Laura Muir, Part 1

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WC London 2017.JPGLondon 2017, women's 1,500m, photo by Getty Images / London 2017

Stuart Weir sent @runblogrun this 2 part piece on Scottish star Laura Muir...this is part 1.

Laura Muir Part 1

775279463_MS_0150_20E767C314D6C8C3B12D7A385FCE1953.JPGLaura Muir, Glasgow 2019 EA Champs, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

The 2019 season could hardly have started better for Laura Muir. She retained her 1500m and 3000m titles but at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow, her adopted home city. When the outdoor season started she had Diamond league wins in Stockholm and London plus second place at Pre and Rome. Add to that a 1:58.42 for 800m at Monaco and she was exactly where she wanted to be with the world championships in Doha to end the season. Little did she realize when she won the 1500m at the Anniversary Games on 20 July that it would be her last race until October. An injury had come and just the wrong time in a big year.

775279463_BL_0090_B6FC01BDA3FA13F91B7AF4A902E327F9.JPGLaura Muir, Melissa Courtney, Glasgow 2019 EA Champs, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

Her first race back was a prelim in Doha which she qualified comfortably in 4:07.37. In the semi, she ran 4:01.05 to secure her place in the final. Defending champion Faith Kipyegon set a new Kenyan record of 3:54.22 which left her well behind winner Sifan Hassan (3:51.95) with Laura Muir running 3:55.75 for fifth place.

775279463_BL_0369_775310D66AF6AA52F5A34D5B1ED66250.JPGLaura Muir, Glasgow 2019 EA Champs, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

Muir commented immediately after the race: "I don't know what to say - I was fifth! Fifth with 3:55!! I am just speechless. I am so happy to run 3:55 but no way did I think I'd be fifth. A couple of months ago I didn't know if I was going to be here, I didn't know if I was going to get to the final. So to run 3:55 with three races in my legs, well I'm speechless that that's not on the podium. But I couldn't have done anything more, I ran my heart out.

gettyimages-1173864009-2048x2048.jpgLaura Muir, Shelby Houlihan, Doha 2019, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

I'm actually really, really happy, I know it's not a medal which is what I would have wanted but to run 3:55... and to be fifth - well that's unheard of! I am proud of myself to run that sort of time off the training that I have done".

Coach Andy Young described the performance, coming off the injury as: Remarkable. The last two and a bit months were full of challenges and really difficult. So, after that to come out and run 3:55.76 - it takes your breath away, that you could run under 3:56, be inside the previous championship record and not medal. And it wasn't far from a medal. But add to that, doing it on the back of the previous two months makes it more remarkable".

Laura Muir Andy Young 1.jpgAndy Young, Laura Muir, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

Reflecting a year later, her assessment had changed little: "I was really happy with it. At the beginning of the year I would have been hoping to win a medal, so, it was disappointing in that respect. But considering the injury I had beforehand, to run 3:55 - I was pretty lost for words. And to run that fast and not get on the podium just shows you the calibre of athlete at the moment. So, considering the build-up, I was very happy. And it gave me a lot of confidence, because if I can do that with the build-up I've had, what could I do when I am 100%? Disappointing not be on the podium but I was proud of myself and don't feel I could have done any better".

Muller Indoor Gp 2019.JPG

Laura Muir, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

2020 started with just two indoor races an 800m in 1:58.44 and an (unsuccessful) attempt on the British record attempt at 1000m. Then lockdown struck. A few adjustments were made with training partner, Jemma Reekie - and her dog, Dolly, moving in with Laura - so that they would count - under the government's Covid regulations - as one household and could therefore train together. As most of their training is running, they were less affected than athletes in most specialist disciplines. With gyms closed they set up a home-gym in the house. The biggest challenge was the lack of physiotherapy etc, as they too were closed under UK Covid regulations.

