THE hills have been alive for the last few weeks to the sound of Laura Muir and her chums tuning up for the outdoor athletics season in the rarefied air of San Moritz, Switzerland. But come tomorrow, Scotland’s athletics phenomenon will be back on the streets of Blighty, belting past Brexit protesters and Big Ben en route to the big finish in front of Buckingham Palace as she heads the field for the Vitality Westminster Mile.

“It is really exciting to get racing started off again and start off the summer,” the 25-year-old said, finding time for a quick interview on Radio 2. “The training has been going really well, I have been looking at mountains all around us with snow on the top and grass down below, it’s been very pretty. I am focusing this year on the world championships in Doha in October, and then the Olympics is going to come round very fast after that. But it is exciting to be in great shape a year out from Tokyo.”

While the sun belatedly made an appearance, Muir’s coach Andy Young told the Herald that at times the “below average” temperature and conditions for the altitude camp with his training group have been a bit “like Scotland”. “They have had a late winter out here, so it has been much colder than it would normally be,” said Young. “Some days it has been barely above freezing. Sleety rain, almost snowing. I am being tormented looking at all this beautiful snow that I would love to be skiing on.”

This time last year, of course, Muir was in the midst of her final veterinary exams at the Glasgow vet school. Now she can throw everything at trying to get even better results when it comes to her athletics career, with no letter help from the ingenious mind of her coach. Brought up in the Perthshire countryside, Muir is at home in this outdoors environment and Young has even incorporated various geographical features into their routines. Not only have Muir and her training group including Jemma Reekie and Canada’s Gabriella Stafford been going for post run ice baths in a naturally-occurring water feature, he has been making them do hill runs up the famous Cresta Run, the famous luge or bobsleigh course which is ice-free at this time of year.

“Laura didn’t grow up a big city girl, she is from a small town out in Milnathort so I guess she enjoys the countryside and the peace and the quiet, I’ve not heard any mention of boredom,” said Young. “While there have been a number of mornings when we have been coming back in the drizzle, when you see snowy peaks, with green valleys either side, it is somewhat inspirational, I think she quite enjoys that.

“There is something we have found out here which isn’t quite a horse trough, but it is a natural spa, just a few hundred metres from where they have run. They can ice their calves and ankles in that, or go and stand up to their waist right on the corner of the lake. Back home it is about getting a bag of ice from the supermarket and pouring it into a big bucket.

“We were actually doing hill reps up the Cresta luge run,” he added. “Fortunately, some of the snow had melted, so I was able to use that for my hill reps, which they thought was even nastier than the hill I use at home. So I would say that is a success.”

This is the seventh year of the Westminster Mile, a weekend of events which are screened on the BBC, and Muir’s first time appearance since that inaugural 2013 race. Her countryman Chris O’Hare takes part in the men’s race while Andy Butchart – a two-time champion – takes on Mo Farah in the Vitality London 10,000m on Monday. Steph Twell defends her 10,000m title against the challenge of Charlotte Arter and others.

While times are unimportant, Young simply wants a win and a sign that the fitness work which he sees in his star pupil has paid off. Greater challenges await: Muir opens her Diamond League campaign in Stockholm this week, with the Prefonaine Classic in Oregon, the Muller Anniversary Games in London and the Diamond League finals in Zurich other staging posts ahead of the World Championships in Doha in October. Like a shopper on a catalogue, there is a trophy or a medal for the event in Rome which quite appeals to Muir too.

“Bear in mind it was six years since I was there as well,” said Young. “But it is quite a route. Brexit protesters haven’t crossed my mind but it will be good for her to go, put on a show. Win it if she can. Not caring about a time. It will be nice for her to race back in Britain again. The worlds are a long, long way off. But we are looking for a few big runs. We will look at it pretty much as a normal season. The Diamond League is a big thing, she’s won it twice and is sitting at No 1. She would love to try to win Rome. She says it has a lovely trophy or medal.