Reblog: The Art of Pacing

Hey everyone! With our group ever-expanding, we like to remind everyone about our pace groups, how they work, and how you make the most out of our group runs. For that, we’d like to throw this week’s blog to a post written by Captain Amir a few years back. What is your favorite part about our pace groups? Drop us a line in the comments to let us know!


Week in and week out we host our Monday Night Runs and Thursday Night Speedwork sessions If you have been to a run or two, you are aware of our pace groups: 8min, 9min, 10min, 11min, 12min, Run/Walkers, and Walkers. Roughly that is the pace you will run each mile. We stay within range of 3-6 miles, so you’re in good hands and being challenged at the same time. If it’s your first time have no worries, because you’ll do just fine.

For our weekly runs it is best to stay with your pace leader, or better yet a partner, if you’re not too far behind. We’re not here to tell you what to do, so ever so often others might push forward ahead, which is up to you--since the route is available ahead of time. As long as you’re not wearing headphones, respecting the community, and running your thing.


I’ve most recently had the pleasure of pacing Aubrey (herald of the #YoungLegendz) for the United NYC Half and Alison for the Bear Mountain Endurance Challenge Marathon Relay. That was Aubrey’s first half marathon and Alison’s first time running a tough trail run.

I often will humbly ask if others would like to be paced, if I am around and don’t have any particular goal in mind, because I’ve learned so much from following behind pacers myself. It wasn’t that long ago that I ran with Coach Shayne and we both qualified for Boston. I wasn’t always comfortable asking, but I was also reluctant to push myself.


Pacers are nearly always offered at races. You can and should always inquire about them, especially if you have a goal time in mind. Pacers are meant to be the constant, consistent marker of letting you know where you stand relative to your intended goal. If you’re behind your pacer you probably need to pick it up a bit. If you’re ahead of your pacer, maybe you’re going out to fast or you’re comfortable and will end up pushing past your goal. 


Don’t be afraid to share your goal with someone, so they can hold you accountable. You live and you learn. There are never any failures, because you will learn through your own personal experience. With a bunch of races coming up for me in the next few months, I have my pacers in mind and I'm ready to hold myself to accountable with them.


If you’re running find you a running partner, whether you just want to enjoy the run or set a goal and achieve it. The run is all yours. You get to choose what you want to do and have others with you, should they also agree to join you.

Celebrate the small victories, and don’t be afraid to be great!

- Captain Amir

How Fitness Changed Me

I've accomplished a lot since getting involved in fitness and running, but by no means did it come easy, either mentally or physically. Before I began my fitness journey, it was 2012 and I just got out of a failed relationship of 5 1/2 years. I was left with some insecurities and resorted to heavy drinking to cope. I felt as if I had no identity if I wasn't involved with someone, so drinking would help me escape and allowed me to avoid dealing with my problems.

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Eventually, I turned to getting in shape when I realized my previous lifestyle was becoming harmful. I had a wake-up call when my weight reached almost 200lbs. Not too long after starting my fitness journey I suffered a ruptured achilles.

I remember the doctor telling me that I probably wouldn't be back to my usual active self immediately after surgery, and I had 8 months to loom over that. It was the lowest feeling I felt. I ended up relapsing and turned to alcohol again to cope with my situation. After I was able to tolerate the pain from the injury and no longer needed my pain killers I began selling them so I could continue buying alcohol. I was back in a dark place again, and new I needed to snap out of it.

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As soon as I was cleared to begin rehab after my injury and start working out again, all I could think about was recovering and physically getting back to where I was before the injury. I also realized I could my past experiences as an opportunity for a brand new start. I worked my butt off and starting see results physically and mentally.

A few years later, I finally mustered the courage to investigate how my father passed away 10 days before my 2nd birthday. After learning that a drug overdose was the cause of death, my direction suddenly changed, and I knew that I wanted to begin bettering myself. I became motivated to be a beacon of hope and to inspire others through my actions. For some time I was living for my selfish and destructive desires, but hearing how my father died and how I was just continuing the vicious circle that plagued my community by distributing drugs really hit home.

