Let’s Talk About Sweat & Stress

Before I get into the few things I have to say this morning, I need to start this post with an urgent question:

Ladies and gentlemen, how the heck do you survive in the summer without being a sweaty mess?

I’m not kidding. Answer me, because I need to know.

The high in NYC today is 95 degrees, which is fine since I’ll be sitting in my air condtioned office all day.

But on the commute this morning — most of which happens by foot, and I am not a slow walker because I suffer from a severe case of Sidewalk Rage — I managed to arrive at my subway station with that sexy little hairline sweat thing going on. Don’t even get me started on upper lip sweat, because there’s no way for me to talk about that without grossing everyone out. I’ll spare you the details.

Seriously though. This is what I looked like when I got to the office this morning:

Hot, right? Check out the chest sweat.

OK I lied. That’s what I looked like after a delightful 5.25 mile run this morning.

But you get the point. I love sweating. Put me in a sports bra and sneakers and I will show you what a good sweat looks like.

I just don’t like doing it after I’ve showered and am on my way to interact with people all day.

Rant over.

Life is good.

Let me take you back in time…

Last night, after a nice little spin class at the gym — a place where sweating is not only appropriate, it’s highly encouraged — I met a college friend in Bryant Park.

Bryant Park. I like to do yoga there.

We hadn’t seen each other in two years. That’s insane. So needless to say we had a lot to catch up on.

I got home around 9 pm and went into panic attack mode. I looked over my three To Do list (there’s no need for three, and I don’t know why I don’t just consolidate them — it makes no sense) and started to freak out.

It’s safe to say I’m spread a little thin these days, but we can talk about that another day. I stressed out and, as I let myself dwell on that, I felt my stomach go into attack mode. It wasn’t my best evening. Though, for once, I didn’t call any loved ones and yell at them. Instead, I picked a few items on my list(s), got them done, and made it to bed around 11.


This morning my stomach wasn’t feeling totally settled, but it did feel OK enough for the 5-mile Bridle Path run Coach Cane prescribed for me.

Yes, prescribed. The medicine my doctors put me on doesn’t seem to help, but running does, thus it isn’t just a training plan, it’s a prescription.

Central Park was hot and sunny and filled with people. Excellent, as always.

Hello, road. Hello, bikers. Please don't hit me.
Savor these photos now — soon I'll be running phone-free

People are getting more naked by the day…

Staying cool I guess

…and I’m the major creep who takes photos of them. I feel like that’s probably illegal or something.

Photos you will never see/things that will never happen: Ali running in just a sports bra. No way.

My run was fine. I maintained a slow pace, per Coach Cane’s orders.

Part of my freak-out last night had to do with the fact that I feel like, no matter how closely I follow the instructions from Coach Cane, I haven’t reached my full running potential. I know I can be a fast runner, and I know that my stomach has been a major struggle and setback for me lately. I even wrote a post last night about my constant running anxiety, especially during race weeks.

But I also know I still have a lot to learn.

Yesterday, for example, Coach Cane wanted me to run 5 miles, including a few striders (20–30 second sprints) each mile. In my mind this translated to “Run as fast as you can for 5 miles, and every now and then try to run even faster.”

So that’s what I did, and I was really excited about my splits.

My trusty coach wasn’t quite so impressed. Care for a few Coach Cane-isms to start your day?

True story.
  • “I don’t want you to leave your best effort in the park in training when you have a race this weekend.”
  • “Averaging 8:00/mile for 5.5 when you’re supposed to be going easy is undermining your overall effort. I have friends and athletes I coach who run sub 3:00 marathons who do slower easy runs than that.”
  • “Go SLOW on Thursday. Go fast on Saturday. Get your PR and then we’ll move on from there.”

He’s the best. The email chain ended, but I couldn’t help but smile when I woke up to one last confidence-boosting email from Coach Cane this morning:

“Seriously — you have a season of PR’s and a strong marathon ahead. Try not to stress over this stuff. The stress doesn’t help your efforts. I’ll worry and you’ll run.”

I <3 my coach. And if I don’t PR on Saturday, I’m going to be really afraid to tell him…

In the meantime, I am wearing an orange dress. That’s not relevant to anything I just said, but maybe you were wondering about it anyway.

Orange! Sunny! Wednesday!

Also being worn today: a blingy ring.

J.Crew ring

Please don’t judge my sausage fingers. Yes, I once dated a guy who referred to them as “tiny sausages.” Our relationship didn’t work out, but I don’t think it was because of my chubby hands.

