Athletics Weekly - - Start - PIC­TURES: MARK SHEAR­MAN

Scot­tish star bounces back from in­jury and looks ahead to Lon­don

GIVEN that she’s study­ing for a vet­eri­nary de­gree along­side her life as a world-class ath­lete, look­ing at scan re­sults is some­thing to which Laura Muir is very much ac­cus­tomed. They just don’t usu­ally tend to be her own.

So, when she re­ceived the find­ings of a closer in­spec­tion of her left foot last month, the doc­tor didn’t need to say any­thing.

The pa­tient knew im­me­di­ately what was wrong.

“I thought ‘there’s a line there and that line shouldn’t be there’,” she says.

That “line” was a stress frac­ture.

The good news was that the in­jury was al­ready in the process of heal­ing when it was dis­cov­ered. The bad news was that it meant dis­rup­tion to train­ing for one of the big­gest oc­ca­sions of Muir’s rapidly de­vel­op­ing ath­let­ics ca­reer.

It was the first real set­back dur­ing a year which had seen very lit­tle go wrong for the young Scot. Euro­pean and Bri­tish records have flowed from her lucky spikes since Jan­uary, not to men­tion the small mat­ter of her be­com­ing Euro­pean in­door cham­pion in both the 1500m and 3000m.

Typ­i­cally, Muir at­tacked her in­jury chal­lenge with pos­i­tiv­ity and hard work. Given the per­for­mances she has pro­duced since re­turn­ing to ac­tion at the be­gin­ning of the month, the ap­proach ap­pears to have well and truly paid off.

She is still fully fixed on tack­ling the 1500m/5000m dou­ble at the IAAF World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don but the 24-year-old ad­mits there was a mo­ment when she won­dered if all she had been pre­par­ing for might be about to get taken away.

“I stayed very pos­i­tive through­out the whole process and I knew it was very im­por­tant that I had to keep that kind of mind­set,” she says. “I worked hard in the pool to keep my fit­ness as high as I could but, yeah, I knew some­thing wasn’t quite right.

“I was kind of hop­ing it was just a stress re­sponse or some­thing but when the doc­tor showed me the scans…I’ve seen scans be­fore so he didn’t have to say any­thing. I’m prob­a­bly too knowl­edge­able, which isn’t great, so be­fore he’d even said any­thing I could see there was some­thing wrong.”

There was, how­ever, some­thing of a sil­ver lin­ing to the in­jury cloud.

“I think we were just lucky that we got it in time and it puts ev­ery­thing into per­spec­tive – how ap­pre­cia­tive I was to get back run­ning and how much I love the sport,” adds Muir.

“You take it for granted, I think, un­til you have some­thing taken away from you. Most morn­ings you’d rock up, go for a run and not think about it but, when I got back from the in­jury, I was just so happy to be back run­ning.

“It could be chuck­ing it down with

rain, or Andy (Muir’s coach, Andy Young) could give me the most hor­ri­ble ses­sion and I wouldn’t care be­cause ‘you know what? I’m run­ning and I’m so happy to be run­ning’.

“It al­most made you com­mit to it that much more be­cause you’re so ap­pre­cia­tive of be­ing back on your feet and run­ning well. I think it makes you change the mind­set a lit­tle bit.”

The real mo­ment of truth came when Muir stepped back on the track to race again – over 800m at the Di­a­mond League meet­ing in Lau­sanne.

Such an arena is ex­actly where she likes to be and where she feels com­fort­able but still there were ques­tions in her mind. Yet, the an­swers were em­phatic. Muir promptly went out and ran un­der two min­utes over the dis­tance for the first time in her life, clock­ing 1:58.69.

“Go­ing into Lau­sanne, I was a bit ap­pre­hen­sive,” she ad­mits. “That was the first time I’d worn my race spikes in about five or six weeks – I’d been wear­ing a more sup­port­ive shoe when I came back. It was a very good field and I didn’t know how I was go­ing to fare at a dis­tance which is not re­ally my pri­mary event.

“But I was de­lighted to go out there and run 1:58. I’d have been happy run­ning around two min­utes so, af­ter that, I thought ‘right, ok we can come back from this’. It was a great first run back.”

Muir fol­lowed it up with a Scot­tish record for the mile at the Müller An­niver­sary Games, just miss­ing Zola Budd’s long­stand­ing Bri­tish mark, plus vic­tory in a crowded and chaotic 1500m race in Padova be­fore com­plet­ing her pre-Lon­don race sched­ule with an out­door per­sonal best of 8:30.64 in com­ing third over 3000m at the Monaco Di­a­mond League.

She is now in Font Romeu for a fi­nal train­ing stint un­der the watch­ful eye of Young. Both Muir and her coach were ques­tioned about the tac­tics em­ployed the last time she con­tested a global 1500m fi­nal, at last sum­mer’s Rio Olympics – the strat­egy of go­ing boldly all out for gold see­ing her ul­ti­mately fin­ish sev­enth, when lesser ath­letes made their way to the podium.

