Q&A with… Liz McColgan

Country: Great Britain / Scotland
Profession: Coach
Career highlights:

  • Seoul 1988 silver (10000m)
  • 1991 World Championships gold (10000m)
  • 1992 World Half Marathon Championships gold
  • Commonwealth Games 2x gold and 1x silver
  • World Cross country champs: 1987 silver and 1991 bronze
  • 1996 London Marathon gold (2nd in 1997 and 1998)
  • 1992 Tokyo Marathon gold
  • 1991 New York Marathon gold
  • Her marathon best of 2:26:52 in 1997, still stand as the Scottish record.

Liz coaches her eldest daughter Eilish, who she has guided to the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, a Bronze medal in the 3000m at the 2017 European Indoor Athletics Championships, a silver medal in the 5000m at the 2018 European championship and the Scottish 3000m steeplechase record. In 2017 Liz was the only female UK coach to have an athlete qualify for the World Champs.

She is currently based in Doha where she heads up Doha Athletics Club with her husband John Nuttall, a former British Athletics endurance coach.

You have said that at 19 years old you knew you could be good – what gave you that confidence to pursue a professional running career?

I knew from the training I was doing that a lot of people would not be able to do it, so I gained confidence from pushing harder and doing more. I then also realised the longer I went the easier I ran! So, over the years I become stronger both mentally and physically and found the times I ran in workouts gave me confidence for races.

After having a baby, you continued to win major races, what was the most challenging part of being a mother and an athlete competing at the highest level?

The hardest part was getting back into fitness after having my daughter, but having kept training throughout the pregnancy helped me get back into shape quicker. Also, balancing being away on camps and racing, as well as adjusting to travelling with a baby, becomes incredibly challenging. You just need to be a lot more organised though and have a good support network – I had my parents who were a great help to me.

We read that you have lost some of your love for athletics because of the advances in shoe technology and what that means for performances, could you tell us a bit more about your stance on the matter?

I am just frustrated as the shoe gives a definite advantage to those racing in them, I feel all athletes should race in the same technology of shoe, so the win is due to actual performance and not aided.

Every athlete will retire one day, so what did you find to be the most difficult, and most enjoyable, part about transitioning out of athletics?

The most difficult for me was that I was forced to retire through injury. I was not ready to end my career and thought I would get back into racing. It was very difficult mentally to let go of the idea that I would compete again, and it took a long time to deal with the loss of competition in my life. However, coaching helped massively to give me a new focus. Now I don’t miss racing myself as I get that adrenaline high from watching my athletes!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like


Country: Great Britain Profession: Athlete – Discus Career highlights: No.4 on all time UK rankings – 65.56m 2019 Universiade finalist- 4th Going to number 4 on the UK’s all-time list…

Q&A with… Mark Otieno Odhiambo

Country: Kenya Profession:  100m Athlete Career highlights: National record holder (10.14) Current National champion Mark has represented Kenya at the World Athletics Championships, World Relays, Commonwealth Games, African Athletics Championships…