Can Vs. Should

I want to race.

I miss crooked bib pinning, which is truly one of my greatest strengths.

I want to approach a start line feeling like, as Coach Cane used to put it, a caged animal.

I want to gut it out over the course of 3, 13.1 or 26.2 miles.

I want to run a marathon in less than four damn hours.

I want to give it my all. When it starts to hurt, I want to use that as motivation to push even harder.

I want more 7:xx miles than 8:xx miles showing up on my watch.

I want to reach a finish line knowing I left everything, from my sweat to my stamina, on the race course.

The Race to Deliver was probably my favorite race ever. No expectations = a fun little PR.

I want to run far.

I want to run hard.

And I want to do it all now.

But over the past few weeks, as my desire to run and race has grown stronger than ever, I’ve learned that of I want to do all those things, and if I want to do them well for the rest of my life, then I need to be smart and play it safe now.

I know, that’s a lot of italicized words, but they are all very crucial in making my very important point.

I waged many internal debates this weekend. My head was a slightly scary place to be.

I wanted to run 18 miles. I had that number in my head, it seemed good, and after not running on Friday I hoped I’d be good to go.

I woke up Saturday with a bit of shin pain still.

And so I said I’d push my ambitious run plans back a day. No big deal.

I spun my brains out at the gym in lieu of running. I wanted a good cardio workout, so I doubled up on spin classes: first a 75-minute “mountain ride” followed by my beloved Matt’s dance party disco ball fiesta sombrero ahoy bueno class. So friggin’ fun. You should all come with me next time.

And I don’t know why I called it that long name. I got carried away.

I did lots of foam rolling, lots of icing and lots of this exercise thanks to a tip from Meg G. I was generally just trying to be really in tune with my dumb left leg. Spinning doesn’t give me any pain, and I’m still doing all those attractive butt exercises, hoping they’ll help somehow.

Don’t worry, I took a photo of this for proof:

Runner's World calls this "The Clam" and I call it "How to look sexy and pick up men at the gym." Try it.


After a lovely afternoon at Ikea, I went to bed Saturday again hoping I’d be able to wake up the next morning and feel confident that running 18 miles would help my future running, not set it back.

The verdict?

A run-less weekend.

And damn you, Facebook News Feed, with your taunting.

Psh. How insensitive.

Could I have run 18 miles?


When I’m actually running, I don’t feel pain. I know I could have pounded out the miles and it would have been a blast.

I’m trying to think ahead though, and I feared that an 18-miler, hours later, would leave me limping through the Ikea showroom (yes, Ikea, for the first time, twice in one weekend).

Turns out, I kind of love Ikea. Nice job, Swedish people.

People always say, “you never regret a workout,” but I thought maybe I would regret this one.

So I played it smart. I spun instead.

A lot, in fact.

Double doubles this weekend!

I treated myself to a SoulCycle class Sunday morning, followed by a class at my gym.

SoulCycle UES, I cannot wait for you to expand. Though I do REALLY love changing on the sidewalk after class...

It was all wonderful. If I can’t run, I’m going to keep working hard to keep the endurance level high. I don’t want to be totally starting from scratch.

The takeaway from this weekend?

There’s a lot I can do. That doesn’t mean I should do it all.

Right now, I can run. (More italics for emphasis. Play along.) I’m not exactly “injured” — I have shin splints or whatever. I will live. But just because I’m capable of running doesn’t mean that’s what I should do. Because if I set myself back, get truly injured, and then can’t run, we’re all in trouble.

I liked these animals at Ikea. Brian didn't think they went with the "theme of our apartment." Apparently the theme is "we are adults now." I don't remember agreeing to that.

So, forgive me Bridle Path, for I have strayed. My last run was on Thursday. But you understand, right? You know that this time apart is because I want to spend maximum time with you soon.

In the meantime, I’m going to spin and do impact-less activities. I’ll run again when the time is right and when I know it will propel me forward and not set me back.

Also, Ikea. Have I mentioned I went to Ikea twice this weekend? And that I had never previously been to Ikea despite going to college a mere 10 minutes from an Ikea?


So after a spin-filled, stretch-filled, foam rolling-filled and food-filled weekend, I am feeling great about my decision not to run many miles.

