My 18-Mile Mentality

Tomorrow will not be my first time attempting an 18-mile run.

I did one 18-miler during Hamptons training, and it went really well. I feel like 18 is a solid distance. It’s far and it’s challenging, but on marathon day, reaching the 18-mile mark means you still have 8.2 miles to go.

Today is a rest day for me, and I’ve got the number 18 on the brain. I have some goals and hopes and dreams for tomorrow’s run:

  • Get it done early. I’m planning to set my alarm for 7 am and hope to be out running an hour later. Yes, it takes me that long to get out the door. Blame Crohn’s. I have a hot date tomorrow afternoon with Brian, some friends and the Museum of Natural History, and I don’t want to be dragging my tired legs around the dinosaurs. So run early, have time to recover, venture to the Upper West Side. That’s the first part of this OMG SO COMPLICATED plan.
  • Bring water. The fountains still aren’t on in the park, and feeling dehydrated was a pain last week. I’m planning to stash a water bottle somewhere along my route, so if you see it please don’t put drugs or dead animals in it. Thanks. I want to get in the habit of drinking water during my long runs when I’ll also drink them on the marathon course (a few sips or gulps every two or three miles).
  • Fuel! I hate Gu so much. I vomited it once in Central Park. I will probably use it on Race Day just because it’s easiest, and after this week I’ll use Gu on my long runs to get my body used to it again. But tomorrow I’m going with some delicious Strawberry Gu Chomps. I tell myself they’re like candy, which is a lie, because candy is Cadbury Mini Eggs and candy is Starburst and candy is not a product called Gu.
  • Follow the pace plan. Coach Cane wants marathon goal pace + 30 seconds/mile for at least the first 13 miles. After that I can pick it up to goal marathon pace if I’ve got it in me (which I will, obviously).
  • But don’t obsess over the pace plan. Just run, Ali. That’s all you’ve gotta do. One foot, and then the other foot, and look, you’re running! And it’s fun!
  • Keep it to the Reservoir. Coach Cane has had me doing all my runs lately on the Central Park Reservoir because it’s flat (hills aggravate my hip) and it’s a dirt path, so it’s easier on my knees and joints and the foot bone’s connected to the knee bone and now that song will be in my head all day. Ideally I’d run some miles on the main loop in the park, venture out to the West Side Highway and cruise around there for a while. But I want to stay contained to my safe little soft area, so I’m going to run to the park, run 10 laps of the Reservoir and then run back home. It’ll be tedious, that’s for sure, but it’ll be a good mental fight. Stay out of my way, tourists. The loop is mine, tomorrow.
Reservoir, I loooove you!
  • Take an ice bath afterward. I’ve never done one, and I think it would be good for me. I’m a little terrified. I don’t like extreme temperatures, but whatever. I’d rather be chilly for 20 minutes than injured forever. (Remind me I said that tomorrow when I’m swimming in ice cubes and probably crying.)

So that’s the plan. Easy enough, right?

In order to fully embrace the rest day leading up to long run day, I had myself an Alison Night last night. I used to have these all the time, but lately I’ve slacked because I’ve been all “Hanging out with Brian is more fun!”

Wear more sunscreen, Ali. Jeez.

That’s true, but alone time is important to me, and so while Brian was out eating BBQ with the boys last night, I wore pajama pants to the grocery store to buy dark chocolate, finished addressing Becky’s wedding invitations (yay!), caught up on some DVR’d shows and washed dishes. I really know how to rage. Every now and then though, I love these nights. I’m productive, I relax, and I do really sexy things, like floss my teeth and clip my nails and pick up the lint balls that accumulate in the corners of my apartment.

I should vacuum more often.

And for one final, cheesy note: Another reason I’m excited to run 18 miles tomorrow is because I have very fond memories of my last 18-mile run, after which I had the best weekend ever. I had to work, which wasn’t a problem, and then that Sunday morning Brian and I went for a shakeout run together in Central Park. It was roughly 900 degrees in New York City that day, and we got a late start to the run. We still hadn’t told people we were dating, so we were a little shocked when we quite literally ran into Coach Cane and his wife, Nicole (“Mrs. Coach Cane,” as she’s known), on the Bridle Path. Our secret was out, so we thought, but they claim they “had known for a while” because I was “obvious.”

