Some Things Are Tougher Than A Marathon

I thought, considering I trained for and ran a marathon not too long ago, that I was in good shape. I can run for four-plus hours, so I can do anything, right?

Oh there I am, thinking I'm so tough.

Oh, Ali. So naive. And also a little dumb.

You see, sometimes I like to think I’m superhuman. I went through a phase once, after a particularly intense kickboxing class at the gym, where I wanted to become a cage fighter. I actually wanted to try cage fighting. I went home and researched it and watched all kinds of crazy YouTube videos…about cage fighting.

Turns out, it’s kind of illegal.

I also allowed myself roughly 24 hours to recover from the Hamptons Marathon.

Everyone — everyone — told me that wasn’t enough time and that I needed to give myself more rest.

In my mind, I am smarter than all those people, including the experienced marathoners and the seasoned running coaches.

Again, with me being naive. And again, with the dumbness.

So should I be surprised that after running 10 miles on Saturday, doing a wickedly hard Chisel class Monday night and running 7 miles yesterday morning, last night’s attempt at Figure 4 didn’t go so well?

Figure 4 is this new fitness craze in NYC. It’s the brainchild of former professional ballet dancer Kate Albarelli. She is a cute, curly-haired redhead and I am a little bit in love with her. Even though she almost made me cry last night with her damn “20 more pulses” demands.

This is Kate. She looks sweet, but she will kick your ass. Photo from Pure Yoga.

The class is a barre-style class, and I was excited to try it out last night.

Might I suggest that if you, too, choose to check out this class that you don’t do it one week after running a marathon?

Pure Yoga is the nicest place ever. It’s so swanky and I always feel poor and sad when I go there because I wish I could afford a membership, but sadly, no. The class last night was at Pure Yoga’s Upper West Side location, which I had never been to.

Pure Yoga Upper West Side. So fancy.

It’s sprawling and spacious and everything is high quality, from the locker rooms to the loungey waiting areas to the studios.

Oooooh, see how pretty?

As for the class? It was hard as Hell.

My legs were already fatigued before I even entered the room. Yeah the running has taken its toll, but the Chisel class I took Monday night left my quads, calves and hamstrings feeling particularly tender.

So when Kate had us stand at the bar, feet together in high releve (up on your toes, for my non-dancer pals), and begin pulsing — while balancing a small bouncy ball in between our thighs — I immediately wanted to smack her.

But I didn’t. Because she was also so nice. And she smiled a lot. And she played good music.

So I pulsed and I squatted and soon my thighs were shaking and quivering so hard that it was visible and I couldn’t help but laugh at myself.

Just when I thought we were done, I learned that no, we were not. We squatted deeper, and then we bent all the way to the ground and back up.

At this point I was not only trembling, I was sweating like an angry beast.

The 60-minute class flew by because we were constantly doing something different. Every single move we did was done to exhaustion. I never felt like I could keep going. We did ab work on the floor, used 4-pound dumbbells for arm and shoulder exercises and worked butt muscles that I truly did not know I had before.

Kate constantly emphasized using tiny pulses and movements to build strength. There were no big kicks — just small, controlled, harmless-looking things that left me feeling completely pathetic. In a good way, I guess.

I don’t usually like barre classes, but I loved Figure 4. If you happen to have money laying around, I definitely recommend taking the class at Pure Yoga. Also, if you have extra money after that, let’s be friends.

Just kidding.

Except I’m not kidding. Not at all.

After a delicious Oreo cookie dinner, I woke up several times during the night because my legs hurt. Not injury-like pain, just serious muscle aching.

In my mind, the solution to that was going for a morning “shakeout run.”

Coach Cane, do you see what happens when I’m no longer under your careful watch?

I ran 5 of the slowest miles of my life this morning in Central Park.

Aw. That's nice.

I had some fun on the Bridle Path, made a very necessary bathroom stop and then ran around the Reservoir for a little while. It was a perfect fall morning, and even though my pace was was nothing special, it felt good to get my legs moving and be outside. My legs actually felt better while I was running than they do sitting at a desk.

Maybe I won’t go to spinning tonight. Maybe I will have another Oreo dinner instead.

Decision made.

