Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Portugal Warm Weather Begins....

So... I have safely arrived in Portugal. I obviously wasn't watching the news back in October, as I totally missed the section explaining that the roof of Faro Airport has been blown off! In place of the normal 'arrivals' terminal, there is a tent – I wish I was joking. After chatting to my taxi man, he explained how they had been hit by 'a tornado' and that 'they didn't have enough money to re-build'. I am slightly concerned about the security for flying home, as I fear there may be none! Haha..

Being completely on my own for this first week has made me realise how much I rely on my boyfriend! I find myself going to chat away or messing around dancing but then realise it's extremely weird, as there is no-one else here and that i'm totally on my own! I am also incapable of making myself tea for one. Instead, it has been several vegetables and meat thrown together in a stir-fry (sort-of) and the remainder left over for lunch the next day. Mmmmm, appetising. Thankfully the rest of my training group all come out tomorrow, so I will be able to cut up some vegetables and pretend i'm cooking. Although I did find some Mackays jam in one of the supermarkets here! Jam sandwiches galore.

My first track session was on Saturday morning but as I walked along to the track, there was a group of athletes from Durham university whom informed me that the track had been shut 'for the football'. I looked over the bolted door only to be shouted at angrily by a portuguese lady, I them embarrassingly came out with a few spanish words hoping she would understand some of what I was stuttering out, but it only made her more angry. My first thought was – jump over the wall – however I realised this may result in me being arrested. With my lack of portuguese vocabulary, this was definitely not the best option. I then bumped into a group of guys from Loughborough and we decided to take the 4mile trek to the nearest track in Albufiera.

Eventually we made it to the track, only to be told it was 5 Euros! My sessions was only 8x 300m with a 3minute recovery – I was almost paying 1 euro a lap! But anyways, it went really well. Almost too well, I was running almost 3 seconds quicker on each rep than 2 weeks before, which made me question how accurate the track was- however I did measure it on my garmin and it was the same as my local track in Dundee. Phew... The loughborough guys were really nice though, and asked me to join them for their long run on Sunday. I ended up doing 9miles which is the longest iv'e ran since my injury, so really pleased i'm still alive and the foot is still intact.

The weather here has been really nice. Warm, crop top and shorts weather but there is still a bit of a strong breeze. This has not stopped me from getting burnt unfortunately. My pale scottish skin has almost had enough already. Praying that this lobster look slowly turns into a tan... Otherwise it will probably just all peel off and i'll return to being ghostly again.

The first two days I was able to use Wi-fi from the restaurant near-by my apartment to Skype my boyfriend and family. However they quickly cottoned on to what I was doing and have now turned their Wi-fi off! Disaster! I now have to take the mile trek to Mcdonalds to use their free wi-fi. This then means that I am surrounded by the lovely smell of fatty, greasy burgers whilst surfing the net. I am yet to cave in and buy something -although I still have another 3 days alone to give in. To make things worse, my electricity cut off whilst I was cooking my dinner tonight. Thankfully it was quickly restored after a few hours, no Mcdonalds for me.

To be honest, it has been pretty boring being in my own company all day long. It's the time in between training that I notice it the most, so I cant wait for everyone to come out on tomorrow. I have already scoped out a water park, mini golf and and a 'zoo marine'. I'm more excited than a little kid on christmas, cannot wait to do some thing other than training and lying about in the sun on my own!

Will try and take some pictures and videos of training next week. My camera has decided to die on me but hopefully I can resuscitate it over the next few days.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

It’s funny how a few weeks can make a huge difference.

 Written yesterday.. posted today as i'm lazy :)

It’s funny how a few weeks can make a huge difference. In my last blog I explained how I had just started to sleep in an altitude tent! Unfortunately after 5 days the generator broke down! It was making a HUGE thudding noise every 5-10 seconds and had a flashing warning light – obviously a signal to switch it off! I had to send the generator and tent back to UKA that following weekend and have decided not to get a replacement for several reasons.

For the first few nights of using the tent, I really struggled with my sleep pattern. I was waking up continuously every few hours and really only getting 2 hours sleep before being wide awake for hours. This resulted in me being tired all day, although my sessions and runs were going really well. I have been fortunate enough over the past few weeks to have stayed injury free, complete 3 track sessions a week along with one sustained treadmill run – and doing about 55miles total a week – which isn’t too far off my normal weekly mileage.

