Canadian adventure the perfect tonic for Muir

Laura Muir helps launch the new European Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 2019 mascot - Scottee the Scottie dog. Pic: Craig Williamson/SNS
Laura Muir helps launch the new European Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 2019 mascot - Scottee the Scottie dog. Pic: Craig Williamson/SNS
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“I love a dog,” Laura Muir proclaims. Even a costumed canine, it would appear, a happy coincidence yesterday at the unveiling of Scottee – the mascot for next March’s European indoor championships in Glasgow, the latest super-sized beast to have entered the orbit of the Scot in recent weeks as one glorious season has ended and another looms speedily on the horizon.

Killer whales. Humpback whales. And a grizzly bear named Boo. With a first-class veterinary degree stashed away, the 25-year-old has a natural affinity for all creatures great and small. Understandable that she rewarded herself for an unfeasibly taxing six months that delivered world and European medals, plus scholastic graduation, with a dream trip across Canada that transported her from the frenzy of the inside lane to the diversion of the wilderness and the rich variety of inhabitants nestling within.

“It was probably the first time for the best part of seven years that I’d actually had a break from both the veterinary and the running,” she affirmed. It was the first time in a while I could completely switch off.

“The two big places I’d wanted to do were Australia and New Zealand – and Canada. I only had two weeks so I thought the Australian one would be pushing it. I’ll hold that for a few more years but Canada worked out pretty well.”

She ventured west in the company of her training partner Jemma Reekie. Unshackled from their coach Andy Young, and vice versa. Athletes of Muir’s stature spend inordinate amounts of time in the air and on the road. More so now for the reigning Diamond League 1,500 metres champion when her calendar no longer must be programmed meticulously around the whims of Glasgow University.

All of which means the tri-partite Team Young is free to jet off to the warmth of South Africa next month for an extended training camp, followed by a traditional dabble in cross-country, prior to an indoor campaign in which all roads will circle back towards Glasgow and perhaps the lone opportunity during her career to pick up a major prize on home turf.

It seems likely Muir will defend her 1,500m crown at the Europeans within her training hub at the Emirates Arena. Same distance too, you’d expect, at the outdoor world championships in Doha in early October. “I’d like to see her do a half-marathon soon,” Brendan Foster, the Olympic medallist and long-time BBC pundit, said recently. “Sifan Hassan (Muir’s Dutch contemporary) has done a good one. I think Laura has a marathon in her as well.”

Not any time soon, Young confirms. Muir – surprisingly left off a ten-strong shortlist, announced yesterday, for the IAAF’s Female Athlete of the Year which included Hassan and British team-mate Dina Asher-Smith – was granted leave from the rigours of the 5,000 metres in 2018 and although variety remains a spice, next summer will be as much about preparing her for Tokyo as reaping Qatari gold. Which means seven years’ worth of veterinary knowledge, and further chances to get up close and personal with the animal kingdom, will be placed into hibernation.

Solely an athlete, for now. “I just moved flat as well so I need to sort that out,” she reveals. “Things have built up over the last few years that I need to sort. I’m going to South Africa next month so I knew I wouldn’t have that much time.

“But hopefully next year, I’ll have time to do some charity or voluntary roles.”

Instead, the only dogs she will encounter are those scampering upon the trials around her adopted hometown. Freed from the library and lectures, this is a whole new and exciting world opening up for Muir. “It was strange to come back and not have to go over notes or think about what prep I needed to do,” she grins. “I just had to go on holiday. That was bizarre. But I’m happy with where I’m at.”