Other things that I think are more difficult than running a marathon:

  • Walking up subway stairs
  • Roller skating
  • Staying warm while skiing
  • Vacuuming my apartment
  • Keeping my closet hangers in color-order for more than 24 hours
  • Keeping plants alive
  • Cooking chicken
  • Not eating the entire box of mac and cheese in one sitting




0 Responses

  1. ooh I like your list. I ran a marathon Sunday… and ran 7 miles today (thursday) ooops! : ) They were slow! Additions to the ‘harder than a marathon list’: getting to the bus stop on time to NOT miss the bus, packing enough food to get me through a day of running/workout + classes + work, turning on my fireplace, catching a frisbee, returning library books, figuring out how to get any questions answered at the School of Public Health at University of Washington… I could go on and on and on

  2. I always like to think that if you can’t rest after a marathon, when can you? You deserve a few days off, my friend! Take them and love them 🙂 Harder than running a marathon: not running one when you’ve busted your butt training for one… right? Hopefully I am not going to experience this first-hand.

    Next time you go to Pure can I come? I’m far too poor to ever visit on a regular basis. Or even walk inside the fancy looking doors

  3. Hate to be a downer (really!), but PLEASE take a week off and really, really rest. I know you are tough as nails and love working out, but you’re setting yourself up for injury. I’ve battled a few injuries as a runner and they are the worst because all you want to do is run and the only thing you can’t do is run–so take a week now instead of a few months later.

  4. Loved all of items on your “things that are harder than a marathon” list. I’d add to that NOT eating an entire party-sized bag of peanut butter M&Ms in one weekend.

    You are seriously crazy (in a good way) for all of the workouts you’ve done post-marathon. After my first, I didn’t do anything for a week, including walking correctly. My legs were so, so, so done.

  5. yes!!!! Barre workouts are SO SO SO hard! Thus why Jess and I are obsessed with barre n9ne (similar to the barre workout you did). It is incredible how freaking difficult they are and how much your legs quiver and shake and go insane. Glad you loved it (at least I hope you did!!).

  6. I took a barre class once at Equinox. Having had absolutely zero dance experience or knowledge, it was harder for me to figure out some of the moves. The time of the class wasn’t great for me, but I liked it because I felt like I was walking around with better posture for weeks afterwards. I don’t remember feeling particularly tortured afterwards, but of course, I didn’t run a 4-hour marathon the week before I took the class. Ali, you’re nuts. Give yourself a break.

    What’s with the Oreo dinner? Where’s Brian? How come he didn’t cook for you. 🙂

  7. Girl, give yourself a break. Be careful because injuries suck. Like bad. If you are too sore to run its okay to jump on the eliptical once in awhile or even take a day off! I promise.

    1. Hello friend – I have to agree with Lizzy. Give those legs of yours some rest! I hate to be a downer because the class really does sound amazing – but maybe those types of activities are better saved for after you’ve given your legs some time to recover? I know it’s easy to feel strong and invincible now, but speaking from someone who has struggled with way too many injuries during her life as a runner – you’ve got to be careful, especially right after a marathon, an event that takes so much out of you. I promise a week of rest won’t take away all your fitness. And I bet you’d come back feeling more refreshed and excited about running/working out than ever.

  8. Oreo dinners always sound wonderful. I”m running my marathon on Sunday.. I have no idea how I’m going to feel but I’m thinking I’m going to need to take a solid week off. Stretching, walking, yoga, etc.

  9. Baking cookies and keeping them around for more than 24 hours and laundry would both be on my list. Although, I have never run a marathon, but these two things often seem impossible to me!

  10. I’ve always wanted to try one of those classes, but I hate the idea of spending $30+ on a class. If you find a rich friend bring me too, kay?? And seriously, give yourself some rest!! After my first marathon I didn’t want to DO anything for a week.

  11. ahahaha, i know exactly how you feel. i took a SLT (strengthen, lengthen, tone) class last monday and wanted to die. i can run a lot (and sometimes fast), but pilates type exercises make me want to cry. or hit something. but i suppose we all need to work on the things we’re not so good at..right? right?? or maybe i’ll just stick to running…

    and girl – you worked hard in the hamptons, don’t be afraid to give yourself some downtime!!!

  12. I though the whole box was the serving size 🙂

    Way to get out there! I also have a hard time resting post marathon, I call it sweat-aholic disease.

  13. very cool! I hadn’t heard of Figure 4 yet. I take Physique 57 a lot. Do you know how it compares? I find that it helps my running so much.

  14. I would rather run a marathon and know I could have a large cup of fro yo with extra reeses pieces then durn town a cup of fro yo. I run to eat I guess 🙂

    There are no cool barre classes like that around here. Do you feel like you are taking ballet? Probably a stupid question but I know NOTHING about these classes.

