IN elite sport, four years can often seem like a relatively short spell of time. 

However, for Steph Davis, it is a lifetime, so unrecognisable is her life compared to four years ago. 

When the 2018 Commonwealth Games were taking place, Davis was little more than a recreational runner; someone who went out jogging purely to keep fit and feel healthy. 

Fast-forward four years however, and Davis is an Olympian, one of the fastest marathon runners this country has ever produced and is also on the verge of making her Team Scotland debut. 

Yesterday, Davis was named in the Scottish team for this summer’s Commonwealth Games, which begin in Birmingham in less than three months, and she admits that despite all her accolades in recent years, there is something particularly special about the prospect of running for Scotland. 

“This is my first Commonwealth Games but also my first time in Team Scotland so it’s pretty cool to be doing both at the same time,” the 31-year-old says.  

“Also, having it in the UK is really exciting, especially after the Olympics in Japan with none of my friends or family there. 

“On the one hand, I remember the Olympics so clearly but it also feels like a lifetime ago. So I’m really excited to get stuck in to my preparation for the Commonwealth Games - I feel like the next few months will fly in.” 

Davis burst into the public’s consciousness by winning the British Olympic trials last March less than three years after running her first-ever marathon before heading to Japan and performing impressively, finishing in 39th place and ensuring she was the first Brit over the line by quite some margin. 

Things have not gone quite so smoothly since returning from Japan, though. 

After shaking off her Olympic niggles, Davis went into her first, and only, marathon appearance since the Olympics full of optimism. 

However, after crossing the line at the Seville Marathon in 2 hours 37 minutes and 41 seconds, a full 20 minutes slower than her personal best, she was forced back to earth with a bump. 

It was not the run she wanted but with hindsight, she was able to recognise the pressure she had heaped upon herself in the build-up to the race had hindered her significantly. 

“Going into Seville, I felt a lot of pressure. I felt like I wanted to prove my selection for the Olympics was justified. I shouldn’t have felt like that because I’d won the trials and run the qualifying time twice but I definitely felt like I had to go to Seville and run a PB and that put a lot of pressure on me,” the London-based Glaswegian says. 

“I peaked at the wrong time – if I’d raced three weeks earlier, I’d have done a lot better but going in, I just felt pretty run-down and with the marathon being the beast it is, it really found me out and I got to the end, but I don’t know how.” 

The silver lining, however, for Davis is that being such a newcomer to the marathon, she possesses massive scope for improvement and from every bad experience, countless lessons can be learned. 

So, once she had recovered from the devastation of one of the most disappointing runs of her career, she realised quite how much she could glean from it. 

“Recently, I’ve made some changes in training, I’ve got a new coach and I’m excited to get stuck into my preparation for Birmingham,” she says. 

“Going into Seville, there was a huge part of me thinking “I shouldn’t be doing this!” But when you’ve prepared for something for so long, it’s very hard to pull out.  

“And you get there and there’s all the excitement around the race so it’s easy to think well, I’ll chance it and go for it, which is what I did but I now know that I should trust my own instinct and go with that rather than getting caught up in everything else. 

“We’re all only human and we’re all going to have bad days but the tough thing with the marathon is when you have a bad day, you can’t just get straight back out there a few days later, it’s a long time until you do another one which makes it especially tough. 

“I feel like I’m still constantly learning and working out where I can get little improvements.” 

Davis is reluctant to set any concrete targets this far out from the Games but her Trials win, as well as her Olympic appearance last year, proves she has exactly what is required to rise to the biggest of occasions. 

“I want to get to grips with the Birmingham course and that’ll help me decide what’ll be a realistic goal. 

I was in PB shape going into Seville so if I can get into that shape again and everything goes well, touch wood I’d like to think I can run a really good race,” she says. 

“I want to get more race practice so I’m hoping to do two half-marathons and possibly a 5k as part of the build to the Games just to bank these hard efforts, especially on tired legs and get me used to the race environment so that come Commie Games time, it’s not a shock to the system.”