Deep Thoughts & Tough Love

You know I’m not really going to have actual “deep thoughts” that are groundbreaking in this post, right? I just don’t want your expectations to be very high.

Good morning!

This weekend wrapped itself up pretty perfectly.

Yeah, Saturday’s run was a little rough — more on that in a moment — but by last night I was back to Happy Relax-y Ali. She’s so much more fun than Crying Ali. I really like her.

I foam rolled a lot last night, and also went to my happy place.

I may have gone slightly overboard with the hot fudge. Oh but it's so good.

I threw on some compression socks, even though I think mine are too stretched out to actually do anything, and sat on Brian’s couch watching Oprah walk across hot coals. That’s a topic for an entirely different day. Let’s just say I, too, want to do a fire walk.

By last night, I had calmed my weekend worries of “Oh my God my leg is broken and my hip is going to fall off and I’ll never run again,” and realized I’m most likely just dealing with a pesky IT band and, as Coach Cane advised, it’s something that can be attacked “aggressively.” Aggressive is one of my favorite words. Aggressive Ali On The Run. I think it works.

While Brian and I hung out on the couch, he begged me to let him massage my IT band. He was all, “Please, Ali? It’s so much fun for me. I really like not sitting on the couch and just relaxing when I could be kneading the side of your leg and watching you wince in pain. Seriously. Let me?”

Check out that turnout on my left foot. I probably shouldn't have ever quit dancing. Such natural talent.

I guess Brian may recall last night going a bit differently, but that’s how I remember it. Ice cream and a leg massage, yum!

And talks of fire walking.

I had a crappy night’s sleep last night though, which almost never happens. I’m usually so tired by bedtime that I pass out hard and feel shocked and awed and annoyed when the alarm starts getting feisty at 5 am. But I couldn’t sleep, and at one point while I was awake I figured, “I may as well be productive while I’m up, so perhaps I will think deep life thoughts.”

Here are a few conclusions I came to:

  • I had my first bad long run on Saturday. That’s like, monumental or something. Normally I have great long runs because they’re my favorite kinds of runs and I find them to be relaxing and comfortable. But I had a tough one, and that will happen. I know that, and I’m learning to accept it. As frustrated as I was after the fact, I think it’s good that this happened because it made me tougher. I’ll have a great run next (hopefully), and can look back on this one and laugh. Or, if I have another rough long run, I’ll look back on this one and remember that I got it done.
  • I can’t let running define me. It’s something I love and something I want to do for a very long time. But my goals are not to be an Olympian (in running, that is — my go-to Olympic sport will be Organizing, as soon as the Olympics committee realizes that’s worthy of a medal).  My goals are simply to improve and throw down a few race times I’m happy with. And, honestly, my goals are always to just enjoy running and training. I tend to panic and crash and suck ass on race days, so at least I enjoy the training, right? And it’s true, I really really do love training and running long.
  • I can’t let running define me because what if I have to live without it? I have an appointment with an ART doctor today at 4:30, which I’m really looking forward to. I’m excited to be poked, stretched and put into some pain so Mr. Doctor can give me a diagnosis. I very highly doubt he’s going to say, “You’re done running, Ali. Find another hobby.” But what if that were the case? Well, I’d have to be OK with it. I could take up yoga and learn how to do a headstand. I could get more into spinning, which I already love. There are plenty of other ways to sweat, and while I may always love running the most, I know there’s a chance that I may at least be told to go without it for a few days. (Which is also fine, because my To Do list is nasty right now and I’ve been neglecting it.)
  • As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I need a good cry and some tough love in order to assess my issues and then get over them. I got some really great comments on yesterday’s post, and I’ll share them with you now:
Dori says I'm too hard on myself. FACT. I read her comment and was like, "Psh, how rude, I'm so chill, I'm EASY on myself." Then I realized I was lying to myself. Good call, Dori.
Lindsay commented that running can be hard sometimes. And Lindsay runs marathons in three hours, so I take what she has to say quite seriously. And it's true: Running IS hard! Sometimes it feels easy, but sometimes it straight up sucks. Also worth noting: Coach Cane is correct in that he did not actually say he "disapproved" of my sparkly headband. He merely remarked that it was tiara-like. Which reminds me, I need to find out when his birthday is...
Aron reminded me that you don't necessarily learn much from the great runs. You learn the best lessons when you get through something difficult. BOOM, success. Thanks, A-Bomb. Can I call you A-Bomb?

