Maybe Less Really Is More

Yesterday I asked if you all remember the 1990s, and apparently you do. (That will bode well for those of you who will be attending TriviaFest tomorrow night.)

What a hilarious decade. Jelly shoes? Trolls? “Blossom!” Lisa Frank? All great things.

But then the debate arose:

Great question, Ali. Thanks for asking.

I got a lot of responses, so thank you for that:

SLAP for the win! Thanks for weighing in, everyone. Clearly I would have lost sleep last night without solving that very important issue.

I slept great last night, actually, despite having a way-too-full stomach and some alcohol floating around in there.

The plan last night was to go to The Spotted Pig for dinner with my friend who is very wonderful and two of his friends.

See that pig up there? It is spotted.

But they don’t take reservations and we weren’t keen on the hour and a half wait.

So we walked a few blocks and decided to eat at Casa, which was awesome. Go there. It’s in the West Village on an adorable street. I recommend the cheesy breads. They’re these wonderful little nuggets of deliciousness. That’s the best description I can provide.

Yes, I’m considering a future as a food critic.

So dinner was good but as usual I ate too much and then I had a stomach ache, and neither factor bode well for me during my attempted run this morning.

Fact: Drinking doesn’t make me a better runner. It may work for some people. I am not one of them. I only had two drinks last night and still got a solid buzz. When did I become such a lightweight?

Oh right. When I graduated from college and stopped throwing back a box of wine at a time.

This morning I joined Kelly and Maria in Central Park. Coach Cane’s plan for me was to run 5 slow and steady miles. Easy enough, right?

Except not. Because my legs weigh 8,000 pounds today.

But that brings me to my point for today: I need to listen to my coach. I need to not listen to Ali.

Coach Cane = Smart Runner Man, Wants Ali To Become Good Runner

Ali = New To Running, Very Little Knowledge, Often Makes Stupid Decisions

Come to JackRabbit Sports tomorrow night and maybe you can be friends with Coach Cane, too!

The Hamptons Marathon is now just 44 days away.


That seems so soon.

Now is the time that things are really starting to matter. Early in my training I could get away with stupid things, like two-a-day workouts five days a week.

That’s not going to fly now.

When I started training, I felt fast all the time. I had some great races, set new PRs consistently and was having the time of my life.

Now, running feels hard to me. My legs feel heavy, my body feels tired and the physical strain of marathon training is beginning to take its toll on me.

But — and cue all of your little “I told you so” comments here — I know I need to cut back on the excess, stupid stuff, and just stick to Coach Cane’s plan.

Less is more, right?

Coach Cane warned me when we started working together that all my “extracurriculars” weren’t necessarily going to help my running. I told him about my love for spinning and other gym classes, and he said that was fine, but that if I want to become a better runner, my focus should be on running.


And yet I have continued to follow his plan plus my own little sneaky plan.

Now there’s a new plan: The Less Is More Plan.


Warm chocolate cake? DELICIOUS.
Hello, peanut butter cup filled cupcake.


Broccoli is as delicious as cake, right? RIGHT.
I do love fruit. And I also love whipped cream.

To be honest, I eat a lot of crap every day. I follow every meal with something chocolate, followed by more chocolate. I refuse to ever diet or withhold delicious things, but lately I’ve been especially bad with my sugar intake. So I need to cut back just a bit on that, because pounding 12 handfuls of M&Ms right after lunch is also leading to afternoon slumps and headaches. So, less crap, more quality.


The Central Park Reservoir. Pretty, but repetitive.


Brooklyn Bridge, you are hilly but nice.

My long run route never really changes. I just do loops and loops and loops of Central Park. I loved mixing it up by running Summer Streets this weekend, and I’m excited to run in D.C. on Saturday. But I want to stray from Central Park more over the next few weeks and explore NYC and its bridge-y glory. New route = more challenging and more fun.


