Endure Run Conquer

Patience. Persistence. Perseverance.

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Mother Runner Mondays – Priorities

Lately I have been thinking a lot about priorities. Somehow, the hours of each day slip away even quicker than the one before. I wake up and immediately hit the ground running (literally squeezing in my workout before my eyes have even completely opened), yet my to-do list remains untouched.

Being a working mom is hard. That is not to say being a stay at home mom is easy (quite the contrary, as the weeks that I was home on maternity leave were some of the most challenging weeks of my life). However, working full-time means time away from my family, which makes the hours that I am home all the more precious. It means that sometimes dishes remain unwashed and laundry piles up because I want to spend time with my daughter. It means my time over the weekends are priceless and sometimes (most times) I’d rather choose to stay in than go out.

My weeks are crazy. I not only work full-time, but I work many nights as well (often meaning I will be gone until after 9:00 p.m). A typical day for me may mean waking up at 4:30 a.m., feeding the baby, squeezing in a run (finishing before 6:00 a.m.), and leaving for work by 7:30 a.m. On days that I know are going to be long I try to come home for a few hours, but that is not always possible. I then will go back to work and not return home until 9:30 p.m. (or sometimes later). On days that I don’t have meetings I am often so exhausted that I fall asleep early. I enjoy my job. My employer is understanding. But it doesn’t always stop the mom guilt.

Which has got me thinking a lot about priorities.

Obviously my family is my top priority, however, I’ve realized that I can’t always be a good family member (mom, wife, daughter, sister) if I don’t have “me” time. I am fortunate enough to have an incredibly supportive spouse who supports me in my endeavors – but it is still far from easy. Most of my “me time” comes at the expense of an extra hour or two of sleep. I will disappear for a few hours on a Saturday morning for my long run, but still manage to make it home shortly after the rest of the family has awaken. I do often treat myself to coffee with friends on those mornings, but even then I have to fight off the guilt that I should be home.

Work poses its own challenges. I am constantly trying to find the balance to be career motivated while still trying not to miss a moment in my daughter’s life. Some days I think I have it all figured out. Other days (especially when I feel like I am missing milestones) are much harder. I know that I am not alone in this struggle.

I don’t have the answers. To be honest, I’m not sure that there are any. But there is comfort in realizing that balance is not about having every area in our lives equally full at all times. Rather, it’s about being okay with the fact that there will be ebbs and flows. The important thing is knowing that your best is good enough.



Mother Runner Mondays – Thoughts on My First Mother’s Day


Happy Mother’s Day From A Fellow Mother Runner

I used to cringe at the term “mother runner.” I didn’t understand why some women felt the need to distinguish themselves from others. (To be honest, there are a lot of things I used to say or think that I find myself backpedaling on these days. Just ask my friend Sarah for some of my comments circa 2010.) To me, running was running, plain and simple.  As a “non-mother runner” I felt excluded by these types of designations and found them to be self-righteous, if not condescending.

The reason that I have changed my mind on this topic is because there are certain things about being a mother and a runner that are hard. Both motherhood and running pose unique sets of challenges. Combining the two creates a significant subset of the population whose needs all too often go unaddressed.

This is not to say that balancing motherhood and running (or fitness) is harder than other types of challenges that others may face (mothers and non-mothers alike). For example, working full time (or going to school full time) and training is hard. Training while dealing with personal or family issues is hard. There are countless scenarios that one may encounter that makes training hard (and I would venture to guess that everyone out there can offer an antidote demonstrating this). But through my own experience I have learned that motherhood presents its own set of challenges that are seldom addressed anywhere else.

I have now come to realize that the term mother-runner isn’t about being self-righteous or exclusionary. It isn’t about having an “us-vs-them” mentality (as I used to think). Instead, it’s about finding solidarity amidst the chaos. It’s about having someone to ask about how to go about pumping before a big race (In the car? In a port-a-potty? Out in public?). It’s about having groups of other women who you can message at 3:00 a.m. when the baby won’t sleep and wondering how you are going to wake up in an hour to fit in your run (because they are still awake and wondering the same thing). It’s about being able to candidly discuss the “gross” things that happen to your body after childbirth without being embarrassed (and learning that you are not alone in your experiences). It’s about recognizing that your body may never be the same and learning to be okay with it. It’s about the guilt that manifests when you know that going for your daily run takes away precious time from your family (but recognizing that in the grand scheme of things that hour away grounds you and makes you a better parent in the long run). It’s about being able to talk openly and unabashedly about those things that no one else wants to hear about.