I posted this photo, taken mid-run by Coach Cane:

She was pregnant at the time, and running like a beast. She's my idol.

The actual photo, the un-cropped version, looks more like this:

The half-naked running man is Brian. He was still new to running. He didn't want to wear a shirt in the 1,000 degree weather. I was OK with it.

Mwahaha, Brian was a shady secret.

After our run, Brian and I got massages and then he told me he loved me for the first time. Awwwwww.

And that is my sappy memory for the day.

Today: rest. Tomorrow: 18 miles.

And Brian, if you want to hang out with me while I dip into an ice bath wearing a very seductive sweatshirt-and-shorts outfit, I’ll drop the L-bomb on you again. Double love if there’s hot chocolate present.

Have a wonderful Friday, everyone, and a fantastic weekend.

AND BECAUSE I LOVE NUMBERS: If you’re a runner, what’s your mileage plan for the weekend? Who’s racing? Who’s resting? Who’s relaying? Who’s rollerblading? Who’s really excited about life?



74 Responses

  1. ali, you inspire me!! I just came across your blog because I had a sucky run today that was supposed to be 18 but I only made it to 14. oh well…running my first marathon in April. Love that you seem to be in same stage of training as me! you are just too cute. love your stories!

  2. Yess 18 miles. I’m sure you killed it. I’m headed out for a 12 miler in a few minutes .. scaling back a bit this week cause of knee pain. Oh injuries! I was into the Clif Shot Bloks for awhile but then I ate a margarita flavored one by mistake (why would they make that flavor??) and now never again.

  3. I only did one ice bath because bath tub germs of my NYC dorm bath tub freaked me out and I couldn’t get over it. Lame, I know.

    Hope you had a good run and your hip gave you no issues!

  4. Hey Ali I have been following your blog for a while now and I just wanted to give you a few tips for making an ice bath more tolerable. I always wear socks while taking an ice bath…I know it sounds ridiculous and looks funny but it is better than having cold feet (pun intended?). Another thing I do is I sit in the tub and then turn on the water and add the ice. That way my body has time to acclimate to the coldness. Lastly, It helps to have a bit of distraction. I either do a few sudoku puzzles or read a magazine. Hopefully some of these tips help. Good luck on your run!

  5. Have your tried hammer gel raspberry flavor? I hate Gu too but I find the natural ingredients in the hammer gel easier to swallow and digest! Also honey stinger chews are good too! And you only need to ice for 10 mins! The first 10 seconds are the worst! Enjoy the 18miles! I can’t wait to get my milage back up to that!

  6. I hope as I write this you are on a 18-miler runner’s HIGH!!! Have you tried raisins or dates or even fruit leathers for fuel while running. I have a uncrabby stomach most of the time but it might be worth a try since you seem to really dislike gu.

  7. Good luck on your run! I’m running my first half marathon race tomorrow (which is 1 mile loop…x13…really scared of boredom!)!

  8. Hi Ali! I’ve been lurking here for several weeks and thought I’d finally throw in a comment 🙂

    Ice baths actually aren’t too bad after the first 2-3 minutes. It’ll burn for that, but after you go numb, you can stay forever.

    Good luck with the 18! You’ll do great!

  9. Sloth today (Saturday) i.e. no run, no elliptical, no cross training, no strength training, no nothing…just travelling for out of town event tomorrow. Sunday = 10k. Ok, this number looks small now that I’ve actually written it down.

  10. Most impt ice bath tip: Cold water into tub, get in, and THEN add the ice. IF you add it and then try to get it it’s way too cold. (and wear a hat and drink something warm!). I’ll be crutching a half mile 75% weight bearing….baby steps!!!

  11. Honey Stinger Chews are yummy. Clif Shot Bloks are good too. I also like the plain GU flavor, the mint chocolate, and the strawberry vanilla. The Vanilla Bean flavor is NASTY!

