Sophie Dunnett P.E.T. Head Coach
Well this won’t take long 🙂 In short I am a much more accomplished coach than I am an athlete but my running achievements have allowed me to coach from a technical and experiential perspective as opposed to just being able to read all the right manuals. I am not an exceptional athlete trying to tell you how I did it. I am someone who has grown from a mediocre club level junior, to a reasonable standard club masters athlete over cross country, trails, road and ultras.
I have competed over every distance from 800m to ultras and duathlons and love the structure of a 10k as much as I thrive on the uniqueness of off road or bespoke distance or multi-day events. My biggest achievement was as a member in the winning National Cross Country team as an Under 11 (honest they used to race U11 juniors at Nationals back in the old days).
My worst race was a marathon but boy did I learn how not to do it which I will gladly share with anyone taking on this event for the first time. I have coached an athlete to a 2.25.00 marathon which proves that you don’t always have to be able to do it yourself to coach it. I returned to training to compete in 2017 following a wonderful 24/7 commitment to two of my athletes over a number of years and am now chasing what I like to affectionately call OAP Pb’s.
Being a Master50 athlete has its advantages including a lovely pottery mug and a District 10K medal. I have also completed a number of trail and mountain ultras, again placing due to racing in the Masters age groups 🙂
I say all of this to emphasis my mantra to running, ‘Believe in the Process’. As a coach and athlete, I am in a wonderful position of living by my beliefs and testing out theoretical hypothesis in real time. I can draw parallels between coaching theories and application and have a real insight into the highs and lows of endurance running. I am on the same journey as my athletes in fine tuning the process to get the best performances.
To see my running journey, check out my Power of Ten profile
I started coaching in a junior track and cross country club in 1987 when I returned home to the North of Scotland from University. I did not set out to coach at the level that I currently do but I developed as a coach, as my athletes developed.
Along the way two things were fundamental to my ability to nurture and support my athletes; one was my continual knowledge development through the various coaching qualifications I have undertaken and two was the mentoring I was provided with from some of the best coaches and team managers in Scotland and the UK who have informed my beliefs.
As part of that cycle of development, I have been Head Coach at North Highland Harriers (NHH) since 2010. I am as comfortable supporting a club level athlete working towards personal best times as I am my GB athletes focused on performance on the international stage, and can adapt my style and technical coaching delivery to suit each. I travel with athletes the length of Britain and Europe, and have team managed for Scottish Athletics which took me all over Britain with the International cross country and track teams.
I work with athletes on a one-to-one basis and you can access some of their running bios on the Testimonials page. Most of these athletes are coached online and at a distance, both within the UK and abroad. I make regular trips away to coach groups of athletes on a face-to-face basis and to coach / crew at events they are competing at.
Level 1 Assistant Coach, Scottish Athletics (2002), Level 2 Event Endurance Coach, Scottish Athletics (2002), Level 3 Performance Endurance Coach, UKA (2010), Level 3 Theory Endurance Coach, UKA (2016)
Coaching Children and Young People, Sports Coach UK (2003), Good Practice and Child Protection, Sports Coach UK (2006), Fuelling Performers, Sports Coach UK (2007)
Sports Psychology Training, Coaching Highland (2008), Certificate in Foundation Studies in Exercise, James Watt College (2008)
Supporting Athletes with Eating Disorders, Scottish Athletics (2018), British Athletics Safeguarding in Athletics (2020) Emergency First Aid, Orkney College UHI (2020)
UESCA Certified Ultrarunning Coach (2023)
Awards / Nominations – Sports Scotland Highlands and Islands Performance Coach of the Year 2013 Nominated Sports Scotland Performance Coach of the Year 2013
Nominated Performance Coach of the Year, Scottish Athletics 2015, 2016 & 2019
Awarded British Empire Medal, New Years Honours List 2021