Pat Gallagher: 56 years of service to athletics and counting

Pat was too shy to join an athletics club when she was younger, but was encouraged to do so by her schoolteacher and since then has had a lot of success in the sport. We caught up with her to discuss her journey through the sport, especially as a masters athlete and what coaching means to her.

Pat has had success throughout the different age groups, which required an awareness of training load and a close working relationship with her coach.

“My training didn’t change a great deal until I reached 50 or 55 and then I cut it in half, instead of twice a day, I went once a day. I never did a lot of miles and that just suited me. Nigel Gates coached me and he was brilliant. He couldn’t understand why I could run 400m, 800m, but not 1500m, or anything longer, so he put it right.”

She clearly found the right training plan for her, as in 2012 she won not one, not two, but three World Masters titles. However, it’s the earlier titles that she remembers best.

“I remember the titles more from when I was not expecting to win. I just couldn’t believe it. I was embarrassed to win then.”

Supporting future masters athletes

Her advice to people looking to take up masters athletics for the first time is:

“To take their time. It takes a few years to get going. I started back after a tragic thing in my life, so it saved me really. And it took me two years, maybe three, to get back where I thought was reasonable and then I got better.”

When she’s not training, or competing herself, Pat loves to coach. She dedicates her time to coaching young female athletes at two clubs, which involves an hour of travel each way to training sessions.

“I love helping the athletes and at the end they’ll say, ‘thank you’ and I think I’m only doing what I like, I don’t need to be thanked.”

It’s this commitment to the sport, that meant Pat received an award for Services the Athletics at the South West Regional Volunteer Awards. Read more about the winners here.

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