I feel very lucky to have such insightful, thoughtful, kind people sharing their wisdom with me. Thank you, people. Yes, I’m hard on myself. Yes, it’s a massive, massive flaw. Going into 2012, I remember thinking that maybe one of my resolutions should be to “go easier on myself,” but I didn’t write it down because I knew it wouldn’t happen. How pathetic is that? Maybe for 2013…or maybe I can still work on it for this year, before my friends and family abandon me because I’m “crazy.”

So those are a few of my nighttime thoughts. Eventually the alarm did go off, and I got dressed, because Coach Cane asked that I run 6–7 miles as long as I didn’t feel “gimpy.” I walked around and stretched a little and felt fine, so I hit the road. More specifically, I hit the Reservoir, which is the flat, cushion-y area where I will be doing all of my runs for a while.

Why yes, it certainly IS a good morning!

I ran 7 miles, as instructed, and felt really, really good. I like this day-to-day plan Coach Cane has me on, which is centered around longer, slower daily runs.

I ran comfortably, constantly checking in with my leg and hip to make sure things felt OK, and rarely looking down at my watch. I haven’t loaded my splits onto the computer, but I’d guess my average pace was around 8:50-9:10. I felt like I could have gone faster for sure, but those weren’t my instructions.

So that’s where I stand today. I’m calmer, I’m chiller and I don’t think the world is ending.

Check back tomorrow for my official “I saw a doctor and here’s what he had to say” diagnosis. There’s a good chance he’ll diagnose me with “IT Band Syndrome with a side of lunacy,” and I look forward to seeing what sort of treatment he prescribes for that.

Lastly, here is a picture that makes me happy:

Pretty candles all over the steps at the New York Public Library. Nice, right?

LET’S MAKE EACH OTHER SMILE: My weekend highlight was having a singalong to the Space Jam soundtrack at a dinner party Sunday night. If you think Space Jam isn’t always relevant, you are really, really wrong. Any film that tastefully features both humans and cartoons acting alongside each other is a winner for sure. Tell me the best part of YOUR weekend.



48 Responses

  1. First off, you’re a sweetheart and I love your blog. However, please give yourself a break about your injury. You might have to rest, and you will be FINE! I promise. I went to the doctor back in September for lingering foot pain… and found out that I have a degenerative bone disease and will never. run. again. I thought I would die, but as it turns out, I’m fine. If these are the biggest things we have to worry about in life, we should be ecstatic. I hope your appointment went fantastically! Just remember – keep it in perspective:)

  2. I’d have to say shopping with my 2 best friends from grad school was the highlight of my weekend. I’m not usually a huge fan of shopping for reason I won’t get into right now but my friends made it fun – probably because I let them use me as a dress-up barbie! PS – i’m glad you are feeling better about your long run. I’m no person to be giving you tough love about a 10 miler but I think you’re amazing even if you had a crappy 2 mile run!

    xo Marie
    Chocolate & Wine

  3. Given that my younger brother visited my family and me here in NYC with his wife daughter and new baby boy, there were a lot of potential bests. But as related to this blog, it was getting to run my favorite Manhattan hills run with my brother, showing it to him for the first time. (See: Next time you’re looking for some hills, or just a change of pace, check it out.

  4. Best part of my weekend… on the ocean. Best part of Monday and Tuesday – running on the ocean except……….there were NO bathrooms open!

    I am all for that Olympic medal in organizing.

  5. You have solid people giving you advice, Ali. And it seems like you’re headed in the right direction—I hope the doc gave you good news today!

    The highlight of my weekend was baking homemade cinnamon buns and getting tulips from my boyfriend. Those two things could happen every weekend, and I’d be cool with it!

  6. Ah! My husband and I were just talking about Space Jam because it was MJ’s 49th birthday recently. I have sadly NEVER seen Space Jam. 🙁 Maybe we’ll have to watch it for date night this week…lol.

