Monday, 6 July 2015

When A Chapter Ends

Stupidity prevailed. Regrettably, I decided to go against my own gut feeling and follow the advice of UK Athletics. I didn't want to cause any more stress or upset to the situation by continuing to argue my case and so I consented to another 8 weeks in the dreaded moon boot! I understand their concerns - they wanted to give my body one final chance to heal naturally. We agreed that after those eight weeks, another scan would be the decider to operate or not. I made a quick decision to jump on the next plane to Qatar (to visit my mum) but also to get out of Loughborough, which had become a very suffocating place to be. I thought the sunshine and rest would perhaps make a difference to my broken ankle but unbelievably, the scan result came back no better than it was two months ago!


Picture from 2011, Navicular fracture!


Even though I anticipated the bad news and deep down knew it wasn't healed - the doctors words still upset me and hit me hard. It's been seven months now. SEVEN months - since I first picked up the injury, out in South Africa and I now face a further 3 months after this surgery. Running pain free is a distant memory and I am reminded heavily of how long it took my foot to recover, from the first surgery (back in 2011) but it's inescapable. This is the only option now. 

How I feel when people ask me how long i've spent wearing the 'Moon Boot'!!!

The surgery isn't a straightforward as I would like. The fracture is very obscure and deep into the bone which means other structures are in the way. A normal surface fracture like a navicular is fixed with a screw inserted between the bones (which I already have done!). This will be a little more complex but I'm hoping that once it's done, it's done. To be honest, a part of me is relieved. The turmoil of the last six months is over. I no longer have to keep voicing my opinions and concerns about it and can relax. It's out with my control. The whole incident has really given my health a knock. I don't feel like I am a particularly stressed person but perhaps I'm unaware. My heart palpitations have become more frequent again which is frustrating. I went through a month period of insomnia - something I've never experienced before! I literally couldn't sleep a wink for about three continuous weeks then on/off for a further two. I was operating like a zombie - such a surreal experience but I finally managed to curb it with some prescribed sleeping tablets. My Estrogen levels are also low which has led to my periods stopping - again something that has never happened before. It's obviously a slight concern, as it's unhealthy for an athlete to experience and doesn't help with my bone health going forward. At my heaviest weight ever - it is definitely not related to that. I'm hoping that this forced rest will do me some good and kick start my body to normal again.
My situation for the next 4 weeks!

I would like to take the time to thank Paula Radcliffe for all her help over the last few months. It has been above and beyond. She is not only an incredible athlete but an absolute credit to the sport. Her knowledge and experience is invaluable and I couldn't begin to repay her for the help she's given me. She's been a loud voice when mines hasn't been heard. My parents have also been a huge pillar of support - keeping me positive and focussing on the tough year ahead. My mums proved time and time again, after serious injuries, that she can go on to improve and so I hope to follow suit. My boyfriend, Michael - has just returned competing after eight months out with back surgery and so has given me a positive outlook on the whol situation. I couldn't be more proud of what he's been able to achieve after struggling for so long - fingers crossed, I can do the same.
The person who has to put up with my injury-fuelled rages - Michael

Daddy McColgan

Paula Radcliffe

Mother Goose


2015 is extinct alongside the dinosaurs. My mind is set to 2016. I will be doing everything I can to make that team. History seems to be repeating itself. It's eery how similar my situation will be leading up to another Olympics but it also resonates with me that things need to change. In 2011, I underwent naivicular surgery in the same foot but managed to rehab myself back in time to make the London Olympics. I'll be up against similar time scales for the Rio Olympics - so I know it's possible. 
CWG Glasgow - Steeplechase

My body cannot cope with the impact of the steeplechase and so it's now, do or die. I need to forget about hurdling and just run. I want an injury free year so if that means attempting to qualify for the 5 or 10k - then so be it. I love running. It doesn't matter to me over which distance - but the steeplechase will always be in my sights. Serious changes need to be made and that begins with my current living situation. 

My mini-me sister. Obsessed with Pugs which explains the hat and T-shirt!
The McColgan and Nuttall Clan

This week, was the most hectic yet. After receiving an email from UKA asking me to vacate the residence I currently live in, by the end of August, whilst finding out I had to undergo surgery - meant I needed to move all my belongings out the house that day! I knew I wouldn't be able to walk around and be mobile in order to move my things for a good few months. We have been told we can apply for new accommodation (endurance athletes) nearer the track but because I will be kicked off my funding this year due to injury - I don't see the point in going through the whole process to then be declined. I want to have something concrete set in place now instead of feeling uneasy and in limbo. My circumstances need to be concrete and my plan of action set for 2016. I also don't relish the idea of spending another year in Loughborough. I've found it very difficult being in such close quarters to UKA and don't agree with the way they operate. Funding is obviously a huge benefit and something that not many athletes can decline but to be honest, it's also been the biggest stress I've ever encountered. Ticking boxes than don't need to be ticked and having irrelevant meetings to fill their quota - is not at the benefit of the athletes and I don't believe our best interests are at heart sometimes. Being blackmailed and forced into making certain decisions is not the way to go about things, athletes should all be treated in the same manner. I used to have a brilliant set up back in Scotland, surrounded by amazing friends and family. I perhaps didn't appreciate it at the time but now I realise how much we were spoiled. 

Sean McQueen, RIP

My friend Sean, ended his life a few months ago and it shocked me and the other people who had grown up around him. He was such a happy, outgoing guy with a huge personality but we lost contact over the last 2 years and he had been struggling. I feel a little guilty regarding how we have all lost contact within our circle of friends. People I would class as my best friends have new friends. People I used to speak to and see on a daily basis are now strangers. It's sad. Everyone becomes replaceable if they don't make the effort to keep in touch. It's not just me at fault but I've definitely not been as proactive as I should have been. I suppose you have to accept that everyone moves on and it's not the easiest to try and plan a catch up when everyone is spread across the UK, with families and real jobs!



