Double European indoor champion will start her summer by racing on the roads of London in May
Racing for the first time since successfully defending her two European indoor titles, Laura Muir will look to pick up from where she left off as she seeks a strong start to her summer season at the Vitality Westminster Mile.
With the London race taking place on May 26, Muir will begin her outdoor campaign around the same time of year as she is used to, despite it being a longer season with the IAAF World Championships in Doha taking place in September and October. The difference now, however, is that the Scot heads into her summer as a full-time athlete for the first time, having juggled veterinary degree studies and exams with her athletics over the past seven years.
“The Vitality Westminster Mile will be my very first race of the outdoor season and then the plan is to get on the track the week or so after that,” explains Muir. “It’s a similar time I guess to normal for me opening up, but this time I won’t have exams a couple of weeks beforehand!
“I’m really excited. It was 2013 that I last competed there (at the Westminster Mile) and I remember it really clearly,” adds the 25-year-old, who clocked 4:46 then to place eighth in a race won by Hannah England in 4:31.
“For a race that was six years ago, I remember it really well. It’s so iconic, running on that course and finishing next to Buckingham Palace.”
Since then Muir has won four European indoor titles, including her 1500m and 3000m golds gained on home soil in Glasgow last month, plus two world indoor medals, 1500m gold at the European Championships in Berlin and two Diamond League titles.
As British 1500m record-holder with her time of 3:55.22 from 2016, Muir’s road mile best currently stands at 4:18.4 and she set that when finishing second behind USA’s Jenny Simpson at the 5th Avenue Mile in 2016.
While Muir says she doesn’t have Laura Weightman’s British record of 4:17.06 as a specific target next month, she could come close, especially as she aims for a maiden national road mile title, with the event incorporating the British one mile road championships.
“I just want to be competitive, go out there and race and really enjoy it,” says Muir, who broke the British indoor mile record with 4:18.75 in Birmingham in February. “Last time I recall there were a few corners and things, so I’m not sure if it’s going to be fast fast but it will still be a very high-quality race and at a really good pace.
“If I can get close to the record then that would be fantastic but for me it’s about going out there and – first race of the season – testing the waters, being competitive and going for the win.”
Describing her European Indoors success as “a great confidence booster”, Muir’s road test will be a good indicator of form as she starts another important season.
“It (European Indoors) was challenging, it was an intense timetable and very good competition,” reflects Muir. “It’s good to know that I can come away from a championships performing like I did, knowing that I’ve got a few months until the major championships later on this year.
“The Vitality Westminster Mile is a really good stepping stone and it will give me a good idea of where I feel fitness-wise.”
Muir’s achievements mean she is always among the headliners whenever she races, but the Dundee Hawkhill runner now relishes the spotlight and uses it to her advantage.
“I don’t really see it as pressure as much, I see it more as support,” she says. “A few years ago, I’d have struggled with the attention and the expectation to be near the front and win races. Now I see it as support.
“The more pressure I get, I think almost the better I perform because I want to go out there and deliver what people want me to do. I run because I love the sport and I really enjoy it – if the pressure is going to make me not enjoy it, then what’s the point?
“Events like the Vitality Westminster Mile are great because you don’t worry about times – you can just go out there, work really hard, race really tough races against really good fields but at the same time you can enjoy it.
“For me, it’s always about enjoyment. I know if I enjoy it then I’ll perform well.”