There is an undoubted irony that having the world championships at home this year partially contributed to Megan Keith’s decision not to pursue an indoor season of her own.

The Inverness athlete had sat down with coach, Ross Cairns, to map out a year that will hopefully peak with her involvement at the Olympics in Paris in the summer.

The cross-country and long-distance specialist had hoped to add some indoor events to her calendar but with the Emirates Arena in Glasgow closed over the winter to prepare for this weekend’s worlds, Keith decided just to stick instead with the tried and tested.

That meant an early 10K in Valencia, in which she broke the European under-23 record, before embarking on an extended training block that will, she hopes, lead her nicely into the start of the outdoor season.

“My original gameplan for this year when I sat down with my coach last year was to target indoors,” the 21-year-old revealed. “But with the world indoor championships taking place in Glasgow, the Emirates was shut all winter so there was nowhere to train here.

“And having never really trained indoors before I knew it would be silly to go jetting all across the world to try to compete in an environment I’ve never been in before. So we pivoted to this different plan and forego indoors this year.

“It was good to feel out a 10km race like that one in Valencia to start the year of as I’m hoping to give it another shot in a month or two and run closer to the times I need at qualifying events.

“I’ve spent most of February in a training block and then I will try to chase a fast 10km time in early spring. And then hopefully I’ll go on a camp to get ready for summer. So, not too many competitions but hopefully there will be lots going on over the summer to get excited for.”

The Edinburgh University student will also park the mud and splatter of cross-country for the rest of the year to focus on the track.

“I’ve probably completed my cross-country season,” she added. “My last race was crucial for ranking points and all that confusing stuff! I’d loved to have done the world championships again but being rightat the end of March it’s too close to the summer. But as the years go on I’d like to keep striking a balance between the two disciplines.

“In terms of the track the 1500m is maybe too short and fast for me but whenever there’s the option of running 3km I like to get in them. But in terms of qualifying races the 5km is my strong point but we’re experimenting a bit with the 10km as my natural endurance sets me up quite nicely for that one.”

All roads lead to Paris this year, with Keith hoping to perform to the requisite level in the trials to enhance her prospects of making the GB team.

“The 10km qualifiers are in May, the 5km trials are in June and then the qualification window is at the end of June I believe,” she adds. “So it’s still a wee while away but when you break it down into the events to possibly qualify at it starts to close in a little bit.

“Hopefully the way things are trending there’s a good possibility that I’ll be able to hit the qualifying times. And then anything can happen in the trials.

“So I’m just going to control the bits I can control first and then hope there’s a bit of luck on my side when it comes to the head to heads.”

Keith is no stranger to elite events, having won 5000m gold at the under-23 European championships last summer ahead of her appearance at the senior world championships in Budapest in August where she finished 14th in her heat.

“The worlds were an incredible experience and I came away from that very motivated and probably slightly dissatisfied, although I had no real right to expect anything from myself in that environment,” she adds. “But I learned a lot and tried to soak up the new experiences the best I could from the cool people who were around!”

Being selected for Budapest did bring about an unfortunate clash with her sport science exams but, with the support now of the Winning Students 100 programme behind her, the Inverness Harrier hopes not to make the same mistake this summer.

“Last summer I delayed my May exam diet until August thinking my season would be culminating in July and then I got selected for the world championships,” she recalled. “So I was heading to the holding camp at the same time as my exams!

“I’ll need to put a bit more thought into it this year. The Winning Students scholarship helps get us a bit of academic flexibility so hopefully I’ll be able to use that to my advantage.”

- Winning Students 100 is managed by University of Stirling, with funding provided by sportscotland and the Scottish Funding Council. The programme is supported by an advisory board and managementgroup made up of professionals from across the tertiary education and sport sectors.