Are you ready to read a slightly grouchy post? Because that’s what you’re about to get.

Well. I’ll start with some good stuff. How does that sound?

Yesterday was an excellent day. The photo shoot with the Refine Method girls went really well and I’m psyched about featuring them in the February issue of Dance Spirit.

Brynn, me and Katie. While they were exercising, I was proudly displaying my love for guacamole.

After work, I went to the gym for a pretty rigorous Chisel class. We kicked off the class with some heart-pumping cardio and I was dripping in delicious sweat within the first 10 minutes. I love that.

Remember yesterday I was all about lists and goals and stuff? Well one of my goals for the week was to “Eat well.” Thanks to Brian, I did just that last night. I ate well. Very well.

Cauliflower with pine nuts and other things and a baked sweet potato slash mashed potato with things on top. I should be a food blogger. Obviously.

Would you like to see some close-ups, taken with my very fancy camera, and by camera I mean phone? I’m a high-tech lady.

This was possibly the best thing Brian has ever made.
He baked the sweet potato, then carved out the innards, and then mashed them up with spices, and then re-stuffed them. I don't know. It was cool.

Thank you, Brian, for never letting me go hungry and filling my life with vegetables.

Another goal for this week was to “Get sleep.” Check!

Last night was the first night since this pesky flare-up began that I actually slept through the night and didn’t wake up until my alarm went off! That, to me, is huge. Granted, as soon as I woke up I felt like crap, but getting through the night was a big deal. I’m psyched.

And then there’s the final goal I made: “Run hard.”

I’m currently cursing this goal. It’s the one I care about the most, and it’s the one I seriously struggled with today.

Brian and I ran 6.5 miles this morning. It was 62 degrees. Nice.

Pretty morning in the park!

I want to continue including speed training leading up to the Las Vegas Half Marathon. Have I mentioned that I want to PR in Las Vegas? And have I mentioned that this dream seems incredibly lofty and ambitious lately? Have I also mentioned that I feel like I suck at running these days? And that my PR from the National Half Marathon was a total fluke? And that I don’t think I’ll ever run fast like that again?

Maybe it’s because of my stomach. I’m constantly running to the bathroom and, as a result, I often feel completely drained when I’m out running. Everything seems to require just a little more effort, and the stop-and-go system crushes my legs. Even today, after being in and out of the bathroom all morning before even starting to run, I had to stop as soon as we picked up the pace at mile 1.2. It’s hard to get going again after you stop.

We did a one-mile warm-up and then the plan was simple: four miles at a 7:40 pace. In order to PR in Vegas, I need to maintain a 7:50 pace, and that will only give me a PR by a few seconds. That seems fast to me. It seems difficult.

Brian wore my watch this morning, so I just tagged along. I was fine for a while, looping around the Reservoir feeling pretty comfortable in our pace (which he didn’t share with me, but I trusted that it was the 7:40 we had discussed).

At one point my legs started to feel really heavy, so I scream-asked Brian, “How many more miles???”

“Three and a half,” he told me.

“We’ve done three and a half??? Or we have that many to go??? Or we’ve done that many fast miles and we only have half a mile left??? HOW MANY MORE MILES, BRIAN???”

He looked at me like I was insane because I was shouting so loudly and angrily. I’m a really, really pleasant runner, I assure you. I’m a friggin’ dream training partner.

Post-run Ali is SO HAPPY.

By the fourth “fast” mile, I started to lose Brian. I watched the distance between us grow — literally, not like, “I saw our relationship fade into the distance” or something — and I tried desperately to hang on. But it felt tough. And I felt pissed.

See ya, Brian. Have a nice run.

I took this picture so I have proof that I was not keeping up with my pace-setter. Also I liked the colors.

So as you may know, I have a history of torturous, thought-consuming self-doubt. When it comes to most aspects of life, I’m all, “I can do anything! I am magical! Life rules! Party in the USA!” But when you throw running in the mix, I rarely think happy, convincing thoughts. I never think I can actually PR, even though I want to, and once I start running and it feels just a little bit difficult, I mentally give up.

This morning, I mentally gave up. That fourth speed mile was rough for me, and Brian got yelled at afterward because obviously my inability to keep up was entirely his fault. I can’t believe he continues to run with me and put up with my insanity. And also date me.

He tried to make me smile when we were done, but I was a brat and didn’t want to.

Who DOESN'T want to wake up to that pleasant face in the morning? Sweaty and pissy? Come on now. That's a good time.

I was so frustrated this morning. My watch is frozen now and won’t upload our splits to the computer, but Brian promises that we did, in fact, stay right on the 7:40 pace for the duration of those four miles. I believe him.

