Testimonials

Andy Douglas

Inverclyde AC / North Highland Harriers

PB’s –14.28 5k, 29.46 10k, 49.56 10M, 65.38 HM, 2.25.47 M

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Achievements –2 x WMRA World Cup winner (2015 & 2019)
6 x World Mountain Running Championships representing GB (2014 to 2019)
6 x European Mountain Running Championships representing GB (2014 to 2019)
5 x British Mountain Running Champion (2014, 2016 to 2019)
Home Countries Cross Country International winner (2016)
Scottish National Trail Champion 2014
3 x Scottish National Cross Country medalist (2nd 2012 & 2016, 3rd 2018)

“I first joined my local athletics club, Caithness AAC, when I was 11 and tried my hand at almost every athletic discipline in the book before finally realising my strengths lay in distance running. During my time at Glasgow University I began to develop an interest in running longer distances, and towards the end of my time there I was mainly competing in 5km, 10km and half marathon road races.

Having finished university I spent a gap year working and travelling around New Zealand and experiencing a wide variety of road, trail and mountain running. Coming back to Scotland in late 2009, I teamed up with Sophie who would coach me from that point onwards. The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 became the main goal and I set about training for marathons in an attempt to achieve the qualifying time that would reward me with a place on team Scotland.

Whilst I made some progress in achieving 10k and half marathon PB’s that would indicate that achieving the standard would be a very realistic prospect, a number of injury set-backs over the years meant that ultimately the goal would not be reached. However, the persistent injuries forced Sophie and I to think of more innovative approaches to training, and this took me in the direction of off-road running and specifically competing in hill and mountain races.

Starting with a good endurance base from the years of road running, and with a bit of pace over the flat surfaces, the transition to hill running was pretty seamless and I was fortunate enough to have almost instant success in being selected to compete for GB in European and World Championships at the first time of asking in 2014. I am still a regular on the cross country circuit and occasionally compete on the roads as well for Scotland, but having now the greater success on the hills and mountains that is where the main aims and goals lie when I discuss my plans with Sophie each year.

We work very well as a team and Sophie’s experience and expertise in endurance training has helped immensely in my transition to mountain running. She adopts a flexible approach with me as having a full-time job in Finance can mean that I occasionally have to adjust the kind of training I have set. This is ideal for me and I believe my longevity in the sport is testament to what our successful coach/athlete relationship is built on. Together we continue to push the boundaries of training and continue to learn and develop our approach to try and achieve better outcomes year on year.”

Michael Cayton
Salford Harriers
PB’s – 14:47 5k, 30:27 10k, 70.02 HM

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Achievements – 6th Place and First England Counter – International Snowdon Race 2019

3 world Junior Mountain Running championship representing England – 1997 – 1999

English British Junior Mountain Running champion 1998

“I represented England Athletics Team at both Mountain and Cross Country between the 1997 – 1999 and went on to represent England Senior Team in 2000 before taking time out of running.

In 2015, I decided to start running again to gain some fitness and fell in love with the sport once again.

Sophie has been coaching me since 2019 and in this time I have found that her approach is refreshing and flexible which allows me to fit my training around my family and career.

I found our initial discussions very motivating and open and allowed me to discuss what I wanted from running and my weakness that allowed Sophie to tailor my training plan to suit my personal needs, that included a mixture of disciplines, including speed work, hills and gym work.

Sophie’s attention to detail is second to none and an example of this is she saw a picture of me running and noticed that my form was impacting my performance and the need to work on my core, which was included within my training plan. These little things can make a massive difference when trying to achieve your goals.

I could not recommend a better coach than Sophie, she has excellent knowledge, a thirst to learn and wants the best for her athletes.  Another thing that I like about Sophie as a coach is that she always tries the sessions before to ensure that each session is planned to help develop each runners goal.”