Photo by Javie Gomez

Photo by Javie Gomez

I've completed some tough races - 50 miler, obstacle course marathons, and several ultras - not only for me, but to have others believe that it is possible for them to also achieve a comeback story of their own. I never turn down an opportunity to talk to those getting their journey started and I always encourage them to keep going because they never know who they're inspiring.

In 2015 I became affiliated with City Challenge Race, an organization that hosts obstacle races but also donates their time and money to helping out wherever they're needed, i.e- volunteering at homeless shelters, hosting free boot camp sessions for those trying to get in shape, donating money to charities we believe in, etc.

In 2015 I also began running with Harlem Run. During my time with them I have learned to remove my loner mentality that I've had for so long. I've also embraced being a part of a team that has come to feel like family. I appreciate everything the Harlem Run family has done for me and what they've done - and continue to do - in making change in the community of Harlem. I've learned to no longer hide from my past but to embrace it and allow it to light the way for my future.

"Just remember the sweet is never as sweet without the sour, and I know the sour."


- Jesse

Harlem Run News - October 2017

Harlem Run Retreat 3.0 - Costa Rica

Thank you so much to those who have secured their spots with down payments. We are in communication with those who have already expressed interest. It is not late, if you haven't completed the online application yet. Do so as soon as possible, and we will be sure to follow up in kind. October is already here, so secure your spot today. We are saying goodbye to the cold weather and hello to a warmer climate in Costa Rica. The dates are February 8-12 and the cost for singles is $1050 and $1800 for pairs in shared bed (up to 4). For more information follow the link below


NYC Marathon Cheer Station & After Party


We think that we found our sweet spot along the course, and that is "MILE 22"!!!! This upcoming November 5th we'll be back where all participants will meet us at the top of Marcus Garvey Park (i.e. 124th Street and 5th Avenue). Stay tuned for opportunities leading up to Marathon Day for those looking to cheer, where we'll design cheer signs.

Details for the After Party will drop soon, but you will know first-hand. We're so excited for all our runners, walkers and run/walkers. There is nothing like running through the five boroughs, and it also a memorable experience to cheer them on. 

We are hosting our 3rd Annual Harlem Turkey Trot with Harlem United. Entry is absolutely free, but if you register via the link below we will enter you in our raffle Under Armour gear. Looking forward to having some our regulars, community residents, and out-of-towners. Follow the link below for more information.


A Word From Our Marathoners!

With just a little over a month left until one of our favorite days of the year - the New York City Marathon - we wanted to take this time to check in with a few of our runners and see how training is going for them. We are beyond excited for the big day and can't wait to welcome you all to Harlem as you pass our cheer station. 

Are you training for the NYC Marathon - or one that is also coming up? How is training going for you? Drop us a line in the comments to let us know how you are!


Training has been exhilarating - and exhausting! This is my first marathon, so it's a pretty amazing journey, as every week I learn more about what my body can do. I'm learning how to pull back as well as how and when to push myself hard. I'm grateful for the love and support of my running family -- I could never do this alone. 



Training for two fall marathons has been a roller-coaster. At first I was trying to figure out which one was "more important" to train for, but that just made my head spin. I think I finally hit my stride using a virtual training program and trusting my running ability more. I'm looking forward to crossing both finish lines healthy and pain free thanks to my coach and the support of my Harlem Run family.



A Haiku on my training:

On Running

Rain or heat, I run

Log miles until November

better Together


Want to read about more of our marathoners-in-training? Check out Alison's blog post, Marathon Prep Tips from Members of Harlem Run, where more of our HR family speak about the challenges and highlights of their training thus far!

For the Love of Harlem (Run)

I have had an eleven year relationship with Harlem and it just keeps getting better and better with time. The love and energy that we have poured into one another in the community is nothing short of amazing. At times, I smile and think, 'Jeez you have this much feelings towards a place?' However it makes sense - I went to college in Harlem, started working my first "real" job in Harlem, met my now-fiancé in Harlem, and found Harlem Run. All in all Harlem has been good to me.