    Running 12 this weekend, and yoga both days. Maybe twice. It’s been a while …

  12. I have a training 14 miler tomorrow. I have a 20 miler in week (race) and am freaking out even though I have done marathons before, one in October. Funny how the nerves never go away! You will rock the 18 I am sure of it.

  13. I’m going to think of you on your 18 mile run as motivation as I tackle my 12 mile run. I wussed out last week and only completed 10.5 miles, but this is actually going to happen tomorrow. I SWEAR.

  14. You should probably put booze in that post 18-miler, 20 minute ice bath, Double-L Bomb hot chocolate. You deserve it.

  15. I just ran 13.1 this morning!!! (I HAD to add the .1) and it was the furthest I’ve ever run! I actually like GU… haha, but I read on Hungry Runner Girl that she sometimes uses swedish fish during runs, maybe try that out if you don’t like gu?

  16. Oof, Gu is the worst, though I haven’t tried the chomps. I rely on Sharkies, they’re the perfect size and taste good. Have a great 18 miler! I’ll be out in the cold trails of WA doing a 10 mile race!

  17. There’s 8 miles on my schedule and I’m signed up for the NYRR Al Gordon in Prospect Park. I tend not to add the extra miles, I may just run 8 miles on Sunday in my neighborhood (countless loops around the local park — it’s so boring that I only did it a few times during marathon training, so I don’t remember how many loops I’ll have to actually run to get to 8 miles, must check the Garmin history).

    Brian (shirt optional) should run with you or maybe bike out on the path with bottles of water for you. Kind of how the cyclists on the Tour de France have team support cars that drive up with lunch bags for them. 🙂

    Seriously, bring some cash (small denominations), so that you can run into a bodega to buy a bottle of water, if you need one.

    Have an excellent run!

  18. I have no strength for Cadbury Mini Eggs!!
    Good luck with your 18! 🙂
    I’m doing 18 tomorrow too, albeit broken up. I planning on doing 5 on the treadmill at home first and then running the Lake Effect Half near Syracuse. I’m freaked out by the snow + 28 mph wind forecast though. Eek!

  19. SO excited to have met Brian yesterday. The poor guy. I literally yelped his name aloud uncontrollably when he sat down at the bar. The two friends I was with were very embarrassed of me.

    Looks like you’re planning an alternate route, which is too bad — I would have been down to run 2 or 3 of those 10 laps with you! If you’ve taken to having company on runs, that is. 😉

  20. 1,000: number of times I think I might vomit leading up to my first triathlon group workouts tomorrow and Sunday.

    Mint chocolate Gu is the only one I can handle, I think because it and the thing it’s supposed to taste like have the same consistency. It really isn’t that much different than squirting Hershey’s straight into my mouth when I was a kid. Or, I mean, last week.

  21. 1. I have no problem with tedium. I embrace it. But if you don’t, you can certainly run on the west side path instead of the rez. I’m just concerned about too many miles on the main drive of the park due to the camber.
    2. I think Brian should run shirtless with you again tomorrow.
    3. You weren’t obvious about it, but you underestimate my perceptive and devious nature.
    4. Gu in. Gu out.

      1. Ah crap, you’re right. I forgot it’s going to rain and stuff. Alternate route planning time. Good call, Coach.

        And I think Brian should ALWAYS run shirtless, but that’s just me…

  22. This weekend is my “break-up weekend”. I’m shooting for 19. 9 tomorrow, 10 on Sunday.

    I throw up GU all the time. I’ve started using the Clif brand and its not terrible but its far from enjoyable too. I wish GU tasted like cupcakes. Red velvet cupcakes.

    Good luck tomorrow!

  23. YAY for 18 milers! Is it scary that I’m actually really excited to hit that mileage once I start full marathon training this summer?? And that your summertime running pics made me EVEN MORE EXCITED for that? I love running in the summer, such fond memories!

  24. I think I am going to try swedish fish on a run one day. Like you, I am not a GU fan at all! I have tried many times over but I have texture issues so I think that’s the problem. I do like the powerbar energy blasts though and the honey stingers. They kind of taste like candy…I guess everyone is different.

    Good luck on your long run this weekend!

