POPSUGAR: Have you altered your training since the Olympics were officially put on hold?
Alexi Pappas: Yes. Normally the month or two before a big marathon, you're doing really intense, long workouts. You might go for a two-hour run, and within it do variations. Now, we have really stepped back and been like, "OK, what are the areas of weakness that we now have the luxury of focusing on? How do we grow rather than shrink during this time?" I've seen people feel panicked and shrink, or just stay still, be petrified. What we're doing is trying to grow. What that means for me is a lot of pain, because my weaknesses are many.
PS: You just wrote a beautiful story about running as community for Sports Illustrated. Do you have any advice for people out there who are trying to feel that sense of community when we can't physically be together?
AP: For one thing, there's community more than ever, in that everybody is going through this thing. Everybody's feeling it in their own way, and hurting in their own way. We can't assume that anybody is any less challenged than the next person. I remember one race in particular where I realized that was true. It was a 10-mile race, and I was next to a girl who I'd never been in a race with. She was an Olympian. She was very good — very intimidating — and was not showing a bit of pain. And I was feeling pain. I felt like I was breathing hard. And then a minute later, she's just out the back. I realized that I can't assume that even an Olympian next to me — I wasn't an Olympian yet — isn't feeling pain.