Delicious, but not particularly helpful


More…not drinking I guess. There’s no photo for that because not drinking isn’t super exciting. I’m totally fine with weekend drinking and glasses of wine every now and then. But if I’ve got speedwork or hills on the schedule for the following morning, a hangover just isn’t worth it.

Oh here’s a photo that works. More sleep:

This is how I sleep, apparently.

God I’m beautiful. Classy, too. And obviously very comfortable.

And then, more energy:


Clearly very excited in that photo.


This is my shoe drawer at work. Lots of heels. Not great for me.


Brooks Adrenaline 11s, you are like little pillows for my feet
Mmmm compression socks. I don't know if you work but you sure are a fantastic shade of hot pink.

I should have just titled this post “Don’t be a moron, Ali, and take better care of yourself if you actually want to run 26.2 miles.” I’m not sure why I thought I needed all this photographic evidence. I always swear I won’t wear heels as often leading up to races, but that never really happens. Maybe during my taper I’ll commit?

Because I’m wearing heels today, and I’m fine with it.

Heels! Polka dots! Bathroom photos!

I just need to be smart. I get it.

That means cutting back on the double workouts. They’re not needed. Running is my main focus now.

I will do what Coach Cane tells me to do and I won’t question it.

I still love this.

Become my dream? Fine.

My dream is to become a marathoner. So game on.

(Tonight is my favorite spinning class at the gym and I didn’t even bring my gym bag to work. See? I’m already getting better.)

TELL ME: What’s your dream?



0 Responses

  1. Ugh. I’m in a similar stage of marathon training (OCT 3 BABY!!) and I’m FEELING it. My legs=logs; flat routes feel like hills. Yucky and junky. BUT rest assured when I trained for my first marathon I felt like this about the same number of weeks into training. But I am just so tired. Here is what I’m trying to stay positive during the blah weeks of marathon training: Compression socks, 10 minute happinessness walks at work to stretch the legs, a reading list I’m excited about, and a new interest in Mad Men on netflix. And the constant reminder that I WANT TO RUN THIS MARATHON!!! GOod luck!

  2. This blog post made me LOL! You’re doing AMAZING with your training, sometimes drinks and chocolate are completely necessary for your sanity. Good luck at your event tonight, I’m so sorry I can’t be there. Miss you!

  3. The person/family who invented slap bracelets lives in the same city (small town in WI called Sun Prairie) as I do!!!!

  4. Great post, Ali. All smart ideas. When you’re running as much as you are these days, it’s important to make changes in your lifestyle to keep up!
    I’m dealing with something similar right now; increasing mileage training for the Philly 1/2, I’m learning that I need to adjust my diet to keep up with calorie/energy needs.
    My dream is to race for as long as I can and be healthy!

  5. Two a days – woman you are crazy! For your first time training, it sounds like you are attempting the expert training plan. I agree – stick with what coach says and you will be happy in the end. And running will probably begin to feel much easier! Best of luck. I may try the Summer Streets run this weekend.


    I think you’re totally making the right choices re: the less vs. more list. I bet you’ll see a difference in your training really soon! Coach Cane is a smart man.

    I will totally explore the bridges with you on our next long run! I need to branch out from my usual routes in a major way.

  7. I really do believe in the “less is more” strategy when it comes to training. Quality always wins over quantity. Focus on staying strong, healthy, and rocking those runs. You will be a marathoner!

  8. I did something similar leading up to my last marathon – less desserts, no diet coke, etc. It helped I think (21 min PRs don’t lie yo, even if I didn’t get my BQ).

    My ultimate long -term dream is to become a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialists who makes a last impact on people’s lives – hopefully by helping them fulfill their dream of having a family.

    Some more short term dreams:
    – qualify for the Boston Marathon at NYC this year
    – someday get married
    – have 3-4 kids (names right now are Cody [girl], Jemma, Liam, and Bryans — subject to change)
    – raise money for pediatric cancer research through Cookies For Kids Cancer (stay tuned to my blog on that one)

  9. I think a lot of us marathon runners can relate to how you’re feeling and the good thing is that much of it is completely normal for 2/3 of the way done with marathon training. It wears on your body, and you get tired. But it’s great that you’re reminding yourself of the things you must be doing to keep yourself as healthy and happy as possible.

