WRITTEN FOR SKYSPORTS
After switching to longer distances over the past two years, British international Freya Murray has witnessed a sharp upward curve in her development, resulting in making her major championship debut this year on the track and progressing into a potential Olympian for the 2012 Games, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 27-year-old Scot has this season captured the UK cross-country title, placed 37th in the World cross-country championships and also claimed the UK 10,000m track crown – all before placing fifth and seventh, respectively over 10,000m and 5,000m at the Commonwealth Games last month in Delhi.
There, in her first international championship on the track, the Edinburgh-born athlete capitalised on the form which saw her register three lifetime best times this season.
First came a 15:26.5 5,000m clocking on the track before the Chester-le-Street runner scorched to 32:23.44 over 10,000m when placing sixth in the European Cup for Great Britain earlier this summer.
Although slightly disappointed with her times and positions in India, Murray bounced back to clock an impressive 52:27 for ten-miles on the roads of Portsmouth last month in the Bupa Great South Run, where the Newcastle-based distance-runner scorched to sixth on the UK all-time list for the distance.
“This season has been one of ups and downs for me, but generally I'm happy with the progress I'm making,” Murray revealed.
“I feel like I've developed a lot over the last 18-months and I'm hoping to continue that improvement.
I was generally pleased, but there were some results I'm a bit disappointed with. I don't feel I did myself justice in the Commonwealth Games so that was frustrating especially since it was my first major track championships.”
The former 800m and 1500m runner first burst onto the international scene in 2009 after taking the UK 5,000m title and placing ninth in the European cross-country championships in Dublin that winter.
Linking up with British marathon record-holder Steve Jones has been one of the main contributing factors to Murray’s improvement but her commitment to training whilst working 25-hours per week is also testament to the sudden achievements.
“I've been really fortunate in that I've had some funding from the Scottish Women’s Road Running and Cross Country Commission to go and train with Steve in Boulder three times over the last two years,” Murray explained.
“For the last 18-months or so, Steve has been coaching me, so he doesn't see many sessions or races but we email and talk regularly.”
Additionally receiving support from SportScotland and sponsorship from Adidas, Murray works as a Graduate Structural Engineer in a role which her training has to fit around:
“I usually get up pretty early and do my harder training session in the morning before work. I do quite a lot of my training to and from work, this includes sessions as well as runs of varying intensity. My weekly mileage depends on the time of year and races but probably averages out around 80-90,”Murray explained.
“As long as I want to continue to develop in my running I will find it difficult to progress my career as quickly as other graduates, but there's plenty time to be an engineer, I don't want to get to 50 and then wish I had put more into my running when I had the opportunity.”
Such dedication and focus in evidently due to the British rivalry which Murray faces and her determination to stay on top of her peers in competition:
“I think that there is a lot of potential coming through and it was good to see Steph (Twell, another Scot who placed third in the 1500m and fourth in the 5,000m in Delhi ahead of Murray) run so fast at the end of the season and hopefully there will soon be a group of us at that level, like there is at 800 and 1500m.”
Now looking ahead to the forthcoming cross-country season, Murray will next compete at the European cross-country trials and UK championships in Liverpool next weekend, where she will hope to gain her place on Team GB for the continental championship in Portugal next month.
“My main aim for the cross country season is the World Cross Championships (in Spain) where I'd like to improve on my performance from last year. I'm just getting stuck into winter training now and looking forward to cross-country racing.
My aims are to keep running faster and further! I want to improve at the distances I'm running at the moment, but I’d also like to move up to the half marathon and marathon.”
Should this athlete continue to experience more success the further she runs, then Murray is certainly set for a very successful future indeed.