Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Perthshire ultra runner Gillian made training part of family life to inspire her kids and advises against ‘mum guilt’

5am hill runs and family Munro hikes are part of her routine.

Ultra runner Gillian with her family
Gillian with son Adam, partner Andrew and daughter Alicia. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.

Ultra runner Gillian McColl wants her children to grow up seeing that anything is possible.

And that’s why she believes women need to get over the guilt of taking time for themselves.

Gillian, 50, of Crook of Devon, in Perthshire, has certainly set an example for Adam, 13, and Alicia, 12.

She has completed numerous long distance events including the 160-mile Spine race and running the length of the Outer Hebrides.

Currently she’s training for the 215-mile Race Across Scotland in August.

So it’s little wonder that Adam and Alicia have followed in her active footsteps and those of dad Andrew Begg, a competitive mountain bike racer.

The whole family enjoy sport and exercise together. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.

Gillian says: “When they were younger I had serious mum guilt with spending so much time training but now training is as much part of their lives as it is mine.

“[Adam] thinks nothing of taking himself out for a random six-mile trail run and he wants to complete a marathon one day.

“I’ve built my training around early mornings, late nights, treadmills, multiple runs a day when I could only grab snippets of time and also do a lot of hiking in the hills with the family.”

Ochil hill runs at 5am

And when she says early, she means going out at 5am to run in the Ochil hills!

Gillian, who runs a healthcare equipment company with Andrew, 43, said the kids have scooted, cycled and run with her over the years.

They even camped out on the floor beside her treadmill to keep her company when she did a virtual challenge, running an incredible 700 miles in a month.

Gillian adds: “I want my children to grow up and see that anything is possible. If you set your mind to something and put in the work you can achieve it.

Aiming high: The family in Sierra Nevada when Adam and Alicia were younger. Image: Gillian McColl.

“I think a lot of woman feel really guilty about taking time out to run or exercise but I 100% believe it makes us better parents.

“We should never forget that we need to look after ourselves too.”

Before having children Gillian used to run, kite surf, cycle and more.

Pregnancy then the chaos and sleepless nights of having very young children meant her active lifestyle was put on pause.

50k in the garden

When she returned to running when they started school she was juggling training with being a mum and running a business.

Lunchtime and early morning runs were key. As was involving her children in her training regime.

Even now they are older that remains her approach.

Supporting mum at the Cheviot Goat ultra run. Image: Gillian McColl.

Gillian says: “When they were younger I would take them out on their scooters and they would scoot alongside me on the cycle path.

“I’d do silly things with them like say ‘let me go a wee bit ahead and you can try and catch me’.

“I’d make it into games for them and just run back and forward.

“Sometimes they would sit alongside the cycle path and throw stones and I would run back and forth.

Welcome helping hands over the finish line of the Fort William Marathon. Image: Gillian McColl.

“I’ve even run 50k doing loops in my garden.

“The neighbours thought I was absolutely mental and they’re probably right!”

Camping and climbing

Adam and Alicia have camped at Gillian’s events, including her first Spine race.

They and Andrew will be her support crew when she runs across Scotland, meeting her at checkpoints and camping along the route.

And they have joined her climbing hills, whether running or walking.

Gillian said: “They’ve done a few Munros; they’ve done Ben Nevis, Ben Lomond, Ben Lawers a lot of the local ones.”

Bagging Ben Nevis. Image: Gillian McColl.

And Gillian thinks nothing of getting up at the crack of dawn to get in a few miles before the rest of the family are up.

Recently she was at her friend’s door at 5.15am for such an early morning run. “We went away up the Ochil hills and did three, four peaks and were back home for breakfast at 8.30am!

“She has family as well the same age. You get back because your kids have got clubs, they’ve got everything else on and you have to run around with.

Ultra running and family adventures

“Either get up early or it doesn’t happen.”

Gillian has adapted her training to include her family.

She adds: “I don’t have to do massive miles for these events now. I used to think I need to be running 70 to 100 miles a week and I’d be out constantly.

“Now I’ve changed my training so the peak is 70 miles and I do spin classes two, three times a week and strength training.

“I do a lot of hiking in the hills and I take the family so they are part of that. I feel so much stronger than I was.”

Involving them in her pursuits has paid off. Both Adam and Alicia enjoy sport and athletics. Adam plays rugby and climbs. Alicia enjoys hockey and tennis.

Adam plays rugby while Alicia likes hockey. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.

Both also like running with her and cycling with Andrew, who is competing in the British Enduro Series.

Gillian said: “Adam has got up at 4am with me before and we have driven to a Munro and done that. He comes flying down the other side and he comes totally alive and you see him get that glow.”

Alicia often joins her mum on a run. As well as being physically healthy, it’s also great one-to-one time.

Alicia likes to join her mum on runs. Image: Gillian McColl.

Family time and talking

“Sometimes we will go out and do a mile and then we’ll just walk and chat.

“It’s easier to talk when you’re out doing something together.

“I absolutely love it, it’s so nice that they want to come out.

“Even just being outdoors, I see the difference in them. When they are out they become more alive and smiley.”

Adam ‘comes alive’ running down hills. Image: Gillian McColl.

With both Gillian and Andrew’s training schedules and events, negotiations are often necessary.

“The calendar is a bit of a fight!” said Gillian. “We try to balance it. We write up which weekends we have.

“And we always try to make sure as a family we’re doing lots of things together as well so it’s not just my sport and Andrew’s.

“We need that family time too.”