IF Erin Wallace is ever searching for inspiration, she need not look any further than the lanes either side of her every day. 

The 21-year-old leads the pack of up-and-coming British female middle distance runners and much of her improvement is as a result of who she is chasing down at training every day. 

Wallace’s regular training partners are Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie; both of whom head to Tokyo later this month with a real chance of getting their hands on Olympic silverware. 

So it is perhaps no surprise that Wallace has managed to slice a whopping ten seconds off her 1500m personal best in the past two years, as well as winning her first senior GB cap and coming second in the British Championships in recent weeks. 

Having training partners of the calibre of Muir and Reekie is a privilege few young athletes are afforded and Wallace admits that being a part of such a high-achieving group makes it almost impossible not to reap the benefits. 

“It’s so good for me because I always have someone to chase. There’s these amazing runners ahead of me so it makes it easier to keep pushing. The sessions are so hard but that’s what you need to do,” she says.  

“Seeing them every day makes you realise they’re not so different from you, they just work so hard. 

“And for me, it’s been such a big thing to see my progression – it makes it so much easier to train so hard when you see the benefits.”  

Wallace may be starting to make her mark on the senior scene but her immediate goal is this week’s European Under-23 Championships – she is one of five Scots in the 54-strong GB team – and she has her sights set on grabbing a spot on the podium. 

Wallace travels to Tallin, Estonia ranked third in the European under-23 rankings and while she is reluctant to make any grand predictions, the fact she is in the form of her life, as well as favouring championship running, suggests she could be in for a good weekend. 

“It would be great to get a medal,” the Giffnock North athlete says.  

“The 1500m is so unpredictable though so it often depends on how the race goes. I like tactical races though so if it pans out like that, it’ll suit me.” 

Wallace has long been touted as an athlete with considerable potential. 

Having begun her sporting career as a swimmer, she then broadened her horizons, competing in both running and triathlon throughout her teenage years. 

She achieved significant success in both; winning 1500m gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2017 as well as World Junior silver in triathlon the following year. Her success in triathlon brought her selection for Team Scotland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games but she reached a point whereby she knew combing two ultra-demanding sports was not sustainable in the long-term. 

So, a decision was made and for the past couple of years Wallace has focused her efforts solely on the track and she admits specialising in one discipline has brought many benefits, although the residual benefits of her years in triathlon remain. 

“I feel much more confident now I’ve specialised in athletics,” she says. 

“I do miss aspects of triathlon but there’s also a big part of me that doesn’t miss it – especially the sheer volume of training we had to do.  

“My triathlon training has definitely helped my athletics though – the mental side of it particularly. I think back to the amount of training I did and so now, if I’m feeling tired, I just tell myself to get on with it.” 

Already Wallace, who is studying neuroscience at Glasgow University, has turned her attention to making a second Commonwealth Games appearance, this time in athletics. 

Birmingham 2022 is almost exactly one year from now and while she has yet to achieve the qualifying standard, she is a mere 0.6 seconds short which, considering the chunks she has scythed off her PB in recent years, is clearly well within her reach. 

It is the Olympic Games, however, Wallace is really focussed on.  

A year ago, the suggestion she would be anywhere near making the team for Tokyo would have been preposterous but in the end, she ended up missing out by only a couple of seconds. 

Any tinge of disappointment at her near miss, though, has been overshadowed by the many positives she can glean from getting within touching distance of the Olympics and with Paris 2024 only three years away, Wallace knows she has no time to relax. 

She will spend this summer supporting her training partners of Muir and Reekie as they pit their wits against the world’s best but, hopes Wallace, will be in the thick of things herself once the Paris Games roll around. 

“Three years until Paris really doesn’t seem like long at all,” she says. 

“And I feel that more than it being disappointing not making it to Tokyo, I have to take it as a huge positive I got anywhere near.  

“It was only a week before the Olympic trials that anyone even mentioned the word Olympics to me, before then it wasn’t even in the picture.  

“And it’s not too long till the next Games so I just want to keep progressing leading up to Paris.”