TELL ME: We could use this as an opportunity to talk about sweat, which is fine. But what I really want is your best de-stressing advice. And don’t say “I go for a run when I’m stressed,” because I’m already doing that and that’s an easy answer. Give me something exciting and original, like “I do shots of tequila when I’m stressed” or “I go on Facebook and defriend a dozen people so my life feels less cluttered.” Those are the tricks I’m looking for, so bring ’em on!



0 Responses

  1. I think maybe time for some prioritizing. You do sooo much maybe something has to give for a little..if not just find moments in your day for you – whether it is to surf the internet, doodle, color, anything to just take a moment and relax. In terms of your running goals, set shorter term goals. I was sick this week so my race goal is to be healthy to run because setting a PR is too stressful for this race (although i really want too) you will get there follow your coach and realize you are disappointing no one and doing more than what millions of others can’t..

  2. After five years of grad school. I have a solid list of things to use to destress: baking and then eating said baked goods, watching tv, Glee is good but 16 and Pregnant /Teen Mom are better because you always feel better about your life afterwards, shopping online or in real life, libraries and bookstores, and rereading the Harry Potter books for the 20000th time. All of the above done with wine.

  3. I get in my car with the stereo on full blast, singing very loudly, and drive to Target/Goodwill/Whole Foods where I browse the aisles and distract myself with clearance running clothes and half price granola.

  4. my favorite destresser? Go shopping. Seriously, there’s something about just looking for nice things and touching interesting fabrics and browsing that makes me calm. It’s weird. (that’s bad i know).

    Otherwise it’s with a good yoga class – be it yin yoga, or a nice hot vinyasa class. Nothing says calm like a nice savasana session.

  5. Super cute dress!!!
    And I’m sorry, but I can’t help you with the sweat issue. I sweat too much already, and it is also 95 degrees where I am. I ran outside the other day and my t-shirt was literally all wet…NO dry spots!

  6. I vote for shots of tequila. Good choice.
    What I do when I am stressed? Depends on the day, and whether or not I am handling the stress well. On a day when I am managing my anxiety well, I take pictures of silly, immature things and send them to a friend. 🙂

  7. i think you and your blog are fabulous. i know this has nothing to do with stress, about which i know plenty, but where did you get those shoes? i think they’re fabulous too!

  8. stress? i know this sounds like avoidance, but a well-placed nap can be life-changing. short of that? if i’m at work and napping is out of the question, vegging out for a few minutes with trash gossip mags/sites can do the trick 🙂

  9. heat — I wear white clothing so my sweat doesn’t show as easily….seriously.

    When I’m stressed, I do, in order, what is stressing me out the most and get it out of the way. I think my nerves are shot though from all the stress I endured in college and the first 2 years of med school.

    I really identified with your racing anxiety post. I always have a pre-race freak out attack where I decide “I’m just gonna jog this one.” I’m having issues with the mini bc I haven’t really trained for it (ran a marathon May 1 and have been only “social running” since then) and I want to try, but I’m too competitive to handle anything that isn’t a PR and I don’t consider anything less than a min better a PR. Maybe 30 sec counts….maybe. Basically, I’m a psycho.

  10. Oh, stress! I am no expert, but I do enjoy eating copious amounts of ice cream, playing with my puggle, and watching trash on TV. I also tend to send super spazzy emails to people. Feel free to shoot a spazztastic email my way if you feel the need. Or just go crazy with me this weekend. That could be fun.

  11. your coach sounds awesome! a former coach of mine said “no one wins training days” – so true.

    as for stress… i like to drink wine and look up current pictures of mean girls from college and laugh about how they look now. so sad, but still so fun.

  12. Stress is my middle name because I teach high school English. The only way I got through my first two hellacious years was to leave each day thinking about one thing I managed to accomplish that day. It might have been that took attendance on time every hour or made it to the bathroom at least once (yep, that’s an accomplishment when you’re a teacher). No matter what it was, celebrating those minor victories made it easier to get through the big challenges.

  13. I either spin or if I can’t sweat it out, I have a mini dance party. I also like to indulge in a mani or pedi or sometimes both. I also find that lists help me relax, but it seems you have to many of those.

    I will be at the mini saturday too, but not trying to PR, just running to run.

  14. I was a sweaty mess at 5:30 a.m. yesterday! I either do really early runs, late runs, or treadmill runs. As far as the commute, I blast the air…but my city’s not nearly as cool (not that kind) as yours!!

  15. After knowing you for a few years, I really do empathize with Coach Cane – there’s no way to just tell you to do something and expect you to do it…you’re not wired that way. I think he needs to get an electric shock app for your phone or running watch so that whenever you start running too fast or going against his plan, you get zapped. This would probably be good in other facets of your life as well – shock therapy.

