Stephanie Garcia

Training Out of: Flagstaff, AZ/Greenville, SC

Sport: Professional Running/Steeplechase

Instagram: @Steph_Steeples 

Fun Fact 1: Competed in the NCAA Championships as a true freshman.

Fun Fact 2: In 2016, Steph ran in Paris and recorded the 4th best steeplechase time ever by an American.

Steph Garcia is an athlete who knows first-hand the daily grind that it takes to perform at a world-class level. We caught up with Steph to figure out what it takes to be among the best runners in the world.

Today she is sharing with Megaton Nation everything from her race-day routine to her training regimen.

 “I remember losing my first time trial as a freshman to another girl.  Everyone thought she was going to be “the good freshman”. After that, I was determined to beat her. I trained hard and ended up beating her at our first cross-country race.”

After walking on to the University of Virginia’s track team, Steph discovered the 3000M Steeplechase. Excited by the event, Steph made the NCAA Championships as a true freshman. She then went on to win the US Junior National Championship that summer. After five years of college running, and qualifying for the World Championships in her final collegiate year, Steph signed with New Balance and became a professional runner.

So what’s it take to become a professional? Steph shares some of her best secrets below:

When did you realize “Hey I’m pretty good at this?”

Qualifying for the NCAA Championships as a Freshman after the first couple months in the event. It was wonderful- it was a mix of ignorance and doing it as a passion!

Steph’s Training Regimen

  • Run ~75-80 miles a week
    • Include a longer run (16 miles on the weekend)
  • 2 specific track workouts during the week
  • Cross training – pool, or cycle to add non-impact workouts to reduce pounding on the legs
  • Weight room twice a week – Mix of Olympic lifts, squats deadlifts, and dynamic (Her competition is more of a power event than a marathon).

Essentials for Race Day

For race day Steph writes a schedule with the goal to control as much as she possibly can. There is so much out of control during race day, so it feels good to know she can dictate some of her day.

The list includes:

  • Meal(s) (something frequently tested before running)
  • Specific pre-race stretches.
  • Coffee

Why Coffee is Essential

Steph stresses that the appropriate amount of caffeine is crucial. When she is not feeling great, coffee helps her push through her training. For everyday training, Steph tries to only have one 16-ounce cup of coffee. On race day, she will have an additional cup to give her a good pre-race boost. 

Her last cup of coffee on race days is one hour before she begins to warm up.

For the science behind why 60 minutes prior to a workout is optimal, check out our deep dive into the science behind your body and caffeine.

Tips for Mental Training 

“In a perfect world you get into that flow state. Instincts and training take over. You don’t think, you are just responding. Instinct is really cool. It takes mental toughness – you need to learn to use reverse psychology and embrace the pre-race nerves. People who are most successful are those that can stay calm the longest. Sitting in the hotel room nervous – this is part of the process – it’s the stress that you learn to love. Be excited about it and don’t succumb to it.”

Best Practices:

  • Have a meditation regimen
  • Race Day Visualization

Advice on how to bounce back from a bad race?

  • You need to trust the process; the outcome is not always going to go according to your plan. There is so much out of your control: competitors, weather, etc. Things are not always going to go your way. This doesn’t mean you aren’t ready to win or run a fast time – you have to stay patient and trust it.
  • Be confident, but take those disappointments to use as motivation for your next big success.

Steph’s biggest piece of advice for the competitor

“Make sure to have things in your life that are fulfilling in other ways. Hobbies, family, and friends. Having something else that makes you happy will keep everything in perspective. So when you have a fall you have those things that inspire. Be focused but live the life properly.”

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