Q & A With Eilish McColgan


My regular readers and followers will know I’m a huge sports fan, particularly athletics, so it was fantastic when Eilish McColgan said yes to an interview. Eilish is so passionate about her sport and its legacy, as well as being a bit of a style queen away from the track so it’s been a perfect fit for me. I hope you all enjoy reading the interview as much as I did doing it. I’d like to thank Eilish for such thoughtful and open answers, even if she makes me feel old having been allowed to stay up late as a kid watching her mum run, and jealous she gets to hang out with Paula Radcliffe.

I’d also like to wish Eilish the swiftest possible recovery from her injury so I can see her racing at the Anniversary Games next year, and on to Rio 2016.

Summer is here, you travel a lot to race and train, what is the top tip for travel packing?

I always make sure to pack all my essentials that I need for racing in my hand luggage. It’s not unusual for bags to go missing when travelling across the world and so I always make sure I have my spikes and running kit on me at all times – everything else I can either borrow or buy!

As a steeple chaser you are used to running 3km, which is the length of Oxford Street, where is the strangest course you have run?

I once went for a run in an airport! My flight was delayed and I had a steady run to do – so like a lunatic – I decided to do a 3 mile run around Brussels airport! It certainly raised some stares but my friend joined me so we both looked ridiculous!


Will there ever be a sub 2 hour marathon?

It’s a tricky one. It must be close to the limits of human possibilities but things move on with more advanced training methods and technology – so who knows what’s possible. I’d like to hope it was managed by a clean athlete and not doping.

You have spoken a lot about doping, and said so many things I agree with, are life bans, more testing, or fines going to make a difference?

Life bans aren’t going to totally eradicate cheating. People will still take the risk but I’m sure it would put some people off or at least deter them from taking such a life changing risk. More testing would be beneficial but again – the cheats are always one step ahead and so we would just be hoping that they make a mistake or a slip up through human error. I believe all cheats should have to pay back the earnings they made during that period – I’m sure that would again deter them from perhaps making the easy choice.

You are a second generation runner, with both parents being sporting legends, but do you think female athletes are getting a better deal now and how much further is there to go?

I feel things are even. I feel we actually have equal amounts of male and female sporting role models. People like Jess Ennis and Paula Radcliffe are great role models for my generation of athletes – successful women alongside the likes of Bolt and Mo Farah.


Speaking of your mum, watching her win a world champs gold was one of the things that made me love athletics, who can you say inspired the love you have? (You can’t say mum ;-p)

Apart from my parents – I always grew up watching the Olympics. I remember watching Gebreselassie and Paul Tergat battling down the home straight at the Olympics and just thinking WOW – I can’t believe I’ve just seen such a brilliant race. The Dibaba sisters and Bekele were also very prominent in the Olympics when I was growing up and so I remember just being in awe of how brilliant they were. They looked so smooth, fast and effortless. I wanted to be an athlete just like them.


Training kit is increasingly entering into the fashion world, when you head out to train do you pick kit with style in mind or is it what’s clean at the top of the pile?

It’s definitely with style in mind. I’m very fortunate to be sponsored by Nike and I absolutely love their kit. I always pick outfits that I think match well and that if I were shopping – I would buy. I like the fact that running clothing is becoming more fashionable. Growing up – I used to constantly be in running gear but it was always just very dull and boring plain colours. Now you can wear bright, patterned leggings, nice casual tops and fashionable trainers so I don’t feel like I’m being a slob wandering around in running gear all day!

Do you enjoy doing the shoots for sponsors?

I enjoy doing the shoots for sponsors because it’s just something different and a bit out my comfort zone.


Away from the track, what is the go to Eilish McColgan look?

My entire wardrobe is out of Urban Outfitters. I love it. I sometimes find it difficult to find jeans that fit me properly but they seem to have the right match! So I would say my skinny jeans, Nike Theas and casual top (majority of my clothes seem to be cream or grey!! Haha) is what I would be wearing daily outside of running!

