572. Alison Mariella Désir, Author of Running While Black


“There’s a big period of my life that led me to find long-distance running where I was a shell of myself. I was depressed and suicidal and anxious and unable to leave my house. And I think a lot about, what if my story had ended there? What if there wasn’t this other part of my life where I get to be the person who I am today?”

Alison Mariella Désir is a runner, a marathoner, a change-maker, an activist, an advocate, a wife (to Amir!), a mother (to Kouri!), a founder (of Harlem Run and Run 4 All Women), a creator, and now, she adds “author” to her bio. Alison’s highly-anticipated book, Running While Black: Finding Freedom in a Sport That Wasn’t Built for Us, hits bookshelves next week. Today, Alison returns to the Ali on the Run Show (for the fourth time!) to talk all about her writing process and her hopes and dreams for the running industry. This book is a must-read for runners and non-runners alike.


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What you’ll get on this episode:

  • How does it feel to have this book out in the world? (3:10)
  • What Alison hopes people feel when they read this book (7:45)
  • All about Alison’s writing vibe (12:00)
  • What Alison learned about herself during the writing process (17:15)
  • What would Alison’s dad think of this book? (19:45)
  • What Alison’s relationship with running is like right now (21:50)
  • On dealing with racism and microaggressions from a very young age (27:15)
  • “She wasn’t tired. She was tired of giving in.” (32:55)
  • The pressure to continue being a high-achiever (36:10)
  • What it felt like for Alison to keep showing up to Harlem Run — by herself (41:50)
  • On building community, and what Alison learned from running with other groups, crews, and clubs in New York City (48:00)
  • On being vulnerable at this stage in life (54:40)
  • What Alison hoped would come from her Outside magazine op-ed (57:30)
  • On sniffing out performative BS, and seeing meaningful change within the running industry (1:03:45)
  • The experience of recording the audio version of Running While Black  (1:14:00)
  • Which parts of the book have resonated most with people so far (1:16:15)

For more from Alison, check out:

Alison Désir, Founder of Harlem Run

What’s New With You?

“Why it’s an exciting time for women’s running”

“Ahmaud Arbery and Whiteness in the Running World,” by Alison Désir for Outside Magazine

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