LAURA Muir celebrated the New Year in her time-honoured fashion: by belting round another 25 laps of the Emirates Arena track. Time-lapse photography of this East End venue would reveal that this flinty 25-year-old has run around this venue more often than any other person in history as it prepares to play host to the European Indoor Championships in March.
While some circuits are more important than others, the 5000m she completed at last night’s Glasgow Athletics Association Miler meet in a time of 14.52.02 here sent her off into the night happy in the knowledge that she is already in the 2017 shape which saw her break Liz McColgan’s British 5,000m record then capture double European gold in Belgrade in 2017. She is a far more assured athlete than she was back then, mind you.
“I’m really happy,” said Muir. “I think I did the last 2km more or less identical to the time when I ran the (5000m) record because we went through 3km three seconds slower. Beth [Potter, who was pacemaking] did a great job taking us as far as she could over 3km and I knew I had Gab [Stafford, her training partner] on me as well.
“I don’t know if there’s anybody who’s actually run around this track more than I have,” added Muir, recently returned from warm weather training in South Africa. “More or less since it’s opened I’ve been training here twice a week every week and before Sol [Sweeney] joined the training group I did the most reps out of everybody. So I’ve probably run round the track more than anybody and I’ve raced on it a lot as well.
“I know it very, very well and it means that, no matter what the pace, I’m comfortable. I’ve run fast times in here and slower times in here depending on the sessions. I’m just really comfortable with where to attack it, where all the different points are, and the set-up of the whole venue as well. It couldn’t really be more perfect for me for a home championships.”
Muir has had six months now as a full-time athlete and it doesn’t seem to be doing her much harm. “I think I’m just feeling a lot more relaxed and less stressed, which is nice, plus I’m sleeping lots,” she said. “The recovery side of things is much improved. We’ve kept the training similar because it’s worked in the past but it’s just nice to have a bit more time and to be more relaxed.”
The 25-year-old is in such confident mood these days that she could actually forego the chance to retain her Scottish 3,000m title, in order to push on to the 5,000m mark. That honour went instead to her training partner Jemma Reekie, even if the 20-year-old’s exertions to go inside nine minutes to book her berth for March and Glasgow were in vain.
Only one athlete just about went the distance with Muir. That was Gabriella Stafford of Canada, who was carried to a new Canadian record of 14.57.45 (almost 30 seconds better than the previous best) on the Scot’s coat-tails. “It is a pretty amazing experience to train with an athlete of Laura’s calibre, right?” said Stafford. “She is amazing but you meet lots of different athletes of different temperaments. Sometimes certain athletes aren’t like super welcoming of having someone else training with them in the same event. The fact she has been so welcoming of me has been a great. She has a great temperament and is just a really kind person.”
Another member of Andy Young’s training group making giant strides is Sol Sweeney, the Perthshire youngster taking things all in his stride as he held off Adam Craig to retain his Scottish 3,000m title. His time of 7.56.79 was four seconds quicker than his previous personal best. He is another dreaming of qualification for Glasgow. “I’m not a million miles away but it is a four second PB so I am definitely moving in the right direction,” he said.
One more Scottish stalwart looking in good shape ahead of Glasgow was Muir’s fellow former Kinross High School pupil Eilidh Doyle. Now back north of the border in Cumbernauld, and recently admitted onto the scottishathletics board, Scotland’s most decorated ever athlete got things under way on the evening, finishing third behind two male runner over 200m in a time of 24.29 which was narrowly quicker than the 24.35 she ran in this event last year. That is a good sign, considering her indoor season last year harvested her first individual indoor global medal.
“It got a little bit messy at the start. I even had my box set up on the wrong line, I set it up on the 400m line and my husband came and pointed out that I was in the 200! I had been so busy last year with the indoors and the Commonwealths than we actually thought ‘should we maybe miss indoors’. I think my coach’s life would be a lot easier if it was in Budapest or somewhere! But when you know it is in Glasgow, you think ‘I can’t miss that!’
Source : HeraldScotland