A Changed Runner

Good morning!

It’s a beautiful day in NYC — the last beautiful day of the week, most likely, before we enter a crazy heat wave.

Good thing I got an air conditioner this weekend.

Good thing I haven’t installed it yet…

Really good thing I have many friends in the area who already have AC units installed and will let me sleep over.

Right, friends? I will provide treats…


My day yesterday flew by, and before I knew it 5 pm hit and I was off to the gym for n evening of cross training fun. I took a Chisel class, which was meh (meh is a word, for real, and it means “kind of lame” — I’m not sure if it is accepted by the Scrabble dictionary yet, but I can check), and chased it with a dose of Cardio Tai Box.

I realized something during that kickboxing class: It’s really only fun when you’re angry.

I’m not an angry person, but yeah, over the past few months I’ve had a few angry days where I wanted to visualize someone (oftentimes multiple someones) and punch, jab and hook the hell out of his/her imaginary face.

Last night I was in an excellent mood, though, so kickboxing didn’t do it for me.

You know what did do it for me? Getting 16 Handles afterward.

So, on to today’s topic: I am a changed runner.

Always a happy runner. That's consistent.

As I enter Week 6 of Hamptons Marathon Training, I can’t help but look back over the past few months and analyze the ways I’ve changed.

It wasn’t too long ago that I refused rest days, ran every day and didn’t necessarily know what I was doing. I was hurting myself without even knowing it. I’m so deeply grateful that I get to work with Coach Cane as I train for my first marathon. Having a training plan outlined for me beyond just “run 5 miles today” has been hugely effective.

Hi, Coach Cane!

Every week Coach Cane gives me a detailed plan for my daily workouts.

Today, for example, I was given these instructions: Nothing but easy miles this week, but we’ll throw in a few striders to keep you sharp. This way you feel some speed but don’t go into the weekend tired. (I’m running the Mini 10K on Saturday and I really want to PR.) 5 miles today, with two striders per mile on miles 2, 3, 4.


Ready for some striders!

Striders are my favorite.

Admittedly I got out of bed late today (again!) so I had to run fast in order to make it to work on time. Talk about excellent built-in motivation.

I was thrilled with my pace, though it wasn’t my main focus during the 5.5 miles in Central Park (which, by the way, was freakin’ packed with exercisers this morning).


My pace isn’t super consistent, but leave me alone.

Sorry. I didn’t mean to get hostile. If you have tips on being a more consistent runner I’ll take them.

Back to my point: I am a changed runner.

Without a doubt the most crucial change I’ve made thus far hasn’t been a physical one so much as a mental one.

Physically I still have lots of work to do. Coach Cane says I need to stop running with my phone in my hand (“I can spot iPod arms from a mile away,” he once chided affectionately told me), and I know I can push my pace even more so that I’m more consistently racing under an 8-minute-mile pace. (A girl can dream, right?)

Mentally, however, I’ve accepted that every run has and needs a purpose.

Every day that I lace up and hit the road, I’m doing it for a reason. Whether I’m working on speed, training on hills or tackling a long run, I understand and respect that way every single training run will help me improve and will benefit me on race day.

At this time last year, I was running 5 miles every single morning. I never changed my route. I never altered my pace. I just did the exact same workout day in and day out. I enjoyed the consistency of the routine.

Now I am in love with the way Coach Cane has me constantly changing up what I do. It keeps my mind alert and my body challenged.

This morning, as I wrapped up my run, I was completely out of breath. I had pushed hard and I felt like I worked for something. I know that on September 24, I’m going to look back on today’s training run, and so many other training runs, and know that they benefited me.

I’m a better, stronger runner these days, and I can’t wait to keep improving.

Do you know what else I am?

Semi-inappropriately dressed for work.

Not sure about the tank top.

OK so the outfit looks pretty tame in the photo, but in person you can see a hint of bra strap, and if I move too quickly, the V-neck you see goes from conservative to Cleavagetown before you can say, “Did you bring a sweater with you today?”

Yes, I did bring a sweater.

But it’s 80 degrees outside.

So on that note, I’m off to work. Today includes lots of list-tackling at the office (plus a hummus sandwich for lunch) followed by some spinning, then dinner with a wonderful old friend who I haven’t seen in roughly forever.

Have a great day!

TELL ME: Over time, how have you changed as a runner?



0 Responses

  1. I love everything about this. Training for my first marathon was truly the greatest learning experience of my life and the learning continues with each new training cycle. I know how cheesy this will sound, but I honestly believe the strength that I built during the months of training is the same strength that is getting me through some hellish weeks recently. I know that I can do what I need to do, I can push myself, and I will come out stronger. Having a great coach to guide you is an added bonus. Keep up the rockstar running, Ali! It’s motivational to your fellow runner.

