Pretty much everything you need to know about my first marathon can be found in this picture at the finish line.
- The stomach cramps that kept me from standing up straight
- An inability stand on my own
- The forced smile that tries to cover up the severe pain I’m in
Now compare that with the picture from Saturdays finish line
- A real smile
- Not overwhelmed by pain
- Standing on my own power
A lot of things made the difference between these two finishes. But one of the most important was listening to my body
During the marathon I had the privilege running with one of my training partners who is faster than me . Together we ran the first twenty miles at race pace (very fast), but after that my right leg started cramping.
At this point I had a decision to make. Do I start slowing down a bit and let my friend continue at her fast pace? Or do I try to keep up with her?
Thankfully our running coach reminded us last week about listening to our bodies. So I realized the beginnings of a cramp in the leg were my bodies way of saying. “Okay John you’re running an awesome race but now it’s time to let your partner go because this pace is a little too fast for me.”
So for the last six miles I slowed down and simply ran my own race .
And that’s what made the difference
In the first marathon my body started warning me about pushing too hard but I chose to ignore them. Hence the picture of me doubled over in pain.
In the second I listened..so the last mile was an awesome experience
Instead of people asking if I was okay like first marathon
- They cheered me on as I went faster 
- Gave at least three “aussie aussie aussie” chants which I responded to with a loud “oi oi oi”
- And joked with them about just rolling me down the hill
I’m not really sure how it would have finished if I hadn’t listened to my body…but I can guarantee you sprinting and playing to the crowd wouldn’t be involved.
The most important thing that marathon training has taught me about running is this: Don’t chase the rabbits.
There are always people who are faster (rabbits), or better than you in certain situations. And there often will be voice in the back of your head that says “you have to keep up!”
Don’t listen to it…
Just let them go and run your own race
That may mean your pride takes a hit, but it makes the difference between celebrating and collapsing at the finish line.