SOMETIMES, Eilish McColgan ruefully reflects, life’s harsh lessons unhelpfully sneak up on you like a pickpocket in search of a wallet.

Just when you thought it was safe to live the high life amid the expatriates of Qatar, beware the tides of March. Or in this case January, when the Dundonian combined a training stint in Doha under the invigilation of her mother Liz, with a spot of sea-faring celebration to mark the 50th birthday of the matriarch’s husband John Nuttall.

“We were out on a boat until the wee hours of morning for his party,” she recounts. “But then we kept going around and around before we got into shore. And then I got straight on a long flight to Kenya.”

Our collective sympathies. Or so you’d think.

“Straight away, I knew I was going to get ill there,” the Olympic 5,000 metres finalist advances. Training camp disruption ahoy. “The first week was a bit of a write-off.

“I was deaf in one ear, which most people probably enjoyed because I couldn’t talk as much. The weird thing was that everyone else had a virus. I had a sinus infection.”

Yet, whatever cocktail McColgan’s been on, make mine a double. Because, with two weeks of hard graft possible in the African sunshine, she goes into today’s televised Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham in the finest of fettle and with enough spring in her step to out-bounce Zebedee.

Briefly installed atop the world rankings over 10 kilometres last month, she arrives fresh from taking the British title over 3,000 metres last weekend in Sheffield in combination with silver in the 1,500m.

Understandably, the 26-year-old is keen to maximise the returns of a prolonged period of relatively rude health and give the indoor circuit a decent crack for the first time since she was still a student in her hometown.

If the McColgan of recent winters was bedecked in cotton wool and plastered with a shipping label marked “Fragile”, then version 2.0 – the one avowedly settled on running various distances on the flat rather than the steeplechaser who deemed hurdles a risk – is happy to tread the boards and merrily seek out the limelight.

“Endurance-wise, I’m a lot stronger than I have ever been,”

she proclaimed.