  2. I signed up for my first marathon and would love to get a coach myself. I just don’t know about the resources for one really. I definitely think that adding variety will help me train and not get tired of 16 weeks of monotonous training. On an unrelated note, that skirt is SO cute!!

  3. Hey Ali,

    I read your blog every day and I know that you have a lot of connections to other bloggers with a lot of other readers..so I was wondering if you could tweet this story out. If you haven’t heard already a girl from Indiana University has been missing for 5 days now and she is no where to be found. She is actually my friend from college’s younger sister and I know her well. Please forward this story on so more people can know about it and possibly help. Thank youuuu.


  4. I’ve changed in the fact that I run at all now! If you had told me 2 years ago I would’ve done 2 marathons, I would’ve said you’ve got the WRONG girl!

    A big turning point came for me when I realized could maybe not suck so bad if I actually tried. I kind of though I could never be good at running, but I realized after I put a little work in I could get better. So, that was an exciting realization for me and the prospect of improving is what gets me out there every day. I got a lot faster once I realized that and, like yourself, that every day had a different purpose. I’m sure your realization will show in your marathon!

  5. A quick look at your races suggested you are on your way to great improvements. Good job.

    I think you are still running fast for easy workouts. The key to get faster without getting hurt is running your easy workout easy(ier) and hard workouts hard. If your most recent half marathon pace is 8:34 then you should not be running easy workouts faster than 9 min/miles. Just a suggestion. Of course everyone is different.

    Good going and keep it up.

  6. Haha, I like the iPod arm comment. As a runner who runs with nothing, I understand what he’s saying. On the rare occasion that I try to run with my phone, I end up feeling all out of sorts.

    As far as changing as a runner, my perspective towards mileage is a lot different. When I was just beginning, a 5K seemed torturous. Now, I want to be crazy and tackle a marathon. It’s amazing what time will do, huh? 🙂

  7. I always incorporate rest days. Since I live on campus and am walking all day long they are especially important. I’ve also started to incorporate more cross training into my workouts.

  8. “Everyday has a purpose” <– yes!! This was a big breakthrough for me as a runner as well. Not treating everyday as a "whatever, just go out an run 5-8 miles" helped me physically and mentally. I'm so glad your coach has moved you into a mindset and I am positive that will translate into results for you when you race! You WILL get faster!

  9. recently, I have been trying to hold back more on a majority of my runs.. Incorporating easy days and not attempting to gun it all the time!
    Good run this A.M


  10. this post makes me happy. i can’t wait for you to KICK ASS at the 10k this weekend!

    (ps I’m also wearing a dress that goes to cleavagecity today at work and I don’t even have cleavage…and yes, i also brought a sweater but no, i have not put it on.)

  11. I find I’m constantly changing as a runner. Right now I’m injured and trying to figure out what’s wrong. I haven’t been to the doctor yet (except a visit to one of those NYC emergency clinics), and I know I just need to get there so I can figure it out! So right now, I definitely feel like my confidence in myself as a runner is constantly challenged. I find myself feeling defeated many times but I try to bounce back. This morning, I ran in Central Park but at the last hill, I just had to walk. Between the heat and the foot, I just couldn’t do it. I actually started to cry a little bit (i know- saaad) but I did rebound and finish the run back to my apt…I am supposed to run in the mini 10K as well but hoping to get to a doctor before then. Otherwise, it will have to be a “fun run.”

  12. How have I changed as a runner? I remember there were years where I did not take a single day off of running – a single day! – and my coaches encouraged this. It became overwhelming and torturous to get out there on some days, and now, I run when I want to and make sure it makes ME happy.


  13. I have totally changed.. as a runner.. and into a runner. I used to run for miles… miles.. like 10.. on the treadmill. One pace. First off all… who runs 10 miles on a treadmill? Secondly.. I never got any faster.. never enjoyed it. Now I mix everything up.. intervals, tempo runs, slow runs.. pace runs. So much better. SO much more enjoyable!

  14. This is awesome!! I am so happy that you’re learning SO MUCH about yourself in this process!! You are a strong, HAPPY runner and I love that about you. love, love, love what Coach Cane is doing for you!!

    For me? I’m a changed runner because I’ve got my mojo back and I’m enjoying the longer distances in my half training and trying hard to embrace the physical and mental challenge of running so I can become a better runner, but still a happy (most of the time) runner.

  15. does coach cane get mad about your running with headphones/music? or the fact that you hold the iphone and it’s bulky ? i think it would be pretty tough for me to run without music.. didn’t you tell him also that you need to take pictures for the blog !?! hehe 🙂
    also, congrats on the great run !

  16. I’ve become a much faster runner by just running. I never pushed my speed, it just came as I got better. That is the biggest way I’ve changed as a runner.

    Great run today!!

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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