Finding other mother runners to commiserate with has been a blessing during this postpartum period. At a time where my emotions are swinging all across the spectrum, having others who can offer wisdom and support has been imperative. I am especially thankful for the women I have met in virtual groups (and especially my Oiselle mamas), many of whom I will never meet in person but who have provided countless answers to my incessant questioning. Women who know certain things about me that my closest friends might not. Likewise, in “real life” I have been lucky enough to share my miles with women who have “been there, done that” and who whole heartedly assure me that I shouldn’t stress and that it will all be okay.

This is why this Mother’s Day, I will admit that I have now adopted the term “mother runner” as a badge of honor. I have embraced being a #motherrunner. Because it is who I am and it’s someone I am proud to be.

Mother Runner Mondays – R-E-S-T (and why it shouldn’t be a 4 letter word)


For many runners, the word “rest” may as well be the f-bomb. I don’t know if it’s our personality types (most runners I know are fairly Type-A) or just part of the overall running addiction – but suggesting a rest day to a runner is akin to asking them if they want to walk barefoot across hot coals (and truthfully, I think some  would prefer the coals).

Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t sit still. Literally. I can’t watch TV or read a book unless I take periodic breaks to clean something or write an e-mail. Heck, I can’t walk from one room to another without trying to multi-task. It’s a blessing and a curse. However, last weekend I was sidelined like I never have been before (giving birth and hip surgery included)! I ended up having a dental abcess (read: really really REALLY bad infection) in my jaw. I have had an embarrassing amount of dental work done before (4 root canals prior to this as well as impacted wisdom teeth) and any discomfort I had with any of those procedures pales in comparison. It felt like having the flu (chills, sweats) with a broken jaw and migraine headache — all at the same time. My face swelled up to the size of a baseball. The worst part was that because I am nursing, the medication that I could take was extremely limited (it happened over the weekend and I had difficulty getting a straight answer from anyone about the safety of the prescriptions).  Most of the weekend was spent on the floor curled up in a ball or sticking my face under scalding water. It wasn’t pretty. For two solid days I was in pure survival mode.

The problem came once I started feeling a little better (i.e. no longer dying). I started feeling guilty for not jumping right back into a routine, notwithstanding the fact that I was still in significant (but not completely incapacitating) pain. I initially took Monday off of work, but tried to go back Tuesday (thank goodness my employer knows how I am and just told me to go back home when they saw me). I ended up being off of work for 3 days in a row. I have never been off that long in my entire career for any reason other than surgery and giving birth.

Mentally, while I was home, the hardest part for me was forcing myself to sit. Not to worry about paying bills. Not to worry about making phone calls to straighten out insurance issues. Not to worry about making a grocery list. Not picking up toys left around the house. Just resting and regrouping. I had to keep reminding myself-it wasn’t just about me anymore. My health matters to Isabella too – and she deserves to have a healthy mom. Which meant that I needed to be serious about letting myself recover.

Too often, we get caught up in what needs to be done and just wear ourselves down further and further instead of just pausing that extra second. We feel guilty for taking care of ourselves. However, in the long run, rest is just as important (and sometimes even more important) than doing. Resting is a way to prevent overtaxing ourselves and is a necessary step back before we can keep pushing forward.

Mother Runner Mondays


Life has changed. So have I.

My tolerance for all-things-gross has reached an all new level. In some ways, it’s not all that different than some of my running conversations (pooping, snot, and all sorts of other bodily functions), but instead of it being a part of a larger conversation, it has now graduated to a central topic of discussion. I can have an entire conversation about poop at the dinner table or go to work covered in spit-up and not be phased by it one bit.

That being said, my life as a mother has obviously impacted all areas of my life, including my life as a runner. I have found overwhelming support and information through groups on Facebook (and particularly my Oiselle ladies) but there are certain areas where I feel like the voices are lacking. I frequently see the question”when can I return to running” in my running while pregnant groups or message boards. Heck, I know I asked that question across multiple forums throughout my pregnancy. And if there are two things I have learned, they are: (1) everyone is different, and (2) what you are able to do/not able to do during pregnancy may not be the best indicator.

As I wrote about before, I had a number of unexpected issues come up during my postpartum recovery. When asking around, I learned that others have too. This has encouraged me to dedicate Mondays to the issues plaguing my fellow mother-runners.