I know that to be a better, stronger runner, I need to just keep pushing harder. I spent so much time recently running within my comfort zone, and now that I’m being pushed outside of it, I’m struggling, more mentally than physically. I think that in addition to having a running coach, I need a brain coach to slap some sense into me. (Mrs. Coach Cane? Sign up for this task, please! I know you’re busy raising a cute little human, but, you know, if you want to hang out sometime…)

When I have an awesome run, I feel amazing and unstoppable. Last Tuesday, I banged out a 7:12 mile like it was no problem and I was riding high all day. Then on Saturday, I was pumped about my long run splits and was giddy all weekend.

Then, with one “bad” run — which pace-wise wasn’t bad, but mentally took a toll on me — I feel annoyed. I know I need to toe the line in Vegas with a positive, “I can do this and then I’m going straight to the buffet” attitude. I know that when my legs start to feel tired at mile 7, I can’t give up. Giving up won’t get me a PR.

So stomach, seriously, chill yourself immediately, because we’ve got a race to run on December 4, and I will be damned if you blow it for me.

And brain, get your act together. Stop being such a downer.

Legs, you’ve got to do the work, because the rest of my body is failing me. Deal?

Alright then. I’m glad we’re all in agreement.

See you in Vegas.



0 Responses

  1. So sorry you had such a difficult run. I do feel for you. Don’t give in to that inner doubt, you can do it and will have better days. I love your photographs especially in the park it looks so big and peaceful and this time of year very beautiful. I am not a early morning runner. I wish I was because I know that I miss so much in those quiet early hours. My best time to run is late afternoon but its always busy. Keep going Ali, you are doing so great already if you only knoew it!
    Tony 🙂

  2. ok first of all – YOu are awesome!!! Second- I want your guac shirt- where did you get it??? Third- Don’t beat yourself up (easier said than done- I do exactly the same thing to myself!!) We all have had bad runs— they just make the good ones that much better! 🙂 🙂 If every run was great you would either be a.) lying or b.) not human 🙂

  3. Don’t doubt yourself! It was just one teeny little run. And it’s over now. I agree with everything Meggie said – you’ve been having some awesome runs lately, and that’s what you should focus on and what should give you confidence for December 4! I know, easy for me to say. But I bet you’ll have a better run tomorrow or thursday and forget all about this one 🙂
    also, cauliflower, pine nuts and pesto is one of my favorite combinations! Well done, Brian.

  4. Haha, looks like you’re so frustrated you’re not replying to anyone’s comments! I understand that. But please please please reply to this one.
    Yesterday was my bad run. It was like a 10:12 pace. That’s actually pretty fast for me, except I felt like crap and I felt so slow and I held that pace for only one mile. Then I got my issue of RW in the mail and it said “There are no such things as bad runs. They are simply bridges to better runs.” So you know what I screamed at my magazine? No, not “Awww… I feel so happy now.” Nope, I said “wow, you are SO CHEESY! Pff….”
    So uh, I’m taking a rest day today, and trying to find excuses for myself for running a bad run yesterday, and hopefully I will actually be able to run a 10K in February. Deal?

  5. A wise person once explained tough workouts and such like this to me. “Try to remember that you will get something out of every workout. The workout, as written, is 100% value. When you attempt it, if its a bad day, you will still get 90% of the value which is a lot. With long distances, you will always have random things that take pieces out of your 100%. So you just try to “win” as much as is possible on the day. Unless you quit, there is no “fail.” I take no credit for this advice. I just copy and pasted. However, that helped me out a lot in the last few weeks of my marathon training, well, when I was in the harder part of it.

    So, today, even if it wasn’t the workout you dreamed of, you still got a hell of a lot out of it. On top of that, you’ve had some super impressive runs lately. Your legs may have been a little tired (maybe from chisel? I don’t know what that entails)? Who knows, but you still are getting out there and giving a good effort. Be proud about that! Not everyone can do that – get out there everyday and such. Sometimes when I get to competitive, I remind myself of that ie “I’m still giving it my all, or trying to, every day I’m out here. Not everyone can even stick to a training schedule.”

    I also ALWAYS think all of my PRs are a fluke and, usually, look at my watch and think “oh this must have broken at some point during the race, this is wrong.” Don’t think it was a fluke! You are that speedy. Weird things happen in races I’ve decided.

  6. Bummer Ali! I’m sorry today was a rough one running wise. Hopefully everything will be in better agreement for your next run. I know you still have a PR in you for Vegas!

  7. I had a real bad run on Sunday…and so decided I needed a run today where I just run because I love running (no worries about speed, pace, time, etc.). It worked and made me feel a whole lot happier! Maybe you could try it too. 🙂

    BTW, I wore leg warmers on my run today (it’s finally cold enough in London to do that) and thought of you and your blog haha.

