Inverclyde AC / North Highland Harriers
PB’s –14.28 5k, 29.46 10k, 49.56 10M, 65.38 HM, 2.25.47 M
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.”
PB’s – 14:47 5k, 30:27 10k, 70.02 HM
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.”
North Highland Harriers
PBS – 37.58 10K, 1.23.36 HM
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.”
Lancaster and Morecambe Athletics Club / Edinburgh Uni Hares and Hounds
PB’s – 5k – 14.52min
Achievements – 5th World Mountain Running Championships, Argentina, 2019, 2nd Scottish University XC Champs, 2021, 7th European XC Trials, Liverpool, 2021, 1st U20 East District XC Championships
“I started running competitively at age 13 for Lancaster and Morecambe AC, a track focused athletics club. By the age of 15 I had drifted from the track to the hills where I started fell racing competitively. I first competed for England Under 17’s in the 2018 Junior Home International Championships which kick started my competitive mountain running. After racing in the U20 race at the World Mountain Running Championships in 2019, I started preparing for the transition from the junior age categories to the seniors.
I approached Sophie in February 2021 to assist with this transition as well as to provide more specific off-road coaching. My goals for the season revolved around racing for GB in the 2021 European and World Mountain Running Championships and Sophie immediately got to work setting a training programme to incorporate effective but interesting hill specific sessions. The transition from working with a single coach at my club to working with both my former coach and Sophie was well communicated and efficient. Sophie’s wealth of coaching experience, particularly with hill running and longer endurance events was hugely beneficial, even more so for a young and inexperienced athlete like myself. As a competitive runner herself, I find that Sophie is able to understand the difficulties that come with training and racing which allows us to communicate well as we’re always on the same page.
Sophie’s sessions have always been engaging, well thought out and they progressively load from week to week. Sophie is excellent at talking about why a particular session is useful. A good example of this would be changing my hill sessions to continuous reps including fast downhill recoveries as I was preparing for mountain races with undulations and laps. Whilst Sophie’s sessions are interesting and keep you on your toes, they are tough and she isn’t afraid of squeezing every second out of your legs! I would highly recommend Sophie as a coach and look forward to another season working with her.”
North Highland Harriers
PB’s – 17.57 5k, 36.01 10k, 1.19.14 HM, 3.09.33 M
“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.”
Metro Aberdeen Running Club
PBs: 5k – 23.28min, 10k – 50min, HM – 1.48hr, M – 3.44hr, 50k – 5.10.04hr
“I had thought about getting a coach for a while and a few of my friends highly recommended PET to me. After following PET on social media I could see why my friends said Sophie was the coach for me. Hills and endurance is what I love to do and I also follow Sophie’s Moto of trusting the process.
After having our second baby I found it hard to coach myself, even though I’m fitness coach. So I decided that it was time to have a coach and I didn’t think twice about going with PET.
Sophie has removed the thought process of working out how to train smart. I know my training plan is not generic, it’s written for me to fit around my life whilst working towards what I’m looking to achieve.
My training in the early stages was managing postnatal rehab whilst building strength and fitness levels so that my journey back to running was done safely, which was very important to me. I knew I could trust Sophie with my training in the fact that when I communicated I needed less impact at times then she would work around this by adapting training to suit. Once I was able to add sessions in this put me out of my comfort zone, but at the right level. I would never have done some of the sessions that she has set me but now that I understand the sessions and can see improvements in my running I’m up for doing the work (sometimes with gritted teeth, but always smiling once they are done).
Over and above Sophie’s great coaching, she is very approachable, great on communication and has the perfect balance of being empathetic for when you need to rest but also very good at holding you accountable.
We’ve not been training for long but it’s safe to say over the last 7 months I have come back to running stronger. I’m back racing 50KM’s and back running in the hills. Looking forward to continuing to work towards getting me running further and faster.”
Orkney Athletic and Running Club
PB’S 20.20 5K, 41.35 10K, 130.00 HM, 107.43 10 MILE, 3.27.08 M, 2.23.47 30K, 4.15.15 50K
“I was never a runner or particularly athletic in my youth but tried my hand at the usual team sports. I especially enjoyed football and was proud to represent my home island of Shapinsay both as a league team and in the Parish Cup. I started running in 2013 as a way of losing weight as my metabolism had sadly decided to retire early. I immediately felt I had more energy and better about myself. Running was quite sporadic but I kept building up the miles.
I ran a few races over the next few years mostly over half marathon distance getting my pb down from almost 2hrs to 1.42.27 for the Hoy Half 2015. 2016 saw Orkney gain its own and really quite hilly marathon The St Magnus Marathon. I decided that I would give it a bash and achieved my initial goal of a sub 4hr time with 3:55:10.