  16. First off – I HATE to sweat unless it’s workout related. My hair gets messy, I get all agitated, it’s not pretty.

    But onto the de-stressing thing – sometimes a walk works wonders. Or sitting and reading a book or a magazine and disconnecting. Or sitting outside and doing NOTHING at all.

  17. Your coach is so wise!! Biggest rookie mistake = not going EASY on easy days! I promise, sometimes you need to go slower to get faster. I know you’re stressed about a lot of things right now, but try to not make running one of them. Pre-race anxiety will fade with time, and some of it’s good! You want to be a little nervous. And hardly anyone’s training goes 100% like they wanted it to, so try to take some of the pressure off of yourself. That will all fall into place. Running should be your happy place – where you go to sweat out all the other crap going on.
    Okay, so my best non-exercise form of stress relief? Watching trashy TV with a bowl of ice cream (to make it last longer, ice cream to is eaten slowly, in between my “OMG did he just say that?!” comments about the men on the bachelorette). Unhealthy habit? Maybe, but it works 🙂

  18. I watch Harry Potter movies when I’m stressed. I can’t believe I just admitted to that. I get so much crap for being 24 and liking Harry Potter. Umm hello? The series started when I was 12! I wasn’t about to stop just because I became an adult! But seriously, I throw on one of those movies and then after about 30-40 minutes, I keep it on and start doing things to unwind: laundry, folding, cleaning, etc. Try it sometime with your favorite movie! It doesn’t have to be Harry Potter, but a movie that you love that you could watch over and over again. My Best Friend’s Wedding works great too!

  19. Destressers:
    – Cooking! Seriously! Cooking feels so great and is a great accomplishment when you have a nourishing new dish at the end to try.
    – Naps
    – A drink. Or three.
    – Being immobile on my couch (aka not doing work on my laptop simultaneously) watching episode after episode of How I Met Your Mother

    Other things:
    – I love the blingy ring
    – Really, listen to Coach Cane. An easy run should be just that. Easy.
    – I, too, suffer from Sidewalk Rage. Glad to know we’re out there! 😉

  20. I learned to just say no and my life got a lot less stressful. It just isn’t sustainable to train for a marathon, cross train, work, sleep, eat AND maintain the same lifestyle you had before training. Something has to give. I end up making my social life a lot more low key – think happy hours, drinks on the roof/porch, etc rather than really going out all the time. I also don’t follow any tv shows. Not that I don’t watch any tv, but making sure you’re up to date on what fictional/reality characters are up to doesn’t even need to be on your radar.

  21. To de-stress, I usually turn on a movie that I’ve seen six thousand times, grab a martini, make my husband cook dinner, stuff like that.

  22. I like to destress by rolling down my windows in my car, blasting my music.. dancing.. and looking absolutely rediculous. Since yo uare a city gal.. maybe you can just break out in random dance on the subway…

  23. Stress is the worst–I find myself getting caught up in it all the time. Depending on the stress, I do a few different things. I either watch an episode or two of Friends and drink some wine OR I clean up. For some reason I never want to clean my apartment until I’m stressed. I think doing my work in a clean environment is so much more relaxing to me. Also–I like the idea of having a time line schedule. I feel like I may start using that as a strategy.

  24. I like to go for long walks in NYC. Something about being surrounded by all the rushing people going their separate ways and doing their separate things is really calming to me. It reminds me that I’m not the only person who’s stressed and that there are plenty of people out there who probably have it worse.

    I also like to just kick back with a good movie (I love you, Netflix!), a glass of wine and some frozen yogurt.

  25. Adorable dress, my dear! Unfortunately, I don’t have any great answers for you about avoiding the heat or the sweat that comes with it! It’s hot here in Iowa, too. 94 degrees today!

  26. Wine and a couple episodes/seasons of Friends usually does the trick for my stress! Also talking to my mom on the phone, she always knows what to say to make me less stressed!

    Now, you don’t stress anymore because in 8 short days you will be down in NC having loads of fun!

    PS cute dress!! Also, Coach Cane is right, and when you get down here I’ll show you what a true slow run feels like 🙂

  27. I blare my ipod or computer with a 15 minute play list and I get a few things done off of my to do list. I also make a time line schedule for super busy days – I seriously do – and then follow it. Knowing I have a plan makes me less panicked.

