Steven Doig : The Runner

Steven Doig (313) finishing third in the Nigel Barge Road Race in 1986

Steven Doig was a very talented middle distance runner from Kinghorn in Fife who represented Scotland on the track and over the country at a time when the standard at all distance events was very high.  He is now a very good coach who can be seen at championships, open meetings and BMC races.   Quiet and unassuming he doesn’t push himself forward but lets his athletes do the talking on the track.   He certainly should be better recognised in the world of athletics.   We asked him to reply to the questionnaire and we can start there.

Name:  Steve Doig
Date of Birth:   17/11/65
Occupation:   Teacher (Additional Support Needs)
Club/s:   Fife Southern/Clydesdale/Old Gaytonians/Fife AC
Personal Bests:    800 – 1.51.1; 1500 – 3.44.7; Mile – 4.01.02; 3000 – 8.11.6; 5000 – 14.10.9  5 Miles – 23.34; 10K – 30.20

How did you get into the sport in the first place and were you coached:   I first got involved after the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. I remember watching the 10,000m final and being fascinated by the running of Brendan Foster. Following that race I spent weeks asking my dad to take me to an athletics club. At the end of the summer I joined Fife Southern Harriers who were based in Kirkcaldy.
Ironically my dad also got involved as he was asked to help with coaching and he became one of the coaches of the junior group.
I ran for Fife Southern throughout my secondary school period but never considered myself to have a coach. My dad helped with my training and I also ran with Balwearie High School where one of the teachers, Brian Hughes, was a big influence.
When I left school I wrote to the BMC for a list of coaches in Glasgow, as I was going to study at Jordanhill. Two of the top names were Alex Naylor and Brian McAusland.    I had met Alex at a Scottish Event squad training day and didn’t really take to him so I contacted Brian and he agreed to let me join his group.

Did any person or group of people significantly affect your performances or your attitude?   Brian McAusland had a massive impact on my performance and attitude. He went out of his way to help me and would collect me and drop me back at Jordanhill after training. His advice helped me to quickly become a Scottish Junior internationalist and working with his group which contained guys like Hugh Forgie, Alec Gilmour, Eddie Stewart, Charlie Thomson, Sam Wallace and Jim Orr improved my running enormously.
I had an excellent season in 1986 and ran some fast times and this was made easier by spending two weeks training and racing in London. Brian arranged this for Sam Wallace and I and we were also helped by a stalwart of the BMC, Pat Fitzgerald, who arranged accommodation for us in Acton with his mother. Pat also helped by arranging transport for us to races and training sessions. During this two week spell I ran 3.44.7 and 8.12.2,
I also had the opportunity to participate in a training session led by the legendary Frank Horwill.

What was your best race:   A 1500m I ran in July 1990 at Mansfield. I went with the intention of running a very fast time as I’d been training really well. Unfortunately there had been a really high quality entry and I got stuck in the B race. I won this very comfortably in 3.49 but felt I could have run 3.42/3.43 in the much faster and far more competitive, A race.

Your worst?   So many poor performances its difficult to pick just one!   However the most disappointing, with the value of hindsight, was my mile run at Bromley.   I ran 4.01.02, which was the fastest by a Scot in 1990, but the disappointment was that it was a great opportunity to run sub 4. At the time I wasn’t too disappointed as it had been a great race marred only by a dreadful last 100m! I thought that having got my first full season in since 1986 that I would go on to massively improve all of my personal bests in the following season. However, after that season I never managed to race seriously again due to injury problems with my lower leg. So, the missed opportunity at Bromley becomes all the more galling!

What did athletics bring you that you would not want to have missed?   When you spend a lot of time training and racing you meet a lot of people who share your passion and you form some great friendships. Most of my closest friends are people I’ve trained with over the years.   I also met my wife while training with Bob Parker’s group in London so I’m sure I should include that!

