Obi-wan’s 2nd Guest Blog: Kaizen

Recently while reading the cover article in the May 8, 2012 edition of Bloomberg Business Week, “We’re From Private Equity, And We’re Here To Help – My week as an Efficiency Expert” by Brendan Greeley (pg 54) I got to thinking about the concepts of Toyota Production Methods particularly Kaizen and how they relate to sports. My mind started to wander and, as you all know from your own personal experience, when that starts to happen there is no control over where it will end up. Mine went from the thoughts in the article about productivity and efficiency to my own experiences in corporate America to coaching our son’s 8th grade basketball team and from there to Abby’s running blog. To quote the Grateful Dead from Truckin, “What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been”!

Image courtesy of Grateful

In the article there is a great amount of discussion about productivity and efficiency and the methods developed and refined by the Japanese auto manufacturer Toyota, specifically the concept of Kaizen. Kaizen is Japanese for “improvement” or “change for the better” and in practice focuses on continuous improvement of processes of manufacturing, engineering, development and business management. By improving standardized activities and processes Kaizen aims to eliminate waste in manufacturing and production. (Translate to runners: train smarter, more efficiently = better results)

Image courtesy of

Many years ago while acting as a volunteer coach for our oldest son’s 8th grade basketball team I had the opportunity to see if a group of grade school boys could understand the concept of Kaizen that was gaining a great amount of acceptance in the business world at the time and apply it to their athletic endeavors to improve performance as a team and also as individuals. One week during our “chalk talk” prior to practice when we discussed the last game we played, how we did as a team and how we did as individuals within the team, we discussed the concept of continuous improvement and goal setting. We talked about applying Kaizen principals to specific goals of the team and of the individuals on the team and committed to a post game weekly review of those goals and performance against them.  To my great pleasure most of the boys embraced the concept and participated actively in the weekly reviews of goals and performance.

Kids who grew up in the 90s will get this.

I’m not going to try to say that the team developed into a great team as a result of using advanced business concepts with an 8th grade group of boys. That would be misleading and untrue. The team played up to it’s potential and, at times above it, and the individuals on the team did the same. We had a lot of fun and grew as a team and as individuals. However, the thing that was striking was how they at that young age they could understand and execute business concepts that in some cases adults working in a team environment could not.

Since then when thinking about how to improve my own physical fitness I have tried to embrace the principals of Kaizen, or continuous improvement rather than trying to make huge leaps forward. In my own personal training and conditioning activities, I have had the opportunity to deal with multiple surgeries and various infirmities that have either compromised my exercise activities for periods of time or forced me to totally abandon them temporarily. Each time when I restarted my exercise regimes it was with a focus on restarting with a program that included realistic goals and to measure my progress against those goals with the concept of continuous improvement as the measuring stick. In doing so I tried not to push myself too fast or build Rome overnight but to make continuous improvement daily, weekly and monthly against where I had been previously.

Now I don’t know if anyone is still reading or if all of Abby’s regular readers have clicked off now thoroughly bored with the musings of an old guest blogger but if anyone is still reading thanks for staying with me to the end and please remember it’s not always about winning but the personal journey that you experience in getting to the finish line.

This post hits especially close to to home for me since I watched my Dad do this in real time and am currently starting from Square One myself, fitness-wise. I take to heart the idea of continuous improvement, day by day, and putting emphasis on making the smart choice for myself today that will get me to tomorrow where I might challenge myself yet again to try to walk a little further, stand up a little longer and try a little harder. My thanks to Obi-wan for his words of wisdom for us all. May the Force be with you.

 Now go out and run!

Meet My Friends: Michele the NYC Running Mama!

Good morning friends! Today’s featured blogger is my friend, Michele. Michele is not only an amazing runner, coach and mother but she served in Iraq with the United States Army where she met her husband while running around base. I mean, what’s more romantic than running circles in the desert with your future husband? I plan on stealing all of her training-while-pregnant secrets in approximately two years.

And congratulations to Michele and her family who are moving into their brand new home this weekend! I’m proud to introduce my friend to you. She’s pretty badass. 