Distance running has not always been for me. I've always been an active individual willing to try new things and ready to take on a challenge, but running - aside from a 10-12 minute warmup on the treadmill - was never a real thought to me ... But, flashback to 2016 to a vision board party at my home where my friend, Lindsie, places on her vision board: 5k, 13.1, 26.2 and asks me to journey with her. Reluctant with a bit of intrigue and for solidarity purposes, it goes on my board too.


My first "official" run was the NYRR Percy Sutton 5K in Harlem in August 2016. I remember finishing that race and feeling an incredible high. I was so proud because I did not stop once and I was pacing my co-worker before I even knew what "pacing" was in the running community.  On this day I also won 2 tickets to see the Color Purple Musical on Broadway at the race festivities.  

I thought to myself, 'If running is always like this then I'm definitely doing it again!' I signed up for more runs but quickly realized running isn’t always glorious. Running is downright hard and ugly at times while still being powerful and emotional. It is just you and your thoughts, you and your body, and it can be daunting for some. Through running I gained even more control of my mind and body. I found that I could will myself to do anything.


 Still on a runner's high I thought 'Hey, why not enter the drawing for the NYC United Half Marathon? It’s not like you're going to get selected."  Well, I got in and was both excited and terrified. How am I going to run 13.1 miles?  I've only run 4 miles max! 

Enter stage right: Harlem Run. I slid into Alison M Desir's DM aka "Powdered Feet" inquiring about running with Harlem Run.  I showed up and was met with a smiling face by a fellow runner who said, "It's only my 4th time here but you're going to love it." Thanks, Lindsey.  I ran with Alison and Raydime to Central Park where we met the larger group for 7pm.

Shortly after, the famous question arose; "Is it anyone first time tonight? Raise your hand."  In keeping with the New Year spirit we were then told to turn to our neighbor and tell them what you plan to do more of this year. I turned to Mona and I said "I plan to run with Harlem Run on a consistent basis." I showed up the following week and I kept showing up. In showing up I created bonds with the most amazing people and if for nothing else for this I am truly grateful.


Before I knew it August 2017, my running anniversary, was here. While reflecting I realized I had    completed 2 half marathons - United Half and Brooklyn Half - and will qualify for the NYC Marathon.  Running the Percy Sutton 5K in 2017 was so exciting for me. I felt I came full circle from that first "official" run and it had so much meaning .

I PR'd in more ways than one.  I improved on my time. I received the best hardware ever - bling bling - from my best friend ever and gained a run-family like no other.


I would have never imagined running would become such a staple in my life and continue to bring me immense joy.  I'm happy I stuck with that New Year Resolution.  Thank You Harlem Run for being accepting, kind, and all-around bad ass. Thank you for being a part of my story. Thank you for being a part of my life.


-Jodie K Alexander

Becoming Friends with Running

Running was never my friend. I grew up in Wisconsin and played every sport under the sun, but thrived the most in football, lacrosse, and rugby. I only looked at running as a punishment for poor play or mistakes made while on the field. But I’ve found that the desire to be a competitive athlete didn’t just subside once I hung up my football cleats after my college football career.

After college, I needed another athletic outlet, but wasn’t 100% sure where to find it or what it would be. I played in a couple of flag football leagues, which were fun, but organizing recreational sports for adults is waaaaaaaay too much work for the reward. I have also moved across the country four times in seven years (Chicago, Houston, Milwaukee, New York City) after undergrad, so that didn’t leave me with a solid understanding of the sports scene in these cities.


So, what was I to do? Hope that the ever-inconsistent pickup basketball game found me? Doubtful. Try and bribe strangers to come play catch with me? Maybe a fun idea, but it’s a bit of a stretch. I thought I might be doomed to a sportless existence until I saw some sweaty and smiling faces wearing Harlem Run shirts while I was out for a walk one evening in Harlem. I asked the two ladies about their shirts, and they let me know it was a great run crew in Harlem, and I should check it out. “They meet on Mondays and Thursdays,” they said. I figured I can swing that!

