Who runs Concord?

Ever wonder who are these people running across Concord on Thursday evenings? Me too. Back in the summer of 2016 I was walking down Main Street in Concord, and saw the bright red store entrance –Runner’s Alley. “Hmmm I thought who are these runners and why do they have their own alley right in downtown?” As a true introvert… I went inside and asked. One of the store’s team members, Betsy, explained me what was going on: Runners Alley is a locally owned business with three stores located across New Hampshire in Portsmouth, Manchester, and Concord. Betsy seemed to be an extremely friendly and welcoming person, her runner’s vibe was screaming out: “Join us, you will love it!” 

I used to run a lot during middle school, but back in 2016 the furthest I had run was during a heavy rain storm – across the parking lot. I don’t even remember saying: “Yes, I will definitely join”, but the next Thursday there I was all dressed up in new running gear and ready to start running. 


Here I will try to be extremely specific of what I felt during the first mile in 10 years:

                  One minute into running: OMG, I can’t breathe!

                  Two minutes into running: So bad, I think I’ll pass out right now.

                  Three minutes into running: OK, why exactly am I doing this? 

                  Four-ten minutes into running: Just keep moving your feet, it’s about to finish… 

As you can tell, I was fit and ready to run the Boston Marathon (NOT!)  All three stores have year-round free group running days – Thursdays at 6 PM, and Saturdays at 8 AM.I started to run and build up miles – starting from one miserable mile. 

In November of 2016, 5 months after my initial visit to Runner’s Alley, I finished my first half marathon – 13.2 miles of non-stop running.  For me, running became the way to clear my mind and relieve stress, running without headphones, trying to stay focused on the road and listening to my body. 

In addition to free runs a couple times a year, Runner’s Alley organizes special beginner groups, where they explain how to run, what to use, help you with shoe selection and running treats, and they run with you all the way up to your success. Enrolling in one of these groups helped me to reach a proper fitness level to compete in the Half Marathon after 5 months of training. Through Facebook, Runner’s Alley posts upcoming events, plus routes and maps of a week’s plan. All the runs are well-organized and put together, all I had to do was go out and have fun (well, I had to run, too.) 



Aytaj Ismayilova