Name: Michele Gonzalez

Age: 30

Occupation: Stay-at-home mom, running coach


How many years you’ve been running: Most of my life as a way to stay in shape for basketball (played in college).

How you got into running: When I stopped playing basketball, I wanted to stay in shape. I knew if I had something to train for, I would be more motivated to run and go to the gym, so I signed up for my first race – a marathon.

What is your most favorite race you’ve run?

I ran the NYC Marathon for the first time in 2007. It was 3 weeks before I deployed to Iraq for 15 months. My godmother and aunt had recently passed away from cancer and although I had automatic entry, I decided to run for Fred’s Team (a charity that raises money for Memorial Sloan Kettering – the hospital she received treatment). I had been training for the Army 10 miler as a member of Fort Hood’s military team. I had not put in the long runs that I wanted to in preparation for the marathon and therefore was unsure of how I would do. But, I enjoyed every mile, every minute of it. I felt like I was running in my backyard because I had friends and family along the entire course (including my husband who was waiting for me in Central Park). The best part was that I PR’d by almost 32 minutes (I ran a 3:22:54)!!

What is your proudest running moment?

My proudest moment is definitely winning the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge (FL5BC) during the 2011 NYC Marathon. The FL5BC is a race between representatives from each of the five boroughs of New York City. It was the first marathon I was running since my son was born (he was 10 mo old) and I was nervous, anxious, and excited. My whole family was there – son, husband, sisters, and parents and they got to see me break the tape at the finish line!

Who/what inspires you to run?

My son, and soon, baby #2, is/are my biggest inspirations. I want them to have a strong, healthy, active mother. I want them to want to live the same kind of active life (doesn’t have to be running).

What training plan have you followed and had success with?

I have always created my own training plans – from my very first marathon. I did some research and found that there were things about some plans I liked and some things I didn’t like, so I took what I liked and created a training plan. My first marathon was a 3:54. For the most part when I am in a training cycle, I run six days a week – three of them are “quality” workouts (long run and then either speed, tempo, or hill workouts) and the other three are easy/recovery runs.

What is the one thing you’ve done that has made the most difference in your running?

I’ve learned how to make every run, every mile, every minute count. Prior to my son being born, I had no real commitments (other than work, army, etc). Most of my runs had no real purpose – they were mostly high mileage, easy runs – I would run however far I wanted or felt up to. Now that time is of the essence, each run run has to have a purpose – if it’s a recovery run, it’s slow and easy…if it’s speed day, I push hard. So although I’m running considerably fewer miles than I was years ago, I’m faster and in better shape.

If you could run any race in the future, which one would it be?

BadWater UltraMarathon. I ran my first ultra (Knickerbocker 60k) this past November (two weeks after NYC Marathon) and loved it. It was the toughest race, mentally, that I have ever run. The course is nine loops around Central Park and by the sixth loop, I was ready to quit. It took everything I had to keep going. As much as I love running marathons, there is something about ultras that I am drawn to. And BadWater has always intrigued me. It is one of the toughest races on the planet and I feel it is one of the best tests of physical and mental strength.

Do you run in the morning or at night? Why?

I am definitely a morning runner. I find that I am much more productive with my whole day if I run first thing in the morning. If I put off the run, I will likely spend the day lounging around and not doing much! It’s even more so now that I am pregnant – I find that my energy levels decrease as the day goes on, so if I don’t run by 9 or 10 in the morning, it’s likely not going to happen (I prefer 5am runs but it’s still too dark out).

What keeps you going when you’re having a crappy run?

I imagine myself at mile 20 or 21 of my next marathon. That’s usually the part of the race when I’m in pain, tired, and questioning my ability and training. I practice pushing through whatever issues I’m having – whether it’s stomach, tired legs, or just lack of energy. I envision myself fighting through it and finishing strong.

Rapid-Fire Questions

-Run alone or with others: 99% of my runs are alone; my husband and I used to run together more frequently before my son was born

-Favorite piece of running gear: Sparkly Soul Headbands

-Run with or without music: With!