    I love love that “Become Your Dream” chalk thing in Central Park. I smile every time I run over it. My dream is to work in some capacity at a health and fitness magazine, whether it’s as an editor or a contributor. It’s been my dream for a while, but for one reason or another, my career path led me to PR. As long as I’m livin’ in the media capital, I’m keepin’ that dream alive 🙂

    Oh and I said Slap bracelets. woo hoo!

  10. I love that twitter can answer any and all questions 🙂 And being a child of the 90’s was awesome.
    “Less is more” applies to many things, especially running. I would never give you an “I told you so” comment because everyone needs to learn for themselves – marathon training is really tricky, because it’s easy to get caught up in it and carried away in the excitement, doing too much and then having it catch up with you. Don’t worry, nothing a little rest and relaxing can’t fix!

  11. A) I’m not on twitter, but I’d like to weigh in here: SLAP. Who are these snap weirdos? You SLAP the bracelet across your wrist.

    B) Wow, I am right here with you. My first half is on Sept. 18 and, while this was never easy for me, its getting harder rather than eaiser. Especially in my legs. Maybe its just a wall that we all hit at some point??? More a mental battle – but a part of the plan? Who the hell knows… but I, too, am cutting back my 3 daily desserts to one, and drinking more water, and trying to get at least 7 hours of sleep. Cause like you I feel really just blech, and I think my eating/drinking/sleeping habits are to blame.

    Not sure how that affects my shins though…

  12. Way to live the dream! My current dream is to live in an apt I don’t have the fear of moving out of at some point (ie, own something!). But fitness related… to go to a fun awesome fitness class every day! And to start teaching a few of those, again!

  13. My dreams are to run Boston (I qualified, so that one will happen!), and a sub-3:20 marathon (may take a little more work). Ever since I got serious about running, I can barely drink anymore either. I don’t drink during the week or Friday night (long runs are on Saturday) and even when I do drink, 2 is my absolute max or I get sick. Oh well, I’d rather be a great runner than drinker 🙂

  14. My dream is to run a half marathon one day- but I am JUST getting into exercising after a lifetime of “more wine, less moving”. Plus recovering from a knee injury. So my more immediate dream is to run a 5k. It WILL happen by the end of the year!! I feel awful saying that when so many people are doing so much more but it is still something I will have to fight for since right now I can’t run a mile. I am so glad I can wake up and do things like go to the gym at all though. I never enjoyed going to the gym but then this year I swore it would be different and promptly injured myself. So for months I could not. Now that I can it makes me feel 100x better about myself and my health.

  15. Great post! I think everyone has to go through these lessons. Listening to your body and rest are so important not only for avoiding injury but for becoming a better runner. If the body is in a constant state of being taxed it will not get stronger. But you are smart and have a great coach you are working with. Listen to him 🙂

  16. It’s hard to let go of what you love doing sometimes but it ends up doing a body good! Doing your long run in DC this weekend? If you don’t have a route yet you should definitely check out Rock Creek Park and of course a loop around the Mall.

  17. So funny that you had this post today. I read it 5 minutes after my coach said that i need to chill out since my knee hurts. While I am not running my 26.2 until November, the thought of missing a long run gives me crazy anxiety. I will keep repeating it with you… Less is more. Less is more.

  18. I may be ignoring the main point of this post, because the big takeaway for me was the awesome SHOE DRAWER! I have a shoe cupboard in my kitchen, to fit all the shoes.

  19. I’m not anywhere NEAR where you are as far as first-time marathon training goes, but this was still a GREAT post for me to read today. Why? Because I actually LINKED to aliontherunblog and how badass you are for working out so hardcore on so little sleep, because I was feeling a bit of a downer coming on regarding an unavoidable rest day yesterday and putting off this mornings run until later today. Its a battle everyday to balance marathon motivation with rest/injury prevention. Fine line we dance on!

