OK, but why *not* try my best?
Because it's OK to care! And asking for help is great!
Ellie Kemper, this week on the Ali on the Run Show! We had fun!
I am running a marathon this year.
Well. That’s the plan.
So, correction: If all goes well, I will run a marathon this year!
There are factors. I need to stay healthy. I need to keep my Crohn’s disease in check. I need to stay injury-free. (I will not step on a start line in pain.) I need to fit training into my life (which I can, and will).
This goal doesn’t scare me.
If all those factors line up, I can finish a marathon (barring disaster or whatever).
The goal isn’t a time on the clock. Sure, I have a loose idea of what would be nice to run. My marathon personal best is 3:51, from the 2012 Manchester City Marathon. I’d like to think I could go sub-3:45, though I’ll admit that I’m not sure what pace-per-mile that is.
(Update: I Googled it. It’s 8:35/mile, which sounds not super scary to me!)
When I decided to do this — to commit to the Eugene Marathon — it was…chill. And I know! I know! I’m not generally a chill person!
My approach to running, though, is the one thing in my life I am pretty low-key about. I am committed to it. I am consistent with it. I run most days. I get up, and I get out the door.
When it comes to pace, though, I don’t care. You know I don’t wear a watch, and I haven’t for years. I start my Strava app on my phone, I run, and I hit “finish” when I’m done. I’m not keeping track of the splits as I go. It’s what keeps me loving running.
And so while many people are encouraging me to try and BQ (qualify for the Boston Marathon, which, for me, a 37-year-old woman, would mean running faster than 3:35), I’m like…eh…
I worry that setting a time-based goal will take the fun out of this pursuit for me.
I love that I’m in a place where running is fun, every single day.
And I don’t want to mess that up.
My top priority is for this experience to add to my life. To challenge myself, but not lose myself in this challenge.
I could use some help, I’ve realized.
I thought I could, would, and should do this myself. I could figure out when to do my long runs. I wouldn’t add speed work or structured workouts, because I’m worried that adding mileage and intensity to my routine will get my Crohn’s worked up. (This is not scientific. It’s just…a hunch.)
I couldn’t quite get the long run math to work out, though. And I kind of want someone to just tell me what to do. (Not just in running — this is true in every aspect of my life! I love following instructions!)
So, I’m asking for help.
First: I had a call this week with sports dietitian Meghann Featherstun, who will be working with me on the nutrition front. I’m excited to work together because while I’m great at carbing up and snacking on sweets, I’m less great when it comes to nutrient-dense foods and meals. She’s going to help me add all the good stuff to my diet!
And I am going to reach out to a coach. I haven’t decided who yet, or how closely I want to work together. I mostly want someone to tell me when to do those long runs, and someone to hold me accountable when it comes to taking rest days.
I guess what I’m saying here is that I don’t care, but also I do care. It makes sense to me. [Insert that emoji with the melting face. It feels appropriate here.]
(OK, a sub-3:35 marathon would mean running 8:12s for 26.2 miles, and I think on a great, close-to-perfect day, without any bathroom stops…I could do that. I just don’t know if I want to try! I love goals, and I also don’t love goals sometimes. Sigh. I exhaust myself.)
Sometime I’ll talk more about my reasoning behind [gestures] all of this — the goal setting, the hesitancy to set goals, etc. Crohn’s disease plays the major factor here. I’m scared of the possibility of my Crohn’s flaring during training, and I’m scared that I’ll go all-in, I’ll work hard, I’ll do the workouts and the speed and I’ll go to the track, and I’ll have a time goal for race day, and then my high-maintenance stomach will force me to make bathroom stops (very likely!), and that will be the thing to derail the day. I’d rather go in with high hopes and low expectations, and surprise myself.
Makes sense? Maybe. Great!
This week on the Ali on the Run Show:
Run Your Way with Lauren Fleshman: New series alert! The “Run Your Way” series (presented by New Balance) will address the intricacies of how to balance best practices with the importance of making running an individual pursuit. What does it mean to run your way? That’s what we’ll explore. And it felt fitting to kick this off with Lauren Fleshman, whose book, Good For a Girl: A Woman Running in a Man’s World, details exactly how she found her way in the running world. The feedback from this conversation has been remarkable — seems Lauren’s words are really resonating!
Ellie Kemper, Marathoner: I am so excited about this one! Ellie — best known for her roles as Erin on The Office and Kimmy on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt — is an absolute joy. This was the happiest two hours I’ve possibly ever had on the show. This is why I love having celebrities on the show sometimes: They get interviewed all the time, but they so rarely get asked about running. But they’re just like us: It’s all they want to talk about!
What I’m watching: Sometimes, at the end of the day, I’ll curl up in bed and watch Netflix trailers. Not movies. Not TV shows. Just…trailers of things, without any intention of actually watching the full-length whatever it is. Somehow, though, I got sucked in, and I watched The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker on Netflix. I hated it. It made me sad. It consumed me, but I was so uncomfortable watching the story of how a “free spirited” homeless man became a viral sensation, and just three months later, was a convicted murderer. I need a palate cleanser. (Yes, the murder part is disturbing. But also the way the media pounced on this man who seemed to very clearly have mental health issues, and everyone ignored that in pursuit of getting the story. Yikes. Also, the ending felt really rushed, and I still have so many questions about the investigation. This is why I don’t do true crime. Not a fan!)
What you should be watching: Emily in Paris on Netflix, because Des Linden is joining me next week on the show (probably on Patreon) to talk all about it. The crossover I didn’t know I needed! Des watches Emily in Paris!
What I’m reading: This piece about Jenny Simpson, who will be racing the Houston Half this weekend. (The half and marathon fields are stacked! It’s going to be an exciting weekend of running in Texas!) Jenny isn’t just one of my favorite people in the sport, she’s one of my favorite people, period. She is so insightful, so thoughtful, so intentional, and I always take so much away from her words and conversations. I had her on the Ali on the Run Show recently, and still learned more about her and her past year in this piece, by Jonathan Gault. (LetsRun is generally not my favorite place on the internet, but I will say, I had a very pleasant experience with Jon Gault at World Championships this summer. All of the journalists and members of the media down in my section of the mixed zone were great, but it was Jonathan who sent me a thank you message after the event ended, thanking me for being there, saying he appreciated that I always showed up happy, smiling, and eager to help. That meant a lot to me. I love when people are nice to me!)
What I’m wearing: It’s winter running season, baby! We got some snow this week! Pretty, picture-perfect snow! Here’s what I’m swearing by for those 5 AM runs:
This light-up vest with the additional clip-on light (it’s so bright!)
These socks. I like that they come up high, so I never have cold ankles! (Code ALIGIVE gets you free shipping, plus a portion of the proceeds from your order will be donated to Moms Demand Action.)
Take good care of yourselves. Take good care of each other.
I love your approach to training!! I was in a similar situation when I returned to marathons after having kids. I went with run4prs coaching - 80% easy runs, and it’s been a game changer! Highly recommend checking them out if you haven’t yet!
Love getting this newsletter. Good luck with the marathon training. I love your attitude about it (by the way, I'm a new coach so have a couple guinea pig clients who are actually friends that I did plans for for free while I'm learning this whole coaching thing, happy to jump in with any suggestions for your schedule). Hope to see you at Bayshore (I can't come to the live show :( )