So moving forward, I hope to make Mondays a day to discuss these issues. While it may not be every Monday (because, life right now can be a little crazy) I will try my best!


How to Beat the Winter (Running) Blues

Living in Chicago can be tough weather-wise, especially during the winter months. There are only a few runners I know who truly embrace the cold, rather than simply put up with it. The bitter cold and dark, combined with the lack of sunshine, truly makes getting my butt out the door extremely difficult. I have found that February is the worst for me. I am able to maintain some sort of motivation in November (as I am often still coming down from the high of my fall marathon training) and December. Right around when my motivation starts waning, New Years resolutions give me a renewed sense of purpose. However, by the time February hits I am ready for spring.

There are a few things that I have found help me to stick with my training schedule during the winter months.

  1. Dress Appropriately 

What it means to “dress appropriately” can be different for everyone. Admittedly, I am always cold and tend to overdress. However, certain things should be non-negotiable for any runner once the temperatures start to drop.  When I left for my run yesterday morning it was 12 degrees. I left the house wearing two tanks, a long sleeve top, jacket, warm socks, two layers of gloves (my hands are the worst), an ear warmer, and a neck gaiter. I actually think I may have been a little overdressed (there was no wind) but I was comfortable, if not borderline hot, the entire time.

Other pro-tips: I cannot stand cold water during the winter, so I drink a cup of decaf tea during my drive to the run to hydrate. I also love using Hot Hands during those runs where it is really cold (and not only in my gloves — I will also stick them in my sports bra to keep my core warm).

      2.  Set a Goal 

Signing up for a race is always a good motivator. As the spring racing season creeps up, signing up and setting a goal is a great way to stay motivated and to force yourself out the door. If you feel like you are in a slump – find a coach to take your training to the next level. Accountability is key!

      3.  Get Creative With Your Training

Until I joined CrossFit, I was horrible about cross training (see above discussing accountability). The winter months can be the perfect time to try new things — yoga, spinning, swimming, CrossFit — the options are endless. It’s perfectly okay to back off the mileage during the winter (or any time that your body needs a break for that matter)! Trying other activities also helps the body to stay healthy as it wakes up muscles you aren’t necessarily used to engaging and gives other muscles a rest.

      4.  Create Treadmill Workouts

I don’t love the treadmill, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.  Especially now having a newborn, the time that I have to workout can be unpredictable. If I run a steady pace on the treadmill I will undoubtedly become bored in minutes. Instead, I play games with myself. Most often, I will bump up the pace after a certain amount of time and work my way up and back down for the duration of my run. For example, after a warm-up, I will start at 6.6 for .1 miles and bump it up a notch every .1 miles (or .25 miles or .5miles or however I am feeling that day). I will then either start over or go back down the ladder. I have found that because my mind stays engaged the run goes by much faster.

How do you stay motivated during the winter? 

Postpartum Care – The Things Nobody Tells You and Why It Needs to Change


I am shocked at how little (if at all) that women are educated about the stresses of labor, giving birth, and their bodies postpartum. Having a baby is a huge physical stressor. Yet the extent of care that most women receive is a 1-2 night hospital stay and a sparse computer printout containing general discharge instructions. There are so many things that nobody talks about  (probably because most of it is pretty gross and embarrassing). The only “heads up” I had was from my close friends during hushed conversations. But why? Why are we so ashamed to talk about something that so many women experience?

I was lucky. I had a short labor and minimal pushing. While I did have some scary moments during labor due to stacking contractions, the overall time that my body spent in “distress” was much shorter than most. I was certain that this meant that I would rebound fairly quickly and be back to my normal workout regimen in no time. However, that was far from reality.

When I had my hip surgery, I received very clear instructions from the surgeon as to how to prepare my body for the stresses of surgery (both before and after). I had a very intense physical therapy protocol (both home exercises and 3x a week office visits). My doctor and my physical therapist each worked with me to create a clear path to returning to my optimal activity level.