Now feeling like an accomplished runner I decided along with my lifelong friend Willy Gibson to try an ultra in 2017 and entered the Ultra Tour of Edinburgh 50k. Finishing together in 6.36.42 This was a fantastic experience and led on to us completing the Ochil Ultra 2018 and Highland Fling in 2019. Many beginner mistakes were made along the way but the seed was sown and I knew I wanted to keep competing in ultra marathons.
Unfortunately, 2020 saw the arrival of Covid-19 and no racing was possible. I had been successful in the ballot for the 2020 Highland Fling so decided to run a short trail loop near my house on ‘Fling Day’ completing 69 loops for 53 miles of a virtual Fling in 10.23.43. Later in 2020 with restrictions lifting Willy suggested we run all the Orkney Mainland sections of the St Magnus Way. This turned out to be 57 miles taking us 13.33.59 and was the first time it had been run in one day.
I went into 2021 at a bit of a loss. With Covid-19 still around I had no firm running plans. I decided my main goal was to run 2000 miles in the calendar year. I struggled for motivation for the next few months. I wasn’t quite sure what was wrong but realised I had become too focused on the end result. I wasn’t enjoying running as it had lost its purpose day to day. I also felt a burden trying to plan out my running and keep improving, I had plateaued.
I heard of Sophie through word of mouth from athletes I knew locally who were coached by her. In late April 2021 I plucked up the courage to email her, she replied saying unfortunately she was full but was intrigued by my situation as I run ultras but live on a tiny island. We had a further phone conversation and she agreed to take me on. A training plan soon followed and immediately I felt less burdened and more focused.
From that point forward, I have made steady and at times quite dramatic improvements. My training planner is populated a month in advance and any races I have entered (or been encouraged to enter!) are added as a more distant goal. I have regained focus, motivation and regained my love for running. It has meant training hard in hard sessions and easy in easy sessions. This sounds simple but is something I had struggled to do myself. My weekly mileage has increased but my overall fatigue level is less.
After starting 2021 with no firm racing plans Sophie’s influence meant I had many start lines. This has greatly improved my race craft and developed me as a runner. Overall this has also allowed me to enjoy my preferred longer distances, to race and compete rather than simply completing them. I placed much higher than my usual mid pack finishes too. Highlights were 17th at the Speyside Way Ultra with a 50k pb 4.33.20, followed 2 weeks later by 3rd in The Harray Half Marathon in a pb 1.30.00, then finishing the season with 30th (10th Vet) in The Dava Way Ultra with a 30k pb 2.23.47, a marathon pb 3.27.08 and another 50k pb 4.15.15
It’s clear to see Sophie’s approach has transformed my running. Her easy going and flexible approach allows me to fit my training around other commitments and also Shapinsay’s lack of hills and space. She is never pushy and has allowed me to find my own path whilst gently encouraging me along the way. She has also developed a club feel by connecting her athletes through pre race chat groups and training groups on social media. This is very beneficial for someone training mostly alone. I now believe in myself like never before and most important of all I believe in the process!”
Shettleston Harriers / East Sutherland AC
PB’S – 15.07 5k, 32.04 10k
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.”
Orkney Athletic Club / Orkney Runners
PBs – 18.36 5k, 38.03 10k, 1.29.04 HM
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.”
1st claim club: Cheshire Dragons
2nd claim clubs: West Cheshire and Dundee Hawkhill Harriers
Current pbs: 3000m track 10.17, 5000m track 17.33, 5k road-17.31, 10k- 35.57
“I started running as a junior and joined my local athletics club, Dundee Hawkhill Harriers. As a junior, I represented Scotland at x country and track.
I took a break from running in my 20/early30s to focus on family and my career. I also re located to live in England. I started back running seriously again as a vet 35. I managed to represent Scottish masters at the British x country Masters champs in 2017 and 2018.
I found that despite performing well, my road times had plateaued and I had not gained a PB for over 2 years and felt very frustrated indeed. I also sadly lost my mum in 2019 and picked up a hamstring tendonaphy injury that took 9 months to heal. I had a lot of “thinking time” whilst injured and thought that it was the perfect time to look for a coach that would guide me and keep me injury free. Also, to allow me to improve my road times and to race well as a master in my age group.
I have been coached by Sophie since 2020. I have seen big improvements to my overall performance and I have lowered my 5k and 10k times. I managed to place 8th in the 5k and 12th in the 10k as a vet 40 in 2021 UK rankings. I also won the Cheshire 5000m title in 2021 at the Cheshire Track and field Championships and set a championship best time. I have also managed to gain a bronze medal at the Cheshire x country championships in January 2022.
I am finding that I am remaining largely injury free and I am enjoying that structure of the training plans that Sophie sets to fit around my work and family commitments. Sophie is always available if I need to change my sessions last minute or general advice. She also sets a monthly “catch up chat” over the phone to review my plan and discuss any feedback etc.
I find Sophie very approachable, professional and knowledgeable. I am thrilled and delighted that she is my coach and I am looking forward to continue to work with her improving my road and track times and hopefully adding some more titles.”