Aliphine Tuliamuk on Making the U.S. Marathon Team for an Olympics That May Be Canceled

At that point I was still going through the shock of winning the trials, but that definitely turned my world upside down. It crushed me. For a few weeks I was just so emotional. I needed to cry, but I never got myself to the point where I could cry. And every time anybody asked me about the Olympics being postponed or said anything, I would get this lump in my throat that would not go away for a long time. I would go run, and then it would go away. But I’d have it again the next day. For days, I would have that.

Finally, one day I was actually doing an interview and talking about it when I finally broke down. I feel like crying that day kind of helped me let out some of the emotions. It was definitely hard. You put your life on hold. Basically, you plan your life around this major event that comes every four years, and then when it’s postponed, even just for a year, it turns your world upside down.

When you think about it in the grand scheme of things, in light of what’s happening, people losing their families, people losing lives, and the economy going down, the Olympics are not a big deal, but then, at the same time, it is a big deal. Where do you find the balance? You just never know what’s going to happen next year. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Yet you plan your life around this event because it’s your job, because you know that you only have that opportunity once.

How are you balancing that perspective?

I’m crocheting a lot thanks to my business [AllieResiliencyHats on Etsy]. I’m beginning to see the brighter side of things, and honestly, I’m doing okay. I am beginning to accept that next year is not really that far.

Once they said the Olympics were postponed I was like, Okay, there’s an opportunity here. I can go run a fall marathon. I could do some appearances this summer, this fall, and then next spring, and capitalize on that from a financial standpoint, and also expose myself more to sponsors and other races. But now that I saw the Berlin Marathon was canceled [Editor’s note: It was originally scheduled for September 27], and they’re talking about this virus probably having a resurgence in the fall and in the winter, and it’s like, holy crap, now we are in a limbo. We don’t know if we will have the rest of this year for racing. We don’t even know what next year will look like.

How has the postponement affected your training?

I’m not doing top-notch training or anything. I’m actually still doing my building very slowly. And so I’ve been running really easy. I’ve had a couple of workouts here and there. I’m not too worried about how fast I run. I’ve been running by feel, basically. Unless I feel like I want to push. But I don’t have any races on the horizon, so therefore I am not in a hurry to get fit.

Some days I’m like, I’m just going to take a day off. Some days I don’t feel motivated to go run, to go do this workout or run fast, just because, why? Do you want to get fit now when you don’t even know when you’re going to race again?

How do you handle the days when you don’t feel motivated?

If I really feel like I don’t want to go run right now, I just take a day off and don’t feel guilty about it. Then I get super motivated. I can’t wait for the next morning so I can go do my run. Sometimes, if I wake up in the morning and I don’t feel like running, I just wait until the evening, and hopefully in the evening I feel a lot more motivated.

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