Gillian McColl is 46 and lives in Scotland, so she already know’s how tough this challenge is going to be.
Gillian signed up simply because she wants to run the Outer Hebrides. “It's an amazing opportunity to do something that has never been done before in a beautiful part of the country. I have never done an event/race where I will be part of a team so this will be a bit out with my comfort zone but that is another one of the reasons I wanted to do it.”
Gillian is one of the more experienced members of the group. She did her fiurst half marathon in May 2016, and after running the same distance on trail back on 2017, realised that it was trails or nothing for her. “I realised I loved trails” says Gillian. “From there I’ve done a number of ultras and never looked back, I’m still amazed at how quick the body adapts and allows you to just go further and further.I’ve never been a fast runner but realised over the last few years that I love the long-distance events and speed is not so important – although it would be nice to be faster!” I can see a theme appearing with these blogs….
Once again the guilt of being away from her family and kids has held Gillian back in the past. “It’s only been the last few years that I’ve really got into running again but up until now I think I’ve felt to guilty about taking more than a few hours out for myself as I have an 8 and 9 year old. It means so much to be doing something like this, to be able to just step out of everyday life and have an opportunity to run in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland for 5 days.” It’s easy to forget that going out and being a badass adventure queen can actually be the best example you can set for your children, and Gillian is learning that.
“My advice to other women is just do it. You will be amazed at what you can achieve and do not ever let yourself or other people make you feel guilty about taking time out for yourself.”
Gillian will start the challenge physically match fit, but thinks is hugely important to make sure you have done your mental training too. “The most important thing is preparing yourself mentally” she continues. “You obviously need to have a good physical fitness but when things get really tough and tiredness/bad weather kicks in its your head that will pull you through it. I have several sayings I say to myself when things get tough with the top one being “Don’t be shit!” which kind of covers it all!”
“I know now from experience that you can feel really shit one minute and everything can feel doom and gloom but if you get yourself into the right mindset you can feel amazing again, sometimes just putting music on and singing can really pick me back up. I also remind myself that I put myself in that position and I’m really lucky to be out doing what I love and if I wanted easy, I would have booked a spa day.”
Whilst Gillian’s mindset and physical fitness are great, that doesn’t mean that she’s not worried about spending 5 days crossing some of the harshest terrain in Europe. “The closer the event is getting the more I worry about getting injured and not being able to start or finish the event. I’m also nervous about meeting all these amazing women and worry that I will not keep pace with them.”
Don’t worry Gillian – most of us are more scared of your pace than you’re scared of ours!
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