To say that I have always been a running enthusiast is not a strong enough statement…..I have always been OBSESSED with running!! I quite literally love the feeling of pounding the pavement. Running has been a regular part of my week since I was 16 years old and whilst at university I started running half marathons. I found the long runs very meditative and a great way to combat exam stress!

 

Entering a marathon

I’ve always wanted to do a full marathon, and in March 2013 I entered the Melbourne full marathon for October. After a few months of hard training, I was devastated to have to withdraw with a nasty case of shin splints. Two years later I thought I would give it another crack and ended up with a flare up of an old back injury. In hindsight I can see that I was doing too much running. I was not allowing myself the rest that should naturally ensue after a 25km+ Sunday run. Once again, I had to withdraw and this time I felt absolutely deflated with the “failure” of not being able to get to the start line.

 

One last shot…

Fast forward to March 2017 and I decided that I was going to give the marathon one last shot. This time, though, I was determined to get to the start line in tip top health. I enlisted the help of the incredible Chris White from Go Run Australia. Chris’s expertise was invaluable. He helped me create a running training plan that was not just feasible with my work schedule, but also interesting and fun! Chris incorporated other exercise such as Pilates, yoga and swimming into my program. This helped my overall fitness but kept my legs fresh for the Sunday long run. As I work split shifts Chris was able to include midday running sessions and work around my hours to make the training manageable.

I was so fortunate to have only had one injury during my training. While it sounds insignificant, a blister on my big toe very nearly caused a third withdrawal! Steph and the team at Up and Running Podiatry were incredibly helpful. They went over and above to ensure everything from my socks to my running technique were monitored and corrected.

 

The big day!

I have never been so nervous and excited as I was when I woke up at 5am on Sunday 15th October. The atmosphere at the start line of the marathon was absolutely unbelievable!! All the excited runners, music blaring and and underlying sense of pride in each and every person who had made it to race day. The actual run is a bit of a blur but I do recall loving every minute (except the slight uphill near the Tan – I will never take that incline for granted again!). A highlight was seeing Chris at the finish line as I was coming around the last 100m of the MCG.

All in all, my first full marathon was an incredible experience. I was physically and emotionally drained when I crossed the finish line at 3 hours 54 minutes. But as you can imagine, I was so happy to have finally ticked that goal off my bucket list! I can not recommend Chris highly enough. Even as a Physio who has a good understanding of fitness and training, it was so important to have someone to be accountable to, liaise with and vent to when things were getting tough. A few people have asked me whether I’ll do another one and my answer is “not for a while”!  I will continue to run for leisure and even plan on doing a run on the morning of my wedding in March!

– Ali