Let’s Talk About Running

I do some of my best thinking in the shower. And during my shower this morning, I thought a lot about running — where I am with it right now, what my goals are for running this year, and how I’ve evolved as a runner since I started in 2008. (I’ve been a runner for almost 10 years now! I wonder how many sticks of Body Glide I’ve gone through in that amount of time…)

Now that I’m clean and dry, I’m here to share some of those thoughts with you.

Let's Talk About Running

I am feeling 92% healthy these days. 

That’s a solid A-, or an A depending on your school. But at Hopkinton High School, a 92 would earn me an A-, and anything in the A-range is good enough for me.

While I was in Utah, I went for runs most days without really thinking much about my stomach. It was the first time that had happened in months and months and months. As someone with Crohn’s disease, I’m always super tuned in to my body — particularly my digestive system — and how it’s feeling on any given day. But since I’ve returned to running after my most recent flare, my mind is largely consumed with thoughts of, “How’s my stomach? How’s my stomach now? How’s it doing now? How might it feel in five minutes?” And so on.

Let's Talk About Running

I was able to enjoy a few bathroom-stop-free runs before I went on my trip, and those felt super victorious. Then, in Utah, I had a bunch of stop-free runs! Some days I ran and I didn’t even think about my stomach — I just ran! (And stopped to take pictures of the mountains.)

I think a lot of that is mental. Yes, of course it’s in part because I’m feeling better. But I know that when I’m home and I run along the waterfront, I know where every bathroom is along my route. I plan for it, I expect it, and sometimes I’ll even stop just because the bathroom is there. In Utah, though, I didn’t know where the bathrooms would be, and I was mostly on trails, so I wasn’t super concerned about having a mid-run emergency. Getting out of my routine, for once, seemed to really help me and do my body good.

Let's Talk About Running
My regular running route. IT’S NICE. Like the way Borat says it.

I’m really loving running right now.

I run around four times per week. I did a track workout yesterday (8 x 400, my favorite) and went for an easy run today. I like the idea of sticking with Track Tuesdays (the best day of the week), easy runs on Wednesdays, and a longer run on Saturdays. The rest of the week is up for grabs — a yoga day, a spin day, a rest day, whatever.

Let's Talk About Running
Running with friends is the best kind of running! And dogs.

Since I’m not officially training for anything — and I still very much see myself as in recovery / comeback mode — I’m keeping my mileage fairly low, or at least low compared to what I’ve done in the past. I haven’t gone over 30 miles per week since last year, and I’m not really tracking my mileage beyond just seeing it show up on Strava. I’m not concerned with my pace, and any efforts I put forth are based more on, well, effort than what my watch says. It’s still too early in the comeback (can I officially call it that?) to care about numbers.

So basically I run what I want, when I want, and I feel grateful every time I get out the door. Running is the best. And springtime running is definitely the best. I like being warm. And sweaty.

Let's Talk About Running
Post-Cat Hill repeats last week with my Thursday friends!

I registered for the Airbnb Brooklyn Half — again.

Every year I say I won’t run this race, and every year I get sucked back in. So I was just talking about not training for anything, and yet here I am, signed up for a half. Last year I had a great run at the Brooklyn Half, though, so hopefully I can train for it and race well again this year. (But without my superstar pacer Ed, I’m not sure how to make that happen. Teamwork makes my dreams work, so please join my team AKA volunteer to pace me, THANKS.)

I haven’t decided yet on what sort of training plan I’ll follow or what my goals will be. Last year I did all my training without using my GPS watch, and that worked out beautifully for me. It kept me sane and happy and focused on my effort, not however my watch decided to evaluate each run. I raced watchless, too, and I had an awesome race.

Let's Talk About Running
#TBT to last year’s Brooklyn Half. LOVED IT!