-Treadmill, love it or hate it: I have learned to love it – most of my winter runs are completed on the treadmill when my son is napping

-Race fuel: Powerbar Gels

-Gatorade or water: Water

-Dream PR: Major dream: sub-3; was training for sub-3:10 before I got pregnant with baby #2

-Runner’s World or Running Times: Running Times

-Favorite speed workout: Mile repeats – I have a love/hate relationship with them – hate them during because they hurt so much but love the results

-Favorite running gear store: I love Road Runner Sports because I can order everything from the comfort of my home!!

-Favorite place to run: Central Park; I used to live on the Upper West Side – 2 blocks from Central Park

-NYC Marathon or Boston Marathon: I’m a NYC gal, so definitely NYC Marathon; Boston was great, but NYC has so much more meaning to me

Thanks, Michele! We’re looking forward to hearing all about the BadWater Ultramarathon! By the way, I think that’s bananas but I totally support YOU doing it 🙂

Now go out and run!

Meet My Friends: The Fit Chick in the City

Meet Jess from Fit Chick in the City. Jess and I met via social networking, Twitter I think, and I invited her to some lululemon events and suggested my team use her expertise for the lululemon Run Club. Jess has a MS in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, which means she’s wicked smaaaht and back up her stuff with science, a rare combination in this industry.

She’s also willing to try pretty much anything with regards to exercise and chronicles her fitness and nutritional experiences on her blog. It’s a great resource if you’re looking for a new way to sweat but you don’t want to walk into something blindly. Chances are, if it’s in the city and worth trying, Jess has tried it or one of her readers has and there’s an awesome write-up.

Jess is currently training for the New York City Marathon this fall. Read about her journey on her blog and take part in her Say It, Do It! posts every Sunday night to stay motivated. And now, heeeeeeeeere’s Jess!

Name: Jess Underhill
Age: 36
Occupation: Blogger/Fitness Professional
How many years you’ve been running: 23

How did you get into running?

I played basketball for several years and during pre-season conditioning I was faster than all the high school girls. My coach kindly suggested I switch sports.

Who/what inspires you to run?

Keeping sane inspires me to run.

What is the one thing that has made the most difference in your running ?

In my adult life I originally always kept my runs nice and easy, even during races. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to embrace working hard and loving the feeling that I’ve given my run everything I’ve got.

What is your favorite non-running way to sweat?


If you could run any race in the future, which one would it be?

I’ve run it before & I’m signed up for it this year, but I still have to say NYCM. (New York City Marathon)

Do you run in the morning or at night?

I run when my schedule allows, but I prefer mornings. Because I don’t have to figure out when or what to eat and nothing else in my schedule gets in my way. However, my favorite reason for a.m. workouts is that Central Park is at it’s quietest early in the morning.

Why should someone (anyone) start running?

To have a life changing experience and to learn more about themselves then they could ever imagine.

Rapid-Fire Questions 

-Run alone or with others: Alone

-Favorite piece of running gear: a good sports bra

-Run with or without music: without

-Treadmill, love it or hate it: hate

-Race fuel: none or if absolutely needed honey stingers

-Gatorade or Water: water

-Dream PR: I use to focus on times and now I’m just focused on doing my best so whatever that means.

-Runner’s World or Running Times: Runner’s World

-Favorite speed workout: Cat Hill Repeats

-Favorite running gear store: Does Lululemon count? (Ummmm, hello! Totally!)

-Favorite place to run: Bridle Path

-NYC Marathon or Boston Marathon: NYC FTW! (FTW = For The Win, for those of you not familiar with the lingo)

Many thanks to Jess for taking the time to guest blog for me while I’m out. You’re the best, Jess! She’s also the reason I got to meet one of my fitness heroes, Dara Torres. More on that later.

Now go out and run!

Meet My Friends: Lesley “Speedy” Higgins

We continue on with Meet My Friends, today featuring an actual professional runner.