It was a ploy which di­vided opin­ion and eye­brows were ini­tially raised too when it was an­nounced she would be dou­bling up at the World Cham­pi­onships. Muir, how­ever, has com­plete faith in a sport­ing part­ner­ship which has de­vel­oped sig­nif­i­cantly over time.

“I think peo­ple will al­ways give their bit of in­for­ma­tion but, for me and Andy, we are the only two peo­ple who re­ally know ex­actly where I’m at and what I’m ca­pa­ble of, and what I should and shouldn’t be do­ing,” she smiles.

“I’m very lucky in that Andy is very knowl­edge­able, he looks at a lot of very dif­fer­ent races and analy­ses a lot of dif­fer­ent things. He’s a very smart man and we’ll have a chat about what we’re go­ing to do come Lon­don. I trust him 100%. I think you’ve just got to.

“If you start doubt­ing your coach then you’re not go­ing to com­mit 100 per cent so I trust him fully and he puts all the faith and be­lief in me, so it works well.

“Ad­vice is al­ways there if we need it but we’ve got quite a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence be­hind us now. I think, maybe a few years ago, we were both very new to it but we’ve grown to­gether and learned a lot along the way.

It’s been a steep learn­ing curve but I think we have both got a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence now.”

That will come in par­tic­u­larly handy for the chal­lenges which lie ahead – and it’s

work which Muir will em­brace rather than shy away from. No longer is she an ath­lete try­ing to find her way – this year in par­tic­u­lar her ap­proach and form has marked her out as a force to be reck­oned with.

“I’m cer­tainly a lot more con­fi­dent as a run­ner,” she adds. “My con­fi­dence has im­proved ev­ery year as my abil­ity has im­proved but I think other ath­letes’ per­cep­tion of me is chang­ing a lot.

“I think be­fore they didn’t re­ally know who I was or what to ex­pect whereas now they know ‘oh, we’ve got a tough race on our hands’.

“Af­ter last year, we went into Bel­grade (for the Euro­pean In­door Cham­pi­onships) and we thought ‘right, we need to make a state­ment here. We need to put the foot down and show what we’re ca­pa­ble of’. I think we did that in good style and it was a big con­fi­dence boost, as well as be­ing re­ally good prepa­ra­tion for Lon­don with do­ing the two events.”

Multi-task­ing is some­thing Muir is very much used to, what with balanc­ing her sport­ing ca­reer with an in­ten­sive de­gree course. She may have had re­cent months to fo­cus on her ath­let­ics yet she hasn’t com­pletely cut her­self off from her stud­ies.

“The 5000m fi­nal (in Lon­don) is on the Sun­day (Au­gust 13) and then I re­turn to vet school the fol­low­ing Mon­day (Au­gust 21) so I’ve got seven days from when I fin­ish the champs to when I start back.

“I had the sum­mer to fo­cus on the run­ning but, com­ing back on the plane from Padova I was read­ing notes. I’m re­ally scared of go­ing back and not re­mem­ber­ing any­thing so I want to try and keep up to date with a few things.”

She adds: “When I did have my nig­gle – although I still didn’t have much spare time be­cause I was in the pool a lot and physio a lot – it was nice to have the vet­eri­nary stuff there. I could do a few bits and pieces with that and I read up on a few dif­fer­ent things to keep my mind busy.”

With so much go­ing on all at once, it might be easy for Muir al­most to for­get the scale of what she is about to do and all that she has achieved. She is very much aware, though, of the op­por­tu­ni­ties she has cre­ated for her­self – and will make sure she takes a mo­ment to let it all sink in. Just not quite yet, though.

“I think at the end of the sea­son I do,” she says when asked if she al­lows any time to re­flect. “At the mo­ment I’m fo­cus­ing on Lon­don but, cer­tainly when I had the nig­gle, it made me ap­pre­ci­ate how lucky I am to sim­ply be run­ning in­jury-free, let alone per­form­ing at a world-class level.

“I do try and look back at the end of each sea­son and ap­pre­ci­ate what I’ve done be­cause it’s so easy when you’re do­ing well to just keep go­ing and keep go­ing…and not re­alise ev­ery­thing, so I def­i­nitely try to re­flect on ev­ery­thing and ap­pre­ci­ate what I’ve got.”

All be­ing well, there may even be more for Muir to ap­pre­ci­ate by the time she heads back to univer­sity.



Big dif­fer­ence in Bel­grade: be­com­ing dou­ble Euro­pean in­door cham­pion was a key

mo­ment for Laura Muir

Rio run: Muir’s Olympic ap­proach di­vided opin­ion

Mat­ter of trust: Laura Muir and coach Andy Young

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.