ELight runners rarely step up to the start line of a race if they don’t think they can run a personal best. A lot is at stake for their careers and sponsorships if they don’t perform well.
But instead of pulling out of last year’s New York City Marathon after hamstring surgery, Olympian Alexi Pappas came up with a creative solution: glitter.
Doctors told him that while his recovery was going well enough for him to run 26.2 miles, it wasn’t a great idea. race That away “I was like, OK, if I’m going to do this, I just want to make sure I signal to myself and to the fans that it should just be for fun,” she says. So she hired a makeup designer to come to her hotel the night before the race and paint a giant glittering star on her face. (A fitting symbol for a track star—Pappas competed in the 10K at the 2016 Summer Olympics.)
Pappas started with elite women, but they quickly lost him. He soon met a group of runners with a MasterCard program that started half an hour earlier and ended up running with a 70-year-old Italian man named Vito. “I started to feel that I wanted to support him in some way besides jogging with him,” she says. “So I was like, I’m just going to be a hype woman. I started to kind of raise the crowd at every turn and was like, wow, this is really fun.” The spectators—and even the race directors—loved it.
This lighthearted approach was a revelation for Pappas: it was possible to express himself if he wanted to and still have integrity as an athlete. And he can run for joy. “It’s a pretty funny game,” he said. “But I think you can have grit and joy at the same time.”
Pappas is returning to the NYC Marathon this Sunday, and this time she’s leaning into that fun: She’ll be wearing a custom beaded dress by crystal artist Kerin Rose Gold as she runs with her MasterCard pals.
Here’s what his unconventional marathon preparation looks like
Pappas didn’t exactly follow a standard training plan. He ran the London Marathon last month as a guide for a visually impaired runner, where he said he cast himself as an “audiobook”, describing all the neighborhoods and signs and costumes they ran through so they could share all the joy. . Spectacular along the course.
He took a week off to recuperate in Paris, then concentrated on easy jogs in New York between work projects (Pappa is also a writer, actor, and filmmaker), and a bunch of mountain hikes in Los Angeles, where he lives. “[Training] He was basically recovering from London, working on the body, and doing some hill work on soft surfaces,” he says.
Embrace the highs and lows of a hill workout with this 15-minute run:
How does he stay fueled on the go?
Throughout his travels, Pappas has fueled himself with Loopy Bar, for which he is a brand ambassador. He finds his body digests them before runs and even during long walks. “If I’m not sitting down to a completely normal meal, I know I’m having protein and fiber, nutrients, all the things that I anticipate ahead of time that I feel good about,” she says. Case in point: He was eating one during our interview for this story because he didn’t have time for lunch.
He is delighted to set an example
Asked why an elite athlete takes such a playful approach to the sport, Pappas talks about the young women who may be looking up to him. “Girls quit sports at twice the rate of boys by age 14. And I think part of this statistic is due to the fact that it’s common to see men sporting recreational pickups, but older women aren’t as common. Enjoy sports all your life,” he says. “To see a grown woman running for joy, I mean, I personally would have enjoyed it when I was a kid.”
But it is not only about the young generation. He wants to allow runners of all ages to bring more whimsy to their own running. “It’s a sport where it’s best to be kind to yourself, to have fun,” she says “At this time in the world, I think especially post-Covid, people really want a wonderful, peaceful, happy, joyful life.”
Two of his biggest pieces of marathon advice
On race day, there are many factors out of your hands, from the weather to the runners around you to your ankles. “Control what you can control,” says Pappas. “That means laying out your clothes the night before, getting your nutrition as organized as possible.” (Pro tip: Skip the fiber the night before.)
More than anything, she says, embrace whatever is going to be useful to you. “For some, glitter can make them smile and if it feels useful to you, wear it,” she advises. “Horse races – hopefully – are not life or death. So we should enjoy them every time.”
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