So Monday rolled around, and I found my way to Harlem Shake to meet the crew. I was surprised with the large numbers of people who showed up. “All of these people came here to run…. voluntarily?,” I thought. Then the run began. Mind you, at this point, I wasn’t exactly in top long distance running shape, and I hadn’t run any distance in well over six months. Regardless, as I typically do, I got a bit ahead of myself and ran with the nine-minute pace group. For those who don’t know the nines, they are the second fastest pace group at Harlem Run. Long story short, I got smoked. I didn’t even make it half way. But I finished.


Fast forward a year, I now run with the seven-minute pace group, have lost about 15 pounds, and have run a half marathon. And I’m currently qualifying for the 2018 NYC Marathon. Long story short, I am very happy I found Harlem Run, or I suppose that Harlem Run found me. I guess running is my friend now. Never say never.


- Will

Pumping on the Run

I was excited to be in Harlem running my first race just three months after giving birth to my daughter Madison. The Harlem One Miler was where I would start my new journey as a mother of two beautiful girls. There were many emotions running through my mind that morning. I was eager to be in the streets running again with friends, but scared to have to pump in public.

As I walked towards Marcus Garvey Park, a little bit of panic set in. I started to think, “What time do I have to pump? Where do I pump? I hope strangers don’t yell at me while I’m pumping this time”. As I made my way to bag check I saw a few friendly faces that I knew and instantly felt better. It was as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  

I kept looking at my watch, knowing that I would have to pump and be finished before the men’s second heat started. I walked away and sat on a bench in the park. I wanted to be close enough where people could see me, but far enough where I could pump and not feel embarrassed. My dear friend Vanessa initially sat with me but then walked away to get a closer look at the finish line.


I felt scared again as I watched her walk away and realized that I forgot my cover at home. Eeek! Now what? I did the best that I could to put my breast shields on without exposing too much of myself. In fourteen minutes flat I finished pumping and managed to do so without flashing anyone. I would call that a success!!

Everyone at the run instantly made me comfortable and ready to tackle this race. I made my way to the start line and looked for my running boo, Dawn, who had agreed to pace me. While waiting for the race to start, it began to rain. I hate running in the rain! I remember hearing Dawn say, “Slow and steady wins the race." As we ran she would periodically ask me how I was doing and I would respond by saying “Okay”. I was so out of shape I  barely muttered a few words at a time while running.

At times I felt like my heart beat was louder than her voice. My lungs were weak and I could tell because my breathing was not controlled. I knew if I wanted to finish this race strong I had to focus. On various corners of the race there were volunteers and spectators cheering us on, smiling and ringing cow bells with excitement. It lifted my spirits to have so much support from the community and runners alike.

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Being a running nursing mother has its challenges. It’s far from and easy and most people don’t understand it if they have not had to experience it first-hand. I’ve had to pump in bathrooms stalls, cars, storage closets, on public transportation and anywhere else when duty calls.

What has helped me through this challenging time is the love and support I constantly receive from family, friends and sometimes even strangers. A few weeks ago, I was volunteering with New York Road Runners and met another volunteer who had recently started running.  I excused myself as it was time to express milk and she asked if she could come with me and keep me company. Her simple gesture made that moment pumping in Central Park so much easier. I thanked her over and over again as we walked over to the park benches.


I often get messages from loved ones saying how I’m doing a great job and to keep up the good work. My friends, family and my amazing running community will never know how much their support means to me. Their words of encouragement help me get through the moments when I’ve felt like quitting. But because that one person smiled and said “Mish, you're doing amazing”, I kept going.  Because they gave me a high five and said keep it up, I ran up that hill.

I attended a Monday night run a few weeks after the Harlem One Miler. Some of the other runners were surprised to learn that it was my first Monday Night Run with them. Throughout my run I struggled - my lungs were struggling for air and my legs felt heavy. I knew the run would be hard, but I showed up knowing I would get the support I so needed from my Harlem Run friends.


I was one of the last runners to finish. Everyone was standing in a line handing out high fives.  I was not ashamed to be last. I was proud of myself for being just three months post-partum and out there running.