I am not a professional runner. I am what you would call a casual runner. Yes, I train and race and all that, but nothing like what Lesley Higgins does. Lesley and I went to high school together where she was the #1 runner on our cross country team and I was #12-15. We both ended up moving to New York City after college (she went to CU Boulder) and now Lesley runs for the New York Athletic Club.

Lesley is a bonafide bad-ass runner. Lesley is a pro. She wins races. She competes and races and works and travels. In 2008, she made a bid for the Olympics in the Steeplechase. I’m terrified jumping over puddles in the street, much less over barriers and INTO giant puddles. No thank you.

Anyway, Lesley has a pretty unique and refreshing take on running that I really like. Run Stronger Every Day community, meet Lesley Higgins.

Name: Lesley Higgins
Age: 31
Occupation: Part-time Associate at NASDAQ OMX Group
Team/Club Affiliation: New York Athletic Club & Brooks

How many years have you been running?

18 years of focused running. Several years before that of running as “punishment” while acting out during softball practice.

How did you first get into running?

I’m going to take liberties with this one and say that I got into running when I started racing assistant coaches and other player’s dads during aforementioned punishment. This evolved into trying to beat my 8th grade gym teacher’s mile PR. I believe her PR was 6:24, which sounded so fast. Then my new goal became breaking 6:00. I finished 8th grade with a PR of 5:55. I did it running in Keds. The same gym teacher then introduced me to real running shoes and we also started going on runs during the hour that I was assigned to her as a teacher’s assistant. That probably wasn’t what the school meant to be giving credit out for, but much more useful than organzing papers.

Who/what inspires you to run?

I’m not sure I can say that I am externally inspired to run, at least not in a positive way. I think at this point it’s such a way of life for me and I love the social aspects, that it’s something I carve large chunks of my day out for. A large part of my internal motivation comes from not wanting to squander the opportunities I have been given, or the last years of my competitive running career. The only external inspiration that sometimes rears its ugly head is a desire to prove people wrong when they say I can’t do something. It’s one thing for me to say that I’m obviously not going to make an Olympic team, but if someone else makes a similar off the cuff remark, my blood boils, and that can help drive me through another workout.

What is the one thing you’ve done that has made the most difference in your running?

I would not be running as well, as much or as seriously as I am today if it was not for my training partners and teammates. However, they all take second place to liquid iron. I didn’t fully grasp the impact of anemia until I ran an 11:20 steeplechase in 2010. This was after running a 9:58 in 2008, followed by two years of solid training. After that, I finally got blood work done and found out that I had really let myself get into a hole. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of staying on top of blood levels as a runner.  I followed that 11:20 in May with an 11:02 in early June. After that I gave up on my season and I literally just jogged and took iron 2-3 times a day for a month. I then started adding one workout a week back in and was back to running a 4:46 road mile by September at the Fifth Avenue Mile.

If you are anemic you are better off sitting on your couch drinking liquid iron than you are doing any workouts. And, don’t let your doctors take care of deciding your health. Every doctor I have had in New York has told me that I am fine when I have been deficient because the levels that you need to workout on the elliptical for 30 minutes five times a week are not the same as what you need to run at your full potential and absorb workouts to maximize their benefits. Get your hands on the results of your blood work and do your own research. I would also suggest tracking your free iron number to make sure that you don’t overdose. Taking too much iron is as bad as being anemic. If you’re having a hard time getting your numbers up, also take a look at your B12 and folate. I give myself B12 injections when I’m feeling really run down. There are a couple other biological factors that I pay attention to, but none have had the impact that iron has had.

Vitamin D is one that I am trying to work up. Also, especially if you live in NYC and have all that city stress, or have a real job that stresses you out and deprives you of sleep, checking your cortisol and DHEA levels can tell you a lot about your adrenals and if you need to work on managing stress. If you are already stressed out from life, then it’s hard for your body to also adapt to stress from hard running. (I cannot stress how important this is for every person to be on top of their health. Well said, Lesley!)

What is your favorite non-running way to sweat?

I like to take ballet classes at Steps on Broadway when I have the time. It can be hard to fit in 90min classes when I’m working and feel like I need to devote all my spare time to running, but I do it when I can.

