Having just run my first marathon, I can absolutely say that just getting to race day without injury is almost harder than the race itself.

This is especially true if you are a first time marathoner. When over sixteen weeks you put your body under stress it’s not used to and you repeat that stress over and over it’s no wonder so many people end up injured.

50,000 places are offered before each London Marathon and in 2014 only 36,000 runners took part. Most of that difference is people withdrawing from injury. Staggering isn’t it?

There are always going to be the lucky people who seem to sail from event to event without injury. Whether it’s their technique, their physical structure or the way they train is hard to know – but if you are one of these people then you are lucky!

I’m not one of those. In particular, I have had one really severe injury that took me the best part of a year to get under control. I believe it started from wearing the wrong shoe and the retraining and physio that was involved in getting me back running was substantial.

The benefit that came from my injury is my paranoia of future injuries and how seriously I now take listening to my body. If anything hurts I stop.

Running on an undiagnosed injury or a niggle is a bad idea, especially if you are training for a marathon. The devastation of putting in months of training to having to pull out before race day is not worth risking. If something hurts then stop and call your physio,chiro, osteo or whoever you prefer to seek help from.

As a runner though I understand why people choose to ignore injuries. When you have a goal, a focus and a training plan in place you don’t want anything interfering with that so it’s easy to pretend that knee pain isn’t really that bad. I’ve been there and done it and I’ve seen other people do the same. It’s a mistake we only usually make once!

I am a believer that the correct shoe is crucial in preventing injuries and unfortunately no shoe store can advise you on this and get it right every time. For me it has always been trial and error and it’s why I have half a dozen near new pairs of trainers that I bought and didn’t like after testing them so they sit collecting dust in my wardrobe.

An example of this was my own injury. A severely aggravated posterior tibialis. At a running store I visited, I did their treadmill test and was shown the video of my feet over pronating. So I was recommended shoes that corrected that – only for 50km of running down the track I was unable to walk properly and couldn’t run for a long time. The point of my story is that my feet have over pronated for forty years without problem so they didn’t need correcting.

So it’s a neutral shoe for me and it really wasn’t the shoe fitters fault either. We are all different and can’t be slotted into categories of shoe stability as simply as shoe manufacturers would like.

So my advice to anybody thinking about training for a marathon is pay attention to your feet. Do your shoe research and best of all, ask your running friends what shoes they wear and why. No shoe store sales person can give you better advice than your fellow runners.

Zoey Dowling

Written by: operationmove

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