Can you give some idea of your training?
Glasgow 1985/86
Mon: 5 mile run followed by hills
Tuesday: Club run with Clydesdale
Wednesday: Track Session
Thursday: Club run with Clydesdale
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Race or grass session
Sunday: 10 – 12 mile run
Total mileage of 40 – 50 miles

London 1989/90
Mon: Steady Run
Tuesday: Track Session
Wednesday: Steady Run
Thursday: Track Session
Friday: Easy Run
Saturday: Race/Track session/Grass session
Sunday: 10 – 12 mile run
Total mileage of 50 – 60 miles


Livingston, 1984.   Stuart Gibson (HBT), Colin Hume (ESH) and Steven (FSH)

As he says, Steven was only ten years old at the time of the ’76 Olympics and as chance would have it, the East District Cross-Country League was formed that year.  A year later, Steven was there as a Junior Boy.   The first race he ran in that league was on 10th December 1977  at Tullibody when he was  18th and third counter for the Fife Southern team that was 7th.   In the National cross-country championships that year, held on 4th March in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, Steven was 62nd in the junior boys race, one place behind Steven Marshall of Clyde Valley, another who would go on to Junior and Senior international status.  

In the first race of the 1978/79 East District League, Steven was fourth and the team won with Tom Ritchie first.   The Fife Southern Harriers junior boys team did well for the rest of the season and in the East District Championships Relay Championships in Tullibody in October the Young Athletes team (made up of a Junior Boy, Senior Boy and Youth) Steven ran the first stage for the club and handed over in fifth place which was where they finished.   In the District Championships proper, at Aberdeen in January, they were second  with Tom Ritchie third and Steven 15th.   

Steven did not race much in season 1979/80 with no appearances in League Matches, or in the District or National cross-country championships,  but in the next winter season, Steven ran in two of the District League matches: in  Cupar on  11th October he was  eighth Senior Boy; and in Dundee on 30th October 15th Senior Boy.   He missed the last match on  as well as the District or National Championships.   The team had several very good young runners such as Tom Ritchie (regularly top club finisher), Lindsay Wilson (sixth and first club runner in the District championships) and Steven but they did not get them all out in the championships that year. 

Steven’s racing at this time was irregular as far as League, District and National Championships were concerned – something that is often true of very good senior runners as young men.  The sport is littered with tales of talented young runners who leave the sport early because they have been driven too hard by over zealous coaches or parents.  However his ability was clear to see.   One of his Fife Southern team mates, Lindsay Wilson, who has contributed valuable information to this website, tells us that he first met Steven when they were eleven or twelve year olds.   The club had a good senior boys team including Steven, Lindsay, Tom Ritchie and others such as John Ferguson and David Costello.  He particularly remembers that in his last year at High School, Steven and himself finished first and second in the Fife Schools Cross-Country Championship.   That Fife Southern Harriers young ahletes team was a very good one which twice won the national athletics league  and produced some top class athletes – eg when Steven ran in his first senior man’s international at 1500m, one of the two Scots in the 800m was Tom Ritchie.

By winter 1981/82, Steven had moved up to the Youths’ (Under 17) Age Group and in the East District League at the end of November in Livingston, he finished sixth.   No Fife Southern athletes in the National in Steven’s age group that year but summer 1982 was when Steven’s career as an athlete took off.   The high spot was maybe when he won the East District Youths 3000m in 9:02.5 although his second place in the Scottish Schools was much faster – 8:53.6 – and was three seconds ahead of Bobby Quinn who ran 8:56.3.   By the end of summer 1982 he was ranked nationally in no fewer than three events.   In the 1500m he was eleventh, one place in front of Tom Hanlon with a best of 4:11.6 on 16th May, at 3000m he was fourth with 8:53.6 and he was fourth in the 2000m steeplechase with a time of 6:32.8 run at Meadowbank late in the season on 5th September.  

The winter of 1982/83 saw no appearances in the cross-country league but a first place in the East District Championships on 22nd January at Livingston,  and an eighth in the National.   They were very good runs by any standard.   The National, for instance, had Bobby Quinn, Steven Begen, Steven Marshall and Dave McShane as the first four and behind Steven were such good athletes as Alistair Currie, Scott Reid and Frank Boyne.   The following summer Steven had another second in the Scottish Schools championships  but this time in the 5000m.   On a hot afternoon at Scotstoun he led most of the way before being outkicked by Scott Reid of Dumbarton.   Scott was a member of a formidable club U17 team comprised of himself, Alan and Alistair Currie.   The winning time was 15:29.1 with Steven close behind.   

