The singer dishes on how she's training for the upcoming New York City Marathon—and you won't believe what she's listening to

By Alicia Keys

Refinery29 is ridiculously excited to present their very own TCS New York City Marathon blogger: the one and only Alicia Keys. She's a multiple Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, an actress (she'll be a guest star on season 2 of Empire), a mom, an activist, and a proud NYC native. Follow along on Alicia's journey to race day and get a taste of her training routine, her biggest challenges, and the amazing cause she'll be running to support on Sunday, November 1.

So, I'm training for the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon.

I actually ran a marathon in Greece in 2007 and swore I would never do another one. Not because it was a bad experience, but because I just figured running 26.2 miles probably wasn't something I'd ever want to do again. Well, you know what they say: Never say never.

A few months ago, I was working out and minding my own business, and my brother came over to me and said, "Why don't you run the New York City marathon with me this year?"

My first instinct was to say, "HELL NO!" LOL.

But then I thought, This is my city, so why not?

I thought about all the times I rode a train through the boroughs or drove through the boroughs, and it occurred to me that I've never run through the five boroughs. So why not?

In fact, this is my new slogan: AND WHY NOT?

I'm all about breaking mental boundaries, and training for a marathon falls right into the Jedi mind-training I need.

And the best part is that all of this is not really about me. It's about supporting Keep a Child Alive, which my co-founders and I created to get life-saving HIV medications to African children and families who otherwise would not have access to treatment. We have been able to help seven grassroots programs in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, and India with medical care, food, and psychosocial support. This is what inspires me when my body begins to tire. My training is nothing compared to the challenging journey these families face every day. We may not be able to walk a mile in their shoes, but we can certainly run a mile (or 26.2) for their lives and for the forward motion of all the young people who are creating a whole new Africa.

That said, a marathon doesn't just happen. It takes time, training, and tons of focus. So here's my schedule right now:

5:30 a.m.: Wake up

5:40-6:05 a.m.: Meditate

6:15 a.m.: Wake up Egy for school

7:00 a.m.: Egy leaves

7:15 a.m.: Baby wakes up

7:30 a.m.: Feed the baby

7:45 a.m.: Baby and me get dressed to run

8:00-9:00 a.m.: Run/Train

9:30 a.m.: Baby naps

11:00 a.m.: Ready for the rest of the day (meetings/calls/work/studio/kids/etc.)

Believe me, I never thought I'd be this person either. You know what I mean-the "early-morning-schedule" person. I always thought I was one of those people who was lucky if I could just get up, get dressed, and get out the door on time. But somehow, I'm into it. Getting up early to take care of myself physically and mentally sharpens my focus, my dedication, and my clarity.

So now, every morning, I get on my running swag, put the baby in the running stroller, and put on my headphones. Here's what's on my running playlist:

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

David And Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

The Invention Of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

God Help The Child by Toni Morrison

Ha! Tricked you! You just knew I was going to give you my playlist of songs. But as much as I love music, what keeps me going on long runs are audiobooks. They're mentally stimulating and do an incredible job of keeping me engaged. There's always the next thing happening in the book, the next place the story takes me. I never know what's coming, and somehow it distracts me enough to get through all those miles without noticing as much.

And, why not? (Our new slogan!)

Pray for me, y'all, because these runs are kicking my ass!

Love,

AK

Click here to support Alicia's Keep A Child Alive/NYC Marathon fundraiser.

More from Refinery29:

Alicia Keys Shares Her 4 Biggest Marathon Fears

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The 30-Day Challenge That Will Transform Your Body

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