  7. You are 100% right on the not defining yourself by running. Yes, you’re most definitely a runner (and a kick ass runner, too), but life happens and someday your body may not be capable of running like you do now. Then what? Find other things that make you happy and learn who you are when running isn’t at the center of your life.

  8. From one Crohn’s Kid to another (and a fellow runner, and an NYC Central Park runner at that, also blonde, but a half-marathoner) I gotcha good girl. Also, some Crohn’s food for thought (because sometimes we can’t eat it har har), studies have shown that their is a strong relationship between Crohn’s patients and Type A, driven people. I think it is because we tend to stress ourselves out and thereby cause out bodies more stress (and triggering out disease). Also, we are hyper aware of our bodies and what is going on, which makes us great patients, but are super stubborn (who, me?) and, once again, driven, and we like to NOT GIVE IN when our bodies tell us, thus making us aggravate already aggravated situations. Thus why I ran literally until the day I went to the hospital, and in fact one of the ways I decided that things were getting out of hand was that I couldn’t make it to TEN minutes without a…break. From which I did not recover.
    All of this is to say, you’ve had a wake up call. Relax, breathe, and be thankful that it is something might make cause you to back off running for a second but that with proper maintenance, you can keep on keeping on. I couldn’t run for 2 months this past fall, and it sucked, but I took up spinning and now rotate.
    You got it. Just pay attention to yourself. And eat more ice cream and fudge FOR SURE.

  9. My weekend highlight was watching “Shameless” with my husband on Sunday night after he had to work all weekend. It was great to relax together. Other highlight, the bison burger with goat cheese and tomato jam I had for dinner on Sat night!

  10. I once had a long discussion with another runner about starting our own race in which the main “Space Jam” song played at the start line and you needed to dress as a Cartoon Network character. It is still being considered.

    Way to be positive! Sometimes sleepless nights elicit lots of practical thinking, strangely enough.

  11. I felt a tweak in my hip on Thursday or Friday and by the next day it was ACHING (for some bacon) really bad! I keep stretching and today’s short run felt great…so I’ll keep going and keep praying that I can heal quick…

    Now, if my neck and back can just feel better I’ll be golden (like the arches!)

  12. Haha, I am sooooo wise. And so is Coach Cane (thanks for the congrats!) I am pretty sure Dr. Levine will diagnose you with that exact illness & ART your IT so hard it a good way. The lunacy part, only 16 Handles and deep thoughts at 3 a.m. can cure. Oh, and booze..preferably drank with me 🙂

  13. The best part of the weekend was spending time with my mom’s dog. I also was spending time with my mom who is just as awesome, but her dog has so much energy that I couldn’t help but laugh when I was outside playing with him. I also tortured him by turning his ears inside out (not really torture, he doesn’t notice), and laughing.

  14. I’m so glad you’re going to give yourself a break! Also, that’s pretty much exactly how my weekend with, with my husband begging to please please please massage my shin / calf which had been bothering me. NOT the other way around! 🙂

  15. I am so glad that you aren’t letting running define you…at least not in a bad way. I think that is helping you cope with whatever may be happening (and hopefully the doc can help!). you are one of the most CAPABLE and ABLE runners I know, and whatever it is, you can overcome it!

  16. Good luck at the Dr! The highlight of my weekend was a totally unexpected race PR! Also, I had my first crappy long run 2 weeks before it, so I feel like it’s definitely a good luck charm for your next race. There must be some article that published that it’s a scientifically proven fact 😉

  17. A-bomb it is 🙂 glad you are feeling better <3

    Space Jam was the besssst. We used to run out to a song from that soundtrack for basketball games. So cool.

    The best part of my weekend was that it was FOUR DAYS LONG!

  18. I saw those lights on a walk the other night, too. So gorgeous. I wish I was rich enough to afford to have my wedding there…

  19. Fro yo has healing powers, I’m convinced!

    You have some pretty awesome friends and a great coach! Oh, and massages…that’s what boyfriends are for 🙂

    My weekend was nothing special but I am looking fwd to running half marathon #11 this weekend!

