It’s lucky that Eilish McColgan’s boyfriend, who doubles-up as her coach, is quite as fit and strong as he is.

Because there’s been times in recent months that he’s not only had to metaphorically stop from lacing-up her trainers and going out for a run, but also physically hold her back.

It’s quite an image.

But such has been McColgan’s desperation to return to full training after months spent on the sidelines due to injury, it perhaps comes as little surprise that when the first glimmers of recovery surfaced, the 33-year-old needed a little reminding to take things easy.

“Michael does have to physically hold me back at times, that’s pretty much true,” laughs McColgan as she describes what her boyfriend and coach, ex-GB athlete, Michael Rimmer, has been forced to do in recent weeks. 

“I’m always wanting to push myself on, I’ve always wanted to do that wee bit more – in sessions I’ll always wonder if I’ve done enough and if I should do another rep or another mile.

“It’s my natural instinct to want to push on and that’s probably why, in the past, I’ve fallen ill or gotten injured - because I’ve pushed too hard.

“I definitely struggle getting the balance of pushing things but not pushing too hard. If I was left to my own devices, I’d probably just batter on but by having Michael with me 24/7, I have someone who’ll say no, you need to be sensible.

“It’s such a fine balance because if you’re not able to push yourself to the brink then you’re not going to achieve things because, ultimately, it’s by being able to get into that zone that allows you to win medals, break records and run PBs but at the same time, you don’t want to be in there every day.”

The Herald: Eilish McColgan set a new 1500m PB, just 0.22 off her mother Liz's lifetime mark

McColgan’s had a testing time over the past year.

With the distance runner having had the year of her life in 2022, winning Commonwealth gold and silver, as well as European silver and bronze, she began 2023 in the shape of her life.

Two outings, in March and April of last year, saw her break the 21-year-old British 10,000m record before smashing the British half-marathon record just a few weeks later.

The world was, it seemed, at her feet.

Until, that is, injury intervened.

As she prepared to make her debut over 26.2 miles at the London Marathon, a knee injury threw a spanner in the works and, as it turned out, obliterated her year.

McColgan has now not raced in over 11 months and, in fact, spent many of those months unable to run at all.

Instead, she had to resign herself to a mixture of cross training, biking and hydro pool training to maintain her fitness.

For someone who’s become too accustomed to injury lay-offs over the course of her career, she’s no stranger to rehab.

But this spell on the sidelines has turned out to be the most testing of them all.

“This hasn’t been the hardest injury to recover from physically but mentally, I’d say this is has been the toughest one to come back from.

“I put in so, so much work at the start of last year and then I ended up getting injured. The one thing that’s kept me going is I managed to race twice – if I hadn’t had that I’d probably have been quite deflated and wondering if that was it for me.”

But recent weeks have gone well, with McColgan now back running if not at full throttle then certainly something approaching that.

And it’s this recent progress that has, she admits, been the light at the end of the tunnel that was so severely needed.

“It’s very early days at the moment but over the last few weeks I’ve come a long way. There’s still a hell of a lot of work to be done but I’m making really good progress.

“It’s good to be back running rather than being inside in a sweat dungeon constantly cross training.

“I’m in a much better place now because I can see the end of it.”

Prior to the turn of the year, McColgan admitted she felt that making it into the GB team for this summer’s Olympics in Paris was something of a long-shot.

Such is the progress she’s made in recent weeks, however, a fourth Olympic appearance, most likely in the 10,000m on the track, is a distinct possibility.

If she achieves her goal of making it to Paris, she’ll join an elite group of British Olympians who have made it to four Games and she’s even tentatively mentioned the prospect of sneaking a medal.

And while she’s well aware that her timescale is tight, knowing that Olympic success is no longer a fantasy has been the boost she needed.

“The Olympics are definitely a priority for me now. I did my first track session last week and it feels like I’m really heading in the right direction,” she says. 

“I can do these sessions pain-free now and that’s huge. I’m not at my full training volume but I’m not miles off it. It’s just the fitness that needs to click now. I can see it all coming together.”

McColgan will soon head off to an altitude training camp but before that, she made a fleeting visit to her home city of Dundee, where she was unveiled as an ambassador for the electronics brand, Shokz, with their headphones having been something of a life saver for her during her months of rehab.

“I’ve used them for a long time and so now to be an ambassador is pretty cool,” she says. 

The Herald: Eilish McColgan is an ambassador for leading electronics brand, Shokz. Credit: Chris Scott Photography DundeeEilish McColgan is an ambassador for leading electronics brand, Shokz. Credit: Chris Scott Photography Dundee (Image: Chris Scott Photography Dundee)

“Music isn’t something I use on my hard session days but it’s something I use on my easy days and when cross training, I use them so I’ve been living in them recently. It’s nice to have a distraction when training and it’s a way to get the work done.”

Eilish McColgan is an ambassador for leading electronics brand, Shokz (