Endure Run Conquer

Patience. Persistence. Perseverance.

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Postpartum Fitness Evaluation

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

Fit Pregnancy – Weeks 31-34

Again, my updates have not have been as frequent as I would have liked. Sometimes life just takes over!

These last few weeks have been primarily focused on preparing for Isabella’s arrival. Lots of baby showers (one at work, one with family, one at husband’s work) and organizing. I have been so overwhelmed with gratitude towards those around us. The kindness and supportiveness that we have experienced has been beyond words. My mom and mother in law put together the cutest running themed baby shower for me which is perfectly appropriate considering how many miles this little girl has already run!

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Finish Line – Isabella Grace Arrives!

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Onesies complete with race bibs (with her name and due date)!

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Water Station

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Cake with baby running shoe!

img_1217Running has been unpredictable (which has been par for the course). My average pace during the week has been in the 9:30+ range. The funny thing is some days feel really difficult and others I surprise myself with how (relatively) normal I feel.

Week 30/31          42.38 weekly miles     (long run 13.45 miles)

Week 30/32           40.04 weekly miles     (long run 12.86 miles)

Week 32/33           45.93 weekly miles       (long run 12.71 miles)

Week 33/34           43.92 weekly miles       (long run split – 12.7 miles)

(I still have to see how tomorrow goes before I have my Week 33/34 data)!

Today my big accomplishment was running a 5k. This was mentally tough for me knowing that I needed to keep my ego in check and not actually race (keeping the pace comfortable). Secretly, I was really hoping for an age group award but decided I was just going to go out and take it at a slightly-quicker than normal run pace and see what happened.

As the race started, I was hyper conscious to keep my pace in check and my breathing well controlled (which is not the case normally in a 5k for me)! As I passed the one-mile mark I was shocked that my first mile was slightly over 7:40 pace. I decided that so long as I continued to feel good I would try to keep my pace around there. By mile two I was still in the same pace range so I decided just to hold steady. The hardest thing was holding myself back at mile three when I was still feeling good and I saw two girls about 20 seconds ahead of me. I had plenty of fuel in the tank and had to fight my ego to remind myself I wasn’t racing and to  just hold myself at pace. I ended up finishing slightly under 24 minutes (which was much quicker than I expected) but I was completely bummed about missing an age group award (apparently those two girls in front of me were also 30-34)! Such a bummer when third in age group and fourth female overall doesn’t bring home any bling!

 

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Fit Pregnancy – Weeks 28-30

 

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The third trimester is well underway and I am definitely starting to feel pregnant! Running while pregnant hasn’t been easy by any means, but my body did seem to settle into a “okay, this is the ‘new normal’ pregnancy” state of being for the majority of the second trimester and into the beginning of the third. While each day has been an adventure and certain weeks have been more challenging than others, overall I’d say that I have been able to maintain a solid base and a not-too much slower than normal pace for the majority of the pregnancy. (I realize that I am extremely lucky in this regard).

Now it’s starting to catch up with me. The added weight is noticeable now (making for extra achy shins) and my feet are starting to swell a bit where my already borderline tight shoes are feeling awfully cozy. My pace got slower (literally) overnight by about 30 seconds/mile. Some days I just look in the mirror and wonder how I am possibly going to keep getting bigger (if my due date is right, I still have a little over 9 weeks)!

The funny thing is – despite these aches my body still feels its strongest when I am running. Walking fast feels more like a waddle (I am constantly yelling at Mike to slow down). Sleep and sitting can be almost impossible (I can’t stay in one position too long before my back starts acting up). But somehow – my body is more or less okay with me plugging away with the mileage. It doesn’t feel effortless the way that it used to – but it is the closest to normal that I feel on some days.

One of my biggest complaints has been the chafing. My sports bras don’t fit and have left a deep gash-like wound across my chest (despite having sized up substantially and tried all different brands). Now that I have given in to the belly band, I have chafing all across my lower back and onto my hip. I finish every run looking like I have gone into battle.

I have still been trying to keep my weekday runs around an hour and get in a two hour run on the weekend. I have already been able to maintain this much longer than I ever expected, so I’m just taking it on a day-by-day basis.

Week 28/29     39.46 miles     (long run 13.23 miles)

Week 29/30     47.41 miles      (long run 13.25 miles)

Pregnancy Miles to Date:         1120.4 miles

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Selfie from post-run on the hotel treadmill. Not so sure about the awkward angle!

 

How to Tuesday – How to Stay Motivated

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Staying motivated can be tough. It’s easy to be excited when everything is going according to plan, but that feeling often fades quickly as soon as the novelty of training wears off or injuries start creeping up.

Personally, I know that my motivation levels also seem to correspond with the hours of daylight. During spring and early summer I pop out of bed as soon as the sun starts peaking through my windows and I (usually) have no problem getting myself out the door in the morning. As it starts getting lighter later and darker earlier, my willingness to get out of bed (or maintain productivity later in the day) becomes much more short lived. The weather also plays a major factor for me. In the spring and early summer the warm days are a welcome break from the never ending winter that we experience here in Chicago. However, by late August my ability to tolerate the constant 95% humidity levels has also started to wane.

I think that this year has been a *little* easier to stay motivated because of the Olympics (because seriously, how can someone not be inspired by Meb’s finish line push ups). But now that the Olympics are over and fall racing season is upon us, it’s time to start thinking about other ways to keep the motivation levels up.