  25. Gu worked fine for me throughout training and then failed me during NYCM. (Though in hindsight, I think I waited too long to take my first one.) I used Clif Shot Bloks in Houston…I had a backup pack of Chomps that I didn’t take and then my sister found them in the fridge and ate them like candy. Haha

    I’m racing a 10K tomorrow (my favorite distance) as part of the Houston Rodeo festivities and then later going to the Rodeo bbq cookoff and carnival with the bf. I am mostly excited for the concerts that come the week after next.

  26. Good luck on your 18 miler tomorrow! You two are so cute together! I think you are going to be running in a veil soon…

    And yes they do make Peanut Butter GU. I have some but have not tried it yet.

  27. Ha I love this post, Ali! You will nail your 18 miles tomorrow, just keep your mind in the game 🙂

    I have 4 easy miles today and then 18 on Sunday. It was supposed to be tomorrow morning but I have my military ball tonight and will most likely be in no condition to run 18 miles 😉

    Ice baths are the “oh my goodness hurts so good!”. The key is to wear the most comfy sweatshirt you have and have someone special bring hot cocoa, tea, or coffee in there and talk with you to keep your mind off of it. Good luck!

  28. i have an 18 miler tomorrow too!! i’m soooo nervous. i’ve run this distance before and i had a great 16 miler last weekend which just makes me think this one can’t possibly go well, too. i’m trying to tell myself it’s just running ……. totally not a big deal. just do it! i’ve also never eaten on a run but am considering bringing some swedish fish.

  29. I have 8-10 in the books for tomorrow. Good luck on your 18! I kinda can’t wait to build up to the high mileage once I start marathon training. And I LOVE Gu, especially the vanilla bean flavor!

  30. Ice baths aren’t so bad after the first few minutes, and my #1 tip is to keep your toes out of the water. I’m pretty sure your toes don’t get a ton of benefit from the ice bath, and I feel sooo much warmer when they’re not submerged. I usually sit backwards in the tub to accomplish this.

  31. So proud of you and your full day of rest. I hope the 18 miles goes well tomorrow!

    Rumor on the street is that they now make peanut butter GU. I have yet to confirm this, but it sounds amazing. And maybe less vomit-inducing? GU chomps aren’t bad though. You could also try those jelly beans – they actually DO taste like candy.

    And finally, I have to confess that I hate ice baths. Besides the times in college when I was forced to take them because of an injury, I’ve seriously taken maybe 2 or 3 ice baths in my entire running life. Some people swear by them but I sort of hate baths in general. So there’s that…

  32. so glad that you’re ready for 18 miles after your hip struggles! i’m going to an ART doctor on monday for the first time for piriformis issues. are you going back to get ART on a regular basis over the next few weeks? just curious as i’m trying to figure out what to expect!

  33. Good luck tomorrow! I recently just started using swedish fish for my race energy and they are amazing and delicious! Just pop them in a little plastic sandwich bag and stash them in your bra (gross I know) or pocket if you have one. All those GU, chomps, honey stingers stuff always leave a weird taste in my mouth!

  34. awww your story about your last 18 miler is soooo cute. Made me feel all sappy and stuff.

    I’m running the 4 mile race in Brooklyn for NYRR this weekend. I didn’t realize it’s in Brooklyn when I signed up so I have to get up at like 5 am to trek out there. And that’s about it. Long run next week!

  35. Ooooo! Ooooooo!!! MEE MEEE! I’m really excited about life can you tell?

    I’m very much a newbie and planning to run/walk about 1.7 miles today and tomorrow…but I have to do this during nap time today…(I have 4 going on 7 children so I have to coordinate and get creative!)

  36. I’ve got 20 miles on deck for tomorrow. I am running at my Mom’s, which is 2000 feet below me and 20 degrees warmer, with a gorgeous view of the Rockies-I’m stoked. I may have to ice bath afterwards, just depends on the temperature. I might epsom salt instead.

  37. I hear it’s good to have someone [Brian] put the ice in AFTER you get into a tepid bath – eases you in. And to have trashy mags of some hulu nearby to distract you. Not that I was brave enough to actually do this post NYCM….

