In the first post in a new blog series, former GB international Colin McCourt explains why he’s having to decide between a sub-16:00 5km or 17 tattoos

Hi everyone, my name is Colin McCourt and I’m a former international athlete for Great Britain. I’m 32 now and a dad to a beautiful baby boy, Finn, and have a beautiful, supportive girlfriend called Rebecca.

I’m not going to lie – I have let myself go. At my peak I weighed in between 72-75kgs, and I’m now … well I was 94kgs until recently. Before Finn was born me and Rebecca would just sit around and eat takeaways together. Even after Finn was born, I was full of excuses: “I’ve worked all day, I can have a pint … or three…”, “Let’s get a pizza, it’s too late to cook now”, or “I’ve been up all night, I deserve a bacon sandwich”.

I was also having three large full-fat lattes every day, washing it down with cola. At lunch I’d hit up the local sausage roll joint for a few steak bakes. I was basically a dustbin! I would always have a headache and get out of breath walking to the shops or even up the stairs at work.

As little Finn became more active, I really began to realise how out of shape I was. One day I found a picture on my phone of me from my running days. I looked like a completely different person. It was one of those moments where reality just hits you; I sat there for a while just staring at the photo and then that was it – I had found the motivation I needed to get fit.

This is where the bet comes in. I posted the picture I’d found on Instagram, and went for a run. And then I thought, ‘why stop there?’. I asked Rebecca to snap a photo of me with my top off and posted that as well. As soon as my friends saw it, our group chat started going nuts. I didn’t even bother reading it for an hour or so as it was mainly them just ripping into me. Then one of them suggested the bet and everyone jumped in.

Somehow the following terms were agreed – if I couldn’t run a sub-16 minute 5km by December 31, 2017, I would have to get all of their names tattooed on me … all 17 of them. If I did it, they’d owe me £1700 between them – £100 each.

They were all in love with the idea (of course!) and after much persuasion I eventually agreed. About an hour later it hit me that to achieve this I needed to run a 5:08 mile … ahhh.

All this was 33 days ago. I have since trained six days a week, starting off in the first week with just a 20-minute morning run. Then, in the second week I upped this to 20 minutes in the morning (outside) and 20 minutes in the evening (treadmill).

I’m trying to trick my legs into getting that old stride back and save my calves from exploding. However, there is nothing I can do about the chafing and the man boobs I’ve acquired – I actually thought about getting a sports bra at one point.

But it’s going well – my body is holding up and I am loving this journey I’m on. It’s only the beginning – next week I’ll talk about my weekly routine and my thought process on how I am going to achieve this goal and avoid getting 17 new tattoos.

» You can read more on Colin’s challenge here. Look out for regular blog posts from Colin on, while you can also follow his journey on Instagram here