GIVEN he left with a communications degree and an American fiancée, Jonny Glen would never describe his time at the University of New Mexico as a complete write-off. Not unless he wants to become single again fairly quickly.

But on the athletics front – the primary reason for his three-year stay – there is an enduring frustration that what should have been a golden opportunity just never really worked out.

The Greenock runner went to Albuquerque full of intent of advancing to the next level after showing substantial promise as a teenager, most notably at cross-country where he competed in the world championships.

Instead, external factors intervened and his career “plateaued” in the States, leaving him no further ahead by the time he returned home in the summer of 2019.

Two years later, however, he is finally back on track and at 24 years old is still young enough to achieve whatever he wants from athletics.

A recent victory on his half-marathon debut in East Lothian suggests promise over the longer distances, something likely to be enhanced after joining coach Robert Hawkins’ vaunted Marathon Project.

The American Dream may have turned sour for Glen but he remains optimistic about the future.

“It was a strange time over there in terms of my running,” he admits. “I’d never change it in terms of  a life experience as I got so much out of it including my degree plus I met my fiancée.

“But running-wise it didn’t work out for me. I would never discourage anyone from trying it as the majority of people who go – especially to the university I was at – tend to kick on and do well.

“But there were a lot of external factors that negatively impacted on me. It wasn’t like I started running badly, it was more just hitting a plateau.

“I’d been recruited on the back of doing well in cross-country so it was demoralising seeing runners I was on a level with kicking on while I didn’t.

“When I got home I realised something had to change as I wasn’t getting any better.

“But I knew I could get back into shape - I just needed a whole different training dynamic. And it’s worked out for me now and I’m back on track.

“Doing my first half marathon recently was a major step forward. The stakes weren’t particularly high, it was more a case of getting out there and seeing how I felt.

“I knew I was in a good place with my training building up to that. It was just about how my legs were going to handle it.

“I hadn’t even ran 10 miles before so it was a bit of a shock to the system but I held up really well. It was nine laps of the same course but at no point did I lose my concentration so that augurs well for the future.

“I got added to the Marathon Project recently which has given me access to a little bit of extra funding but also to key support groups and letting me know what to expect when I do jump up to the marathon.”

Next summer’s Commonwealth Games are in his thoughts, with plans this year to post the requisite times to run for Scotland over 5000m and 10000m as well as over 26 miles.

“My coach Mark Pollard and I have spoken a lot about what’s best for me,” adds Glen. “A few months ago I did an 8K time trial down at Battery Park and really surprised myself with how fast I went.

“I looked at the Commonwealth standards for 5K and 10K and realised I wasn’t a million miles away.

“I’m definitely going to target the marathon but I’d like to have it on paper that I’ve got the times for 5K and 10K as well.  

“It all depends on what happens this summer and how much I can squeeze in without feeling the need to be racing every weekend.”

Like many promising Scottish athletes, Glen is having to juggle his working commitments as a trainee electrician with time on the track and road.

Currently working on a project at the Faslane naval base, the Inverclyde AC runner is set to conclude his training around the same time that partner Kendall completes her nursing studies back in New Mexico.

A decision will need to be made at that point on who moves to which country to continue their lives together as a couple but athletics will be key in that decision.

“We’re still unsure about who will go where when we’re both finished our training and studies but a lot of that will depend on where my running is at,” admits Glen.

“There are more race opportunities in Britain if you’re not a professional so there’s a lot for both of us to think about. But thankfully that’s not a decision we need to make for a wee while yet.”