IF anyone deserved a break after what was a long, hard summer for so many, it was Jake Wightman.

A Commonwealth bronze and European silver, as well as the Scottish 800m, 1000m and mile records, were the mere icing on the cake in a season that saw him become world 1500m champion in what is one of the most remarkable individual achievements Scottish sport has ever seen.

Despite a gruelling season for Wightman, he was in no mood to put his feet up during his four weeks off though.

The all-consuming commitment required to be a world-class runner meant, he says, he is forced to fit 12 months of socialising into the small window that is his off-season.

It is, he insists, unavoidable that he makes the most of his time off the track.

“I had a really good break – I went to Mykonos, then some of my friends came to London because I don’t get to see them that often, then I went to Bologna with my family and then Porto, to watch Porto play football. So I squeezed a lot into my four weeks off,” the 28-year-old says.

“I miss out on so much social activity throughout the year so I cram it all into my break. I don’t have much of a social life in the season so it breaks the year up by doing it all in my break.

“It means it’s not as relaxing physically as it maybe should be but mentally, it’s exactly what I need – to switch off and think about things other than running.

“But, in my off-season, I always get to a point where I feel like I’ve enjoyed myself enough and I want to get back training. I miss the structure. Being off, there’s a few bits of media and things like that but there’s no training and so I look forward to getting back and having a bit of purpose to my day.”

That moment when he craves a return to training came just a few weeks ago, and Wightman is now in the thick of regaining the fitness that drained from him as he partied.

Heading into a winter of training is, though, admits Wightman, considerably easier when such incredible success is still fresh in the memory but while the mental exertion is somewhat easier when in a positive frame of mind, the physical toll remains something close to intolerable, with Wightman claiming in a social media post following one of his early sessions that he was “back, and worse than ever”.

The slog of winter training that lies ahead may have remained the same for Wightman but much else has changed since his now famous victory in Eugene in June which saw him become Scotland’s first world champion on the track for 31 years.

His world title run was one of the most heart-warming stories of the year, with the video of the final few seconds of his race going viral, in large part due to the fact his dad, Geoff, was stadium announcer in Eugene and had the privilege of commentating as his son beat the superstar of the event, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, to gold.

And so while Wightman insists he hasn’t changed a jot since his victory – a claim that’s eminently believable coming from one of the most down-to-earth athletes in the country – there has been a subtle change in both the demand he finds himself in, and how often he gets noticed while out in public these days.

“The funny ones have been when I was on holiday and I had a few people recognise me in places like Greece, Italy and Portugal,” he says.

“Nothing really has changed though and it’s not like I’m being recognised on the street every day or anything. If I’m in context, it’s more likely; if I’m in my running kit and say on my way for a run in the park and someone knows I train there they might realise it’s me but that’ll wear off.

“Athletics is a pretty humbling sport and it's not like you’re ever shoved into the limelight so it’s been nice getting a few more opportunities which is what you’d hope would happen from becoming world champion but things haven’t changed much.

“It’s nice to be known though, even a little bit because it means you’ve done something decent.”

This week, Wightman heads to Flagstaff in Arizona for four weeks of altitude training that will form the base of his fitness as he heads into 2023.

His departure from the UK means there will be no cross-country appearances this season which is a deviation from his winter training last year, during which he raced the Scottish Short Course Cross-Country Championships, finishing a lowly, by his standards, fourteenth.

His foray into cross-country last year was, though, he has claimed many a time over the past few months, a significant contributor to his world championship victory.

For someone who is far from a natural in the mud, skipping the cross-country season makes sense when he looks at the bigger picture which is, of course, building on his success next year.

“The cross-country season felt pretty soon last year and it feels even sooner this year,” he says.

“I started back a little bit later this season and I’m just not ready. I don’t feel like I’m in a place where I can even push myself to do it justice. So I’ll go to Flagstaff, do some hard stuff and then go into the indoors next year.

“I’m not fit at the moment but I’ve very acceptant of that so it’s just about getting better every week.”