And I have a new dresser.

I CAN build furniture, but Brian says I SHOULD just stay out of the way. POWER TOOLS!!!!!

I’d say that’s a winning weekend.

I want to run. Badly.

And I will. Soon.

My head is back in the game. I just have to get my body on board.

See you out there.



41 Responses

  1. I don’t want to talk about when the last time I saw the bridle path was. But I did run for ten minutes yesterday, don’t tell anyone, okay?

    PS When is the apartment warming party? I promise not to bring mmm sauce.

  2. I ran through shin splints. Then my tibia decided to snap and I was in crutches for 11 weeks. SO CONTINUE BEING SMART!

    P.s I like you and your blog,and you’re funny and I appreciate sarcasm:).

  3. I am proud of you for listening to your body! It will pay off in the end. Next time you spin call me! Oh wait you don’t have my number… Hmm until then you can send a message by carrier pigeon or even send a Facebook message (I know that is getting a bit crazy). I will let you know how the apartment hunt goes, lets get together soon! Can’t wait to see pictures of your apartment all put together (I heart Ikea).


  4. You are definitely wise to take the few days off – even if it makes you go bananas. I’ve been there, except I didn’t take time off and it caused me to miss out on a whole month of running. I went bananas. Actually I went a whole new level of bananas, like plantains or something. You’ll be grateful you spun your heart out once the shin splints are gone. Good luck with all that!

    Also…I’m incredibly impressed with how put together your Ikea outfit is. Furniture shopping for me warrants leggings and a t-shirt, but I guess I’m just sloppy like that. Way to show up the rest of us bums!

  5. Like bad runs, not running teaches us things too! I took the weekend off from running too, but I can’t wait to get back out there!
    I’m super impressed that you took four classes this weekend! Impressed in a, “wow, you’re nuts” kind of way :), but makes me want to try spinning nonetheless.

  6. Hey lady,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months and I think you’re an incredible writer and absolutely hilarious. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but…when is the last time you have taken a rest day? As in a day off-off? I know spinning may not hurt your shins but regardless, EVERYone’s body needs time to recover and build itself back up, and that can only be done by taking rest days, not by doing hours of spinning because it doesn’t put pressure on your shins. Honestly…taking two double spin classes in one weekend sounds a little extreme to me when you are nursing an injury. You are clearly in great shape and are not going to lose that by taking a day or two (or even a week) off. Do you think you might an exercise addiction?

    I am only saying this is because I am a former exercise addict – a day didn’t feel complete to me without a long and difficult workout. I tried everything – ice, rolling, ART, physical therapy – to nurse my injuries. Everything but taking rest days. That worked for a couple of years until my body broke down and I ended up having a couple of knee surgeries. It took several years before I could run again at all.

    1. Thank you for the comment, AT — didn’t take it the “wrong way” at all! I appreciate your concern and, honestly, I haven’t taken a full rest day in over two weeks. You’re right that my body needs to recover and I do plan to take a TOTAL day off this week. I don’t consider myself to have an exercise addiction. It’s something I love to do very much — but a little over a year ago I DID find myself in a place where I felt dependent on exercise. I was going through a tough time, turned to working out, which turned into OVER-exercising, and I definitely didn’t realize it at the time. I may work out a ton now, but my mentality toward it is totally different. So thank you for looking out, and I promise to be careful!

      1. Good, I’m glad you didn’t take it the wrong way! It is really hard to cut back when running/spinning/etc. feels so good, BUT you have to or you are setting yourself up for more serious injuries down the line. I still think today, that if I would have taken one week off back when I started feeling knee pain, I would have healed the injury completely and never had to have surgery in the first place.

  7. You are learning. And that makes me so proud. 😉

    For the record – shin splints are an injury (sorry!). Not an awful one, but one that I spent way too much time struggling with in high school and college. Unfortunately, the only real “cure” for them is not running. I know it’s tough to lay off it now, but your body will thank you later. And one day (hopefully soon!) BOTH of us will be out there, tearing up race courses and scooping up PRs like it’s nothing.