However over the past two weeks my steady runs have gradually got slower and slower and becoming more of an effort. I was down to 6.50pace for my steady runs, feeling totally fine and monitoring my HR’s on all runs. But they have now slowed to 7.30s and really struggling. Sessions were still going well but my recovery runs and just general recovery was becoming difficult. I began having to sleep at least 2-3 hours every day on top of my normal 9 hours sleep at night. I knew something just wasn’t right! My HR’s were constantly higher – especially on easy runs. After getting a few bloods tests, I found out that my ferritin levels had dropped quite a significant amount from just a week and a half ago, although they were still in a ‘normal’ range, I think it may have been this ‘drop’ that has led to me feeling completely exhausted. I also wrote down all the supplements I was taking and gave them to the Scottish Institute Doctor. He then noted that I was actually taking in huge amounts of zinc – far above the daily recommended intake by 500% – without realising! I don’t know the technicalities of what each mineral does, however I do know its something along the lines, of the fact that, zinc blocks other minerals which then block iron absorption. I’m sure google will have all the proper medical terms somewhere online to explain it all, but all I needed to know was to stop taking all my supplements with immediate effect!

Warm Weather Training 2012
Tomorrow I leave for some warm weather training in Portugal with my training group and my mum, for just under 3 weeks. We are staying in the same place we have previously been for the past 3 years, The Old Village in Villamoura. I am really looking forward to getting some warm weather and training full-time with no worries. Being abroad gives you the chance to become a full-time athlete and you have all the hours of the day, to do all the little things right. Stretching, core, hydration, recovery… you have so much time on your hands to do everything correct. It also gives you the chance to just chill-out, with very limited internet connection and because it costs so much to read emails/text/call… my phone is off for the majority of the day. I was scheduled to fly straight from Portugal out to Font Romeu with the UK Athletics Endurance group, although I have my concerns about this and I’m really not confident about doing so. This is mainly due to the fact that my bloods have dropped and the way I have been feeling over the past week and a half. Things have just got progressively worse each day. I have been extremely down about it all and really struggling to get out and complete all of my training load. After having such a tough last 6 months with injury, I really just want everything to go perfect, and don’t want to have anything that could potentially be a negative factor on my training. If an athlete is anaemic or fatigued, they will not run well at altitude as it only exaggerates these symptoms. I am also very aware that altitude is about trial and error as to when an athlete will have a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ race after coming down to sea level. With it being so close to my summer season I really don’t want to take any risk. And would like it to be clear in my own mind, that the reason I have ran badly is completely due to myself or due to my fitness and nothing to do with my iron levels or from the effects of altitude. This has led me to thinking that perhaps a further 3 weeks of warm weather rather than altitude would possibly benefit me more and so I am going to discuss with my coach what would be the best option for myself. I have an extra 3 weeks off of work and don’t have any exams this easter and so have the perfect opportunity to have a further 3 weeks away training hard before the summer season begins.

My first scheduled race is the British University Championships in the Olympic Stadium. All very exciting this year, although it has caused a few problems. BUCS have now brought out a new rule that states that due to excessive numbers wanting to enter the events this year – they have given all universities the opportunity to enter ONE athlete into an event. 'Equality over Elitism' etc etc... This obviously causes huge problems for the large sporting universities like Loughborough and St Marys, but it also causes problems for little ol’ Dundee Uni! We have myself and Morag Maclarty for the 1500m, Jenny Tan, Sarah Kelly, Laura Brown and Amanda Campbell for the 800m – all of these girls well capable of making a final. But with only one spot it is up to us all to fight it out an decide who is running the best on current form rather than on Personal Best times. Due to this, I have entered the 1500m,5000m and 2000m Steeplechase in order to secure myself a race! I will decide over the next few weeks what event – depending on how training pans out. If I don’t feel confident enough with my fitness then I will pull out, but I am sure with the way things have been going that I will be on that starting line fit and healthy!

