Laura Muir on the highs, lows and lessons of her career so far

Laura Muir

25-year-old Laura Muir is a runner who needs no introduction – the British record holder in the 1500m and 2018 World Indoor silver medallist sat down with Runner’s World to share the lessons of her career so far.

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.’

Related: Eilish McColgan on running, rest days and the secret to getting a PB 

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.’

Laura Muir

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 running route:  ‘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 the 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.’