Most people probably don’t know this but I have a back scoliosis that makes the whole left side from my lower back to my knee really weak. The right side is the dominant side and takes over to compensate as much as it can. I have a leg differential that makes most people’s eyes pop. Because of that I have no hip stability to speak of. And most of the time whether it’s in running or strength work I have to work twice as hard for half the result. Because of my stability issues, I’m not overly suited to marathon running. Really, I should probably stick to things under two hours. My body copes relatively well with that.

But I just love the Melbourne Marathon. Melbourne is my favourite city. I love seeing the Spartans on the course. I could give up most marathons but I don’t want to give up Melbourne.

I worked really hard with what I’ve got. I removed a lot of the extra stressors on my body while training. I worked at Pilates on core strength and stability. I worked with my body when both sides of my body were having trouble – the right because it was taking on so much of the load and the left because it was struggling. And honestly, neither side is one hundred percent at this point but they are as good as they can be under the circumstances.

I have two tattoos. One is a phoenix on my weak side because I overcame it and the dis-ease of depression within my mind to run my first half marathon. And the other one is a compass on my right side, because all the strength, purpose and direction comes from my ability to run.

It’s true that with getting to know my body, in order to find the limit of what I can do sometimes I have to push my body too far and then I can take that knowledge and use it to work with my body better. After my injury, I learnt from that and within those constraints I have pushed my body as far as it could possibly go in this training cycle.


I probably won’t have the mental strength to do that next year. I will always run Melbourne but this will be my last race for awhile. It was a bit of bad timing really – being solely responsible for Operation Move while attempting this huge thing in my training. But you just keep on keeping on and you get through it.

And here I am at the end of the training. Which for me is where all the achievement and joy is. Those aren’t just words. That’s where all the meaning of the run comes from, in the training. It is always bittersweet when you come to the end of the training cycle. It is an ending, no matter which way you look at it.

There can be a bit of pressure to run a race that exemplifies your training achievement but there are just so many uncontrollable factors there, you can’t really do that. I’ve had an outstanding four months in my running. And I get to show up with that on the day – the rest is out of my hands.

I always set a few goals which is a good idea because if something goes wrong it gives you something to aim for. But really they are just numbers and they don’t matter that much. My only goal is to run strong. Because the things that you remember about a marathon is never the time on the clock.

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Zoey Dowling

Written by: Zoey Dowling

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  1. Thanks for sharing Zoey. I really enjoy learning more about the people in this amazing community - you have all done so much for me. Melbourne is my favourite city - I love going there although I don't think I could live there. Have fun on your run and be the best that you can be. I hope you run the race that you'd like to run xox

  2. Wishing you well on the weekend .. I know how hard you've worked for it & hie much it means. Go you good thing! D x

  3. You're right, you never know what someone has been through to get where they're going. Thank you for everything.

  4. All the best Zoey. I hope you have a great run. What you described about the training is something I have felt but not been able to describe.

  5. Dear Zoey, it was good to read your account of how you have worked with the body you have inherited and the story of the tats. I so enjoy reading about the endurance along side the care you have given your body to do what you love. Enjoy the run today, my thoughts and love are with you. Jan xxx

  6. Every time I think you couldn't inspire me more, you do it again! I suffered nerve damage from an epidural when Evie was born, and my left quarter (lower back to toes) is partially numb. About two hours into a half marathon it gives up and I lose all feeling, only for it to fritz on and off again like a bad Fluoro tube. I beat myself up when I'm slow or not progressing like I think I should be - but then I remember the overwhelming knowledge that I would never walk properly again, and realise that every step I run is a triumph. I'm just planning my first ever tattoo (running inspired of course) and I love the stories behind yours. Swift feet tomorrow x