Nursing in public will always be a challenge. The world does not always agree with this method of feeding for one’s child. But with the love and support from my family and friends it has been much easier for me. They all stand strong with me and remind me that I am not alone. I have a huge support system that supports what I do for my daughter Madison and for myself. And for as long as I have their support, I will continue to be brave and run and nurse my beloved.


- Michele

Monday Night Runs: From a Newcomer's Perspective

If I'm to be completely honest, I've always hated running. I always found it dull and punishing, yet I once felt the same way about fitness before I found myself hooked. Just like most people, I started working out in high school as a means to lose weight, and for a long time I’ve managed to get myself in the gym to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

As time went on, I began falling in love with the entire journey and learned so much about myself. This taught me discipline and independence ... Working out became personal, it was the one thing I did for myself. And most importantly, I found self-confidence.

I’ve tried it all and although I hated running, I tried to incorporate it into my routine to try to switch things up, but I just could not commit to it. I remember dreading the run days in my CrossFit classes, especially the random 5Ks they’d throw in. Anything over a mile made me sick to my stomach. But it was through that experience I learned running is like anything else in life, the key is consistency.

For a long time, I convinced myself that running isn't for everyone and certainly not for me. I now realize this was just an excuse, and this somehow became a light-bulb moment for me. So, I came to Harlem Run to give running a chance and I mean really give it a chance. I was ready to tackle a major weakness of mine and face the pavements.

Being active has the most positive impact on my mood, productivity, and overall livelihood. In the past, I feel I've failed each time I tried running on my own but I've always wanted to overcome and try to push myself. When a friend of mine referred me to Harlem Run, the thought of being around experienced runners gave me anxiety and was intimidating at first, but my experience so far has been so great. I attended my very first session a few weeks ago for a Thursday speed workout, quickly followed by a Monday night run the following week. I left both sessions feeling accomplished and inspired... oh and SURPRISED that I did not pass out!


My first two sessions with Harlem Run definitely boosted my confidence in running and I love that there are so many paces to choose from on the runs. This eliminates the pressure to keep up with others and the fear of failure. It's also amazing to witness a community of different individuals who are all on a healthy journey of their own. Being that I am a new member and did not come with any friends of my own, I felt welcomed and was fascinated by how friendly and supportive everyone is.

I truly believe the camaraderie in any sport/physical activity is what makes it incredibly fun. I plan to continue attending many more sessions with Harlem Run. Fitness taught me many things that I was able to apply in other areas of my life. I look forward to learning a lot about running and being more aware of my body. Right now, my main goal is to increase my endurance so that I am able to set real goals for myself and work towards achieving them. I'm excited for what's to come and look forward to reaching some milestones of my own.


- Nabila

Harlem Run News - August 2017

Interested in a spot in the 2018 NYC Marathon?

We've got you covered. For anyone interested in obtaining an entry into this year's NYC Marathon (Note: you will have to pay for the entry once selected). We have a special contest to help us make the selection. Starting to today and ending on 8/25, follow the instructions below:

  1. Follow us on Instagram (@HarlemRun) and Twitter (@Harlem_Run)
  2. Post ten (10) separate times about what excites you most about running in the NYC Marathon
  3. Use the hashtag #HarlemRun and #HR_NYCM

The winner will be announced August 28th. We look forward to your selection!

MXMRelay 2.0

We are less than two-weeks away from the second installment of our friendly competition that will have teams running through the streets of Harlem and  hitting some iconic spots. Teams are forming, and some have been releasing their team names. Remember the details of the route will be sent out the Monday before (i.e. August 14th)....REGISTER HERE

Next month, we are returning to Detroit and we hope you are ready. We'll be starting from the Under Armour Brand House, and running along the riverfront. Join us for a pop-up mile where there will be raffles, a shopping discount, gear for sale and more. For more info CLICK HERE.


Tonight, during & after #MonNgtRun, we will be selling a new women's tank and a men's shirt. It will be available via big cartel tomorrow. Sizes are limited, so be sure to scoop up a shirt/tank (or two or three) for you and your loved ones.