Like many of my readers, you have a blog. What makes you want to sit down and write?

I just love writing. Weirdly enough, I hated English at school and loved Maths – which I went on to study at university. Writing just comes really naturally and is something I really enjoy. I like being able to have a blog that I can always refer back to like a diary. Over the years, it’s easy to remember exactly what happened or how you were feeling at that point in time but the blog is a reminder of that. It’s nice to see exactly what you’ve been through and how far you’ve progressed.

You are from Scotland and an athlete, how can I claim a Tunnocks Tea Cake is carb loading?

You know, I had never even tried one until just before the Commonwealth Games! My grans a big fan though so I’m sure she could convince you there a health food!

Every meet gives athletes stuffed animals and flowers, which gift has made you stop and say “what the **** is that”?

I can’t think of anything I’ve been given that’s been weird! I’m sure there will have been something.. My boyfriend came home last week with a coffee flask, Ice box and shot glasses from a race he was at!


When you do the water jumps you must get wet feet, is constantly drying shoes a pain?

I only try to do a few steeplechase races a year and so just make sure I shove my spikes under the radiator once I’m home!

Do you listen to music when you train, and who is on the playlist?

I listen to music on all my steady runs but never in sessions. I think it’s important to focus on the job at hand and in races – there obviously isn’t any music to push you on! I listen to Kendrick Lamar a lot. On top of that, mainly – A$AP Rocky, Migeul, Frank Ocean, The Weekend, Drake not forgetting Calvin Harris (repping Scotland obviously!!)


Would Paula Radcliffe make the best auntie ever, she seems so awesome?

She is like a fountain of knowledge. It’s unbelievable gaining advice from her and truly has been priceless.


Athletics has a habit of awarding meets and major championships to countries with issues such as the Moscow Event a couple of years ago, should the sport be more aware of when they pick and does it put athletes in a difficult moral conundrum?

They do seem to pick places that have been having a lot of problems but every country has their issues and I think it’s important to vary the destinations as much as we can. It wouldn’t be fun continually competing in the same few places that were conventionally seen as ‘safe’. I think it’s important to be tested and see how you react in different countries and cultures but also test their boundaries a little too – because with hosting these athletics events – things have to become a little less stringent and strict.

Is there enough support for grass-roots participation?

I think we as a country are trying but it’s still very minimal. I do a lot of school talks and almost every one I do – my eyes are opened to how quickly our generations are changing. Kids no longer go out to play – they sit on computers all day. Some don’t have any drive or determination which is fundamental not just for sport but for everyday life in order to be successful. It’s a little disheartening to see young kids unable to run a lap of a track without having to stop and walk. 1 hour of ‘PE’ a week is what most kids are getting these days and I don’t feel it’s enough.

If action isn’t taken after the recent spate of doping cases can the sport survive without serious damage.

The sport will always survive because there are too many clean athletes driving it forward. There are always going to be cheaters – as there are in all walks of life. People are lazy and want to take the easy route to success. It’s also very easy to sit and become defeatist, believing that they can’t be beaten.. But I believe they can. People like Paula Radcliffe and my own mum have shown that drug cheats are beatable. Granted – it makes it much harder but it’s still possible. I wouldn’t be here if I believed differently.

All pics apart from Liz Mcolgan from Eilish McColgans Instagram, and find her website here

About Ross Pollard

Since starting writing on my 31st birthday in 2011 I have held a number of positions at magazines and websites as well as regularly producing articles for numerous publications alongside contributing to TV & radio shows as a freelance fashion journalist including Hoxton Radio & Fashion One TV. Alongside writing, I have worked in other industries helping to design & grow digital platforms, develop businesses and support operations practices. This experience has proved invaluable in building an understanding of how businesses work, and the landscape in which retail, B2B commerce and other commercial operations develop. Knowledge of commercial interests has helped shape my fashion industry insights beyond critiquing of garments

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