In this episode of the Loving Every Stride podcast, host Paul Laslett welcomes a very special guest, Colin McCourt to the show to discuss his journey from becoming an elite runner to dealing with what happens after the running stops.
This is a fascinating journey, as Colin takes us through: why he chose running over football; his old training regimes; and the impact his career-ending had on his mental and physical health.
So tune in and get inspired!
Colin McCourt can be found here:
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Paul Laslett 0:02
Welcome to loving every stride the podcast that will help make your running easier brought to you by ex national athlete and UK record holder all of laslett powered by the bright side pte community. For more information and access to your very own running faster formula which will make your running easier. Click on the link in the show notes, enjoy the show and see you on the bright side thank you for tuning in to another episode of loving every stride. And today I am going to love this episode today. And I know you guys listening are going to love it as well. We are in the presence of absolute graceful joy on running that is Colin McCourt. Now, I don't like to give people to bigger heads and boost their egos too much. But I can remember many years ago, training would call him and me and the guys I was training with at the time said to each other this boy is a bit is a bit tasty. Not only is he very handsome, but he just moves so effortlessly over the floor. He looks fantastic when he runs and Colin has had an amazing athletics career. And we want to talk to you about that. We want to talk a bit about what lessons he's learned as a runner, what he would have maybe done differently back in the day. And we'll see up to now but he's got quite an interesting story to tell. So without further ado, I'm going to bring Colin lovely to see me. Hey, mate, how you doing? I'm good. I'm good. Thank you very much for joining us. I know we haven't got you for too long. So I don't have too much small talk. But yeah, I really appreciate you being here. And I know our listeners are going to get a lot from this episode from you as well. Just give everyone a bit of an overview of I know you like obviously when English schools and all that kind of stuff. How did you first get into running
Colin McCourt 2:01
By accident? So I was just like at school, you know, like everyone is, and I played football, like most runners start off their lives. Most boy runners anyway, start their lives off as a footballer, I failed footballer. And I just won like the school's race that was like down just literally over the road. And this lady came up to me and said, Do you want to come to the running club? I was like now I'm going to play football and all that jazz. And she was like, Alright, cool. So then the next year, I did the same race again, they want it again. And she was like, like, do you wanna just come down and see what it's like. And at that time, I was like, obviously, it can be really good for my football to actually be a bit fitter. Because my games was I was like, was that at 14. So my games were going up to 80 minutes from 16. I was thinking that long term black football goals really like just being fitter and trying to be stronger and stuff because I wasn't like a massive kid when I was younger. So just trying to build up that strength. Anyway, I went along, and I really enjoyed it. But that isn't the I wasn't gonna start running until my football coach told me that I couldn't do athletics. And run. I didn't really understand that because I used to play two games on a Saturday and I played above my age and about my age again on a Sunday. So I was playing like four games a weekend. And I didn't really understand what it meant. So he said, I need to choose between running and football. And I just said, I know why it was a good choice. Yeah. And my dad was happy. But I just said basically, you don't make that make a decision like that when I was at 1415. Stick that football up, you bomb and I'll go now I'll do some run. And then so I started running. And I was terrible. If I'm honest, I wasn't like awful for like I could win like accounting schools race. But I wouldn't go any further than that. So like the furthest I got to until I was like 817. So for the first three years of that running was southwest schools was like the highest I got to and that was all out trying to make southwest schools. And then I didn't even realize there was anything above southwest school. So I didn't know there was like counties and counties and all this jazz. And my whole goal was track orientated. Some not very good on grass, was just to try and get to support schools and do that. And then when I got to 1516 ish, like maybe just towards the top age of that I thought I need I can't continue. I can't do this unless I put so there's got to be something wrong. So I don't train them twice a week if that like a Tuesday track session and a Thursday. I was like this can't be right. So luckily enough for me, Louise Damon was at the club. We trained together, we grew up together and she was coached by old code words and she said do you want to try this out? And I was like, Yeah, I guess I want to do better. This isn't working for me like been a kid were you thinking I just want to be the best be better that he can be. So I was like right went along and I was still only doing two sessions a week. Just go into mix go all the way up to Aldershot from Bournemouth on a Tuesday during the odd run that I said I was doing that obviously I wasn't there and then doing Saturday sessions and then that and then a composter Sunday session so we would trapline quite a lot at 1516 to Aldershot to train and then from there just progress Slowly, I'm not the best trainer in the world, I'm more of a recent kind of guy. But then that sort of tailed off towards the end of my life, but my life, I'm still alive. I mean, my you still alive economy still with me I mean my career. But yeah, it's just start building from there like I hated the training aspect of running for a long time, especially when I was younger and up into my life into my 20s and stuff. I just wanted the end goal. So I just wanted to be good. And I knew there was things that needed to be put in place to do it. And I didn't do all the things that needed to be put in place. So I got very lucky that the things that I did in between that got me to where I was, I just didn't elevate myself to another level, because I just wasn't, which I wish now because obviously Hindsight is brilliant. I wish now I had the mental fortitude that I've got now to understand your body and train and stuff when you're a kid and stuff. You don't really get that. But yeah, that's how I got into run and so on off on a tangent.
