Liz McColgan-Nuttall MBE is a Scottish former middle-distance and long-distance runner. She won the gold medal for the 10,000 metres at the 1991 World Championships, and a silver medal over the same distance at the?1988 Olympic Games. Liz was also a two-time gold medallist over the distance at the Commonwealth Games, as well as winning the 1992 World Half Marathon Championships, 1991 New York City Marathon, 1992 Tokyo Marathon and 1996 London Marathon. Her 10,000 metres best of 30:57.07 set in 1991, made her only the third woman in history to run the distance in under 31 minutes. Both that time and her marathon best of 2:26:52 in 1997, still stand as Scottish records.
Liz, who is a mother-of-five children, was also chair of Scottish Athletics from 2003 to 2005 and her first-born daughter, Eilish, has been following in her mother’s running footsteps by competing for GB herself. Liz is Ellish’s lead coach and has taken her to a number of World class championships including the Olympic Games in 2012 and the World Championships in 2013.
Our Volunteer Report Charlotte Beckett got in touch with Liz to ask her about her own career and her experience of coaching in Doha, Qatar.
How would you describe your personal coaching style?
My coaching style is individual to me .I do not go along with the generic thinking of how to train for endurance. Mainly because I was self coached and have learned how my sport works. Each athlete is an individual and one coaching plan does not just suit everyone. So the challenge is to work best towards the athletes being the best they can be, and that’s what keeps me progressing as a coach
Whilst being such a successful runner yourself, did you always think you might become a coach?
I have always known I would go into coaching as even as a youngster I was always interested in learning why sessions were planned and what they were trying to produce. So used to read up in all the old endurance papers and books. I love developing athletes and the challenges that this brings.
Apart from the increase in speed, how do you think running events in the Olympics have changed over the years, since you competed in the 1990s?
There has been a change in performance in the Olympics now mainly due to the drugs awareness in my sport. There is an African domination in the sport now, and this has hurt the development in the European standards as more and more do not believe they can compete against them which is a shame as I believe they can, You just need tot rain properly.
You have recently relocated to Qatar and are starting to coach girls who have never exercised before. Has this changed your outlook on running, woman in sport and cultural differences in sport at all?
I am in Doha Qatar but I coach international school kids. Before I came out to Doha they only did athletics in schools for 6 weeks, so those kids that enjoyed athletics had no opportunity to train. So I set up Doha athletic club and has been really successful. We have found some great talent both boys and girls and we compete abroad as there are no other clubs to compete against. My plan is to set up other clubs in surrounding area in Doha and create competition.
How does coaching an athlete for an Olympic games differ to other competitions?
There is much more work in coaching an athlete to Olympics. There are other elements that come into play. Planning ,training ,nutrition ,sports science, competition ,performance, training camps ,recovery, its not just as simple as going along to coach kids and timing? I have really honoured to have coached several top class athletes and share their journey, which has made me a better coach.
What has been your best coaching moment to date?
Eilish my daughter making the world champion ships team in 2013. She had fractured her ankle and had an operation so could not deal with loading of running. I devised a training programme through running only 3 times? in the week the rest was x training with gym work and she went onto get a PB in the steeplechase and finish 10 the in the world that year . it was a very challenging time as coach and mother
Author: Charlotte Beckett is a centre court netball player at the University of York studying English and History. She plays a variety of college sport alongside netball from tag rugby to volleyball as well as organising sporting events at the university and running the Amsterdam Marathon 2015. Charlotte is glued to the media during the two week olympic game period and was lucky enough to watch London 2012 in her home country. Her aim is to visit the games in another country one day, combining sport & travel!