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Celebrity Health - Eilish McColgan

Commonwealth gold medal winning runner Eilish McColgan speaks to Liz Parry about her nutrition and training schedule in the lead-up to her participation in the 2023 London marathon

Three times Olympian Eilish McColgan has scooped a whole slew of awards for her prowess on the running track. The 32-year-old holds the British records for 5,000m and 10,000m on the track, plus 5km, 10km and the half-marathon in road races. However, this month, Eilish will face her biggest challenge yet as she takes on the London marathon. She hopes to emulate the success of her mum, champion runner Liz McColgan, who won the London marathon women’s race in 1996.

Q How is your training going?

Eilish: It’s been a bit of a challenge changing from the track to the road and also the increase in distance. I suppose there’s always a little bit of an unknown with the marathon. There’s also been a lot of differences with regards to taking on fuel and drinks and gels during the long runs. I would say that those have been the biggest changes in my training.

Q Are you following a specific diet in the lead-up to the marathon?

Eilish: I’ve never followed a diet in my life. As long as I’m getting enough calories and I’m eating good, nutritious food throughout the day that’s what matters. My partner Michael and I cook most of our meals ourselves, but at the same time I still eat chocolate every single day because I want to and it makes me happy! If we want to get a takeaway, we’ll get a takeaway. But I won’t be having takeaways every day of the week. I intersperse that with really good, nutritious foods. I’ve always had a very relaxed relationship with food and I’d like to keep it that way.

Q What do you tend to eat before a run?

Eilish: It’s pretty simple. I eat porridge every single day. I have it with milk, a banana and some berries, and sometimes I’ll add a scoop of protein. That’s the perfect fuel for me. I enjoy eating it and I don’t have any stomach issues afterwards when I go for a run.

Q What do you eat after a run?

Eilish: After I’ve finished a training session I’ll always have a bit of extra protein and carbs. Sometimes I have a flapjack bar which has got some added protein in there. I prefer brands that are made from natural ingredients. I sometimes have a protein shake after training but I prefer to eat proper food if I can.

Q Do you take any supplements?

Eilish: I take Zest Active every morning. I like it because it’s got 25 active ingredients in the formula that help to support my immune system, energy levels, muscle function and brain. It’s easy because it fits into my daily routine. I take a sachet of Zest Active every morning with a glass of water as soon as I wake up.. With me, looking after my immune system is so important with the amount I travel through different time zones. You’re going through busy airports; you’re in busy gyms. You’re constantly around people who are coughing and spluttering. So, for me, staying healthy is one of the key things particularly during heavy phases of training.

Q Do you do a lot of strength work to support your running?

Eilish: Yes. I have two hard interval sessions a week on the track and then afterwards I’ll do a session in the gym for an hour. I do things like squats, lunges and glute exercises using Thera Bands. It’s about keeping everything activated without tiring myself too much. I don’t lift a huge amount of weights. The focus is on my core, hips and glutes as those are the areas that are really important for a good, strong, running stride.

Q Does that help to keep injuries at bay?

Eilish: I think the strength work helps when you’re building up mileage as I’m doing. I’ve noticed a big difference, especially in my stride. When I start to get a bit fatigued towards the end of the longer runs I feel like I can hold it a bit better and keep pushing. And I do think that comes from the strength work. Certain exercises can help with bone density as well, with the added stress through the body, so it’s a great thing for injury prevention.

Q Your mum is your coach. What is your relationship like as coach/mum and athlete/daughter?

Eilish: My mum has been my coach ever since I started athletics, but things have changed throughout the years. When I was younger, it was a bit more difficult to define the lines between mum and coach. Sometimes when I’d come home, small things like if I hadn’t cleaned my room or hadn’t cleaned the dishes, then I’d find myself taking that into training as well. But I was just a kid like everyone else in our running group. I got no preferential treatment. It’s always been relatively easy though and never a stress. My mum now lives in Doha, Qatar, so that has been a big change. I went from seeing my mum at every single session – she would always be there at the track with me – to then just doing it entirely by myself. But I speak to my mum every day, whether it’s texting or calling, and that’s just how our relationship has evolved. I have a brilliant partner, Michael, and he’s the one who is with me every day. So my mum has taken on more of a mentorship role. She sets the programme from afar but Michael’s the one on the ground, making day-to-day decisions. It’s been really good and I’m probably the healthiest and strongest that I’ve been in a very long time.

Q Is it going to be particularly special when you make your debut at London seeing as your mum won the race in 1996?

Eilish: Yes, I think that’s why London had to be my first marathon just for that reason alone. I remember watching it as a kid and I raced the London mini marathon when I was maybe 11 or 12. So the thought of coming to London and actually being a professional athlete on the start line and racing it is really exciting. It’s an event that’s very special to me and my family.

Eilish McColgan is a Zest Active brand ambassador for Revive Active. Zest Active is a super supplement containing 25 active ingredients to support your immune system, energy levels, muscle function and brain. For more information, visit and follow @reviveactive_uk on Instagram. Photography by Rob Jones

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