In December 2019, London-based but Scottish-born Steph Davis finished the Valencia Marathon with a blistering time of 2:27:40. Not only was this the 9th fastest marathon ever run by a British woman, but it also snagged her a spot in the London Marathon’s Elite Division, and made her one of only 4 GB women to hit the Olympic qualifying standard. With Olympic qualification set square in her sight, it’s hard to believe that she only ran her first marathon in 2018, bursting onto the scene with a staggering 2:41:16 at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. Steph not only runs an incredible marathon, but also manages to balance her training schedule with a job at Lazard Asset Management, which helps her maintain balance and focus. Although her race schedule and training plan has been thrown off by the Coronavirus pandemic, you can still find her running, biking, and baking her way through self-isolation.
1. What is your background and how or why did you get into running?
Name: Steph Davis
Born: Glasgow, Scotland
Living: London, England
5 words to describe me: enthusiastic, motivated, perfectionist, organised, loyal
How I got into running: I joined a new school when I was 13 where we had to run in the school cross country race. I was determined not to make a fool of myself so gave it my all (and coughed up my guts!) to do well. I ended up coming first and surprised myself how much I enjoyed it. This secured me a spot on the school running team, and I’ve been into running and keeping fit ever since.
2. What are your top 5 tips for someone looking to get seriously into running?
- Join a club or get a running buddy: training with others helps to keep you motivated and push you during sessions
- Be patient: don’t jump in at the deep end, enjoy the process and take your time; this is important to avoid injury
- Find a training plan: do your research or join a club to follow a training plan. This will provide you with structure and balance in your training load
- Set goals: small and big goals; the small ones are just as important in order to reach the end goal!
- Be positive: there will be bad days, but don’t give up as these will make you stronger
3. Other than conventional training, what do you do to help yourself be the best athlete you can be?
- Balance: I ensure I have balance in my life so it is not all consumed by running and I can keep motivation levels high. I work part-time at Lazard Asset Management, which gives me a change in focus, routine and social interaction away from training.
- Injury prevention: General strength and conditioning is important to reduce your chance of injury but I spend a lot of time working on my weaknesses that have linked to injuries and niggles. I am a very diligent person so if the physio tells me to do something 3 times a day, I won’t skip it!
- Swimming: This is something I am really missing at the moment! I used to avoid swimming at all costs but I suffered from a hip injury in 2018 and this was one of the sports I could do pain free. Since then I go to the pool 2-3 times a week for an easy recovery swim. I find it really therapeutic and relaxing on my muscles. A lot of runners aren’t a fan of swimming but it is good to keep options open so you’ve always got something to fall back on if you have to take time out of running.
- Recovery: this is just as important as the running sessions to get the best out of yourself. A proper night’s sleep (8-9 hours) and a balanced diet (this includes treats in moderation), is key!
4. What are you doing during COVID-19?
- Started a 30-day yoga program (‘Yoga with Adriene’ on YouTube) and have got the family involved. Yoga is usually the first thing to go when life is busy but at the moment I have no excuse!
- Whilst all races have been cancelled or postponed, I’m focusing on building a stronger base.
- Got on board the Go Zwift trend to replace my usual cross training on the elliptical.
- Baking more and trying not to eat it all in one sitting!
5. What are your top 5 race highlights or lowlights?
- My top highlight and achievement so far is running the Olympic qualifying standard at the Valencia Marathon in December 2019 (2:27:40). My best friend also completed her first marathon on the same day so it was great to share this together.
- I absolutely loved running in my hometown at the London Marathon. The crowds were incredible!
- Finishing 3rd place at the British Half Marathon Championships (Vitality Big Half) and earning my first GB vest for the World Half Marathon Championships (which has since been postponed because of COVID-19).
- Crying my eyes out whilst crossing the finish line in 1st place at Oxford Half Marathon was a lowlight! I didn’t get the time I was on track for because of the torrential conditions but the tears were definitely a tad dramatic!
- I ran my first track 10,000m race at the Night of the 10k PBs last June, a top class field and the atmosphere is like one giant party! But I learnt that fajitas are not a great pre-race meal…
Big thanks to Steph for sharing her insights and inspiration with the Let’s Do This community. We wish her all the best for the upcoming season (whenever that may be!) and hope to see her at the Olympics sometime soon! You can find out more and follow Steph’s journey here on Instagram.