Andy Murray column: Hard work worth it this year

Final of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals

  • Venue: O2 Arena, London
  • Date: Monday, 12 November
  • Start time: 20:00

Coverage: BBC TV: Live on BBC Three from 19:30 GMT & BBC HD from 20:00 GMT; BBC Radio: Live on 5 live sports extra from 19:45; BBC Sport website and mobiles: Streamed online with live text commentary

It's tough to sum up the last year in one word but if I had to it would be 'motivational'.

Sometimes when you lose a tough match or a big final, you spend the next few days thinking, 'Is it worth it? Is all the training making a difference? Will I ever be good enough to win one of these big events.'

I've been through so many highs and lows already throughout my career, and to experience the sort of highs that I did in the summer made me realise it absolutely was worth it.

I finally did it, and it's given me a lot of motivation going into next year to keep working on my game, keep improving. That will be the main thing I'll take from this year.

I have an even bigger challenge before that though - what do you buy Ivan Lendl for Christmas? A sense of humour, maybe?

Only joking!

Ivan has helped me a lot this year, working with him is one of the best decisions I've made in my career and I know he'll keep pushing me hard to achieve even more. We'll be meeting up in Florida for my winter training block next month, so I'd better stay on his good side!

He lives about three-and-a-half hours away from Miami, so when we train we meet halfway. He's actually coming back to London and playing John McEnroe at the Albert Hall  first, so I'll have to hear all about that. I think it's fair to say that's a grudge match. And I definitely need to have a think about a Christmas present for him, so any ideas would be welcome.

When we get down to the serious business of training, I know what to expect: Pain.

Andy Murray

ATP World Tour Finals: Andy Murray's breakthrough 2012 season

The endurance sessions are the hardest ones because lifting weights isn't that painful - you can either lift it or you can't - whereas when you do an endurance session it depends how much you want to push yourself.

Most people would normally stop when they're struggling to breathe but if you push yourself through that, you might feel horrible at the time but you'll feel better once you get off the machine or the track. It's pushing it that extra bit that makes all the difference.

Having said that, there are limits. I've never actually got as far as vomiting in training - I don't necessarily agree with that philosophy as your body's clearly not ready to do that type of thing - but I've certainly felt like it. Many, many times I've ended a session flat on my back with the world spinning above me.

I've been exercising so much since I was 14 or 15 years old that I can't imagine not doing it, and if I wasn't an athlete I think I'd definitely still keep in shape. I love playing other sports, so I'd find playing football more fun than going for a run for 30 minutes, but when I don't exercise I can only last for four or five days before I start to need it.

I'll have to think about that when I choose where I'm going to go on holiday in the next couple of weeks. As long as it's a nice relaxing place I don't mind if it's in the snow, on the beach or wherever. I actually like the snow a lot, and we're going to be in Miami for four weeks and then we're going over to Australia, so that might be a good idea.

The off-season is a couple of weeks longer this year so it gives me a bit more time to fit in a holiday, training in Florida, and then come back to spend Christmas at home for the first time in four years.

Which brings me back to the question of presents. I always end up doing it last minute - I know I shouldn't because it always stresses me out - but I promise I do put some thought into it.

I prefer to go out to the shops myself as I don't really trust ordering stuff off the internet. My brother likes to do that, and he's been burnt a couple of times when it turns up three days late or two sizes too small, so you might see me racing round the shops trying to find the perfect gift for Ivan!

And one last thing - I want to say thanks for all your support this year, it's been incredible. I would have loved to have finished with a win at the O2 but Roger played great, and hopefully we'll have many more battles next year.