Brit Bear.JPG

Laura Muir and Brit the Bear, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

In 2019, Muir had started racing in May. In 2020 it was August before the season started. She did manage to get away in July to Font Romeu in the French Pyrenees for some altitude training. When the season started, the races came thick and fast with nine races in seven countries in just over six weeks - five 800s, three 1500s and one 1000m race, resulting in five wins, two seconds and two thirds. She won all three 1500s. Her own assessment was: "I was really happy, particularly that the 1500m was so consistent. And running so strongly was nice. It gave me back a lot of confidence after last year when I missed a lot of racing. It was good to have a bit more experience in that event and have fun with that too. It was just good to mix it up a bit, race and enjoy it.

GB champs 2019 (1).JPGLaura Muir, 2019 Birmingham Indoor, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

She enjoyed the freedom that a year without championship gave. In 2019 she can two only twi 800s. This year there were five. The best one was the win in the Ostrava Golden Spike in 1:58.84. Her three 1500s were at the Stockholm Diamond League, the Kamila Skolimowska Memorial, in Chorzów, Poland and the ISTAF in Berlin. Three races, three wins, three great times (3:57.86, 3:58.24 and 3:57.40 respectively. It was the consistency that pleased her most: "A few years ago running 3:57 would have been my max and 4 minutes my normal. So to run consistently at that pace and on my own as I didn't really have anyone pushing me in the final stages of the races was pleasing. So it's good to know that I can run 3:57, strongly. And if I had had a few athletes around me and had more focus on a particular race, how fast could I go?" I think we will find out the answer to that question next year.

In part two Laura talks about coach, Andy Young and training partner, Jemma Reekie and how it all works together.

Format of events this year

"I barely spoke to anyone throughout the whole year. There were restrictions in place, understandably because you want to minimize contact between people as much as possible. As I said it was a strange year like when you finish a race and you're on a high and you look around and there is nobody there!"

Birmingham 2018 WIC.JPGLaura Muir, 2018 Birmingham WC Indoor, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

Running with no spectators

"It was weird. Normally I'm very focused on the race and I tend not to notice too much of what's going on around me. But in the bigger stadiums you definitely have a bit of a lift in the last 200m if the races is really close, the crowd can pick you up and there is a really nice atmosphere. Not having the crowds there took away from the atmosphere quite a bit. But the same time we're very thankful to have the race. Some stadiums had some spectators in. It's amazing how much noise half or a third of the stadium can create. Some places there was the virtual noise as well, which worked quite well. But at the end of the day I was just quite happy to be able to race. When there were spectators in it was great, if there was recorded sound that was really helpful too. Sometimes there was nothing and it was absolutely silent. It was strange but I'm so focused on the race that it doesn't really affect me."

Laura Muir races 2020

Source World Athletics

01 AUG 2020

13th Triveneto Meeting, Stadio Giuseppe Grezar, Trieste

800

ITA

2.

1:59.54

19 AUG 2020

IIrena Szewińska Memorial, Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak Stadium, Bydgoszcz

800

POL

3.

2:00.34

03 SEP 2020

Meeting Pro Athlé Tour de Marseille, Stade Delort, Marseille

800

FRA

1.

2:00.16

08 SEP 2020

59th Ostrava Golden Spike, Mestský Stadion, Ostrava

800

CZE

1.

1:58.84

17 SEP 2020

Golden Gala Pietro Mennea, Stadio Olimpico, Roma

800

ITA

3.

2:00.49

14 AUG 2020

Herculis, Stade Louis II, Monaco

1000

MON

2

2:30.82

23 AUG 2020

BAUHAUS-Galan, Olympiastadion, Stockholm

1500

SWE

1.

3:57.86

06 SEP 2020

Kamila Skolimowska Memorial, Stadion Śląski, Chorzów

1500

POL

1.

3:58.24

13 SEP 2020

ISTAF Berlin, Olympiastadion, Berlin

1500

GER

1.

3:57.40

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