Paul Laslett 5:51
You know, what's really interesting, Colin, like, say, I know a bit about your background and your and your story. And I know you didn't train, I was training six, seven times a week. And I was I had to train that much at that age, to just keep any kind of pace with you doing two runs a week. But you recognize the fact that what you were doing wasn't working wasn't getting you where you want to get to. So something's got to change. That's going to be the case for a lot of people listening to this podcast going, God I've been I've done the couch to 5k. Yeah, I'm running all the time. But I'm not. I'm still not getting any faster. So I mean, What lesson did you learn for changing your trade,
Colin McCourt 6:35
I guess I'm soaked up and all that it's really easy to stagnate. So like I've got a really brilliant example right now. So like, I just got into cycling over the last like six weeks, six to eight weeks, I've no idea what I'm doing for that at all. I just jumped on my Turbo Trainer, which you guys can see a hand I do it in between work in and like my lunch breaks and stuff. But I have no idea what I'm doing on it. But I just do it every day. And I was that you do that with running. So you get into mind frame with running where it's our I have to go for this run today, I have to or whatever you saw, put some pressure on yourself to dip you don't change anything. So you don't add in sessions. You think I'll just add enough core session here. And that one core session will probably Tide me over for the next month. And actually, it's a lot of repetitive things that you have to do over and over again with different stimuluses to get yourself better. So like, I didn't have a clue that I needed to do bike sessions and start like actually like to get better and get a better FTP and all that stuff, which I know is not running related trainings and analogy. Yeah, I needed to add in bike session. So like with running, you have to add in track sessions, but you also need to then hit different stimuluses. And what we get into, I feel like LIDAR definitely is you. You just go through the motions of right I've done a run here my races that XD owners know I need to run Exmouth and p. So I'll do six or seven runs, and then you start ticking all the boxes, then it becomes more of a textbox exercise more than like a learning process of you thinking right? So I've actually done a tempo today and that actually stimulated this, that I never thought into that detail. When I ran. I just did what I was told, I never questioned anything, especially like between my mid 20s to like late 20s. I didn't question one bit of trade and I was asked to do or anything I just did it when now I delve on multiple forums, check out loads of different things, especially with running as well like because I still run well as we're not up to date because I just tweaked my car, literally 15 minutes before this podcast. Like I'm trying to learn about different systems and stuff. And I know it's a bit not late for me now to make huge improvements in my running and stuff. But like there's always like a different way of doing things. I think we can all agree like it. It's an easy process to say, right? You're going to go and do four or five runs a week at threshold pace, or easy pace or whatever. But then adding in the different stimuluses to get the best out of your body is learning how that works. And I wish my bit of advice in that, like, I've done it. I wish I'd learned all the different stimuluses that needed to make me better instead of just plodding along and turning up for a track session and ticking the box to see well, I should be world class so I should have ran a PB because I've done my six sessions this month and I ran every day I was told to run but did I actually learn something? Sounds like I'm making a computer but like it's not as you just got to like learn your body and your craft where you get into a routine especially like I did with athletics where it's more of an autopilot kind of thing. You just turn the knob ticking the box getting it done. And you're not really asking questions like why am I doing this? What is this the benefit? What systems is this? Is this engage? Am I eating the right food? I had a pizza last night and I'm trying to do a track session this morning. Is that the right thing to do? Like you've asked me to go and do a tempo but I was out drinking until four in the morning at six obviously so why would you not mean like them question do you think about that I'll get away with it. I've just this will be fine. I think we do that. Especially like I found coming back into running from being off from running which we'll get into in a minute that I stopped asking more of that kind of questions where before, when I first started, I just gone with it and didn't really?