Giving birth is very different. And it shouldn’t be. I know that the issues that I am facing are not uncommon – but they are things that no doctor ever warned me about. I have a weak pelvic floor. I have abdominal separation. I have other internal issues as well. The only reason I know this is because when I tried to resume physical activity – things felt wrong. Not just “I just had a baby” wrong – but wrong wrong. My OB knew that I was a runner but never mentioned any of these warning signs or things that I may be feeling.  She never mentioned the conditions that I am now receiving treatment for. I was lucky that she had no problem making a referral to a women’s PT practice – but had I not requested it I don’t know if I would ever have been referred for treatment. During my pregnancy nobody mentioned the pelvic floor or recommended that I do exercises to strengthen prior to giving birth. Unfortunately, this seems to be the case for most women. It truly is a shame.

I encourage all women to educate themselves and to learn to be their own advocates. Being in good physical shape does NOT necessarily correlate to an easy recovery. The pelvic floor is a whole separate area of fitness that I wish I had understood sooner. Certain damage is inevitable – but the extent of it can be mitigated.  Why are our doctors not talking about it? Why are women not being educated about this? Why is treatment not being offered and encouraged? When so many women experience one issue or another – why aren’t we talking about it more?

Here’s to opening the conversation. Let’s talk about it. 

Whole 30 – Take 3


For the last three years, I have attempted a Whole 30 at the start of the New Year. (For those of you unfamiliar with the Whole 30 Program – you can read more about it here). My first attempt was half-hearted. Mike’s CrossFit gym (which is now mine as well) was hosting a gym-wide challenge. He had decided to participate – and because he cooks all of the meals in our house I ended up participating by default. We were strict for a few days, however, after a few minor “cheats” we were back to our old eating habits within the first two weeks.

Last year I tried again and did much better. I remained completely compliant for about 2 1/2 weeks until our vacation to San Diego. While I know that Whole 30 is about “no excuses,” we take such few vacations (only one every few years) I wanted to fully enjoy the experience (food included). I did notice a significant change for the time that I was following the program – but couldn’t muster up the motivation to try again once we returned back home.

This time is a little different because my motivation is different. Isabella has demonstrated a number of minor digestive issues that seem to be linked to certain types of food. My hope is that by eliminating many of the traditional “trouble” groups she will see some relief. Moreover, my own autoimmune issues are flaring up something fierce and since I am nursing I cannot take my normal medication and am hoping that such a diet will also help to reduce the inflammation. Because I am nursing, I have to be sure that I am still eating enough calories, which means adding in more snacks than I typically would otherwise.

To be successful with a Whole 30, the most important thing is to go in prepared. This means doing a grocery shop BEFORE starting the program. Although there are a ton of great Whole 30 recipes out there – food doesn’t have to be complicated to be compliant. Through my prior failed attempts I have learned that complicated meal planning increases the probability of cheating (because who wants to spend a lot of time cooking when they are hungry?) Our staple meals are fairly simple – chicken breast or hamburger patty, veggies, and/or potatoes. Compliant condiments or sauces help alleviate the boredom and keep things easy.

Today is Day 7 and I feel like I am starting to get into the grove. My cravings have subsided as I get more familiar with my options. Snacks continue to be the hardest – especially with a newborn. Whereas I typically would reach for gluten free pretzels or cheese sticks, my current snacks tend to require a bit more preparation. If I don’t have the time (or a free hand) I have found Lara Bars and homemade trail mix (walnuts, raisins, and unsweetened coconut flakes) to be easy options. I’m excited to see what the next week will bring!

Who else is doing a Whole 30? What are your favorite meals/snacks? 

Postpartum Fitness Evaluation


Another long hiatus from writing, but this time for a good reason – baby is here! She arrived two weeks early (and just one day later than I predicted). As any new mama can appreciate, life has been a whirlwind of diapers, spit-up, and baby snuggles. I completely underestimated how hard (yet completely worth it) these first few weeks post-baby would be. To add another wrinkle to everything, she has been having some pretty bad tummy troubles so we have been trying to narrow down the cause (immature baby digestive system vs. allergy/sensitivity vs. structural issues). I planned on starting to try to reintroduce gluten again post-pregnancy but I am now going to hold off. I have also eliminated dairy per my doctor’s recommendations to see if that makes a difference. In an effort to try to further alleviate some of these GI issues I am planning on doing a Whole 30 in hopes that will bring some relief.

