An Ath­lete’s Life

Bri­tish mid­dle-dis­tance star Laura Muir on the highs, lows and lessons of her ca­reer so far

Runner's World (UK) - - Contents -

Laura Muir

Ca­reer high­light

‘Break­ing the Bri­tish 1500m record for the first time in 2016, in the Olympic Sta­dium in Lon­don. I broke it again a cou­ple of months later, but the first time it was Kelly’s [Holmes] record and it was a re­ally full crowd on home soil. That was pretty special.’

Big­gest dis­ap­point­ment ‘The Com­mon­wealth Games 1500m fi­nal in 2014. I was in third or fourth place with 100 me­tres to go and was just about to kick, but I got clipped, tripped, and came home in 11th. Some­one caught my spike when I was in the mid­dle of bring­ing my leg up – it’s like when you’re go­ing down­stairs and you think there’s a step and there’s not and it

re­ally jars your leg. And at the end of a race, when you’re re­ally tired, it just throws your whole mo­men­tum out. That was gut­ting.’

Most valu­able les­son ‘Be ready for the un­ex­pected. In cham­pi­onships, you might be fastest on paper but the 1500m is so tac­ti­cal. You can go too soon, or go too hard, or you might not be in the right place at the right time and miss the break, or you can be boxed in. So you can be in amaz­ing shape and come fifth. Ath­let­ics can be so un­pre­dictable but that’s the ex­cite­ment of it. No­body’s guar­an­teed that po­si­tion; you have to fight all the way.’

My pre-race men­tal­ity ‘A few years ago I’d get re­ally ner­vous and that ham­pered my per­for­mances a bit. Now I try not to think about stuff too much, as you can wear your­self out do­ing that. I just try to stay calm and fo­cused, but still think about what I want to do in the race.’ On be­com­ing a world-class ath­lete ‘Be­ing at univer­sity [Muir grad­u­ated with a de­gree in veterinary stud­ies from the Univer­sity of Glas­gow this year] helped me keep a sense of nor­mal­ity. Do­ing a de­gree and be­ing a pro­fes­sional ath­lete are both quite high-pres­sure en­vi­ron­ments, but hav­ing the two go­ing on at once helped – one dis­tracted from the other at stress­ful times – and that al­lowed me to en­joy each a bit more.’

Find­ing work/life bal­ance ‘I was lucky that the vet school were sup­port­ive – they gave me a cou­ple of ex­tra years to fin­ish the course. My coach was very help­ful as well; he or­gan­ised train­ing around my place­ments and took on a lot of ad­min. All I had to do was fo­cus on the ath­let­ics and my stud­ies.’

Favourite run ‘Back at home when I was younger, there was this re­ally nice place along Maspie Burn on the Falk­land Es­tate [in Fife], it was lovely – you’d run along­side a burn [small river] and then up this moun­tain through trees and lit­tle tun­nels.’ On deal­ing with bad races ‘It de­pends if you can work out if there is a rea­son, and if there is you can learn from it. It might just be that you are com­ing back from in­jury and tak­ing a while to get back to race shape. Or I watch the race back and speak to my coach and see if there was any­thing I did, or didn’t do, that could have changed the out­come.’

Big­gest sac­ri­fice ‘Be­ing away from my fam­ily a lot. While at univer­sity I only man­aged to see them maybe two or three times a year. I got to see friends from school maybe once or twice per year. I’d have a train­ing ses­sion on Satur­day and by the time I’d seen a physio it would be about five o’clock, and then I’d have to be back on Sun­day night be­cause I’d have stuff on Mon­day morn­ing.’

My mo­ti­va­tion ‘The rea­son I run is be­cause I en­joy it. It’s great to travel the world and win races, but you’ve got to en­joy it. Be­cause I do, I com­mit 100 per cent to my run­ning.’

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