Please enjoy all the wonderful throwback photos in this post!
I started blogging here on October 2, 2010. It was a Saturday, and I’d just returned from my longest run ever: 13.3 miles around the southern tip of Manhattan. I didn’t even know it was my longest run ever until I returned to my midtown west apartment and mapped it on MapMyRun. At that time in my life, I was excitedly new to running — I’d run three half marathons and was blissfully unaware of things like GPS watches and injuries — was mourning the end of LOST on TV and was obsessed with Glee, and was getting ready to move into an apartment with my boyfriend at the time.
The relationship didn’t work out, and the blog was one of the things that kept me going.
For a while, I shared mostly mindless drivel: my daily workouts, which, in hindsight, were on a path to excess. My breakfast, which was usually oatmeal, even though I didn’t really like it unless it was absolutely doused in chocolate chips. (But that’s what all the other bloggers were eating, so I ate it, too.) I wrote a little bit about my job as an editor at Dance Spirit magazine. I took so. many. selfies. in the bathroom of my office, and posted my outfits every day. (Why?!) It was neither newsworthy nor particularly interesting, but that’s what blogging was in 2010. And I loved it.
When I opened up beyond how-I-ate-and-sweat-today posts and talked about the end of that aforementioned relationship, it kind of exploded. (I mean, exploded from tiny to small, but still! Exploded!) People started reading. Started commenting. Started sharing their own stories with me. I still remember getting my very first blog comment and calling my mom. I was so excited. (I still get excited!)
I documented my training leading up to my first marathon. My most-read post of all-time is the one where I introduced Brian, whom I’d been secretly dating and coyly mentioning for a while. (THE SUSPENSE. I KNOW.)
I loved blogging. It was never a job. It was always a hobby. Every day, I would wake up at 5 AM, go for a run, take a speedy shower, get dressed, walk to the subway, and then write my morning post in the notes app on my phone during my commute. By the time I got to the office around 8 AM, I would email myself the note, copy and paste it into WordPress, hit publish, and shift focus to my work for the rest of the day. I loved connecting with people, and so many of my closest friends today are people I’ve met through this space or some extension of it, like Twitter, Instagram, or the NYC running community. For that, I am forever grateful.
But when a snark-based website launched targeting bloggers — everyone was fair game, from fashion to fitness to running to “healthy living” to beauty and mommy bloggers — it changed the game. It wasn’t fun anymore. When I discovered this site — and the “I love Ali on the Run, but…” forum, which eventually lost the “love” part, I was shaken to my core. Dramatic? Sure. But I was in my mid-twenties, I was young, and I was just writing about myself! It felt very harmless. I wasn’t giving advice. I wasn’t preaching or telling anyone what to do. I was simply writing about my day, publicly! If people hated it, why would they read it? Why not just ignore it? Plus, I was tiny. My blog had some readers, but never on what I considered to be a large scale. Who even knew I existed?
For a while, I read every word they were saying about me on that site. It got to a point where someone would write a post within minutes of me publishing something here. There was always something for them to dissect. Something for them to make fun of, snark on, pick apart. I tried to ignore it, but for months, I read what they were saying. Sometimes those same people would anonymously comment here on my blog, using fake names and email addresses. I went from loving getting notifications about new comments to dreading them, worrying that it would be someone saying something like — this is one I remember! — “I can’t believe anyone would actually date you. You are the most insufferable human.” (Which, in hindsight, LOL. At least I can laugh at it now! But back then — no LOLs to be found!)
It took a major hit on my self esteem. I developed pretty serious anxiety. I lost sleep. And writing wasn’t fun anymore. I knew that no matter my intentions, no matter what I was saying, no matter how I lived my life, some anonymous person wouldn’t approve, and a gang of people would join in. For all of the amazing things I’ve gained from the internet, blogging, and social media, that one little corner stole my focus, my energy, and my optimism.
I eventually quit reading the site. I still remember: It was Valentine’s Day, and I couldn’t make sense of why I was spending time and energy reading negative, anonymous things about me and about my friends. Why wasn’t I present? Why wasn’t I focused on the dozens, the hundreds of amazing people, amazing comments, amazing supporters? Why wasn’t I focused on real life?!