  28. Okay, I’m delurking to respond to this one. Meditation is a great destressor. It will help you feel less stressed every day. It can reset your autonomic nervous system so you don’t go into “fight or flight” mode as easily. There’s lots of research with meditation and mindfulness techniques and their effects on the body. I recommend Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn. He has a CD set that teaches different meditation techniques that’s very good, too. Sorry to give you another thing to add to your to-do list! But really meditation and relaxation techniques will change your mind and body in ways that nothing else can. I’m sure it would help with your Crohn’s disease management.

  29. I watch some Jersey Shore [coupled with white wine]… if that show can’t make you feel better bout your life and de-stress. I don’t know what can! =)

  30. I reorganize my bag or my desk. Sometimes the root of the problem is that I can’t find that document that needs to be signed because it’s in a giant stack of papers on my desk. I take a deep breath and attack. When my desk is clean, it decreases my stress level DRAMATICALLY…even if I still have 176 new emails in my inbox!

  31. Probably not what you’re looking for, but I found this quote today and for some reason immediately felt a little less stressed!

    “Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response TO what happens. And RESPONSE is something we can choose.” – Maureen Killoran

  32. hahaha I could relate to see many things in this post. I am the stress queen. I was in fact voted “Most Stressed” in my high school class. Although I am from Nebraska, do not be fooled. This was out of a class of nearly 500 people. Yep, quite an honor right? My best friend got “Best Personality” – I got most stressed. Way to go Jamie!

    Nevertheless, I have developed some good coping mechanisms that work every now and then. Like you, I avoid calling my loved ones, especially my mother. One small thing I’ll do is walk home from work (work in mid-town, live on upper east) listening to the Country Pandora station. It’s a 75 minutes walk and by the time I get home, I usually feel a little better 🙂

    I know that’s not too original…I also buy large frozen yogurts from 16 handles and turn on horrible reality television to boost my confidence in myself just a bit.

    When none of that works, I gchat with my older brother who pretty much has a sarcastic response to every one of my “issues.” Believe it or not, this is usually what works for me :-).

  33. a few things i like to do to de-stress:
    go for walk ! running is great and all, but sometimes going for a walk is nice because you can really stop and look around. running is good for pounding out the stress, but sometimes walking is perfect for just taking a deep breath and enjoying the scenery.
    the defriending thing is great too.. although it’s always awkward when someone re-friends you (true story, it has happened)
    also on the list: yoga, drinking a glass of wine, catching up with friends, online shopping (that is a big one. stress is horrible for my bank account, good for the economy)
    i feel like you do those all of those already, so maybe i am not being very helpful !
    do you have any tips for running in the heat ??

  34. Ok I will talk about sweat, I sweat A LOT! I ean so much that it’s kind of embarressing! Embarrssing story: In high school I was at a party with all my riends at a seniors house and it was HOT out! I started sweating bad and then got more nervous and started sweating more.. Needless to say my friend ended up pushing me in the pool so I dind’t look sweaty anymore! Ok embarressing rant over!

    Ally you are fast! Give yourself some credit sometimes and cut yourself some slack!

  35. I turn off my phone. It’s constantly alerting me of emails and tweets and things that I feel should be tended to immediately, but in reality — nothing is ever urgent. And when I’m stressed, the ding-ding-dings only magnify my stress. So I turn it off. I live in Texas, too, so I totally get the hot weather you’re suffering through, but I spend an hour on the patio at night around 7:30 or 8:00 — just before the sun goes down, when it’s no longer swelteringly hot. It’s nice to have a little quiet time. A little me time. A little, “The world can wait; I’ll get to them later” time. Plus I love the time out there ’cause I get to hang out with my dog.

  36. Kudos on the awesome training! To de-stress, I clean up my clutter and I am so much happier. The clutter and lack of organization in my physical space can make my to do list clutter seem that much worse! I just went through a folder re-org, paper recycling bonanza in my office and need to do the same in my apt!

  37. To de-stress, I carve out “Me Time” during the week. Not workout time, not drinking time, not couples time, ME TIME. I do whatever I want: watch a trashy TV show, sleep, Internet shop, sunbathe in Central Park, sleep, sometimes take a yoga class by myself, whatever. I plan nothing and I sometimes do nothing, but I always feel refreshed after a little (or a lot) of Me Time.

  38. “Averaging 8:00/mile for 5.5 when you’re supposed to be going easy is undermining your overall effort. I have friends and athletes I coach who run sub 3:00 marathons who do slower easy runs than that.”
    YES. Ali you are so fast but you don’t need to always be so fast ALL the time. Please take it easy sometimes! I am so happy you have Coach Cane because he knows his stuff and he is the kick in the tush you need!

    When I am stressed I usually grab a drank and down it way too fast. Not the best coping mechanism but one that makes me feel better. I also treat myself with things like cookies.

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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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