Emma Dunnett
North Highland Harriers
PBS – 37.58 10K, 1.23.36 HM

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Achievements – 1st Scottish Junior Road Race Championships 2010, 1st Celtic Cross Country International, Antrim 2010, 2nd Junior Home International Mountain Championships, Ireland 2010, 1st Scottish National Cross Country 2011, 1st Scottish Interdistrict Championships 2011, 15th Virgin London Mini-Marathon 2011, 28th World Mountain Running International Youth Cup, Slovenia 2011, 28th World Mountain Running International Youth Cup, Glendalough Ireland 2012, 3rd National 4K Championships 2012, 1st Scottish National Trail Championships 2014, 7th Karrimor Trail International, Keswick 2014

“I have been in the most unique and fortunate position to have Sophie, my Mum, as my coach. As a junior athlete, I saw this as a great advantage to me as I got the expertise from an experienced coach coupled with the understanding of how I worked best as an athlete, as Sophie knew me the best. I started running at the age of eight, and began structured training when I turned twelve. Since then, under the influence, encouragement and support from Sophie, I have achieved twenty-seven Scotland caps across all endurance disciplines; cross-country, trial racing, hill racing, road racing and track, within the space of four years.

Training was structured, which suited me perfectly. The training programme Sophie devised had plenty of variation to keep training interesting, and I was involved in the whole process. I understood why I was doing certain sessions, what I was gaining from these sessions and therefore, even at a young age I could determine what races I would be aiming to peak for.

I had always had success in the North Leagues, competing against other athletes from Caithness, Sutherland, Ross-shire and along the East coast. My first sign of success further afield, competing against the North, East and West District athletes, was at the Interdistrict Cross Country Championships, which takes place in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh in January each year. I crossed the line in silver medal position, aged fourteen and completely unaware of what I had just achieved. Having Sophie with me every step of the way made it even more special. Her support does not stop after training has been devised, she is there each step of the way in preparation towards your goals and aspirations for both training and racing.

For a short time, I experienced another coaching structure. A set up I had sourced out myself to refresh my training. This was after I had been out of structured training and racing for some time due to injury. However, this new set up lasted for roughly nine months before I once again, was taken under the wing of Sophie. The best decision I had made, as five months down the line I achieved a personal best of 1:23:36 in the Inverness Half Marathon.

Sophie’s understanding of a successful coach-athlete relationship is one that has been developed over a long period. Sophie as an athlete herself, understands the importance of this relationship and the ultimate success of both training and racing that you can achieve through fine-tuned athlete-coach dynamics.

Although I do not race as competitively as I did as a junior, and my focus with running has altered as I have moved into the seniors, I retain the same support as I have always had from Sophie and together we focus on training to maintain running as a sport that I love and thoroughly enjoy no matter what level I aim to participate at in the future.”

Jo Smith
Lochaber AC

Achievements – Tiree ultra, Northumberland coastal ultra, Scafell Skyrace, Ring of Steall, Jedburgh three peaks race

“I started off being mentored by Sophie, as I felt I needed a bit of accountability for my training, and someone to reassure me that I was doing the right things.​

About a year later I asked Sophie if she would coach me, as  I work a varying shift pattern of days and nights and have a young daughter, so sometimes the head space to plan training just wasn’t there.

Having been mentored initially meant that Sophie had a good idea of my usual patterns of training/training load, so the move to being coached was seamless.

Sophie is very flexible in her approach, taking into account my shifts/childcare options in that training block and somehow brings it all together.

I’ve always trained alone, so remote coaching works very well, Sophie is in regular contact and always responds quickly to any questions etc, and this regular contact allows for feedback and discussions.

The sessions Sophie plans are varied, and tailored towards specific events on the calendar so boredom doesn’t set in, and you always know that on race day Sophie is willing you on at a distance!”

Kenny Macgruer
North Highland Harriers
PB’s – 17.57 5k, 36.01 10k, 1.19.14 HM, 3.09.33 M             

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“Sophie provides support and encouragement to all her athletes including myself through utilising her extensive knowledge and her commitment, and this has become apparent in me achieving many new PB’s.

Since being coached by Sophie I have managed to achieve these PB’s through determination and commitment to my training. I have taken 40mins off my marathon PB, 25mins off my half marathon PB and 10mins off my 10K PB. It is apparent that Sophie guidance, training opportunities and support from all her athletes has helped us in achieving our goals. It has also given me the confidence to compete in other endurance disciplines -hill running, ultras and cross country.”