As for running – I truly thought that I would be able to jump right back into things because I stayed so active throughout my pregnancy (even running 6 miles the day before giving birth) and having a short labor/delivery. The doctors at the hospital gave me conflicting information as far as a “return to run plan” with one telling me I could resume running as soon as I felt ready and the other telling me to wait the full 6 weeks. I decided to split the difference and at 4 weeks tried a walk/run for about 10 minutes. I could immediately tell that it didn’t feel “right,” but attributed it to normal postpartum healing. I tried again a few days later and felt the same, with lots of pressure in the area below my bellybutton and above my waistline. I took a week off and tried again and the feeling continued. At my 6 week appointment the doctor told me she wanted me to hold off another 2 weeks to allow things to continue to heal.

I was incredibly frustrated following the appointment, but I begrudgingly complied. I have been through injury before and have learned that taking the extra time off upfront is worth staving off severe injury later. After I waited the additional two weeks I tried again. The pressure continued. While I wouldn’t describe it as pain, it definitely doesn’t feel right and continues to ache throughout the day after the run is finished. After crowdsourcing some running mom groups I was convinced that I needed to take care of this issue now. I called my OBGYN and asked for a referral to a Women’s PT that specializes in pelvic floor rehabilitation so that I could get a full evaluation of the status of my body so that I could confidently get myself back on track for a strong 2017 racing season.

My first appointment was yesterday morning. Because there are so few PT practices that specialize in women’s issues, I had to drive to a clinic that was about 30 minutes away. The initial examination included a bunch of screening questions and an evaluation of my core and range of motion. I was diagnosed with minor case of diastase recti, which is the separation of the abdominal muscles. (This is the same issue that elite Stephanie Bruce has struggled with – read more about it here). This afternoon I go back for further examination and to start my treatment plan and will continue going for treatment 3x a week for the next 3 weeks. I have also been seeing my chiropractor again to get my body back in gear.

Fit Pregnancy – Weeks 35-37

While the third trimester has (quite rapidly) gotten more difficult, these last few weeks (and especially this last week) have really been a test of patience.

It always seems to happen overnight. I’ll be floating along in my routine and all of the sudden my body decides its really pregnant. Then it decides its really really pregnant. (This week it knows its really really really pregnant).

By way of comparison, my “normal” running pace for a shorter distance run (non-pregnant) is typically between a 7:30 and 8:30 minute mile. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, my body decided it liked the 8:45 to 9:00 minute mile range better – and it sat at that pace for most of the first trimester. During the second trimester (and for much of the third trimester as well) my runs tended to be in the 9:00 to 9:30 minute mile range (of course, with some runs quicker or slower depending on the day).  During the last two weeks, that pace is now steadily in the 10:30+ range. Certain things that I was able to do just a week ago seem unfathomable today.

Mileage also has drastically dropped off over the course of this last week as well. While most days I have been able to do something, last week I took extra days off and started and stopped running right away on two other days. I know that it is all to be expected (I am almost 38 weeks after all and have a full-sized baby taking up real estate in my body), but it still surprises me how overnight some of these changes have occurred!

Week 34/35           44.49 weekly miles          (long run 12.88)

Week 35/36           37.24 weekly miles          (long run 11.1)

Week 36/37            22.8 weekly miles            (long run 6)


37.5 weeks and still going!

Chicago Marathon FOMO

Last year my experience at the Chicago Marathon was less than stellar (both because of logistical hang-ups and a crappy race). After having a much better experience running the Madison Marathon less than a month later, I swore that I was taking a break from the big-city races and sticking with smaller fields.


Turns out Chicago actually owned me!

However, my swearing off of the Chicago Marathon did not keep me from having major FOMO (fear of missing out) yesterday as I virtually stalked followed my friends who were running on social media. Since I started running again in 2011, fall has meant one thing – marathon season. Even in 2014 when I had my hip surgery, I kept tabs on the training of those around me and lived vicariously through their triumphs and successes. My love of the marathon is evident from my racing history – as I have run more marathons than races of any other single distance. Even if I haven’t signed up for a race I try to follow a marathon (or marathon-lite) training schedule because that’s when I tend to feel my strongest.


Much better race just a few weeks later

There is just something special about the marathon that I haven’t experienced in a race of any other distance. Running a marathon is transformative. I have never finished a race being the same person I was when I started. No matter how the race itself goes, something happens to a person through the course of all those miles. It’s hard not to be just a little bit jealous sitting on the sidelines while others get to crush their goals! It’s been over three years since I’ve been able to actually train for a PR effort race and I am both physically and mentally itching for a comeback.

Of course, I’m not sure how I’ll feel after the baby is born – but in any case it’s all exciting things to look forward to in 2017!


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