CALLUM HAWKINS had envisaged his winter training ahead of the Tokyo Olympics to be considerably more glamorous than it’s turned out to be.  

In normal circumstances, Scotland’s top marathon runner would have spent weeks, if not months, in sunnier climes as he attempted to get his body ready for the searing heat he will encounter in Japan this summer. 

However, with travel being severely restricted, Hawkins has put paid to the myth that elite athletes lead flashy lives, with many of his sessions being done in his shed, with heaters cranked up to full power in an attempt to replicate the conditions he will encounter at the Olympics. 

It may not be luxury surroundings, but Hawkins is satisfied that in the circumstances, his DIY heat chamber is doing the job very nicely. 

“You have to keep topping it up when it comes to getting your body used to the heat,” the 28-year-old said. 

“I’ll hopefully get some warm-weather training in the next few months but in the meantime, I converted my shed to help me get used to the heat.  

“It’s a big shed so it’s not too cramped and I bought a couple of heaters from Lidl and I turn them up and get it as hot as possible.  

“The hottest I’ve had it is 39 degrees – that was extreme though, usually it’s around mid-thirties so it gives me a good feel for the heat.” 

An upgrade to his altitude tent was another lockdown investment - he spent weeks sleeping in it to make up for his lack of altitude training camps - and so he is confident he has made the most of the disruption caused by the pandemic. 

Ensuring he can cope with the heat is certainly a pressing issue for Hawkins; he famously was leading the Commonwealth Games marathon with just over a mile to go in Gold Coast 2018 when the sweltering conditions got to him, causing him to collapse. 

With that incident in mind, it would be easy to assume the Scot would be somewhat wary of the similarly warm conditions expected in Tokyo but on the contrary, he is looking forward to the scorching conditions expected for the Olympic marathon and has well and truly banished any negative feelings that may have come from his disappointment in Australia. 

“I hope it’s on the hot side in Tokyo because I feel like that’ll push things in my favour,” the Kilbarchan native said. 

“In Gold Coast, there were a few factors – it was a bit of a one-off, it was a bit of a freak situation and from that race, I’ve also learnt a lot. 

“I have a good heat strategy and acclimatisation methods now and I know what to do to deal with the heat on the day.” 

Hawkins’ confidence is not ill-judged. His fourth-place finish at the World Championships in Doha at the end of 2019 was his second consecutive fourth place in the World Championships and proved not only could he cope with testing conditions but he can also compete with the very best on the planet. 

While he was understandably disappointed to miss out on becoming Britain’s first-ever male marathon medallist at the World Championships, he was also buoyed by the knowledge he is within touching distance of a major championship medal.  

He is well aware the challenge of getting onto the Olympic podium will be unlike anything he has faced to date but he also knows it is a realistic goal and he admits he does occasionally allow his thoughts to drift towards Olympic silverware. 

“The thought of a medal in Tokyo does come into my head when I’m out running and I’m a bit bored. When I’m doing an easier run and things are becoming a bit tedious, that’s when I let my mind wander to distract me,” he says. 

“A medal is definitely something I plan to go for but it’ll be a lot more competitive than the Worlds so while I could get a medal, I could also finish outside the top 10. You’ve just got to go for it and see what happens on the day.” 

The British marathon trials will take place next month but with Hawkins pre-selected for Team GB, he has the luxury of being able to skip the London race and instead, focus all his energies on the Olympic Games. 

Having little access to physio treatment during the lockdowns meant he spent less time running on the roads and more time on the bike than he typically would but despite having to tweak his training to accommodate the circumstances, Hawkins is confident of the shape he is in less than six months out from Tokyo. 

Having not raced for a year, he admits he is keen to get some competitive action in before this summer but if it doesn’t happen, he will be unconcerned.  

And despite the constant whispers of the cancellation of the Games, Hawkins will be nothing less than full steam ahead until he hears any definitive news

“I reckon I’m in pretty good nick,” says Hawkins of his current fitness. 

“I just need to show a bit of form between now and Tokyo – hopefully I can do that in a race but if it comes to me having to do a time-trial, that’s ok.  

“The problem at the moment is every race I look at seems to be getting cancelled – I’ve got a few options but I’ll just have to see how it works out.  

“I try to not listen too much to all the talk around whether the Games will go ahead or not.  

“The way I have to look at it is assume it’s happening – I can’t press pause and wait for a decision to be made.”