My future plans are entirely up in the air. I would love to join a professional group in the US but finding someone willing to take on a heavily injured, Scottish athlete is a long shot. My secondary option would be to spend more time out in Qatar with my mum and split between training camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. All of this comes to a huge expense but I am willing to spend every penny I have in order to make next year happen. I have thought about getting a part time job or returning to university, in order to fund it all but Rio remains my aim and I need to give every minute of my time - to training and recovery. The African athletes have no other focus than their athletics and I need to live that lifestyle, as close as I possibly can. After Rio, if I'm still a hopeless, injures mess of a human then I'll start searching for work but for now - I have a dream to catch. 
The first lovely women I met at my running club.
Some of the old Dundee Hawks Training Squad
Our training group on the annual Portugal Trip
The people who became like a family
The person i've known the longest - Craig


Travelling alone on my way to the hospital ward, is the first time I've felt a little scared and very alone. In 2011 when I underwent surgery, I was surrounded by my close family and a big bunch of my friends and training squad. It scares me a little, how much that has disintegrated but perhaps that is part of growing up and moving on. I continue to think about all the past memories and past fun I had with people that are no longer in my life - living in the past - rather than focussing on the present and future. It's a lot easier said than done but I finally feel like this chapter of my life is over. There have been a lot of stupid mistakes and bad decisions along the way but that's part of growing up. Learning from them is the crucial part and maintaining a strong focus on why you've made them is important. 


The past four years have flown by at a pace, without me even realising. Moving house several times, my parents divorcing, family becoming bankrupt, mum (coach) moving to live in Qatar - there has been so much unrest and change over the last few years - it can be difficult to continue pretending that all is ok but it's important to appreciate, that it could be a lot worse too! This chapter is finally closed. 2016 brings a brighter future and a new challenge to get stuck into. There are times where you think you may have hit the bottom...but you'll know when you've finally hit it... and the only positive, is that there is only one way to go from there - up!  




© Eilish McColgan and www.eilishmccolgan.blogspot.com, 2015. 

14 comments:

  1. WOW

    Holding thumbs for you and 2016...

    I (as a coach) love an athlete like yourself, 100% focused wanting to fight every step of the way and I have no doubt that as he weeks roll by you will make that comeback and the strength and speed will return to your legs...
    Also Thank you for sharing all you did is this post I really enjoyed the read and am looking forward to your new life with a fixed foot!

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    1. Thank you - fingers crossed this surgery will heal the bone properly and I can return to what I love doing - running! :)

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  2. Wow, a heartfelt and honest post, thank you for sharing. I hope that all goes well with the op and you are able to get back to training and chasing your dreams as soon as it is safe to do so. All the best for the coming weeks

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    1. Thanks - 4 weeks is a long time to be off my feet but at least this surgery should allow me to progress in the right direction!

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  3. Good luck with your recovery. I recently had 4 months out with injury and it is very hard to take, even at lowly club level! You will hopefully come back stronger though! FYI - There is a medical device called Exogen that uses ultrasound therapy to help heal broken bones. Might be worth looking into? http://www.exogen.com/uk. I know a couple of people that have had really great results with it.

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    1. I have heard of it and will definitely try and source one for when the bandages and stitches are removed! Hopefully, that can shave off a week or so of my recovery! After 7 months out already, i'm willing to try anything! haha

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  4. Wishing you a quick recovery - amazing blog. I spent 15 months recovering from a smashed left knee in 2007-09 bit I got back. Not as fast but still running and I know you will too esp. knowing so many people are routing for you and care about you. You may not know many of us but we love you and are praying for you.

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    1. Sorry to hear you had so long out with injury - but it's brilliant that you managed to persevere and get back again! I can't wait to just get back steady jogging.. sitting around all day isn't any fun!

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  5. Good luck with everything on your way to Rio. Hard work works and you know that but you still need some good luck to balance out all the bad that's come your way with this injury.

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  6. Wishing you all the very best with your operation and recovery. It sounds like you have had many tough experiences but your focus and openness should see you through. I'm sure all your friends and family will be thrilled to welcome you back if you reconnect with them! Stay strong.

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    1. Thank you - hopefully this will be something to look back on and see how far i've come since surgery! :)

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  7. Hi Eilish, came across your blog via Facebook as your mum is a friend. We met briefly on your last trip to Doha, where I interviewed you for your mum's running club video. Being a top athlete seems to mean a lot of dedication, heartache, tribulation and joy. A real mixed bag. Reading this post really made me empathise just a little more with what it must be like to have gone through such trying times. I just wanted to let you know that God has a purpose for all of us. Sometimes it takes a while to realise what that is. It can be painful along the way but once we realise what we are called to do and start heading in the right direction, you can feel that it is mean to be. With 2016 on the horizon and all that has happened your life, it seems that your have figured out what to focus on. That is good, even though the journey has been tough. You still have friends and family who love you and are there to support you. I pray that you recover fast and strong. I pray that Rio is a success for you and I hope that you find your true calling, moving forward so that you can not only be happy but also more confident in all that God has and will prepare for you. Eewei Chen (Faith Chen's dad)

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    1. Thank you Eewei - appreciate you taking the time to read and comment! Hope you and the family are well. Fingers crossed - i'm on the road back to running again! Will definitely head out to Qatar once i'm back on my feet for some well needed sunshine! :)

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