Friday, 5 April 2013

Running Like An Olympic Athlete

Running a marathon is hard no matter whom you are, your level of ability or experience. And that is what makes the marathon great.

Two months ago my wife and I ran the Cannes half marathon. The race is a double loop but the loops themselves involve running up one side of the beach front road and then running down the other side. This means that some of the runners get to see the race leaders and strong club runners four times as they run past them on the opposite side of the road.

At the end of the race my wife told me that seeing the runners at the front running past her was a revelation; “They are in pain! I thought it was only average runners like me that found the marathon hard but seeing their faces as we passed each other I realised they are finding it just as hard

It reminded me of when I was at school and used to run cross country every week in games. I absolutely hated cross country but I was quite good at it normally coming second or third in my year. The other kids who were not good at cross country were sure cross country didn’t cause me pain because I was good at it and they frequently told me so. Unlike my wife running the Cannes half marathon they never saw the pain in my face. It was not a face of joy.

Perversely it is in fact this pain that makes the marathon so great.

A marathon is a test both mentally and physically regardless of your age, gender or ability.

If you are trying to run 42.2km as fast as you can you will experience pain. Your body will hurt and your brain will tell you to give up at some point. This is true if you are an Olympian athlete or doing your first marathon in over five hours. And this is what my wife realised when she pushed herself to run a sub 2 hour half marathon for the first time in France and saw the elite athletes pushing themselves to run it in just over an hour.

Everyone in a marathon is pushing their bodies and minds to the limit. I might never be able to be as fast as an elite marathon runner but unlike almost any other sport I do feel their pain.Which is why I can say with a slightly pained expression on my face; "I run like an Olympian".

(The picture today is of me at the end of the Amsterdam Marathon feeling the pain)

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