FORGET glitzy Diamond League track meets and warm weather training in exotic spots like Johannesburg; it is the mud and the cold of Scotland which is Laura Muir’s natural habitat.

Not only will this Saturday see the 24-year-old compete in the 4x1km mixed relay at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country event for a fourth successive year – whether in the vest of Scotland or Great Britain, she has yet to lose – what makes this product of Milnathort unique is that she chooses to frequent such environments in her day job too.

Over the last few months, as a final year student in veterinary medicine at the University of Glasgow, she has grown accustomed to hanging out in farmyards in the early hours of the morning on various different placements. Whatever conditions Holyrood Park has to throw at her this weekend, expect her to take it in her stride.

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“I don’t think there are really too many conditions that will put me off!” says Muir. “I have been out in the dark in the early hours of the morning on the farm, in freezing conditions, and out on courses and things so hopefully Edinburgh this weekend won’t be too much of a challenge!

“Having said that, one year we were at Edinburgh I just remember the last straight just before the final bend, and it being so windy that you had to work so hard,” she adds. “Although from running cross country when I was younger I have experienced far worst, like when your feet are so numb that you can’t feel them or you are falling down holes or puddles. Edinburgh cross country is far better terrain than most places.”

These are the hard yards of Muir’s veterinary degree, but her enthusiasm for the other side of her existence remains undimmed. “It’s been a long time - that will be seven years come the summer,” said Muir. “But I still love what I’m doing. It’s final year and it’s all about doing practical stuff. We’re hands on and we’re putting in practice what we’ve been learning. Like the other day, I was in a couple of surgeries and monitoring the anaesthesia, which was good to see. You get so much variety that it’s difficult to get bored.”

Like most Scots of a certain vintage, Muir’s first experience of cross country came at school – but while some would use it as an excuse to feign a cold or forget their gym stuff – Muir quickly came to love the discipline.

“That was pretty much where I started off, doing cross country races after school,” she says. “We did it quite a lot, I don’t know if some schools are different. We had a golf course near our school so we used to run up there, it was pretty handy.”

Having skipped the chance to compete for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast this summer – her season’s goals on the track focus on the World Indoors and the European Championships instead – for contractual reasons Muir finds herself competing against Scotland on Saturday. She is part of the Stewart Cup mixed relay event which will be screened on the BBC this Saturday lunchtime and has seen as many as 20 talented young Scottish runners been handed their chance in this event over the years. A Scotland ‘A’ team and ‘B’ team are both entered but having brought this title home for Scotland in 2015, Muir has since graduated to Team GB, for whom she did likewise last January, winning after taking over on the final lap narrowly trailing training partner Jemma Reekie.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have a strong team behind me on each occasion,” says the typically magnanimous Muir. “You need three other good runners and I’ve just managed to bring it home.

“Each year, it’s built momentum,” she added. “It was exciting doing it for the first year but now each time, I’ve learned from it. So I’ll see what the conditions are on Saturday. I’m looking forward to getting out there.”

With Arthur’s Seat providing a stunning backdrop, Muir has known the contours of Holyrood Park since childhood. “I remember going there when I was younger and racing the Inter-Districts, the girls Under-11s and 12s and then watching the elite events,” said Muir. “So a lot of us grew up competing there in the morning and seeing the big races in the afternoon. It’s a big part of what I did growing up and it’s great to be part of it still.”

For all this serious business of final exams, work placements and split times, a big part of all this running around in the mud boils down to good clean fun. “It’s difficult to gauge [times],” said Muir. “Cross country isn’t a track race. You can’t compare it to track times. Even though I’ve done the relay a number of times, you can’t really compare to last year either because I don’t know what the conditions will be like.

“So it’s an opportunity to get out and have a bit of fun. In front of the home crowd. It is very important to just enjoy racing, have ones without too much pressure, but at the same time I want to put in a good performance.”

After a double gold at the European Indoors last season, and creditable fourth and sixth place finishes in the 1,500m and the 5,000m at the outdoor Worlds in London in August, the athletics world is agog when it comes to attempting to find out whether Muir will double up too at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham in early March.She is keeping her cards close to her chest on that one but Muir has taken the best parts of her London experience and feels emboldened going forward.

“Overall, I was really pleased with how the championships went,” she said. “Coming fourth by such a small margin was very hard but by the same margin it was the highest I had ever placed at a global finals and I negotiated the rounds well. And I was really, really proud of my 6th place finish in 14.52 in the 5k, an event that I only really started running in January last year. Now it is about how I build on that for next time.”