  8. I am SO proud of you for playing it smart and not running…particuarly because I really do know how hard it is for you not to want to gut it out, mile after mile, because you LOVE it so much. But you’re absolutely right — avoiding what you love *for now* will pay off as you heal and can run again without pain and without risking further injury. My my, how you’ve grown, my dear. I love it! 🙂 (and yes, I realize that last sentence makes me sound like I’m 95 years old…what of it?)

  9. Ali, I aspire to be as athletic as you, even with shin splints! I’m sure you’ll be back on the Bridle Path in no time. Also, I am a huge fan of IKEA. Did you take the water taxi there??

    1. Yes! I loved the water taxi! Though yesterday we went back with a car so we could actually buy big things. The taxi was so fast and the views were lovely. Big fan.

  10. Are you supposed to run with shin splints? I thought you’re supposed to completely lay off running until the shin splints are gone. I have no clue about that, though. I never looked into and I hope I never have to. I know when Lance Armstong ran the marathon, his trainers taped up his shins (with kinesio tape) in all these elaborate ways to relieve his shin pain, but he was at the end of marathon training and he had press all over him all the time. I’m not saying you should tape your legs and go running. I think cross training for now is a goo idea. Did you ask Coach Cane about running wih shin splints? (probably a stupid question)
    I know you got checked out, but interestingly, I read an article about lance Armstrong recently and it mentioned that while he thought he had shin splints, after the marathon, he got checked out and he had hair line fractures in his legs! I read his account about his battles with cancer and how he thought his groin pains from testicular cancer and abdominal cancer were really pains from extreme saddle soreness. I guess his pain threshold is REALLY high or he just has no self awareness. Don’t be Lance, Ali. Continue to take training breaks as necessary. You want to be in tip top shape when marathon training starts.
    P.S. I went to the Juice Generation in Equinox on Lex and 63rd, yesterday. I got a peanut butter split. It was okay. What do you recommend?

    1. No, you’re supposed to NOT run with shin splints! (At least that’s what my millions of Google searches have indicated.) That’s why I’m pro-low impact activity right now. I want to be like Lance.

      As for Juice Generation, I’ve only ever had the Citrus Super C juice, which I love. It tastes like vacation. Try it!

  11. Good job on not running even though you wanted to. I understand how it feels to not run right now too! But you’ll be back out there soon enough.

  12. Ikea is like a black hole, you and your money gets lost there! Being injured was one of the toughest times for me but the worst was when you felt better but knew it was smarter to take it slow. Woof – i totally feel ya on how hard that transition is.

  13. You are being very smart about backing off the running for a bit. I started having shin pain at the end of marathon training in March, told myself it was just shin splints and continued to push through. 2 days before my (DNS) marathon an MRI confirmed a tibial stress fracture… I don’t mean this to be a doomsday post, just encouragement to rest up (or take lots of spin;) when all you want to do is run! Even a week off is better than three months .. dam I wish I had realized this sooner:)!!

  14. One of the hardest things about running is getting your body and mind working together. Your body is healthy, but your mind isn’t in it. Your mind is in it and your body isn’t 100%. DAMN MIND AND BODY, JUST GET IT TOGETHER!

  15. I LOVE Ikea. I always walk in with the best intentions to not spend a huge amount of money and buy everything in the store (including the 1,000 wine glass that looks cool that I don’t need) but it never works. I know you’re frustrated Ali, but keep it up. Listen to your body. If it hurts, don’t push it.

  16. Good for you for being a smart runner! You are going to love yourself for these decisions whenever the time comes that you are able to fly through those 18 milers!

  17. hooray for being smart and taking a little time off to heal the shin! In my past couple of injuries, 2 weeks has been the magic number to help heal stuff, and I’ve cross trained all the way through and kind of enjoyed it. And in the grand scheme, 2 weeks is nothing. I know you’ll be back at it soon, and the bridle path (and myself) will be eagerly awaiting…

    And then lets race together with lots of 7:xx miles 🙂

    1. I’ve been channeling you this whole time. “Kelly took two weeks off…you can do it, too, Ali. Kelly is better now, Ali. BE MORE LIKE KELLY.” Seriously.

  18. Look at you all taking care of yourself and stuff 😉 ! It’s soooo hard to not go out and run when thats all you want to do.. After having some plantar faciitis pain for a while I had to learn to do this also…and it was tough!

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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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