  15. I’m glad everyone told you you’re doing too much too soon even if you aren’t listening to them. I could tell you my story or the countless stories of others who tried to do the same thing after their first marathon or Ironman. We all wound up hurt or burnt out eventually – not immediately after, but it followed 3-4 months later. Now I take a full week off after a marathon or Ironman – SERIOUSLY! It’s good for the head and the body. Do yoga, go for a 5 mile walk, but no running, no spinning, no weights. Your body needs to recover and heal itself so it can come back stronger for the next round! Work hard, rest harder!! 🙂 You can still take a week to chill now – your body is craving it and will thank you later. TRUST..

    1. I agree! You have ambitious goals ahead of you. Recovery from a marathon is more important at this point. Dial it back for a bit.

  16. Oh Ali you are funny. I have a friend that’s a fitness class instructor who ran her first marathon Sunday. Tuesday she had to teach 4 classes. As she was complaining after the first 2 I was thinking really, no one told you you’d be sore 2 days after your marathon and you didn’t find a sub for the classes?! But really I think it goes to show you aren’t alone in thinking you ran a smart race and therefore don’t need time to recover. Each day should get a little better. “They” say 1 day recovery for 1 mile run hard, but most likely you’ll bounce back a little faster.

  17. Ooh, totally with you on the rollerskating.. I cannot rollerskate/blade to save my life! It’s embarrassing, esp considering I can ice skate pretty decently. That class sounds like a blast though! If only I too had extra moola laying around for such too haha.

  18. Great meeting you last night! This morning’s run was insanely slow for me as well. And I only made it 4 miles. At least I don’t have subway steps…just 30 minutes from midtown to union sq. no big deal. You know what was awesome after that leg-quivering workout? Wine. I’m pretty sure it’s ok because Kate said to do it somewhere between “20 more pulses” and “aright, now 20 MORE pulses.” she’s tricky like that.

  19. Thanks for the Figure 4 tip- I did the bar method for the first time the day after I ran a half and thought I might die! Also, wearing my “I heart sweat” shirt this weekend in Chicago, hoping it brings me good weather and some fast times! 🙂

  20. I was supposed to go to that class last night, but I had to work late! Bummer! Sounds really tough but really good.

    TOTALLY agreed about the mac and cheese thing. I made it over the weekend and it was almost impossible for me to split it into two servings, but somehow I resisted eating the entire box.

  21. It’s true, subway stairs SUCK. I have no idea why, but I’m always way tired after. Damn. And Pure Yoga is AWESOME. I’ve taken a hot yoga class there and am taking Figure 4 soon (next week, I think, actually). But I’ve been talking with Kate a lot lately and she’s a total sweetheart.

  22. knew you’d love figure 4. and kate. and the burn. mmmsauce.

    cooking a chicken isn’t that hard. especially when you sip wine while waiting for it to finish up. oh, and throw some potatoes in the pan with the whole chicken – you’ll have delicious chicken fat fries after an hour. FAB.

  23. bahahaha I love your list of things more difficult than a marathon. Whole heartedly agree. Especially the subways stairs. I take the 86th street stairs too – they kill me every time. Sometimes I take the 6 train rather than the 4/5 home…so i dont have to do that extra set of stairs. #PATHETIC.

  24. Love the list. For a brief moment I thought “wait- I cooked a chicken a few weeks ago! I can run a marathon!” And then I bit my tongue so I didn’t laugh at myself out loud…

    I am in total support of oreo dinners. Perhaps because tonight my dinner will be brownies that have been stuffed with peanut butter and oreos and I’m glad to know I (and my kickball team) am not alone. Dessert for dinner is a winner- woot!

  25. HA! And this is why I’m obsessed with barre classes – ridiculously humbling experience, no matter how “in shape” you are. Even if you’re a marathoner 😉 Crazy, right??

  26. I took 1 day off after my first half marathon in Sept! How about a few more rest days and a shake out swim instead of a run! 🙂
    PS Your blog makes me smile and laugh out loud at work. Sometimes I make myself not read for a day or two so i get double reading!

  27. I love Figure4 and I LOVE Kate. I’ve been lucky enough to take her classes more times than I can count, she is such a wonderful, inspiring, motivating, clear instructor and yes, she plays great music. That said, I cannot believe you went for a run the morning after that class kicked your butt. You really are crazy. REST! Take more than one day off!!!!

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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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