It had taken since 1977, but by now it could be said that the first stage in Steven’s apprenticeship in the sport had been completed.    He was running with the big boys on pretty well equal terms.  In Autumn 1983 Steven started in Jordanhill College, Glasgow.   

Some of the Glasgow group that he was joining including Graham Getty (Bellahouston), Hugh Forgie (Law & District), Alex Gilmour, Sam Wallace, Pat Morris (Cambuslang), Douglas MacDonald and James Austin (Clydesdale) and Alex Chalmers (Springburn)

Despite living in Glasgow, Steven travelled through to Falkirk on 15th October, 1983, to represent Fife Southern Harriers in the East District Relay Championships.   Running on the fourth stage, he was second fastest club runner with a time of 12:26, eight seconds slower than team mate John Cunningham.   There was no Fife Southern team in the District championships but Steven ran in the National at Irvine in February where he was tenth in the Junior Championships, just missing out on a place in the team for the World Cross-Country Championships in New York by nine seconds and one place to Alistair Currie.      

1985 1500  3.51.5 2

Nigel Barge, 1986.  Steven in front row on the left (313) with George Braidwood beside him (32?)
The 1985/1986 season would turn out to be one of Steven’s best ever.    On 4th January 1986 Steven started what was to be a very good year for him by finishing third in the classic Nigel Barge four and a half mile Road Race at Maryhill.   It was a hard race, and in 1986 it was won for the first time ever by an Englishman, Geoff Turnbull of Gateshead Harriers, in 22:23 from George Braidwood of Bellahouston in 22:32 and Steven third in 22:33.   Always up with the pace – the Glashow Herald said of the early stages “Steven Doig, a Jordanhill student and Scottish cross-country international, was the only competitor other than Braidwood to offer serious resistance and almost paid for it.   Having run in isolation for most of the race, he and Braidwood were caught in turn by the pack.   Doig actually dropped to sixth with 600 metres left but rallied to sprint clear on the run in finishing a second behind Braidwood.”    Came the National at Irvine on 22nd February and Steven finished in tenth place in the Senior race in front of training partners Eddie Stewart (11th) and Alex Gilmour (12th).   This gained him selection for the world cross country championships in Neuchatel, Switzerland where he was not one of the scoring six runners.
Not surprisingly, he had a very good track season off the back of this winter being ranked sixth in the 1500m with a best of  3.44.7,  eighth in the 3000m with an 8:12.2 and sixth in the 5000m where he ran 14:18.1.    The standards were high that year with Peter Fleming and George Braidwood of Bellahouston just behind him in the 5000m, the same two behind him in the 3000, (albeit the other way round), and Sam Wallace, Graham Williamson and Tom Hanlon behind him in the 1500m.    One of the high spots of the summer in 1986 was when Steven and Sam travelled down to London to stay for a week with BMC Secretary Pat Fitzgerald’s Mum and run in a top level BMC race. They were very different characters but they had several factors in common – always asking why, always having a follow-up question, always giving it everything in the training sessions, always having a plan for a race and bags of talent.   I was coaching both athletes at the time and Sam Wallace looks back on  the week:
“I remember getting on the night bus at Buchanan Street and the police came on looking for me!    They told me Stevie wouldn’t make the trip with me, he had been held up, but would come down later.   This meant I arrived in London not knowing what to do but I called you and got the travel info Pat gave you. I remember the race was THAT DAY we arrived and I hadn’t slept!    I can’t remember how Stevie got down.
The race was pretty steady but I can’t remember the splits. I do remember being trapped on the kerb when the kick went in and when clear I saw Stevie in the home straight but couldn’t quite catch him. I think we finished 3rd and 5th.    I remember all the talk was about Darren Mead and that he had run 3.46. Good old Pat took the wind out their sails when he said I was a year younger and a second faster….and from Scotland!!   
I remember that Pats mum lived very close to Wimbledon. That close in fact we could physically hear the crowd roar!!   We watched the games on Pats mums telly and were inspired by watching the 17 year old Boris Becker win the title.  We visited Madame Tussaud’s when there but generally just hung out listening to music.   I was listening to The Associates, China Crisis and Deacon Blue at the time – and by the end of our stay Stevie was into them too. Although he had no choice!  
I remember the path from the main road to the Thames Valley track ran along the wall of Wormwood Scrubbs prison.   Stevie and I put in some good sessions at the valley track and at Battersea track with the late great Frank Horwill.   We watched Linford Christie ‘train’ at the valley track if you could call it that.