    6 this weekend – just some junk miles to get back into running and then gearing up for a spring half. Can you call it “gearing up” when you’re kind of lame and slow and 95% of your runs are junky even while training? The other weekend work out is a snow shoeing trip on Sunday (which will probably be a hike).

  38. I’m planning on 20 miles tomorrow morning. I went to my very own Dr. ART yesterday to work out some issues and I am taking a rest day today. BTW, the ART stuff really, really works so stick with it! Here’s hoping that we both have great, pain free runs tomorrow :).

  39. find something to distract yourself with during the icebath (magazine, tv show on the laptop + mimosa? spiked gatorade? actually hydrating beverages?) and you’ll be fine. you’ll be fine if you don’t do any of those things, too, its just more “fun” if you do.

    I have to get 6 miles done tonight (i thought I’d avoid the rain….fail….) and then 10 on sunday – my longest yet! yikes! I’m running with my insurance card, just in case.

  40. I stick to jetblackberry GU. It’s the only flavor I’ll ever buy… It’s not like drinking a blackberry shake or anything but it’s the only flavor I can tolerate.

    Funny thing is since I’ve been reading your blog I’ve learned that I don’t have to go fast. I always have this thing in my head that I need to always run the pace I want and surprise, that’s not how it works!!! Thanks!!!

  41. Good luck tomorrow! Best way to survive an ice bath is to bring a large mug of hot coffee or tea in with you. They are brutal but worth it.

  42. I’m so proud of you for resting! Look at my little Alison, all grown up.

    A few numbers for you:

    15-my long run mileage plan for the weekend.
    1 (large)-the number of bagels I intend to consume after aforementioned long run
    3-articles of compression gear I will sport on my shopping trip
    2-the pounds of cheese I’ll introduce to my face this weekend. multiple varieties. exact number to be reported monday.
    4-number of songs on my playlist that I’ll listen to courtesy of you and your kick ass spin instructor
    7-the number of levels I intend to complete this weekend. Tell Brian to watch his back.
    infinity-the amount I’ll wish I was on your 18er with you. come run long in DC soon.

  43. I’m running just 13.1 for my second half-marathon tomorrow (and hoping to feel up for a 4 mile hike on Sunday)! And I’m waiting for my own super secret mister mister to drop an L bomb while we do lovey things before and after the race!

  44. I’ll be doing 9 miles tomorrow…in Houston. I always get simultaneously excited and terrified to run in new cities. Excited because it’s fun, terrified because I have no idea where I’m going and if the entire route I’ve picked is going to be like running Harlem Hill for 9 miles, slash, in a terrifying neighborhood. Also, um, your night in sounds amazing. Chocolate + DVR + organizing/accomplishing soothing tasks = my happy place.

  45. awww! I love the story of your last 18 miler and the L word! And you got yourself a mighty fine man there, just as he has a mighty fine woman 😉 good luck!!!

  46. Love me some Gu, I’m weird like that 🙂 Have a great run, I loved my 18 miler, I felt so accomplished as a runner and it was at that point that I knew I could actually run a marathon. Love the L-bomb story, too cute!

  47. Haha, I tell myself Gu Chomps are candy too. Sometimes I use that to power myself through tougher miles on my long runs (“just .25 miles till you can have “strawberry” candy!”)

  48. I tried to take an ice bath once. It turned into a lukewarm bath with a handful of ice in it. I prefer Epsom baths much more. They’re warm and not at all excruciating.

    I’ve got 10 miles this weekend. Easy peasy!

  49. Your plan for 18 miles actually makes me want to run further than planned. What can I say, I thrive on other people’s enthusiasm. However, since I’m NOT marathon training at the moment, I think I’ll stick with 9-10 and call it happy. Hope yours goes well. I like the Honey Stinger jellies better than chomps if you haven’t tried those!

  50. 18 miles. That’s where I was when I dropped out of NYCM! There really are a lot of miles between 18 and the end of the marathon, but it is still such a far distance to run.

    I still recommend Clif ShotBlocks. They do taste good.

    Lastly, I can’t imagine running 18 and then having a full day with a museum involved. I’m practically dead after every long run!

    Also, I recommend a water bottle that wraps around your hand.

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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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