What is the biggest (current or past) hurdle you’ve had to overcome in your running life?

I think the biggest hurdle is trying to balance work with running. It’s undeniable that a full time job makes it very difficult to train. I do workout one night a week – Tuesday nights at a track out in Mamaroneck, but my other key workout is always during the day, usually at Columbia or Rutgers. So, if I had to work normal office hours five days a week, it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable or beneficial. I am lucky that I found a company that wanted to give me both flexibility and a future career.

What keeps you going when you’re having a crappy run?

Anti-inspirational fact of the day: nothing keeps me going when I’m having a crappy run. If I’m having a crappy run, I throw in the towel and call it a day. There is always tomorrow. I personally think the secret to having a long running career is to not force it on the bad days. You only have so much motivational energy to dole out during the week, I don’t like to burn it on crappy days. This also applies to key workouts – for example, last Saturday I was supposed to run 6×400 in 70s and 68s, followed by 3×400 over hurdles in about 78. After the first couple 400s, I knew there were no 68s in my future. My legs were just dead. So, I changed the workout so that my last 6×400 were all over hurdles and shortened the rest.  It felt like less of a battle and I finished the workout feeling positive. Each day is just a small puzzle piece, and if you miss a run or key workout, that puzzle piece isn’t a hole, it becomes a day of rest and rejuvenation.

Do you have a pre-race/pre-run ritual?

Every run is different. My favorite pre-run days have to be weekends, when we usually run later (9 or 10), so I have an hour or so before the run to drink coffee, eat a couple Chia Chargers and maybe stretch a little. Pre-race is pretty much the same, I basically drink coffee and make sure I’m not underfed, whether the race is at night or in the morning. Before workouts and races, I have a set of drills I do, in addition to a 15-20min run, but I don’t care what order I do them in. While I was in Europe this summer, I did “backwards warm-up” with my friend Nicole Bush at every race. She flips the order of her warmup from what most runners do and does drills before her jog. We had a lot of good chats on these warmups & I ran two PRs back-to-back, so I learned that it really doesn’t matter what order you do stuff in, as long as you’re ready to go when the gun goes off. There is a benefit to not being set in my routines, as I don’t panic when something prevents me from following a set of rules.

What is the best piece of advice you ever got about running and who gave it to you?

Dr. Dave Martin gave me all of the best advice that I’ve ever gotten. The top 2 are: get fit and you won’t be fat (as in, worry about training, not starving, and leanness will follow); and the DoDo Rule. The DoDo Rule is basically: “it’s not the work you do, but the recovery from the work you do that matters. If you don’t recover properly from the work you do do, you’ll end up sick, injured or anemic, and then you’re really in deep doodoo.”

Lesley (2nd from left) and her teammates who won the Distance Medley Relay at this year’s Millrose Games.

Rapid-Fire Questions
-Run in the morning or at night: both
-Run alone or with others: others
-Favorite piece of running gear: GPS watch
-Run with or without music: always when I’m alone
-Treadmill: love it or hate it:  HATE
-Race fuel: Chia Chargers
-Gatorade or water (or something else): both, whatever they’re handing out on the course
-Dream PR (time & distance): mile, 4:29
-Runner’s World or Running Times: neither
-Favorite speed workout: 24×200
-Favorite running gear store:
-Favorite place to run: Central Park
-NYC Marathon or Boston Marathon: NYC of course

Meet My Friends: Ali On the Run Rocks

Don’t you just love spring? It’s my favorite time of year. One, it was my birthday this week. Two, it was Justin’s birthday last month. Three, it signals the end of the spring semester of school and a *short * break til summer school starts.

Remember when I told you I’d be having some guests on the blog while I’m recouping?

First up, the very fabulous and popular Ali from Ali On the Run. I found Ali’s blog when she was chosen for Jackrabbit Sports’ Run For the Rabbit campaign last summer. I was so excited to see a fellow IBD-er running for the CCFA and sharing her journey through marathon training while battling Crohn’s disease. Then I randomly crashed Ali’s date with Brian at 16 Handles and totally fan-girled her. Happily, I didn’t scare Ali off and we have become allies in the never-ending search for open bathrooms in Central Park and the best way to style hair with moon face. Seriously, it’s been awesome having a runner friend with IBD who understands what it’s like to fight for your right to run. Ali is also hilarious. Enjoy getting to know her!