Paul Laslett 10:06
Yeah, I think that, you know, that's really interesting. Yeah, it makes perfect sense. So we see a lot of as well, calling with the guys that we look after in our coaching groups is that sit very soon, whether you're an international athlete or whether you just want to complete a parkrun, if you can understand the speed, you should be running out that a personal to you, and can have some structure to what you're doing, you're more likely to do it, you're likely to understand why you're improving, or why you're not improving. And it's going to be a lot more fun as well, because you're learning and we all want to learn and see how we get better. That's a really key part in anyone's running journey is understanding what what speed you should be running at and why. And if you can understand that, you are going to get the best out of yourself. And then if you don't run a PB, or you don't run well, you can start to understand why you did it. Rather than just thinking I'm crap at this, it doesn't have to have a knock on your confidence. So like you mentioned there, like the later part of your running career. And I remember there's one race I saw you do you want, it was a 1500s, you ran for Britain, and you made everyone else a good field, and you made everyone else look slow. And you just looked, you looked brilliant when you were running, and you click on that Collins really gonna kick on from here. But like you say, even at the level that you got to, if you would have understood how to train more efficiently, you'd have elevated yourself even more. So what kind of happened at the end of your running,
Colin McCourt 11:34
I just got a bit lost. Really, I think the problem that you get that well I got anyway, with running is that you always become unwell. I am like a bit inherently lazy, not proud to admit it, but I am you become a bit idle with the fact that you need to put more work in. So you just go through the motions. And I was going through the motions of just thinking it'll happen one day, I'm doing all this, I'm doing all these things. And it's I'm just wondering, and I looked at it the wrong way. Whereas I'll get lucky when I get into when I run in this next diamond league race, I'll get lucky. And I'll run 330 or 330 or so. So if you look back, I'm not saying to anyone to do this, because it's pretty boring. If you look back across my career, there are one race or two races a season that I will run really well. And the rest of the season will be absolutely awful. And that was because I was living in that mentality of I'll get lucky one time, Ron Well, and then that'll be it. But then what happens is obviously when that starts to become your career, and you're paid to do that, the luck has to come out of it. And you have to be able to just perform, and then wasn't not working hard. Towards the end of my career, I was training hard, I was doing all the things I needed to do. Like I was still skip and stuff. But like you have to underpin everything with the hard work. And then if you're living in like a mentality, like I was of luck and trying to just like wing it, and then hopefully that something would happen. If I would get into the perfect race, I'd run a really quick time and then that'd be me set up and I might win an Olympic medal. If I just get in the right race, that's just perfect for me. And living in that mentality that I was living in, doesn't get you anywhere. And obviously a testament to prove that I didn't forward plan, I didn't think about the stuff I was doing. And that goes back to what I said earlier on understanding what it is that you're trying to achieve what you're trying to do. If you don't do any of that, you end up with the end goal that I had, in the first part of my career where you just end up with nothing, you run a few good times, people think that you're gonna be the next day and then all of a sudden, you end up with nothing, because you just decided to live your life as if you're trying to win the lottery, rather than giving yourself the opportunity to be able to do that to do the things that you want to do. So just like you said, getting that getting coaching and getting a structure in place to help you understand what you should be doing. And a new understanding why and being able to ask questions is, like I say, so important. So when you finish running, your body shape changed a fair bit. So I'm an inherently fat person, if I don't train or do anything, I just balloon up because I'm greedy. And I drink a lot and I eat a lot of stuff and like and obviously that happens. So I just stopped I just 2012 didn't make the Olympics. Looking back now I was never going to make it off what I was doing so that's fine, hard to accept but that's the way it is didn't make the Olympics through a massive tantrum and just went into a bit of nasty depression