is how divided Scotland's people are over whether Scotland should become Independent right now or stay with the United Kingdom.  You can't build a strong, prosperous nation on a divided society. 

If 51% of the electorate vote for Independence on September 18th with 49% against we will see Alex Salmond and the SNP attempt to take Scotland Independent.  Within such a scenario nearly half the population will be deeply unhappy with what is happening to the country they love.  Is this a good place for Scotland to be?

Given how close the polls have been it will be the floating voters that will swing it either way.  What happens if we go for Independence with a tiny majority and those floating voters have second thoughts.  We could easily have a majority of the population that is against Independence but have the wheels set in motion.

If we look to our Holyrood Parliament we'll see an equally divided place, only the SNP and single green party member of parliament are for Independence, while all the main opposition parties are staunchly against Independence. What would happen if the SNP loose the next election and one of the pro-union Parties or a coalition of them get into power at Holyrood?  Would that stop the process or hamper the process?  Or would they call another Referendum?

This is before we look at any of the uncertainties over negotations of what happens to the break up of various government bodies and services that span the border.  While the SNP might paint a rosy picture of how this will all go in Scotland's favour, the reality is that a rapid and unilateral break up will create a huge amount of turmoil and cost during the transition.

With the inevitable uncertainty and disruption a rapid break up will cause, will our population remain convinced that it's a good idea?  Will those floating voters change their minds?  What about businesses and investors?  With the close vote we are already seeing significant companies talking about moving down to England, the pound and the stock market have already been hit.  Business confidence can be a rather fickle and cruel thing, so the whole UK economy and  Scotland in particular, could be heading back into recession.

There are huge risks economically and socially associated with trying to go for Independence with such a divided nation.  It's very clear to me that the time is not right for Independence. 

The Right Way for Independence is to build consensus and co-operation

If Independence is indeed the best way forward for Scotland then the right way to go about it is to build a broad consensus for Independence across the people of Scotland, across all the main political parties in Scotland and with broad support from local and international businesses.

We would also need to work co-operatively with the rest of the UK, working steadily to build the capacity of our public bodies to take local responsibility for providing services.  Some elements will be able to move across easily and at low cost, others will take many more years to get right and cost much more.  Forcing these changes too rapidly will increase risks and costs so patience and long term commitment is required.

With areas like sharing currency where strong links will have to endure after separation we'd need to work with the rest of the UK to find a system of economic and political coupling that is able to maintain a resilient currency.  It may take quite a while to create the right political will across borders to make this possible, crucially it needs to be something that all parties will need to subscribe to, you can't force such things on other nations.

The good thing is that we already have a template in place for this process of gradually taking on more responsibilities in Scotland - we already have Devolution, something that was made possible by the UK government.  We also have further powers being devolved that have already been passed by the UK government, but not yet come into effect.

The UK government isn't some foreign body that lords over us taking away power and riches from Scotland.  The UK has been steadily giving powers to Scotland.  We already enjoy more local powers than any other part of the UK. All main UK parties have declared they are happy for more powers to move to Scotland.

Through Devolution the progression of moving powers from UK government to Scotland has been steadily occurring, we are moving closer and closer to full Independence.  It's happening slower than  Alex Salmond might want but it is happening no less.  The fact that it's happening steadily and co-operatively is a good thing, it means less uncertainty for people of the UK, less risk for businesses of rapid changes.

If parts of the Devolution don't work well then we can back track and have another go at later date.  Getting it right is the crucial part for me.

As Devolution progresses, our political parties in Scotland will have a chance to adapt to greater responsibility.  Evolution of political movements can take decades.  A steady progression also allows the Scottish population time to learn more about which powers we might need to share with the UK and which are appropriate to keep wholly local.

As things progress the end goal could well end up with 80% of population for Independence and all major parties backing it.  Once we get to this stage the last step will be off a mature base where already have the bulk of powers local. Cutting the ties will be less shocking to the people of the UK and business.

This slower route to Independence is the low risk route, building on co-operation and unity will be far more likely to create a stronger and more prosperous Scotland.

Saying NO to Brinkmanship and divisive politics

The idea that this Referendum is our only chance for Independence is quite simply a lie that the politicians are feeding us to try and force us to make a quick decision without thinking fully of the consequences or alternatives.  They want to win the argument no matter what the costs are to our Country.

The truth is that if we stick with Devolution we will still have the door open to Independence in the future.  If the will of the Scottish People moves to clear majority in favour of Independence then there is no way that politicians in Scotland and the rest of the UK would not respond.  We'd simply elect the party that promises the Referendum and it would happen.  It happened this time around with far less support in the population for Independence.

It might take another ten, fifteen or twenty years but we'd be all the stronger for it because we will have consensus in the population, and a timetable governed by rational decisions, rather than the ambitions of a single political party.

This consensus needs a need a new generation of politician to build it.  Right now we don't have a politician up to task of uniting Scotland as well as with the skill to not alienate all other parts of the UK.

We also need a new generation of politicians to develop in the rest of the UK as well.  We deserve better than the current crop.  The whole UK needs reform.  Scotland shouldn't be a special case, but a model for all parts of the UK.

We can't get there in a day though, we need to be patient with them, and for sure not respond positively to the type of crass, dishonest and divisive politics from all sides that we've been bombarded with over the last few months.

NO thanks or NO(T YET)

Whether you are against Independence or for Independence I believe the only safe action to take is to vote NO on September 18th.  If we are to eventually go for Independence then it should be from a platform where we are unified as a nation not divided.  This might take a while, but as we are already doing OK out of a Devolved Scotland the risks of few more years of being patient are pretty low.