IBD runner heaven = plenty of POJs.

Name: Ali

Age (optional): 27  — I’m happily nestled comfortably in the 25–29 age group these days.

Occupation: Runner by 6 AM, Blogger in the 8 AM hour, Deputy Editor in Chief at Dance Spirit magazine by day and professional Cadbury Mini Egg eater 24/7. Only one of these jobs truly pays the bills, though.

Blog (if applicable): Ali On The Run

Ali always has rockin’ leg warmers. Go Team CCFA!

How many years you’ve been running: I went for my first “real” run — a whopping six blocks — in 2008. It didn’t take long before I was hooked, and I toed the line at my first race, a 4-miler in Central Park, in September of that same year.

How you got into running: When I moved to NYC, after years as a dancer throughout high school and college, I found myself poor and living with a runner. Dance classes were too expensive, so I put on some clunky old Nikes, set out for the East River Promenade (Spanish Harlem all the way) and ran for a few blocks. My roommate taught me all about fancy things like “half marathons” and “running shoes.”

What is your most favorite race you’ve run? Everything aligned for me amazingly during last year’s National Half Marathon in Washington, DC. I didn’t go out with any fanfare. I didn’t have a pace plan — I just wanted to break 2 hours — and I didn’t over-think the race. I showed up at the start line on a gorgeous March day, took off on my own, felt incredible, took in the sights and just plowed my way through those 13.1 miles. No one was more surprised than I was when I crossed the finish line in 1:44:48. I was so proud of my time, but looking back I remember that race fondly because I ran happy and stress-free the entire time. I didn’t obsess over my splits, I didn’t stare at my Garmin and I didn’t care that I didn’t have spectators waiting for me at the finish. It was my race, and no one else’s. It was a perfect day.

What is your proudest running moment? You kind of have to say your first marathon here, right? I ran the Hamptons Marathon on September 24, 2011, and I did it for something so much bigger than myself. I trained with JackRabbit Sports through this huge campaign that I applied for and miraculously got selected to participate in. The whole experience was incredible. I got to work with Jonathan Cane, a professional running coach, and he taught me so much. He got me to the start and finish lines healthy, which he kept saying was his goal! Plus, I raised $20,000 for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation in the process. So when things started to really hurt and really suck at mile 22 of the race, I thought about all the people who donated and believed in me, and I got through those final miles.

Who/what inspires you to run? Just the fact that I can run makes me want to run. It’s truly something I enjoy doing because it makes me feel good. I love the fresh air of Central Park and the wicked runner’s high I ride for hours after a long run or successful speed work session. Over the past few years, my health has really been a little bitch, and there have been days — many days — when I physically couldn’t get out of bed (or, uh, out of the bathroom), let alone slip into my beloved Brooks for a run. So now, every day that I can run inspires me to get out there. Simple.

What training plan have you followed and had success with? Run when it feels good, rest when the body wants it and respect the recovery runs. Run hard a few times a week and run long on Saturday mornings. Clearly I should be a coach. But really it’s about pushing it and not expecting to magically improve. Run faster to get faster.

What is the one thing you’ve done that has made the most difference in your running (add/delete music, cross-train, run with a buddy, etc.)?

What is your favorite non-running way to sweat? Spinning! I get a total high from being in a dark, packed room spinning my guts out next to fellow riders. By the end of a 45-minute class, we’re all on the exact same spots on our stationary bikes, but we’ve been on one heck of a ride. The music, the sweat, the adrenaline — it’s so different from running, but it makes me giddy.

If you could run any race in the future, which one would it be? I had my sights set on the Eugene Marathon this April, but my body wasn’t on board. So I’d love to make my way out to Oregon next year to conquer a marathon that finishes on Hayward Field. I think a track finish is the coolest thing ever.

