Most brains function in such a way that the ability to concentrate on more than one thing at a time is incredibly challenging.
And that’s not just multi-tasking either – very few are capable of being able to hold down more than one job or focus on more than one project at once. Our brains just don’t work like that.
Not Laura Muir’s though. Not only is the Scot arguably the best middle-distance runner this country has seen since Dame Kelly Holmes – with many expecting her to medal at Tokyo 2020 – just last week she also qualified as a vet!
The act of combining studies and training isn’t so rare in the sporting world – I work with athletes studying for psychology and business masters as well as accountancy and personal training qualifications – but veterinary studies is a whole new level entirely.
Not only do you have to learn the anatomies of a huge variety of animals, you also have to discover how to diagnose and treat a vast array of ailments, made harder by the fact these different species can’t communicate what is wrong in the same manner humans can.
It wasn’t like Muir was sat on her bum studying out of textbooks either. Veterinary studies is a degree that involves a huge number of practical elements that can be very physically demanding. For example it has been reported that she used to get up at 5:30am to milk the cows.
Imagine doing that and then having to head off to training four or five times a week… And then having to cope with the pressure and expectation that is so heavily placed around her by the media. It certainly is a good job that Muir has high stamina levels!
Yet despite all that the Glasgow University student has continued to impress time and time again on the world stage. To put things into perspective, here are just some of the athletic achievements Muir has achieved since beginning her degree back in 2012:
- Competed at Commonwealth, European, European Indoor, World and World Indoor Championships as well as an Olympic Games
- Broke Yvonne Murray’s 27-year-old Scottish 1500m record in 2014 aged just 21
- Broken both Dame Holmes’ 1000m and 1500m British records, as well as the British Indoor 5000m record
- Became only the third British woman to win a Diamond League event in 2016
- Took golds in the 1500m and 3000m at the 2017 European Indoors, breaking the championship records on the way
- Won bronze in the 3000m at the 2018 World Indoor Championships having nearly missed the race after being caught in a snow drift as she raced from sitting an exam in Scotland to the event in Birmingham. She then followed it up with a silver in the 1500m a few days later.
It’s not been a completely smooth ride for Muir either. There was heartbreak on home turf at Glasgow 2014 as she could only finish 11th in the 1500m final while, despite a huge effort to chase down serial winner Genzebe Dibaba in the same event at Rio 2016, the Glasgow University student eventually crossed the line seventh.
Then there was last year’s World Championships in London. Having raced to get fit for the event after suffering a foot fracture, Muir once again pushed monumentally hard but ultimately fell short of the medals, finishing 4th and 6th in the 1500m and 5000m respectively.
But it is these which actually make Muir’s future so exciting. At the age of 25 there is still an abundance of running left in her legs and now that she has the option to focus solely on her running there is seemingly no limit as to how good she could become. There will be a hunger to right those wrongs too, something which will only spur her on further.
The fact that she has broken seven records and picked up four major international medals while undertaking one of the hardest degrees going is, quite frankly, astounding and is exactly why Laura Muir deserves to make The 52.