PALO ALTO (29-Jun) -- When it was Laura Muir's turn to step to the podium at the pre-meet press conference for tomorrow's Prefontaine Classic here, longtime meeting director Tom Jordan posed a question which wasn't part of his prepared notes.
PHOTO: Laura Muir in advance of the 2019 Prefontaine Classic (photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly)
"Should we call you Dr. Muir?" asked Jordan playfully in recognition of Muir becoming a qualified veterinarian in her native Scotland last year.
Muir, who is not yet practicing, smiled and replied, "Technically, yeah."
Just like earning her veterinary degree, Sunday's Prefontaine Classic at Stanford University --the only stop of the IAAF Diamond League in the United States this year-- is an important part of Muir's plan to achieve her biggest life goals. Working with coach Andy Young, they have a program in place so that Muir can run her best at both the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha in September (an unusually late date for those championships) and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo next August.
"I started working on it two years ago, and I keep changing it all the time," Young told Race Results Weekly when asked about Muir's training and racing plans. "Everything's targeting actually towards Tokyo almost rather than Doha. That is the real focus, and I built back from there."
Muir loves indoor track, so she ran a full indoor season this year winning her second consecutive European titles at both 1500 and 3000-meters in front of her home crowd in Glasgow. After that, Young made sure she got in a good rest and recovery period before she ramped up for outdoors.
"For this year we had the indoors, then a break; that's a break she wouldn't normally have," Young explained. "Of course she came back injured, got healthy, came back injured. So, I gave her ten days off. She's having a fairly normal summer, then go away to prepare specifically for three to four weeks for actual Doha."
After the first of the two Diamond League finals in Zürich on August 29, Muir and Young will head to Potchefstroom, South Africa, to train at the moderate altitude of 1340m/4395 feet there. That's high enough for Muir to improve her aerobic base, but not too high for her to lose any leg speed for Doha, something that comes naturally to the 26 year-old, Nike-sponsored athlete.
"We're kind of fortunate in that Laura can always run fast any day of the year," Young continued. "So, I can build my preparations towards the bigger picture."
Muir has run four outdoor races so far this year. She used the British Road Mile Championships in London on May 26, as her rust-buster, then then won the 1500m at the cold and windy Bauhaus Galan in Stockholm on May 30, in 4:05.37. She quickly got her legs turning over again by running a very fast 3:56.73 for 1500m at the Golden Gala in Rome on June 6, then did a 2:00.63 800m in Montreuil, France, on June 11 to further hone her speed.
For tomorrow's 1500m here, Muir will need to be at the top of her game when she faces a loaded field which includes Kenya's Faith Kipyegon, the 2016 Olympic Champion; America's Shelby Houlihan, last year's Prefontaine winner; Ethiopia's Gudaf Tsegay, who boasts a 3:57.40 personal best; and Morocco's Rababe Arafi, the silver medalist from last year's African Championships.
"This year, it's the fastest I've been at this time of the year," Muir said, referring to her fast race in Rome. "We're not really at full, full potential yet. You know, because I've been training hard. We've raced a little bit. I've been training a lot the last two weeks before racing again tomorrow. It's all about not losing form this summer and maintaining and building towards Doha because that's the big one."
Along with training mate Jemma Reekie (a 4:05 1500m runner), Muir and Young have a special relationship and make a great team. When asked what makes Young the right coach for her, Muir did not hesitate with her answer.
"Honesty," she said. "You know, he's very, very honest. If you have a good run, he'll say, well done. If you have a bad run, he'll say not so well done. I think you need that honesty, someone who will really tell you how you're performing."
Tomorrow's meet at Cobb Track & Angell Field is sold out, according to meeting director Jordan, and about 8000 tickets have been sold. The meet had to be moved from its usual home in Eugene because of the demolition of historic Hayward Field which will be replaced with a new stadium. Extra seats were added to the stadium here to accommodate the crowd.
"We're not in Eugene anymore," Jordan said.