by Shannon Scovel
Interested in running the Stirling Marathon this April? Concerned about the distance, the training, the nutrition?
The 26.2 mile race requires planning and preparation regardless of one’s fitness level or experience, but Olympic runner Liz McColgan said on Thursday night that her universal advice to runners preparing for the event is simply to put in “time on the feet.”
“There are many ways to skin a cat, but the priority is running,” she said, when asked about which marathon plan she follows and how much cross training she incorporates into her program.
The question about cross-training (the term used for exercises such as swimming or cycling used to complement running and prevent injury) was just one of many questions McColgan answered as part of Stirling Marathon Q&A event held in the Cottrell Building on campus Thursday night. With enthusiasm and passion, the former Commonwealth champion spoke for nearly an hour about her experience in the sport, her recommendations for the race and her advice on nutrition and hydration, with free training plans also on offer to those who attended the event.
McColgan ran through traditional runner advice such as “don’t try something new on race day,” and “don’t ignore the nutrition,” but she added bit of her own philosophy on the marathon and offered personal tips that have helped her find success.
She explained that she never runs the full marathon distance in training, and also shared that she likes to mostly stick to her normal diet in the weeks and days leading up to the race rather than “carb-loading” too much because the excess carbs can make her feel “sluggish.”
Nutrition became a popular topic during the presentation, and a number of runners asked the Scottish athletics legend about her pre-race food and mid-race nutrition. McColgan made sure to emphasize that the marathon, and the training, can be personal and individual, but she did share a few of her pre-race and training favourite food items: porridge with raisins and bananas for breakfast, and a baked potato with tuna and cottage cheese for lunch.
Amy Beattie, the student sport experience office at the university and an attendee of the Q&A event, was enthusiastic about the talk, and she intends to follow the training plan provided by McColgan, but may “adjust it slightly”. Beattie said she hasn’t decided whether to race the full or the half marathon in April, but she appreciated learning more tips about the nutrition and training side of the race.
“It was great to get some advice on the style of runs you should include in your training, such as tempo runs and mixing up the terrain which you run on,” she said. “It was also good to know the quantities of hydration you should take on board.”
Beattie has completed a marathon before, but has never raced the Stirling event. She and other members of the university community training for the marathon will, however, have ample opportunity to train on what McColgan said was her favourite running trail in Stirling: the loop around the loch.
McColgan said that helping bring quality races like the Stirling Marathon back to Scotland bring her great joy, and while she won’t be on the start line this year, she is excited that the course is improved. She competed in 2017, but said that she ran the race “for fun” rather than for time or place, despite still clocking in a time under 3:20.
She also served as an ambassador for the 2017 race, hosting Facebook Live events leading up to the race and writing blogs about running and training.
As both an Olympian and a highly respected coach, McColgan brought a wealth of experience to the Q&A event on Thursday. While she answered many questions, her presence and stories of success also brought inspiration to the crowd, a crowd that will likely find themselves on the starting line of the race on April 29.