Everywhere within a few miles radius of the stadium has been totally booked up and so it has been a nightmare trying to find accommodation! Our ‘team captains’ at the university have also had a hard time trying to organise it all – in the cheapest way possible for us students – although its now resulted in us being told, that we have to make our own travel arrangements down there! This is not going to be cheap. Fingers crossed I can get myself a cheap easyjet flight and will possibly stay with some family friends in order to cut costs as the event is over 4 days!

Last week was the first time I had been over hurdles since I broke my foot. It was more a mental thing to be honest, as the foot was totally fine. We did 10x 300m with every second rep over 3 hurdles. Everything went really well and it gave me a bit of confidence to know that I can land/jump/ hop etc on the one foot and nothing is going to give way! I won’t be doing another hurdle session or the water jump until my second week of Portugal just to concentrate on getting my speed and fitness up first. The barriers I can practice closer to race season. Last week was also the first time I had wore spikes since the break! Again it was completely a mental thing – putting on the exact pair of spikes that broke my foot! But everything went great. Although it was a bit uncomfortable at first, I totally forgot about it by the end of the session. These spikes have now been altered with a specially made insole in order to support my arch and give my toes a bit of a help when landing from the steeple. The next day my calfs were not thanking me, I could hardly walk they were so tight! I was rolling about on the foam roller all day trying to loosen them off – nightmare!

'Champions in Schools'
The past few weeks have been quite busy with school talks and presentations. I have now done all 3 presentations of the ‘Champions in Schools’ initiative to Blairgowrie and have a further one more to do for Brechin. The kids have been a delight to work with – really enthusiastic and actually listened to what I had to say – which is a huge bonus! I also gave a little presentation on my athletics to Dens Road Primary School in Dundee as a favour to one of the girls I train with. Primary kids are so easily entertained – especially Primary 1’s – I had such a good time being there. The kids were all really funny and had loads of questions to ask. I couldn’t stop laughing at the little P1’s in the front row constantly waving at me the whole way through my presentation trying to get my attention – they had no idea who I was or what I was chatting about, but were just so excited to have a visitor in their school! I showed them my spikes and my GB running kit and you would of thought I was showing them something extraordinary like a unicorn or an alien… but instead they were so excited over my smelly, soggy spikes.

Training Group
Over the past few weeks, our training group have all made an effort to try and do more ‘social’ things together and to make the effort to all meet up every once and a while. All of us are extremely busy nowadays, not only with training but with work/university and just general life, and its amazing how quickly people start to loose touch. So we have decided that every two weeks we will do something sociable. By sociable, I don’t mean what normal students would do… I mean that we are complete geeks, all cooking tea together or we all meet and play card games or Pictionary. You may think this is a joke, (or some may say sad) but I am being completely serious! I absolutely love my training group and wouldn’t change them for the world. We are extremely fortunate that we are all extremely close and almost like a little family. I have absolutely no interest to do what I was doing a few years ago, living a typical student life, I would much rather stay in and chill out with Howell and my mates than go anywhere or do anything. I’ve turned into a total granny but fortunate for me there are another 15 (approx) grannies in my training group! J Last weekend we al took a trip to St. Andrews for the day. The weather was so nice and we managed to get in a round of golf… well mini-golf… and yet again I was absolutely pants! The team of myself, Pige and Jenny came last by a good 10 shots. Not our proudest moment.

Finally.. I have been extremely fortunate to receive sponsorship from not one but TWO companies for this 2012 season.

Mackays is a local company based in Arbroath which is about 7miles from my house. There factory actually used to be based in my home town of Carnoustie a few years ago. They are very well known all over Scotland (and all over the UK) for their amazing jams and marmalades. Fortunately for me, Martin and Paul Grant have a huge interest in athletics and have decided to help me out over the next year, being a local athlete. It also works well for myself as I have always been told by my mum to eat jam sandwhiches before racing. No idea why, but if you ask anyone in my training group, the will tell you the same! – we have always been told they are good to eat before racing! Haha! Something to do with the sugar in the jam giving you a bit of a boost and something about it not being too heavy on the stomach and so you don’t feel sick or heavy etc.. Anyways, it works! And so this partnership is a match-made in heaven for me!