We stood there thinking ‘he must put the work in on the winter’……
The sessions with Frank were brilliant.   He made you feel like a world beater.   As much mental training as physical.   It was easy to see why Frank and yourself got on so well.  The same enthusiasm and attention to detail while manipulating the athletes brain.  I’m sure Tim Hutchings was training on the track that day but Frank gave us all the attention.
I remember Stevie was quick. Very light on his feet and an aggressive runner.   He was a really nice guy and easy to get on with. We got on well during the trip and I enjoyed his company. “
It was a very successful trip – one of the last training sessions the runners had done before leaving for London was repetition 800’s in 2 minutes and when they came through the 800m in a fraction outside 2 minutes, they were happy with the knowledge that they could ‘run two minutes and feel good’!   They were different in some ways and when they phoned the result back, Steven made the call and started by telling me that they had both dropped out because the pace was too hot.   The effect was lost when Sam could be heard in the background demanding that he tell the truth!  The result of the race run on 2nd July:  1.   D Perry 3:44.4;  2.   B Bhrania 3:44.6;  3.  S Doig  3:44.7;   4.  J Espir 3:44.7;  5.  S Wallace  3:45.6;  6.  D Mead  3:45.8;  7.  K Howard  3:46.3;  8.  N Hopkins  3:47.5;  9.  N Ovington  3:3:49.2;  10.  R Barrie  3:50.2.
The next outing was on 13th July when he ran in a street race over 1500m  organised by RunSport and Lachie Stewart on behalf of the BMC in the grounds of Stirling University where he finished third behind John Robson and George Braidwood in 3:45.3.   Then a change of distance when he ran in the Mill Lum Six Miles Hill Race in Kirkcaldy where he was second (33:36) behind Terry Mitchell (32:52).   The running that summer had been so consistently good that he was selected for a Scottish team to run in a triangular international in Leiden, Holland, on 16th August where he was second Scot and fifth overall in the 1500m in 4:10.3.   This was an intriguing race – the field came through 800m in 2:26.0!   Also in the team was his old Fife Southern team mate Tom Ritchie who was fifth in the 800m in 1:52.75.   The track season ended with a run on cinders at Dunoon where in the Cowal Highland Games Invitation 1500, he was beaten into second place by Pat Duffy of Greenock Glenpark Harriers – 3:53.7 to 3:57.2 – with John McKay of Clydebank AC third in 3:57.7.   
.Steven (480) in the Berwick-on-Tweed Round the Walls race in 1986
Second placed Walker with the moustache 
Into September and all runners were preparing for the winter road and cross-country season.   It was on 21st September that Steven travelled to Berwick-on-Tweed for the annual Round the Walls race.   His good form continued when he won the race in 33:43 from Alistair Walker of Teviotdale (34:03) and Alaister Russell of Law & District (34:21).  When the cross-country season started with the traditional McAndrew Relay race at Scotstoun on 4th October, Steven, running for the unplaced Fife Southern team, was second fastest behind Peter Fleming with only four seconds separating the two times.   The year was rounded off with a sixth place in Edinburgh’s Queen’s Drive race on 20th December.
Into 1987 and on 11th January he represented Scotland in a Celtic Countries International between Scotland, Eire, Northern Ireland and Wales in which he was twelfth.     But it was in 1987 and 1988 that his injury problems really started to cause problems.   As an international athlete he did get some assistance with access to specialists but not much at all.  In the twenty first century there would have been much more input from physios, podiatrists, sports scientists and others.    Compartment syndrome was mentioned and the then National Coach for athletics asked him how important running was to him because they did not want to operate on his legs.   A well known and SAAA approved podiatrist wanted to take photographs of his legs and feet for lecture purposes.   Whatever the reasons, the problems continued and in 1988 he went to London to work where he joined Old Gaytonians.
In winter 1989/90 Steven was still doing his cross-country racing in England but summer 1990 saw him ranked in Scotland in four different events.   At 1500m he ran 3.49.96 at Mansfield on 24th July to be 15th, for the Mile he raced 4:01.2 on 22nd August at Bromley to top the Scottish lists, up to 3000m and his 8:11.6 at Perivale on 18th July placed him eleventh and at 5000m he did 14:10.9 to be sixth.    Not in the Scottish rankings was his 1:52.7 for 800m on 11th July at Watford where he won the final.   The range from 800m to 10000m on the road was wide and the races should be looked at a bit more closely.