  8. 1. That meal looks ridiculously good. I would like some.
    2. Whenever I start to stress about pacing, time, etc I go out and run 4, 5, 6, 7, whatever miles sans Garmin, sans thinking about paces of any kind and remember why I love it so darn much. I guarantee (and this is in writing so it has to come true) your next run will feel better on your legs (I can’t make promises for your stomach but I can hope really hard!)
    3. I have a sneaky feeling that your training, speedwork, and sheer adreneline will get you that PR in Vegas! (It’s also really flat there and the air is really dry, making it fabulous for running!)

  9. Oh Ali, I read your blog because what you do, and the obstacles you overcome, is outstanding! I wish you could see that too! One thing I always tell myself is I’ve never had two bad runs in a row. So when I have a bad one, I know my next one will be stellar. 🙂

  10. Don’t beat yourself up gf, OR your boyfriend.. trust me, it gets you know where. Maybe you should start thinking more specifically about what could be causing this frustration with your leggies, or making the Crohn’s bug your tummy more often than usual?? I know when I write things down (and bother my mom with them) I feel better, and then I’m less snappy with the bf haha. And ps- that sweet potato looks money! Send me some!

  11. I feel you girl. I have my second half marathon this Sunday and this week I have felt sooo slow. It is so frustrating to feel so good about my runs a week ago, and to hate my runs this week…the week before race day. I’m only hoping that some rest and a mini-taper will do the trick.
    You can do it, though…I know you can!

  12. Ok so a) i want that recipe. seriously is he a chef? yum

    b) running is hard stuff. how you do it and stop and go. i am so ridiculously impressed
    c) do you know how to reset your garmin when it is frozen – hold down both bezels and count to 10 (may need longer) – sorry if you knew already
    d) your legs are tired!! taper a bit for race day, you will fly past me
    e) marathon training makes us slow. today i did 5 on the treadmill. started with 8 did two at 753 and then the last two at 750ish. this used to be easy. WTF. well marathon training…
    f) now don’t hate me because we are all super competitive, clearly, but you are doing great you are out there. sure a pr would be amazing. but don’t let a silly number or time ruin your day. you will be in freakin VEGAS, look up enjoy it. you are running the strip, so cooL!

  13. You can do it Ali! Don’t let one bad run get in your way! As far as I’m concerned you are kicking a** considering the bitch Crohns won’t piss off!!
    P.S. I need that Cauliflower recipe from Brian STAT!!

  14. I agree with the above. Yes, I like reading your blog…I enjoy your humor. But, wow, you have to calm down! It’s one run. You basically workout intensely twice per day. That’s a lot to put your body through in addition to your IBD. I wish you would give yourself a break.

  15. Ali, you need a mental kick in the butt, which should be started off by telling yourself to “calm the F down!” Listen to everyone here, bad runs happen. The best athletes leave it on the trail and don’t dwell. Clear your mind and remember, your miles are good, you’re putting in the pace, you can do this. Believe in yourself and delete the negative thoughts. Replace them with inspiration and with memories of good hard runs runs. We are all cheering for you!

  16. Read McMillan Rule #1! Don’t Dwell.

    (notable quote: “[…]We’d talk about the hundred great workouts he’d done but he’d follow that with, “Yeah, but that tempo run last month really went poorly. I don’t know if I’m in great shape.” Clearly, this “dweller” will never achieve what the national champion did, and it has nothing to do with training. It has to do with mindset.”)

    Also, have you tried doing intervals lately? It seems you’re just doing tempo runs, which are good for increasing speed, sure, but can be very grueling and monotonous. Doing a set of 800s or 1200s at your VO2max pace will accomplish the same thing, and if you want to work on raw speed, form, and leg turnover, 200s and 400s can be awesome as well as hella fun if you want to feel really fast. And then there’s that 91st St. 2nd Ave. hill for hill sprints… you CLEARLY have the base mileage to handle two speed sessions a week, so why not make one interval and one tempo? Have you read Brad Hudson’s Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon, btw? Because you might really like his plans.

    Also, you know, there do exist such things as races that are NOT half marathons or marathons. If you want to increase speed, one of the best things, according to coaches I know, is to target shorter distances first and try to improve over those. I.e. after this upcoming HM, spend the winter working on your 5k, for instance. You get WAY more chances to try for a PR at that distance since it doesn’t wipe you out, AND I find, as an ulcerative collitis sufferer, that shorter-distance runs are 100000% easier on my stomach. I.e. 20-minute tempos at closer to 5k pace rather than longer tempos at closer to HM pace.

