As part of our 'off season training series', we're talking to elite athletes with Precision Hydration in their bottles to find out how they're using the next few months to ensure they hit the ground running in their races.

In our latest blog we caught up with 2020 Olympic hopeful Eilish McColgan to see what she's doing in training in order to give herself the best possible chance of qualifying for her third Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer...

Hi Eilish! You started the winter by winning a 10km race on a pretty testing course in Sheffield, so I imagine that result has got you pretty excited for what’s to come in 2020?

Hey PH, I'm really excited by the improvement!

I really wasn't expected to run as fast as I did on such a tough course but I came away 35 seconds faster than last year.

It bodes well heading into 2020 - knowing that I'm stronger than ever before and that training is heading in the right direction. We just need to stay consistent, healthy and keep plugging away!

How will you approach your training during the early part of 2020 to help ensure you stay consistent and healthy then? 

My training will be more strength and endurance focused over the winter months. So in terms of my actual running, it will be along these lines...

Day Session
Monday 7 miles (easy)
Tuesday 10 kilometres (reps on the track)
Wednesday 7 miles (easy)
Thursday 7 miles (easy)
Friday 5-7 miles (tempo efforts)
Saturday Rest
Sunday 12-15 miles (easy)

In the past we have tried to do three hard sessions a week, but we have found I operate better off two days of hard sessions. It has reduced my injuries and illness by quite a substantial amount. Four days a week I will cross-train in the evening for around 45 minutes.

This may alternate between the spin bike or cross trainer. It's just supplementary, as even though I cycle a little on the spin bike, I wouldn't say I enjoy it! All of my cross-training I find pretty boring but it's 'a means to an end' for my running.

We know that feeling all too well... So, what’s your favourite run workout and what advice do you have for any of our readers who might be dreading the thought of getting out of bed for a run tomorrow morning?

I like fast reps. Something like 1000-800-600-400-200 where I can feel myself getting faster as we go down the distances.

And my best advice would be to schedule a run with a friend! If you know someone is going to be waiting for you the following morning - then it will force you to get up and get it done. The key is to stay accountable.

Image Credit: Eilish McColgan Instagram

Looking ahead to Tokyo 2020, how will you change up your training for what could be a third Olympic Games following your appearances in 2012 and 2016?

If I make the team, we will be heading out to Tokyo as early as we possibly can to ensure that I'm acclimatising to the conditions and getting into the correct time zone too. Ideally, we will have at least four weeks out there to prepare.

Your boyfriend, Michael Rimmer, is a fellow Olympian and runner as well, what's the biggest positive of having him on your team?

He has been a huge influence. It makes a big difference having him with me on training camps as he acts as a stand in coach for me due to my mum [and coach], Liz, working full-time and living in the Middle East.

It's very rare that she can come watch me train and so Michael really is the one on the ground ensuring I hit my splits and helping me make those day-to-day decisions.

I feel very fortunate to have him in my life. Being away for months on end can be tough but it's made so much easier having my best friend with me for most of the year.

A happy runner is a fast runner!

Very true! And this may seem like an obvious question but what are the goals for you in 2020 and what would constitute a 'dream year'?

My goals are always to keep improving! It's a simple goal but something we always aim for.

Time-wise I want to get closer to the 14.30s for 5,000m, and sub-31 minute for 10,000m is my major goal for the year.

For the Olympics, my aim would be to break 14.40 and break into the top-six in the world. I may also look at the 10,000m as a potential event but we will decide that nearer the time...

And finally, what are the ambitions beyond 2020?

We will definitely look to do a marathon at some point. I'm not quite sure when that will be as our focus is fully on track for now and the next Olympics, but I have no doubt that for 2024 we will be targeting the marathon distance.

I'm excited and scared in equal measure about the prospect, but I'm looking forward to a new challenge!

Thanks Eilish! Good luck with the off season training and we look forward to catching up with you again in the build-up to Tokyo 2020.