Graham Aitken
Insch Trail Runners
PB’S  10K – 38.08,  Marathon 3.53 (Lairig Ghru haha) 

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“I was made aware of PET through reading articles on the successes of Andy Douglas and Ross Gollan (where Sophie was referenced) and from viewing the website I knew her expertise in coaching hill/endurance athletes was exactly what I needed.  I felt personally I could improve a lot as a runner but lacked experience having only really been running seriously for 5 years. In addition, as a coach for Insch Trail runners, I often struggled for time between coaching and work to sort out my own training in enough detail. 

Training is always well structured around my work/coaching and is done remotely through Garmin, Whats App and phone calls due to the fact I live in Abedeenshire.  The sessions themselves are always varied and fun to keep things interesting.  Often the sessions on paper look ridiculously hard (which they are) but they are always manageable.  In addition Sophie goes into detail explaining the idea and reasoning behind the sessions. 

Coaching started back in March 2019 with my main aim of completing Lairig Ghru marathon middle of the year then some big hill races later in 2019 (Ring of Steall as a my main one).  

Lairig Ghru marathon was the highlight of 2019 as i posted a 40 minute improvement from 2018s race and finished in 19th place overall (great result for me in comparison to previous hill races).  This result was really what bought me into the “believe in the process” train of thought that Sophie promotes.  Being honest I felt I may struggle late in the race as I hadn’t done longer runs but that couldn’t have been further form the truth!  

The following months of training continued well and arguably I was at my fittest and strongest level since i’d started running however an innocuous fall running down from Loch Nagar caused me to sprain and damage ankle ligaments resulting in a 4 month lay-off.  Thankfully Sophie was able to create a great cross training plan to keep my fitness to a reasonably good level.  

I was back into full training by January 2020 with a view to aim for Lairig Ghru again and build up to an ultra later in 2020.  However unfortunately COVID has put a halt to any races (or any PBs!) for the foreseeable.”

Oonagh Dunnett
North Highland Harriers
PB’S – 18.42 5k, 40.34 10K, 1.33.36 HM

Power of 10 Profile

Achievements – 2nd Celtic Cross Country International, Dublin 2011, 6th Junior Home International Mountain Championships, Wales 2011, 18th Virgin London Mini-Marathon 2012, 3rd Scottish National Cross Country 2012, 3rd Scottish Interdistrict Championships 2012, 1st Scottish National Trail Championships 2013.

“My interest in endurance running started from a young age thanks to my mum, Sophie, having the same keen interest in both running and coaching. As my interest grew into an avid hobby, Sophie began coaching me in endurance running at twelve years old. Due to the well structured and thoroughly researched training schedule given by Sophie, my hobby very quickly turned into a lifestyle and I delved into high standard competitions across the country. Since the age of twelve I have competed for North, East and West Scottish districts several times, and have ten Scotland caps across the endurance disciplines of cross country, hill racing and road racing.

I was lucky enough to have my training schedule compiled by my mum, someone who knows me better than anyone, and this athlete-coach relationship worked very well for me. We would discuss training plans for every new month and set realistic short-term and long-term goals for both training and competition.

Sophie’s support was not only available through her written training schedules and monitored training diaries, it was also available at every training session and competition that I did – whether that was being timed for my training sessions or making sure I’d remembered to put my race number and timing chip on.

My transition from the junior to senior age group did not go as smoothly as I had hoped as I picked up an injury around the time that I moved away from home for University. I was then faced with the reality of dealing with my first injury whilst being remotely coached for the first time. Thankfully the support and encouragement from Sophie did not differ from her face-to-face coaching, and after a well-thought-out cross training schedule for a few months, I was injury free. Throughout my degree course, my training took on a different path as I chose to focus on my studies and take a step back from running. During this time Sophie continued to provide a training schedule which was more flexible, allowing me to run during the week when I had the time.

Now, having graduated and started full-time employment, Sophie has adapted my training again after a discussion on my new goals for running and conditioning based sessions, back to a more structured schedule.”