    BTW I ran Grete’s Gallop HM this year in 1:30 off of 5k training (LOTS of interval and tempo work, two total long runs ’cause I hate them and they crush my stomach), if that helps to establish any street cred.

    Final hopeful confidence booster: some more experienced runner friends of mine say that for Manhattan runners, races that are not on the Central Park hills can sometimes be automatic PRs simply due to flatter courses. Good luck!

  17. The whole time I was reading this I was thinking “But what about your awesome long run over the weekend!!!!!” You can totally do this. Bad runs exist to remind us that good ones are there as well.

  18. Not every day will be your best, as I obviously can attest. You are such a strong runner, please don’t let today get you down. At least you look awesome!

  19. So that paragraph that starts “So as you may know, I have a history of torturous, thought-consuming self-doubt.” That whole paragraph could have been written by me. It is the mental monsters that are worse than the physical pain sometimes. You just have to find some way to overcome them. And when you do? Please tell me your secrets 🙂

  20. Also keep in mind that you are likely to run at a fast pace then you are training too! The adernaline will push you through and if you train right it will push you til the end (I talk like I am an expert, but I am not, such just pretend). My race average was :40/mile faster then my training average.

  21. UGH! A bad run is the worst…I hate when I get them too, far more often than I’d like and it feels like every thing I could possibly doubt about my abilities goes out the window. Clearly, you are MADE for running. Clearly, you ARE FAST. Clearly, you are competitive, in a good way. One run won’t end you, not by a long shot. You got this 🙂

  22. You really are running faster and that in itself hurts! Your Crohns flare up is such a bitch, but regardless you are working hard and I am very impressed. Don’t get too down on yourself chica, we have all been there doubting our ability to reach our athletic goals. Heck, I thought I could run a faster 10k a couple weekends ago – I actually ran 5min slower than I was hoping for and worked REALLY hard to earn that PW. That sucked, but it’s part of the process and I can pick up the pieces the next day to keep going after my dreams. Running is something you do for fun, enjoy it!! 🙂 And thank Brian for being such a gem – hehe!

  23. Oh I know those running “conversations” well… I have definitely had a similar conversation with my husband starting with me asking “how many more miles”. I’m sure that people have thought that I was crazy while I’m running along screaming at him. Poor guy, but like you and Brian, he puts up with me and how he does, I don’t know.

    Overcoming mental defeats can be difficult but I know you can do it! You are strong and an amazing runner. You are going to do great in Las Vegas!

  24. Ok first of all, you are a strong, tough lady … made evident by the fact that you look Crohns/Colitis in the face and say “I’m going for a run!”. It is not an easy task to take a depleted, battling body out for a run and you do it every day.
    Second, and I know you have heard this one before … but its those tough run days that make the amazing run days AMAZING! If all runs were amazing, then to run would just be ordinary and ordinary sucks!
    Chin up lady, you have a PR on the horizon … I know it!

  25. I think we all have days when running feels harder than it should, but keep in mind that you’ve had some really awesome runs lately. Your last couple of long runs have been really speedy! I have been impressed.

    And it’s getting out there day after day, working hard over time that will help you become a stronger, better runner.. A single run (or race!) is not the sole representation of your fitness or worth. Remember that!

  26. We all have bad days, and you’re still awesome! You’re working hard and still getting in your workouts despite the fact that you’re not feeling great. That’s way more than most people would even attempt.

  27. Please give yourself more credit. Thanks

    Also, party in the USA may or may not end up on a lot of my playlists because makes me giggle and kinda giddy. I wanna throw my hands up when Miley says to, but usually I refrain. Regardless, I usually forget that I’m struggling when I run to it…..

  28. Oh no! The fact that you still did all of your miles, and that you still worked hard (who cares if the pace was on par or not) means that today will make you better tomorrow.

    Also, maybe there is a Garmin problem. Today my Garmin told me I was going 13.78 miles per hour, while standing on a corner.

  29. Ali, have faith in yourself. Everyone has bad runs. Don’t dwell on it. Tomorrow is another day.
    You should reset your watch. If it asks you if it should delete user data, select “no.” After that your data should load.
    Feel better – mentally and physically.

  30. Aww friend! I hate to see you mentally beating yourself up like that! You’ve got to curse those inner demons when they try to tell you that you aren’t good enough. Prove them wrong. Shut them down and tell them they do NOT matter. They will NOT beat you, Ali. You are strong. You run hard. Even with that pesky thing called Crohns. You never give up. You are amazing. Don’t forget it. (this was my pep talk to you, now go give yourself a hug, mmk??) xoxo

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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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