There was more to any year than ranking times though and now,  at last Steven’s talents were being seen in a series of good races.   In April he won a 10K on the road at Hatch End in 30:20 to get the season off to a good start.   (He had won the 5K there the previous year in 24:06.)      He won the Middlesex County 5000m Championship in 14.23.   This was followed by eighth place in the Southern Championships in 14.12 (won by Jonathan Richards).  And then he was third in UK Inter Counties 5000 in 14.10.9.   “Could have been quicker,” he says, ” but I paid the price for a first 3000 in 8.13!”   Geoff Turnbull won in 13.53.4.   Two Scots were out for Middlesex – the late Andy Beattie ran in the 10,000.   The story of the 4:01.2 mile is told in the responses to the questionnaire – it was a time that topped the Scottish rankings for the year.

It was also the year when he won his second Scottish selection.   He ran in the 5000m along with Bobby Quinn against Iceland on 1st July in Mossfaellsbaer .   Bobby was second in 14:36.61, Steven third in 14: 14:43.68 for the Scottish team which defeated both Iceland and Ireland.   A good competitive run was when Steven ran 4.06 to win the Crawley invitation mile, defeating Olympian Tim Hutchings – Steven always had a ferocious kick at the end of races and in this one kicked away with 500m to go.   Training with Bob Parker’s group at that time, he remembers “Bob going mad on the sidelines as he’d told me to wait until the last 100! ”    Other scalps lifted at that time include GB internationalist Andy Geddes over 1500 in a Middlesex v Civil Service match. The winning time was only around 3.51 but the final 300 was in 39 seconds..    Later in the summer he ran 8.11.6 to win the Middlesex v RAF v Civil Service 3000 beating Mark Flint and Julian Goater.

His best run in summer 1993 was when he finished third in the Perivale 5000m road race in 15min 24sec. The event was won by Ali Mohammed (Thames Valley) in 15-08, with David Rocks (Finn Valley) runner up three seconds ahead of the Scot.   He had kept his Scottish connections alive all the time he was in England and, as well as his old Fife friends and team mates had joined Clydesdale Harriers with who he had done some training prior to his move south.   He is pictured below after a league match over 5000m in Glasgow.   That’s him on the extreme right wearing the shades at the top of the terracing at Crown Point.

Steven had never run in the prestigious Edinburgh to Glasgow relay before so when he was asked to turn out for the club on the difficult second stage of the race in 1995 he took it and travelled up overnight in 1995.   After a disappointing tenth place on the first stage by Des Roache, GB Junior 1500m champion indoors and out that same year, Steven picked up one place to hand over to Shane Daly.   He returned the following year and this time took over in first place from Allan Adams but dropped several places before passing the baton to Graeme Reid who would go on to win Scottish Junior and Senior cross-country championships in the next few years.   

Steven running on the second stage of the Edinburgh – Glasgow, 1995

For the second part of Steven’s profile, go to  Steven Doig – The Coach