 Another local company, based in Montrose. Andrew Stirling has been extremely supportive and has supplied me with fresh fruit and vegetables once a week. Having such fresh, healthy produce is obviously a huge help! It has definitely had a huge impact on my diet and I can honestly say I haven’t eaten so healthy in my entire life! Definitely getting my 5 a day! A few years ago i was extremely unhealthy, living off of microwave meals. People don't actually believe me when I tell them what my old diet consisted of.. Horrible! I decided to totally change my eating habits at the start of 2011 and this partnership has only made things easier for me, fresh vegetables are added to every single meal! J

My next blog will be from Portugal.. if I have time in-between sunbathing.. JOKING.. I will be training hard.. And also the internet connection is a bit temperamental. I will take loads of pictures and videos of what’s going on though and post them as soon as I get home!

Goooooooodbye! xxx

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Eilish goes for gold with Mackays

Eilish McColgan at Mackays on Monday. The company are sponsoring her training kit.
Eilish McColgan at Mackays on Monday. The company are sponsoring her training kit.
CARNOUSTIE athlete Eilish McColgan is hoping to head to this year’s Olympics with a little help from Scottish preserve manufacturer Mackays.
The Arbroath-based company has agreed a sponsorship package with the 21-year-old to assist her in pursuing her dream of representing Great Britain at the Olympics in London later this year.
Eilish, daughter of former 10,000m world champion Liz McColgan, plans to run at the UK Athletics Olympic Trials which take place on June 22.
Martin Grant, managing director of Mackays, commented: “Eilish is a fantastic local talent and we were more than happy to get behind her in the build up to London 2012. We are excited to be working with an athlete who has a great future ahead of her and we wish her every success for her Olympic qualifying race.”
Eilish will be working closely with Mackays over the coming year and has even offered to help out at local events and tastings in the future when not training or competing.
She commented: “It is fantastic to receive support from a great local business and I look forward to working with Martin and his team over the next year.”

Sunday, 18 March 2012

STV NEWS 28/2/12

My piece from the STV news. About 22mins into it, filmed up at Caird Park, Dundee.

"Mum McColgan an Inspiration" - UK Athletics Website 15/3/12

15 March 2012

As Mother’s Day approaches (Sunday 18th March for those of you who have forgotten), we caught up with Scottish 3000m steeplechaser record holder, Eilish McColgan, daughter of former World 10,000m Champion Liz McColgan, to find out what it was like growing up with one of GB’s greatest distance runners.

Eilish, who is currently returning from injury after breaking her foot last year, is hoping to make history in London this summer by becoming the first Scottish daughter of an Olympic athlete to perform at the Games.

Did your Mum inspire you to get into athletics?
“My mum has been my coach since I first decided to take up athletics seriously. After being selected for my county sports, I asked if I could join the local running club.

“My mum decided that she would like me to join her old athletics club, Dundee Hawkhill Harriers - and I haven’t looked back since!”

What’s it like having a World Champion Mum?
“Having a world champion as a mother and coach is definitely a huge advantage. She can give, not only me, but all of our training group, an insight into what it takes to make it, as she’s been there and done it.

"She also understands how an athlete feels as she was an athlete herself and has gone through all the ups and downs just like everyone else. So it's always reassuring having her opinions.”

What will you be doing this Mother’s Day?
“This mother's day I’ll actually be spending it with my boyfriend’s family! Next week I am out of the country for 6 weeks and I won't see them for a long time. My mum is coming out with me for 2 weeks.

“I’m sure my mum will be spoiled by my other 4 younger siblings, aged 12,10,9 and 6, with home-made cards and gifts.”

Back the team this summer and watch Eilish McColgan in action at the Aviva 2012 Trials at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium from 22nd – 24th June 2012.

For tickets and further information visit or call 08000 55 60 56. An early bird discount of 10% is available until 31st March 2012. #backtheteam

Also, did you know...

Janet Simpson made the history books in 1964 when she won bronze at the Olympics in Tokyo as part of the 4 x 100m relay team. Simpson followed in the footsteps of her mother Violet Webb (1915-99) who also won Olympic bronze in the 4 x 100m relay in St Louis in 1932. Simpson and Webb remain the only British mother and daughter have won athletics medals at the Olympic Games.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Leading women may act as a spur - Scottish Athletics

6th March 2012

Liz McColgan believes greater equality in sport has led to half-a-dozen women becoming the best-known names in athletics in Scotland.