Training watchless last year was really good for me in that it taught me not to care about or obsess over all those numbers I used to analyze. Now, I have a much better relationship with my watch, with running, with my mental approach to exercise — all of it is in a good, healthy place. So I think I can probably train with my watch and a plan and not get all crazy and addicted like I have in the past. I want to keep my mileage below 40 miles per week (max) and don’t want to run more than four days per week. That seems to be where my body is happiest. That, and also in bed, sleeping.

Let's Talk About Running
I felt insane taking my first-ever on-the-run selfie. And my second. And then I stopped. I don’t have it in me. I like the picture, though.

There are a few other races I’m interested in for this year.

  • The New Jersey Half MarathonNow that I live in New Jersey, I basically just want to do everything New Jersey-related, like running all the races here and going to really big shopping malls. This race is April 29, so I could make this my goal race and then just enjoy Brooklyn, or take this one easy as a tune-up for Brooklyn.
  • The Harlem Mile: My friend Alison Desir is the founder of Harlem Run. Listen to her episode of the Ali on the Run Show! And then sign up for the race, happening June 19.
  • The Party With Purpose 5K: I ran a PR at this race last year, so I definitely want to do it again this time around. Also YAY NEW JERSEY! I don’t know when it is or when registration opens, but I know I want to be there for it.
  • The Brooklyn Mile: I loved this race last year. The course is slightly different this year (like super slightly), and I’m sure the race fields and spectator crews will be grand. Registration opened today, so go sign up! The race is August 20.
Let's Talk About Running
Second attempt at an on-the-run selfie. I didn’t know how far away from the camera to be.

I’m not running a marathon this year. 

After getting sick last fall and having to sit on the sidelines for a while, I made a promise to myself that I’d take this year off from 26.2-mile races. That’s a bummer because I really do love training for marathons (and running them, even when they’re hard and terrible and painful), but I also really love being healthy. So no marathons. Just a half or two and a lot of taking care of myself. And Ellie.

TALK TO ME ABOUT RUNNING! What are you training for, what’s your goal race this year, and how are you feeling about it all? Also do you want to come run with me in New Jersey and then we can go get pancakes?



25 Responses

  1. Ellie needs to be on the cover of Runners World!!! Love the pics from Utah and agree – running selfies/action shots are too much work 🙂
    I’m doing the Rutgers Half on April 9th and it is such a fun race. As a Rutgers alum it is extra special, but my friend enjoyed it too last year. I sure miss running along the Hudson in NJ, but ive been exploring the South Mountain Reservation and it is a great mix of trails, paved paths and porta potties! (I have UC so…priorities haha) come join and we can go to iHop!

  2. I have been running on the treadmill for the last few months. I am lucky it has many different program runs. I have been running 3.4 – 6 mile runs 5x a week. April marks year 2 of my running career. I am hoping to PR a 5k & 10k race this year. I do struggle with running as well do have pain. Old age (54 next month)

  3. I have had a real love hate relationship with my running in the past 6 months. in the past 3 weeks I have started to really want to run again. Last night I got confirmation I got drawn in NYC Marathon after a sh*tstorm of a race in 2014 – Chest infection the week before, antibiotics, undertrained & IT band issues – so I am seeing it as very much a sign that this is my year redeem myself and leave loving the marathon. I didn’t have that after 2014 and felt like I had really missed out. So long comment short, I am falling for running again. And I kind of like it!

  4. I’m running the Ottawa Half Marathon which is our national capital to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday!! Plus I’ve decided to enter a Half Ironman Duathlon! 5km (3.1mi) run, 94km (56mi) bike and 21.1km (13.1 mi) run. Woo hooooo!! Wish me luck!

  5. I’ve done the NJ half numerous times, and it is a favorite. I will be honest, it is not the most scenic at times – you’d think all OCEAN OCEAN OCEAN, but in fact, you just run along the water in the last two miles. None the less, the rest of the race is flat and largely residential, and it is really cute that a good number of folks along the course come out and cheer on their lawns. That being said, it is well-supported in terms of water stops/portopotties along the way. Also highly recommend either staying close by OR arriving pretty early to park, supposedly 36 can back up and there are always people sprinting to the start line as the corrals go off somehow. I’m a super early bird and get there WAY early and sit in my car like a dork. I have two race reviews from 15/16 on my site if you’re interested. Although I could be saying all of this and you’ve already run this race a zillion times. if so, sooooorry!