Ross Gollan
Shettleston Harriers / East Sutherland AC
PB’S –  15.07 5k, 32.04 10k

Power of Ten

Achievements – 2nd Junior Home International Mountain Championships, Wales 2015                                                                                               3rd Trofeo Vanoni 2017 and 2018                                                                                                                                                                      British U23 fell running Champion 2019                                                                                                                                                                Top 10 Dolomyths Skyrace 2019
Top 10 Mountain Running world cup 2019
1st Trail de Haut Fort 2019

“Sophie has coached me since 2015 taking me from a promising junior to a fully-fledged senior mountain runner with the Scottish squad. I enjoy running and racing in Europe in the summer and racing XC over the winter months. I am currently studying in Glasgow and need my training to be flexible to balance university course work and a hectic race calendar. Sophie consults with me on a regular basis to discuss my training plan which has been developed around upcoming races and personal targets.

Training is flexible, enjoyable, and tailored to my needs involving a mixture of sessions, x-training and gym work. Sophie’s relaxed and adaptable approach to coaching has taken my running to a new level with promising results in several international mountain races throughout 2017 and an U23 Scottish XC selection for 2018. I could not recommend a better coach and look forward too many more years of successful and enjoyable running with Sophie’s knowledge and guidance.”

Colin Barnett
Orkney Athletic Club / Orkney Runners
PBs – 18.36 5k, 38.03 10k, 1.29.04 HM 

Power of Ten

Achievements –  2018 – Highland Fling, 60th – 9.27.25hrs. T2019 – Triple Crown – Highland Fling, 38th – 9.07hrs, West Highland Way, 27th – 20.17hrs, Devil O the Highlands , 10th – 6.55hrs

“I took up running in 2016, from being a complete non-runner.  It was my way of dealing with life issues that had challenged me for years and that I was unable to control.  Running was initially about me running short distances, early in the morning before anyone would see me. Despite running being tough, the feeling of fulfilment was instance and the mileage I covered increased as I got stronger and fitter.

In 2017 I entered my first race, the Kirkwall 10k finishing in 47.45min.  I was over the moon and this marked the start of me seeing myself as a runner.  Fast forward to 2018 and I completed my first ultra, the Highland Fling.  In 2019 I complete the Triple Crown; Highland Fling, West Highland Way and Devil O’ The Highlands in a single year but I still knew there was more to learn so that I could improve on my performances rather than staying at the same level.  

Sophie started coaching me in November 2019, after she came to Orkney for a weekends Ultra training camp and it was like an instant weight was lifted off my shoulders.  From this chance meeting, I know have a structure to my training, I have focus to the sessions and although not able to race currently, I know that my fitness level has improved significantly from the times I am recording in training. As well as the benefits to my physical health, I have also gained a confidence and belief in myself.

Before having Sophie as a coach, I did not do many quality sessions, but instead trained with a focus on volume.  I did not do any faster paced sessions as I was working towards ultras so believed it was all about miles.  I now love speed work, with a great mix of hours in the hills, flat and hill rep sessions.  I know that balancing the quality of my training plan has contributed to my current fitness level.  I have also learnt how to use my garmin and the lap function:-), how to pace sessions and how to recover well.  Sophie builds in flexibility to all of her plans and responds quickly to all of my ……….many questions.”

Richard MacLeod
Lochaber Athletics Club

Achievements: Ben Nevis HR 1.42hr, Carnethy 5 57.13min, Glamaig 54.13min, Goatfell 1.27hr, Ben Lomond 1.17hr, Snowdon 1.18hr, Jura 4.26hr 

“Living in Fort William and being part of Lochaber Athletic Club means hill running is a passion/hobby/form of self torture that I have been enjoying since 2015.

I began to take training a bit more seriously after a fairly poor performance in my first Ben Nevis race in 2016, from then on I started to train and race much more frequently. I have managed to take part in quite a lot of Scotland’s best hill races such as the classic Jura, Glamaig (my favourite race) and the Ben race several times. I have taken part in the final LAMM in 2018 and my running highlight would have to be winning the 2019 Scottish Island Peaks race with a fantastic team.

After picking up an injury off the back of the Island Peaks race I decided it was time to team up with a coach so that I could see how far I could push myself. I started getting coaching from Sophie in August 2019. So far I’ve not had the best of luck in terms of injuries but throughout it all Sophie has really helped me keep going and we’ve seen glimmers of me getting back to form.

Sophie is very easy going, approachable and has a great attitude towards my training. She allows me to have a big say on my plan and where it is going – something I find very important in a coach.

I hope that once racing finally resumes post lockdown we will be able to get some good results!”