12 running questions answered by pro athlete Eilish McColgan

Professional middle-distance runner, Eilish McColgan, answers key questions on all things running. Find out her advice on avoiding injuries, preparing for an event and training when you're ill.

1. How many miles do you run a week?

At the moment I run about 40 miles a week and then spend a few evenings on the cross trainer instead of impacting.

I actually don't run a lot of miles compared to other distance athletes as I've had some serious injuries which have resulted in surgery. In my left foot I have seven screws and a metal plate which has meant my training has had to adapt over the last few years.

2. Do you vary up your training routine?

My training routine will vary over the winter and summer seasons. In winter we do a lot more endurance work and in the summer months we bring in more speed as we will be peaking for major Championships. So the emphasis is to be fast and sharp for racing. The hard endurance work is done by this stage.

My general opinion would be that the softer the surface the less impact and aggressiveness on your joints and bones. I do almost all my easy running on trails.

3. What are the ways to avoid injuries such as shin splints, ankle pain, and knee pain?

My general opinion would be that the softer the surface the less impact and aggressiveness on your joints and bones. I do almost all my easy running on trails.

I also cross train instead of running twice a day in order to impact less and foam roll most evenings before bed to keep my muscles loose.

4. How much time between runs should a novice runner take off?

It's usually sensible to start one day on, two days off and then build up into one day on, one day off.

After two weeks you can look to increase your running if the body is coping well. And again after another 2-3 weeks of no issues, it should be safe to increase the load a little more.

Woman running

5. How quickly should a novice runner build up distance for each run over a week?

The general rule for safety is always 10%. Be sensible in adding any more than that. The body needs time to recover and adapt. Without the adequate recovery the body will breakdown.

6. How do you warm up and cool down after a run?

I like to do some light stretching before building into more dynamic stretching and drills for a warm up. They get the body firing and activate the right muscles required for running.

Sometimes after really hard sessions in the peak of my season, I'll use ice baths straight after. It's always really important to get refuelled within 20 minutes of stopping in order for the body to recover correctly.

I don't follow a strict diet but I do try to fuel myself with good food - cooked from fresh. But if I want to have some chocolate or cake, I will.

7. Do you use gels or electrolyte supplements?

I rarely use gels, but when training abroad I use hydration electrolyte tabs to make sure I'm keeping hydrated.

8. How do you prepare for an event?

Preparing for an event takes months and months of training. On the day of my race, I'll always stick to the same routine, from what I eat throughout the day, to the warm up I do before I race.

Woman running

9. How did you stay motivated in cold/winter months?

I have a treadmill which is an absolute lifesaver, so I don't have any excuses for bad weather stopping me. I do spend a lot of time abroad in hotter climates when the weather gets really bad. I'm also very fortunate that my mum lives in the Middle East so I try to visit her over Christmas for a few weeks too.

10. Do you train if you are feeling ill?

No. It's certainly a lesson I've learnt over the years. The body needs to recover and sometimes the worst thing you can do is ignore that.

11. What are the best types of shoes to wear for running?

I'm sure some people feel barefoot shoes work for them which is great, but personally I need some support in my shoes. I wear orthotics and I currently put them into all of my shoes.

12. Does diet affect running?

I don't follow a strict diet but I do try to fuel myself with good food - cooked from fresh. But if I want to have some chocolate or cake, I will. I don't feel the need to restrict my food in any way although I know most other athletes are much stricter. It's just not something I've focused on too much.

I do use supplements. I drink protein shakes directly after sessions. It's the easiest way to get some quick recovery into me and it tastes quite nice too. I also use fish oils most days and take liquid iron every day.

You can find out more about Eilish McColgan here.

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