While a Scotsman featuring in the Great Britain lineup at London 2012 looks an outside bet, there are currently realistic hopes for the likes of Lee McConnell, Eilidh Child, Eilish McColgan, Lynsey Sharp and Steph Twell.

It has led BBC Scotland to look at the ‘Girl Power’ issue in their Sport Nation programme to be screened on Tuesday evening with scottishathletics chief executive Nigel Holl feeling sure our leading women can act as an inspiration for talented young men. Track legend Liz argues there is a simple explanation.

‘There is equality in the sport now and that is a major difference,’ said Olympic silver medallist McColgan.

‘When myself and Yvonne Murray were running 20 years ago it was not like that. When I started out, women were not allowed to run more than 3000 metres. Now everyone is doing 10ks and marathons. And that has happened in a period of around 20 years.

‘So I really do feel that what has changed is the equality of the sport itself which has made it more accessible for women and given them a platform to be successful.’

McColgan, McConnell and Sharp were interviewed for the Sport Nation programme while Holl told BBC Scotland he expects a number of promising male athletes to fulfil their potential soon – including the likes of Chris O’Hare, Guy Learmonth, Tom Holligan, Jax Thoirs, Gregor MacLean, Dave Smith, Allan Smith, Mark Dry – in various disciplines.

'Some of our biggest names are female at the moment,' said Holl. 'They deserve credit for that. they are right up there in Scottish rankings and British rankings and hopefully at some point the world rankings.

‘The likes of Eilish and Lynsey are young athletes. There is a lot of scope for them to develop. But it is not exactly bad news on the male front. If you look at our throwers then Andy Frost, Chris Bennett and Mark Dry are rated in the top five in the Commonwealth last summer.
‘Role models are important. If Liz McColgan wasn’t a positive role model for Eilish then I’d be worried … And Lynsey has them within her family – through her mum, her dad and her sister.

‘I think Kelly Holmes and Sally Gunnell have probably been role models for these young women as much as anyone because it is a bit nearer to their time. But the likes of Usain Bolt and Mo Farah will be an inspiration to young athletes around the world at the moment and I don’t think Scotland is any different to that.

‘I am not sure it would be fair to say the men can learn from the women any more than they can learn from other elite athletes. They probably know what is required, anyway. The ‘Girl Power’ names definitely have the talent, the application and the attitude required but I genuinely believe we’ve a few more who have those qualities as well.

‘It is not a sport where men and women compete against each other. Maybe at primary school or in a fun run later on but that is about it. I think in early-teens the two sexes become focused on their own events – there’s no real head-to-head competition. The community of athletics in Scotland is supportive of our top women – and the men.

‘I suspect Scotland has always had a good number of ‘Junior Talent’ coming through – and I happen to think we’re even better off in that department than we have been for some time. The real challenge is converting that into quality senior athletes. Not every single one will make it. That’s not possible but it is the job ofscottishathletics, clubs, individual coaches and the sportscotland Institute of Sport to increase the ‘conversion rate’.

‘The likes of Lee McConnell and Eilidh Child have come through over the past few years but we want to see a few more.’

The Sport Nation programme also has a feature on Thom Evans following his sprinting debut at the Scottish National Indoor Championships in February when he finished fourth in the 60 metres finals.

*Sport Nation is on BBC Two Scotland on Tuesday 6th March at 7pm.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Dens Road Primary School - Evening Telegraph

"As we lead up to the beginning of the Olympics we were fortunate enough to have a visit from Eilish McColgan.
Eilish gave up valuable time to inspire and motivate our pupils. She talked about the importance of the Olympic Values of respect, dedication, friendship, courage and selflessness to name a few and how important these values are to have for anything you do in life. She encouraged the children to be involved in lots of different sports, have a healthy life style and be committed to their school work.
She emphasised the importance to the children of setting personal goals and working hard to achieve these.
The children asked interesting questions and were delighted when Eilish presented certificates at Dens Road's School Praise Assembly.
One child in primary 2 said it was the best assembly she has ever been at.
We would like to say a great big thank you to Eilish from all of us at Dens Road P.S. and we wish her every success on reaching the London 2012 Olympics."

Ann Marie McDonald
Head Teacher