and started drinking and eat in and didn't really have it diagnosed didn't understand what was going on in my body or anything or mind and didn't really get what was happening. So I just spent the next 656 years just drinking and eating until I ended up going from Amiga 68 kilograms. Ray sweet 65 ish to 100 and just under being like 16 stone I think that is awesome for me feet mate was a good thing. I was struggling. I was struggling to move and obviously put a lot of strain on my heart. My body is now changed for the worst, but not in a bad way. Just it's not ever going to be one That was And that's difficult to accept mentally. And that's the struggles that I have now with, obviously no and all the things that I know now that I could have achieved and what my body could do and can do. And they still have glimpses of it now. But it's never even close to the same as what it is like I randomly ran, just for example, like my body can do really stupid things like I ran a 300 the other day and 37. But I couldn't run. I couldn't run any more of them. But it's just random how your body can just like you can I couldn't go into 100 mile I couldn't go and do a run. Like, my I couldn't go into 40 minutes at the moment, but I just tried to do a few miles there and my calf went, but that's just more body just stuff.
Paul Laslett 15:35
What so what what changed then for you calling to go from in a pit of despair? I'm not happy with where I'm at what's because that's an interesting, yeah,
Unknown Speaker 15:44
I didn't know this, to be honest. So I think like the father has distanced myself from running. And I didn't really pay any attention to run in my friends brand. But they're not really like into any friends that I had that was still running. And we'll just retire and towards the end, like when I was leaving, like, Rawson that we all just weren't really talking to Brian and really wasn't in the conversation. It was more football oriented and stuff. So I didn't really notice. And then one day, like five years later, I just couldn't get an appearance. She was like, This is ridiculous. What was going on? Because me and Rebecca were going on a date, I think it was and I was like, I can't change them. And I asked to take a picture of me. And then that's when I was like, Jesus, oh my God, I am massive. Like you don't realize it. So God never obviously didn't take any pictures. Then I started looking back through some like holiday pictures and stuff and was like, how do they notice this, I've got like 20 chins. And I'm barely fitting into a seat into a t shirt and stuff. And then I just have a realization, like, we just had a little baby boy and us wanted to lose weight to be able to actually like play with them and fall and chase them up and down the stairs, because I was a mess. So that night I went out for I think it was like a two mile jog nearly died. And then from there, and I just was getting up at six every morning for like the next six, seven weeks or so and just trying to lose the weight and stuff. But before that the boy my friends and obviously I put a picture on Instagram with some cheesy caption like everybody does, like the time is now they're starting to lose weight and stuff. The boys hadn't obviously seen how big I'd got because they weren't paying attention because obviously we don't face time all the time. And they he just decided to rip the mech army and then challenge me to a bet. So I was tied into happen to lose the way and they bet me that I had to unsub 16 minutes for 5k. And I got a year to do it. So I had a year to get into shape. Or I had to have all of their names, or 20 of their names tattooed on me in Times New Roman bidadoo for free. If I did do it, they had to give me 100 pound each. So it was like two grand to run sub 60 minutes, which I thought was a pretty good deal to be fair, but I didn't realize how much my body had actually like completely changed. So it was a lot of work that I had to put in. That's when I started to learn about and start to get the realization around what I hadn't done when I was a professional athlete, and why I needed to do now. And the effort was completely different. Where before I would just go out the door and run whatever you asked me to go run zone, run for miles in 25 minutes, whatever it is, it'll be done. Bang, no worries, easy peasy. Now it was like run for miles in an hour or two hours or whatever, try and get it done. It was a real struggle trying to let teach the body to like you have like muscle memory and stuff. But I don't really think that I think it works to an extent but my body's not the same anymore. I don't run the same like I don't, I might still have like similar style, but everything's heavy, everything collapses all the things that were tight and in the right place before I no longer scar tissue moves around into horrible