  20. We did a cheerleading dance to Space Jam when I was in 6th grade as I assume all cheerleading squads did in 1998.

    Sometimes, I want to say this to my hip and sometimes I might in my head — in the words of Avril Lavigne, “Why you have to go and make things so complicated?”

  21. I am also a proponent of movies that incorporate humans with cartoons. Also, random space movies. Anyone else remember Zenon Girl From the 21st Century? Because, cetus-la-petus, that movie was rad.

    The highlight of my weekend was going to Law School Prom and requesting old school rap all night long. Everyone loved me, I’m sure.

  22. Love it! Running really is 20% physical and 80% mental. Or is it 10% / 90%?!

    Best part of my weekend? Sleeping in until 7:30 and being okay with it, running 8 miles, running a 5K, and riding my bike. These simple things make me happy!

  23. I read your long run recap yesterday and was like, “Oh, LAWD, have I felt that despair and later realized that it was absurd but in the moment, yeah, it was terrible” but then didn’t comment because I’m lazy. And verbose, all at the same time.

    I’m not sure if the best part of my weekend was getting yelled at in Chinese while squealing as I stepped into a 104-degree sulfuric hot spring hot spring packed with naked-ish Taiwanese people in Taipei, but it probably has the potential to make other people smile.

  24. The best part of my weekend was going to see our new “puppy” at the humane society on Saturday. We brought treats for all the dogs there because the day before they were all sad. We get to pick our puppy up today!

  25. The best part of my weekend was going out for a run at 5pm on Saturday when mentally I had decided not to run. It was such a nice surprise to myself, and such a great run…and I timed a mile and was pleased with the results. I was less pleased with that ongoing ache in my heel but it’s going away

    Hope the doc says good things today.

  26. I am a former dancer and have too struggled with IT issues, even when I was dancing. I wish I could run more, but my body seems to be more accepting of yoga and long walks. It is funny how our body may instinctually tell us what is best for us, even though determined minds may be less accepting. It can be frustrating . . .

    Any-who I have to say that your job at DS looks so interesting. I worked for a professional ballet school – I love being able to contribute professionally to an industry I love!

  27. This past weekend my S.O. moved in with me and completely unpacked in a matter of two days, AND we both survived The Great Spice Debate of 2012. Consider me super happy.

  28. FroYo is like edible endorphins…I’m convinced of it. The highlight of my weekend was visiting friends on the west coast (a few celeb spottings didn’t hurt, either…)
    good luck at the doctor!!

  29. Space Jam is always relevant. I WISH I still had my CD, but had to resort to downloading all of my favorites (Hit em High.and more) on iTunes.

    Best part of my weekend was finding out Justin and I only had to do one day of mentoring (well.. we were the that is a word).. for our wedding. And we did it on Sunday.

  30. I was surprised to see my face in your post! I was also confused because it jumped out at me before I read far enough and I got all confused as to whether WordPress was buggy or if I somehow already left a comment. Ha. But yeah, you talk a lot about how you need to relax, so I know you know. Also, and I am being serious, I would love to get your organization help when I move. I will pay you in the foods of your choice and unlimited pool visits.

  31. Smiley thought: you encountering someone (a specific someone who reminds you of cheese from a goat).

    The highlight of my weekend was eating cheese (not from a goat), pizza style, after marathon relaying.

  32. I baked my friend a cake for his birthday Friday night. He’s a little obsessed with Russia, so I called it “Russian Nuclear Chocolate Bomb cake” and it involved cutting the cake open, scooping out the insides, filling the middle with ice cream, putting the top back on, and coating the whole thing in chocolate ganache. It was amazing.
    I hope that your drs appointment goes well!

  33. Good luck for your doctors appointment. Whatever he says- you’ve got a great team (coach, boyf, buddies) to help you get through it.

    I definitely think bad runs help you learn more than good ones. I had a crappy race on the weekend but after I stopped sulking and panicking, I realised at least 4 things I could have done better- and will next time.

    p.s. I want a get a sparkly headband now!

  34. Any chance you can share the name of your doc? I’m dealing with some self diagnosed IT Band issues and need to get it checked out before the NYC Half. Thanks!

    1. I’m seeing Dr. Levine in NYC. I’ll let you know how he is tomorrow, but he came highly recommended to me by several other runners.

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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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