Listen to the Ali on the Run Show!
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That doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned my beloved activity altogether. I’m still running! But between the move and an ever-increasing workload (that’s a good thing!), I just don’t have the time to commit to a structured training plan right now.
I wanted to train hard and get fast and fit for the Brooklyn Half-Marathon next month. But now, one month out, I know better than to put that kind of pressure on myself. So I’ll keep doing what I’m doing: running what I can, when I can.
Ideally, I would run four times a week, cross-train twice (spinning, yoga, anything I can get my sweaty hands on), and take one rest day. But I haven’t dug into the West New York, NJ, fitness scene yet, so for now I’m just running five-ish days a week, and resting two days. Cross-training, which I love and know is so good for me, not included. Though last week I took a spin class because I was in Manhattan for the day and was able to squeeze it in between meetings, and I went to Lyons Den twice. I’ve also gone for two whole bike rides since we moved.
I keep most of my weekday runs to 3–6 miles along the waterfront path. We have a gym at our apartment (at the “clubhouse” next door), and I’ve been two or three times to do some lifting, but when I’m in there, I’m thinking about all the work I need to be doing. So I tend to do a few little things and then scrap it and head home to hit the laptop.
I love that work is so busy right now. Last year I thought I was busy and told myself I was busy, but I wasn’t busy, and I wasn’t hustling. This year, I am absolutely a Full-Time Freelance Writer, whereas last year I was more of a Part-Time Writer and Part-Time Wedding Planner. I told myself I was working hard and doing the best I could, but now I LOL at that. It feels really good to bust my ass now, and it’s far more rewarding. I’m sleeping less and running less, but this newish chapter of my career has hit a sweet spot, and that’s something I’m proud of and psyched about. Ka-pow.
As for where that leaves running.
Running right now is something I’m enjoying and not stressing about. I wish I were motivated to do more tempo runs or harder efforts. Instead, I’m mostly running to explore the new neighborhood, get some fresh air, and get a bit of time away from my screens. I meet my friend Emily on Tuesday mornings to do track workouts, which I love, but otherwise my miles are easy and relaxed. It’s not super disciplined, and I don’t feel fit or fast, but I’ve had a few decent race performances lately, so it can’t be all bad. I have a history of over-training, and this opposite approach feels good.
I love running without a watch. It keeps me from obsessing over my pace and allows me to just run based on effort. Some days running feels easy and other days it doesn’t, but either way I’m not preoccupied with what my Garmin has to say about it. I run the Strava app on my phone sometimes and then stick it in my pocket so I can see how far I ran when I’m done. (And, as I’ve said before, I’m fairly certain Strava is always telling me I’m running way faster than I actually am.)
I’ll run the Brooklyn Half next month to the best of my ability (and still without a watch). Last year, I had a miserable race. I had a goal time and I stared at my left wrist for almost every step of that 13.1-mile run to Coney Island, watching my goal slip away. (I was over-trained, coming off a stomach bug, and mentally weak.) This year, my plan is to get in 10–12-mile runs on the weekends leading up to the race, maintaining a nice base, and then trying to kick whatever ass I can on race day.
Then, I’ll recover, play around for a while, and then I will do my best to make running a priority, because I’m running the New York City Marathon this fall. (On my half-birthday which, yes, warrants a full marathon celebration.) I haven’t started thinking about training plans or time goals, but I’m part excited and part terrified to return to the 26.2 this year. It will have been two years since my last marathon so…slight ignorance is bliss?
A few years ago, I never would have missed a run, skipped a workout, or bailed on the gym. Now, if I get free time, I’m far more likely to spend it going for hikes with Brian and Ellie and exploring the world with them (or, fine, sleeping in with them) rather than trudging through a long run. And I have no regrets about that. Life changes, and priorities shift. But my relationship with running (and exercise in general) has never felt healthier.
To summarize: I am running. Not very hard. Mostly for fun. And I like it.
PS If you have recommendations for great fitness studios in the West New York/Weehawken/Edgewater/Hoboken areas, toss them my way! There’s an Orangetheory close by that I want to try, and I’m up for anything. (Running routes, restaurant recommendations, and dog park suggestions also welcome. And any other activities I should do now that I am so suburban! Two weeks ago, on a Friday night, I drove to Target and wandered around. Because I could.)
PSSSS Thanks to everyone who recommended checking out South Mountain Reservation! We took Ellie there on Saturday (because hiking all over the day before a half-marathon is super duper smart), and it was awesome.