places, like I've got a knot now or my quad that I can never get rid of. Because it's a bit of scar tissue from somewhere. It's just appeared in the middle of my quad and it's rock hard constantly but yeah, you just it's that's how I started to lose the weight. And that was like two years ago I think so then since then there's obviously been like a lot of realizations because what that then brought on was all the mental health issues of what had happened and I hadn't dealt with anything about just leave and run in then the pressures I was putting on myself when I finally got fit to maybe push on and do something else which was just starting to get really lightheaded myself and I should have just focused like on what I was doing at the time once I got through all that stuff. It was good like I'm trying to say like I got I broke 16 minutes I didn't have to have the time it took me to clear that out it took me it took me eight months to do it. So I didn't have four months to spare before I ran sub 16 I haven't got anywhere near 16 minutes like my part runtimes are like 17 minutes and stuff and I really didn't think I was gonna get it done if I'm honest like I just got lucky. And I know I've said this earlier which is the one thing I just got in a really good race that was down and the five key races that are down in Preston and managed to run 15 minute 1530 And then from there everything just fell apart again a little bit really like things are starting to get back together now but because all the stuff I hadn't dealt with in the past all these different things I just didn't really push on or do anything and then a week got wasted but like the last two years have been all over the place and I get injured quite a lot in the same spot on one of my cars now no matter what I do tend to have stopped To try and jump on the bike and then supplement that and stuff,
Paul Laslett 20:02
it's a fascinating story. Because you, you've gone from being an elite athlete to experiencing what a lot of people who start running have to deal with, which is the weight loss, due to then doing that, and obviously, all the mental health issues, but the change in your mindset from, I want to be one of the best in the world. So I just want to be healthy for my kids, which I think loads of people will be able to relate to, but the principles are the same. Have a structure now fast, you should be running, enjoy it, stick to it, and really shave every day that you can get out, get out and run if people want to follow your story column where can they find you?
Colin McCourt 20:44
Just my full name on Instagram somehow got lucky. That that? Nothing Madison, not like the McCourt on Instagram that call Yeah, I should have thought that fun. But I didn't let it Nevermind. Nevermind. So yeah, if you want to find a college story, want to see what he's up to, I recommend checking him out on Instagram. And Colin, any closing words, people listening into the podcast? Yeah, just I would say what the best thing, the best advice I can get is whatever it is that you want to do run in or times or whatever it is, and like, just work backwards from the end point. So break everything down into easy manageable sessions, talk to coaches, or whoever it is that whatever form of thing that you're trying to do and work from it from that so much easier to work backwards through your goals than to try and just hit them head on and figure out the ways to get there. Rather than just saying I'm going to do this and then just aim and just bang your head against it until it happens. It's easy to just break everything down and then just flow through it. That's what I did when I was trying to break 16. And then she just worked out what I needed to run and then work backwards from there and started the easiest part of happened to break it down, for example, just to run whatever it was for 200 meters or 100 meters. And I did that repeatedly over and over and over again until I got there. Obviously you can do that a lot more structured if someone's actually catch me
Paul Laslett 22:00
while you go there any inmate and I say I really appreciate you sharing your story and being open with that on the podcast. So guys, again, just if you want to check it out on Instagram, go and check out at Coleman McCourt on Instagram and follow what he's doing and we will see you on the next podcast. Thank you for listening to loving every stride. If like us you absolutely love running. We'd love to have you in our community and help make your running faster. You can join our Facebook group and get your very own running faster formula by visiting the link in the show notes and there will be happy days ahead. Please also remember to subscribe and review so we can spread our love for running. Thank you for listening and we will see you on the bright side
Transcribed by https://otter.ai