Do you run in the morning or at night? I’m a morning runner. I always say I do  my best work between 5 and 11 AM. After that I’m pretty much worthless. I can think of no better way than starting my day with a sunrise sweat. It sets the tone for the entire day, and it’s nice knowing that when 5 PM rolls around, your workout is done and your couch is waiting!

What keeps you going when you’re having a crappy run? Uh, having Crohn’s disease brings a whole new meaning to the term “crappy run.” You just have to get through them. It’s a mental battle. I think about how great I’ll feel when it’s over, and I remind myself that you have to get through the bad runs to appreciate the great ones. Every run won’t be perfect — and every run won’t suck!

Do you have a pre-race/pre-run ritual? Bathroom, bathroom, BodyGlide, bathroom. And a six-minute ab workout to help get things moving. Before longer races, I take a shower to warm up my muscles and wake up. And then I go to the bathroom again.

What song, if you heard it, would get you to run faster no matter how tired you are? “Brand New Day” from The Wiz. It was playing on my iPod when I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon and it still brings tears to my eyes when I hear it. I actually refuse to listen to it unless I’m running.

Jazz hands are always appropriate.

Why should someone (anyone) start running? Start running to get healthy. Keep running because it’s fun. Stop running when it stops being fun. Start running because Dry-Fit clothing is more flattering than cotton. Run to clear your head, or run for clarity. Run because seeing the sunrise is cooler when you’re sweating than when you’re commuting. Run because a runner’s high is better for your body and mind than a hangover. Run to get rid of your hangover. Run because a box of Tagalongs tastes better after a bunch of miles. Run because it’s awesome.

What is the best piece of advice you ever got about running and who gave it to you? “If you don’t appreciate the rest days, it’s because you’re not working hard enough on the run days.” My coach’s wife, Nicole, is my ever-present voice of reason. When I started training for my first marathon, I was gung-ho about exercising every single day. She told me that if I didn’t get to a point where I felt I needed a rest or recovery day, it was because I wasn’t pushing hard enough on the other days. Soon I found myself begging for a Friday in bed.

Hot as hell long run, oy. But awesome picture!

-Run alone or with others: Both! Ideally during a long run I’ll knock out a few miles on my own and then join up with friends midway through to cruise through the later miles together. It’s the best of both sweaty worlds! But if I had to pick one, I’d say I’m usually more of a solo runner.

-Favorite piece of running gear: Moving Comfort Juno sports bras. These bad boys saved my life, my boobs and my chafing.

-Run with or without music: With. I love bringing my friends on my runs with me. Britney, Rihanna, David Guetta — we work up our best sweats in tandem.

-Treadmill, love it or hate it: Hate it. Respect it, but man it’s tough.

-Race fuel: Happy thoughts. They digest better than Gu.

-Gatorade or water (or something else): Water.

-Dream PR (time & distance): I’m currently vying to break 4 hours in the marathon.

-Runner’s World or Running Times: Runner’s World. There’s usually at least one article per issue that unexpectedly brings me to tears.

-Favorite speed workout: I psych myself out a bit when it comes to mile repeats, but m an do I feel great afterward. I like a 2-mile warm-up, 4 miles of repeats with quarter-mile breaks in between, and a 2-mile cool-down to wrap it up. And then ice cream.

-Favorite running gear store: Lululemon.

-Favorite place to run: Central Park Reservoir. It’s flat, it’s beautiful and for one glorious week each spring it’s laid out under a never-ending canopy of cherry blossom trees.

-NYC Marathon or Boston Marathon: I’ve never run either, but as a current New Yorker, I’ve got a spot in my heart for NYCM. I had a blast spectating it last year and screaming for my friends (and strangers, and friends-to-be) — and I spent 2011 doing the New York Road Runners 9+1 guaranteed entry for the 2012 race, so on November 4 I’ll become a New York City Marathoner myself. I can’t wait!

Keep running, Ali!

We’ll be ready to cheer you on in the Fall as you take a bite outta the Big Apple, Ali! Thanks for sharing. 

Now go out and run!