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Tales From Another Mother Runner Thursday: Alison Overholt

Alison Overholt final board

To celebrate our first four stops on the Tales From Another Mother Runner Tour (#TAMRTour for short...TAMR rhymes with BAMR, btw), we're going to profile four essayists on the East Coast who are going to be celebrating with us in person. 

A few things before we get to Alison Overholt, who was a recent guest on our podcast. 

—Tonight is our last night on the right coast before we head home. (BTW, thanks for three amazing nights, and for ordering the stellar weather!) Nicole Blades and Alison Overholt will join us in West Hartford, CT tonight, March 12. (RSVP here!)

Finally, if you can't join us, but have purchased and found the time to read Tales From Another Mother Runner, we'd love, love it if you could take a minute a put up an honest review on Amazon, which, for reasons we don't totally understand, is huge in spreading the TAMR word and helping women find the book. Thanks in advance!

 Back to Ms. Overholt mom to Maddie, an about-to-be-four-year-old West Hartford, Connecticut.

My writing and running history, combined: I often say that I feel about running the way I feel about writing: I love how I feel when I’m done. 

I started my career as a writer for Fast Company, and have continued writing professionally for the last 15+ years. But about 5 years in I switched gears to become an editor, choosing to mostly shape others’ words and writing only when I was really moved to do so – mostly profiles of incredible women or features about issues surround women in business or in the culture, for magazines including Fortune, Fast Company and MORE. I’ve contributed to one other book anthology of essays.

But my current job is Editor-in-Chief of espnW, ESPN’s platform that focuses specifically on women—stories of women athletes, writing by women sports journalists, sports from a woman’s point of view. I look for new voices every day, hoping to bring even more women into the sports conversation.

Writing is hard. You have to want to stare at that blank page, find that narrative, spend those hours revising and polishing until it’s just right. Which is why I feel exactly the same about running as I do about writing. I’ve started and stopped so many times over the years, but I know I will always come back to it. Each time I go out the door, I have to recommit to loving putting each foot in front of the other. Just as each time I stare at my blank screen, I have to recommit to writing that first word, and then the next. It never gets easier for me.

My essay, “I Dreamed We Were Running” talks about how: Running became a way for me to process my mom’s death. Writing this essay was a way for me to realize that that’s what I had done. It was and is so emotional, it doesn’t matter how many times I read through it, I cry every single time. (If you want to read her full essay right now, espnW published it here. Take the time: it's beautiful.)

My mom had that unique ability that most moms have, to say things to their kids that inevitably ring in their ears for all time. “You’re going to ruin your knees, Ali” is what I hear in my head most days. It’s what she always said to me when I went running. And then, “The things you do ….” In her head-shaking, slightly disbelieving, always critical, but ultimately very encouraging way …

About this crazy winter and getting in workouts: I am struggling mightily! My still new-ish job has me working all hours, and the last week I’ve been sidelined by pneumonia. But I’m doing better than I was last fall, thanks mostly to a treadmill that one of my New Jersey neighbors gave me (well, traded me, for an old elliptical I had) the winter I started training for my first half. It’s parked down in our basement, in front of the TV, and on good days, my husband gets Maddie ready for school while I hit some miles on the ’mill.

Recent memorable run: I got to go to the Running USA conference in New Orleans last month, and after a morning of pure inspiration listening to all those race directors talk about the things they wanted to do for runners like us, I took a 5K spin along the water and through the French Quarter. It was sunny and warm, while I knew it was blizzarding here at  home, and I just enjoyed every.single.step.

Next up on my running calendar: I’m hunting for my next half. I’m feeling a bit untethered since Nike cancelled their Washington, DC April half – training for that was the thing that motivated me through the last two winters! I would love to do their Toronto 15K, but that’s not 'til June. Maybe the Run Disney Tinkerbell Half in May.

3 responses to “Tales From Another Mother Runner Thursday: Alison Overholt

  1. I loved your essay, Alison. Listening to you read the start of it on the podcast had me in tears behind the wheel. Thank you for sharing such an emotional story with us all, it is beautiful and I can so relate to that moment in the kitchen, realizing it’s now or never…

  2. What a great read! I’m interested to know how dies one get involved in the running conferences. I live in New Orleans and didn’t even know about. I would love to become involved in the running community but not sure how.

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