Thurdsay Nights with Harlem Run

I’m a pretty self-motivated person. When I started running in 2016 I wanted to prove to myself I could do a 5K. Then it became a 10K, then a half marathon, and now hopefully in 2019, the New York City marathon. My training calendar (taped to my office wall so I literally cannot avoid it) gets a red X for every completed workout. There’s usually one day however, Thursdays, that always seem to be missing its signature red X. You see, Thursday is a speed work day and my God how I hate it.

It’s a problem. If I want to be better at this sport, I know I have to embrace the speed. The issue is that I, unlike my turnover rate, am very fast at talking myself out of doing something I don’t want to do. I knew I needed something stronger than a red X to hold me accountable. Here’s where Harlem Run comes in.

I discovered Harlem Run like I do most things – a Google search. This running crew is focused on creating a movement to bring area runners together and to support our uptown community. Runners and walkers of all ages, sizes, and abilities, meet twice a week: on Monday for a 3-6 mile paced run and Thursday for, you guess it, speed work. I had been to a few of their Monday night runs before so when my training cycle for the Brooklyn Half started up, I wrote in Harlem Run on every Thursday.

My first week it was on the track at Riverbank State Park. The plan: 4 sets of 4×400.  As soon as I heard, I instantly started freaking out internally because 1) what does that even mean? and 2) I’m going to suck. We did introductions, did some quick warmups and then went over the workout (basically, run 1 fast lap around the track, rest for a minute or so, then repeat 3 more times, trying to go as fast or a little bit faster than your previous lap. Take a longer rest between sets. Repeat that process 3 more times for a total of 16 laps). We all went at our own paces, some faster, some slower, but at the end of each lap was a group of people cheering and high-fiving you on. My internal fears about the night quickly dissipated.

Each Thursday it’s a different workout. Another week we ran the stairs in Morningside Park. As we passed each up other going up and down, up and down, you would get a hearty “great job” or “keep it up.” Motivation and support is a key part of this group. It’s the reason why I keep coming back. With each new workout I realize that even though I am feeling the burn, it’s not nearly as bad when you’ve got a great group backing you up.

Michelle (in the green top) is a Marketing Manager at SMP.