I quit reading, and I was happier. But I still knew it existed. I still feared it a little. I still found myself picking apart my own writing, wondering what people would think or say or what tiny detail they’d decide to harp on and critique. As I got older and more mature, it bothered me less, but I don’t think I ever fully forgot it was there. (I still haven’t forgotten it’s there!)
I’m always an open book. I love to share. I will always let myself be vulnerable. That all comes naturally to me. But the fear of any type of backlash is always there, too. It’s not like I’m doing someone’s taxes and they’re coming back to me saying, “Hey, this number is wrong.” That would be objective! That would be fine! (Except, ew, I hate being wrong. I also hate taxes.) But this is all personal. This is my life. My family. Me. It’s hard not to take things personal.
As my career changed and I went freelance, I simply had less time for blogging. I needed to make money! My paycheck was no longer a guarantee, and every minute I wasn’t working — and blogging, for me, was never work or a real source of income — wasn’t worth it to me. So I scaled back. And after launching the Ali on the Run Show, I mostly stopped. I wrote weekly pregnancy recaps when I was pregnant with Annie, which was mostly for my own sake. I knew I would appreciate documenting that time and looking back on those posts someday. (Already true!)
But also, my life wasn’t all that interesting! My workouts were fun for me, but not worth documenting. And for a while, I just didn’t have much to say here. I no longer feared criticism from anonymous sources or sites, which was good! An improvement! I just felt more like living, and less like writing it all down.
And then Annie was born. And then any thoughts of dedicating unpaid time to writing seemed insane. I didn’t write monthly recaps of her development and milestones and activities, despite my best intentions. I didn’t write about my return to running after having a baby. And that’s OK! I jotted down a race recap or two, but mostly, it wasn’t something I could spend time on.
Now, though! Now it’s a new year. We’re in a groove, at least for now. We’re all sleeping much more than we were a year ago. And I miss it! My life still isn’t all that interesting day to day. My workouts are productive, but repetitive. But I miss writing and sharing, and I miss having this space to connect with people. I love love love the podcast, but this is fun, too.
And so! If you’ll have me back, I’ll be here!
And by “I’ll be here,” this is what I mean…
I’ll write what I can, when I can. That’s pretty much my approach to everything these days. That may mean four posts a week, one post, or no posts. I’ll write when I’m inspired. Never when it feels forced. I won’t have a schedule or a plan, so your best bet is to just check in regularly or subscribe in an RSS feed or something like Feedly. (That’s what I use for blogs I still read.)
The site itself hasn’t had a refresh since 2011. Shameful, I know. It’s old. It’s ugly. It’s impossible to navigate and icky to look at. It’s getting a total overhaul this year. Expect to see a new, prettier site sometime this spring. I’m finally taking the time and making the investment, and it’ll be beautiful and clean and user-friendly. Maybe I’ll even learn how to resize photos properly!
If you’ve been here for a while, I’m so grateful. If you’re new, welcome! All I ask is that this remains a positive, kind, uplifting place. We don’t have to agree on everything! Certainly not. But we’re all human. Beyond these screens, we are all real people, doing our best. And I think leading with kindness is the most important way to do that.
If you don’t love what you’re reading here, that’s OK! As much as I want to be loved by everyone and for us all to get along and also for world peace and for Glee to come back, I know that’s not going to happen. But I ask that you not get into a habit of hate-reading. I don’t think that’s good for either of us! I ask that you share your own stories! I would love to hear from you, in the comments, on Instagram, on Facebook, wherever. I’m not a great email pen pal. My inbox is awful. Comments here are better, and I’m more likely to really sit and read them and respond. (I read the emails, I promise. Every word. But I don’t always get a chance to respond, which I hate!)
The world is…a lot right now. My goal is to keep things here light, uplifting, and positive without ignoring the realities of motherhood, of stress, of anxiety, and of all that so many of us go through and feel every day.
I’m super happy to be back in whatever shape this takes. If you’re here, I’m thrilled to have you. I’m really excited about 2020, and I have a lot of goals, plans, dreams, and intentions for the year. I’ve got a podcast episode on that coming up, if that’s your thing!
Happy New Year! I love you.