    As for my own goals? My goal race is a brand new race, Garden State 10. I’m pretty sure its going to be TEENY TINY and I might be alone the whole time at my slow pace. But hey, as long as I still get a medal, I’m cool.

    1. Oooooh I have to read your recaps! I didn’t realize quite how soon the NJ Half is, so I’m pretty sure if I do it it won’t be as a PR attempt or anything crazy. But I’ve heard such good things about the race, so I may as well drive down (EARLY! noted!) and do it, right? Thanks for all the intel!

  6. I second the video vs self timer. MUCH easier and more options. I still don’t do it often because I find it awkward!
    I am signed up for races but don’t have any “goal” races per say. Just enjoying that I love running and am the healthiest I have been in a long while. I haven’t been wearing my Garmin much and I find it good for the body and soul to step away from it and run by effort.
    I go back and forth on running a marathon. I haven’t run a true road marathon in 2+ years (I’ve done ultras) and just don’t love the marathon. Watch me probably sign up for one now 😉

  7. I have signed up for my first ever half marathon – Cleveland Ohio in May! I started running in April 2015 and only in 2016 did I do any races of any kind so I am pretty excited! I have several 5k, 10k and trail races lined up this year too.

    I finally broke down and ordered a Garmin. To date I have only used my Fitbit and the app that goes with, sometimes map my run (which makes me bonkers) so we will see how that goes. I am totally ok with putting it in a drawer if it takes my joy of running away. Reading your experiences with racing watch and watchless has been super helpful in my mindset toward that.

    1. Aaaah so exciting! There’s nothing in the world like your first half! You’re going to love it. Keep training smart and enjoying every step, and GOOD LUCK in May!

  8. I’m really having fun with running and training this year! I think not doing any marathons last year was really good for both my body and my mind. It’s been fun to work my way back and train for Prague! I am also terrible at taking self-timed running photos, so I might try that video trick Rose mentioned!

  9. Yay, Ali! So glad running is being good to you lately.

    I’m training for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. I think I also want to do the Shenandoah Half in the fall. We’ll see how it goes with the CB first. For the past three years, I’ve run 3 miles, 3 times a week, so this is the farthest I’ve ever gone.

    1. Oooooh I’ve heard such great things about Cherry Blossom! I should enter the lottery one of these years… I love DC, especially when it’s in full bloom. Have so much fun and GOOD LUCK taking on the double-digit mileage!

  10. The key to a good running selfie is not taking a timed picture but a video. Then when you play the video back, pause it and move frame by frame until you find the perfect shot. #themoreyouknow.

  11. Is it me, or running has become the ultimate hype? I’m training for a half marathon this spring with SportMe runner app which calculates distance, pace, time and calories and adjusts running plans to my progress

  12. I am…struggling this year. I’m training for the Pittsburgh Half marathon and have been having IT band tightness and patellar maltracking issues. I’m working with a PT and a masseuse but I confessed to the PT today with how frustrated I am in my recovery. My knee feels like it will never act right again. I have a training plan to follow to involved running four times a week but I’m only doing 2-3 runs right now. This is zapping my motivation and makes me just want to sell my bib.

    1. Ugh, so sorry to hear you’re dealing with your share of pain. Sending happy healing vibes your way! Keep the bib — take good care of yourself and you’ll be back up and running when your body is ready. <3

  13. Somehow I’ve recently lost my motivation to run. 🙁 I do HIIT and strength training 3x/week with my trainer, but that’s it. I’m planning to run the Peachtree Road Race (10k) on July 4th. Hopefully I’ll feel better about running once I sign up.

    1. That’s awesome that you’re doing other things in lieu of running! Especially all the strength stuff — power to you. (Literally. HA.) And Peachtree, so fun!

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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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