  20. I love that-become your dream! And I totally needed this post today- you are wise.. I have been continuing to workout and do all the things I usually do (except, sadly, running) even though my knee is clearly not in good shape, and didn’t stop to think that HEY, maybe cutting back on exercise would actually let me knee mend. Duh.

  21. “Become Your Dream” — De La Vega is great. I have that on my Road ID. My dream is to be a marathoner — to complete the ING NYC Marathon this year and feel great during and after it (I realize that’s all relative).
    I’m glad you’re scaling back on some of your activities. I don’t know how you kept it up this long. When my training schedule says rest, I rest, and I still feel tired when I get back to running. I know it’s hard. I have a hard time keeping to the recommended paces of my training plan. I run out too fast — part of it is that I’m bad at pacing. The other part of it is that I feel like if I can run faster why shouldn’t I run faster all the time (or at least try to).

  22. It’s like you read my mind. As I am also running the Hamptons, I’ve just had this conversation with myself. Less drinking for sure, less eating out, less staying up late, and more sticking to my running schedule! There will be plenty of time for that kind of fun after I get through my 3 marathons. Training is fun too! (Just a different kind of fun)

  23. LESS is MORE <–my mantra this week too. Half marathon on Sunday means I am actually happily taking it somewhat easy this week. My legs feel heavy too and that's the last thing I want on Sunday! 🙂

  24. Great post Ali! I did the same thing last year training my first marathon…I ran Central Park over and over and over. You know where is nice? Prospect Park! As well as the bridges…Governor’s Island is really nice too! I move into my new place back in the city next week so we should run together! Oh and the obsession with chocolate? I feel ya! I keep Hershey kisses in my desk drawer…1 or 2 is sweet enough that it won’t leave me wanting more but still gives me my fix! Try it out 🙂

  25. you should run down to the williamsburg bridge, up through williamsburg and greenpoint to the pulaski, over the queensboro bridge, and back to your apartment. decent long run and will definitely get your hill work in 🙂

    i’m also debating wearing my hot pink compression sleeve at work today – is that office appropriate?

  26. I loved this post – 1. you are hilarious “more… not drinking, I guess…” 2. I think I’m in a similar situation with my training. It’s hard to find the right balance of cross-training and running on top of a social life and work, but I think I’m slowly getting there.

    I can’t wait to read about your run in DC! I’m doing my long run somewhere in DC this weekend, too. I’m still trying to figure out the best places to run so I’ll be interested to see where you ventured.

  27. I highly recommend the NYC bridges, especially 59th Street for anyone training in NYC. They offer amazing views, a change from the normal path, and are super challenging. In fact, last Labor Day we did a double bridge long run which sucked during but was amazing after! 🙂

  28. I am SO happy you are cutting out the two-a-days. I always thought they contributed to your constant tiredness, especially when you increased your mileage so much. You need your energy for running!

    I’m tired of my routes too. I live one block from the 59th Street Bridge and have never run over it! And I loved doing the Hudson River Greenway last week.

  29. Haha, I could have written this!! I am also training for my first full marathon (Steamtown). Just like you, I’ve been doing my runs… but also doing LOTS of biking and swimming (two-a-days are also second nature to me).
    However, I also recently realized that I need to tone it down. Last time I tried training for a marathon, I ended up with a stress fracture six weeks before.
    It’s tough, but I try to remind myself how awesome crossing that finish line will be, and that it’s worth giving myself extra rest even when I REALLY don’t want to.
    Good luck! 🙂

  30. TOTALLY needed to read this today. I’ve been battling the pull-back prior to the half marathon this Sunday SO much this week. Feeling guilty for running less, less barre n9ne, etc. but I KNOW deep down it’s the right thing to do, as much as I HATE to do it. I want to run strong and cross that finish line proud on Sunday and THAT is my dream right now. Run proud. So pull-back week, I’ll try to embrace you, we aren’t BFFs but I’ll try to at least *like* you a little bit. 😉

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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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