  1. Change Up Your Routine – This is one of the easiest ways to stay motivated but often times is the hardest to execute. Are you running the same routes (at the same time) every day?  Are you running the same mileage and workouts week after week? Most of us are, so it’s no wonder that running is going to get boring (there are only so many loops that one can do around their neighborhood). Stop making excuses and change it up (and don’t overthink it)! If your schedule isn’t flexible enough to change the time of day you run an921aa5ea5e9ab43a80001a79b131b666d you don’t have time to run anywhere but your neighborhood – run your route in the opposite direction. Run randomly down different streets. Instead of running the same distance every day, split up runs or break up the mileage differently across the week. Little changes will go a long way to breaking up the monotony.
  2. Join a Running Club – I’ve said this many times, but joining a running club is one of the best ways to keep motivated. Not only does meeting with other runners provide great conversation (all normal societal standards are off when it comes to conversations during runs) but also helps you to share in the goals and accomplishments of like-minded people. Find a running club near you by checking out the RRCA Website.
  3. Experiment With New Gear – I am addicted to running gear. I own more running clothing than I do regular clothing (and still seem to always be needing more). While I don’t advocate buying a whole new running wardrobe every time you don’t feel like going for a run, sometimes a new top or pair of headphones is enough to make you want to get out the door.
  4. Read Inspirational Books or Watch Motivating Videos. You don’t have time? (Dare I ask how much time have you spent on Facebook today?!?) Personally, the book Born to Run always gives me a spark of renewed energy whenever I start feeling like I am in a rut. Don’t want to read a book? Check out Runner’s World’s 101 Kicks in the Butt or Aimages-1rnold’s Six Secrets to Success
  5. Set a New Goal. If you aren’t training for a race, think about adding one to your schedule. If you’re burned out from racing (or constantly training) challenge yourself to try something different. If you’re always running marathons – think about doing a relay or an obstacle  course run (or think about working with someone else to help them meet their goals!)

What do you do to stay motivated? 

RRCA Certification and Running Coach Training

I am a little late with this post (which seems to be the theme here lately), but I wanted to post a recap of my experience taking the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Level 1 Running Coach Seminar in Ann Arbor a few weeks ago.

 

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Becoming a certified running coach has been on my to-do list for quite some time. A few years ago, I served as an assistant running coach/volunteer for the girls’ cross county and track teams back at the high school that I had previously attended. It was during that time that I realized my passion for helping others meet their goals. Now that I have gained more experience in long distance running (with a number of marathons under my belt) and having developed a passion for learning more about and experimenting with different training philosophies – I decided to take the plunge and move forward with obtaining my “official” certification.

The RRCA classes are fairly well sought after and there are only a limited number of openings per year. Unfortunaly, I missed the course that was held in Chicago this spring and the only remaining course in the region on the 2016 schedule was located in Ann Arbor. Luckily, my younger sister is a University of Michigan alum so I was able to convince her to make the trek with me. (At this stage in my pregnancy, I don’t know if it would have been possible without her company/keeping me awake on the drive there and back)! The course was two days long and was held from 8:0
-5:00 (eastern time) each day (meaning that it really felt like being there at 7:00 for my central timezone adjusted body.
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I’ll have to admit – I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I ended up enjoying the course. Our instructor was Randy Accetta who is the RRCA’s Director of Coaching Education (and a 2:19 marathoner). He was an extremely engaging speaker and did a great job of covering the material and incorporating personal antecdotes. On the first day of the course we reviewed different training philosophies and learned how to program schedules for different types of runners. On the second day, we learned more about coaching as a business, injury prevention, form, nutrition, and sports psychology. Even though I went into the class confident in my own knowledge and abilities I felt like I gained a lot of new information (and a new perspective on many of the topics). The people in the class were awesome as well. Because everyone came from different backgrounds, it was really interesting to hear other people’s take on things (and to see how much your own background and experiences shapes your coaching philosophies).

Following the class, all coaching candidates have to take a 100-question exam and obtain their first aid and CPR certifications. I took (and passed) the test within the first few days after (once I caught up on my sleep from being gone all weekend) and took both certification classes at a local hospital. Now I am just waiting on final confirmation back from RRCA that they have received all of my documents and to be added to the online system!

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From Preparing for the Marathon to Preparing for Baby

In my mind, fall is inextricably linked with marathon training. This is usually the time of year where all of the summer miles start paying dividends and my body starts feeling more prepared for the challenge ahead. This year is different (but somewhat the same in a strange way). Obviously, there will be no fall marathon this year (especially given the fact that my originally-planned fall marathon is the same week as my due date)! As summer comes to a close I am getting slower, not faster. However, throughout this pregnancy I have realized that many of my marathon training habits have now been converted into preparing for baby habits.

For example…

This time last year I was frantically searching online for the perfect marathon outfit (because isn’t preemptively rewarding yourself with new clothes the best part of making it through a training cycle?!?) For me, this means online shopping, over ordering, receiving an embarrassing number of packages, returning things that don’t fit, finding something I like better, and ordering again. I now have fallen into the same pattern looking for a dress to wear to my baby shower (I have already ordered four and have another four pending in my cart).

sports-1050966__340Instead of making a list of what I need to pack in my pre-race bag, I am making a list of all of the things I need to make sure to have in my hospital bag.

Instead of joining my running club for a long training run tomorrow, I will be attending the hospital’s 9-hour  training-for-baby marathon session.

Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathon Training has been replaced by What to Expect When Your Expecting. I still find myself reading along and wondering if I am ever going to be    prepared enough.

My body has changed since “training” has started. I am hungry all the time because of this. It also starts doing weir
d stuff (enough said). Things that used to seem so gross no longer are.

My countdown is no longer to race day, but to my due date. Like training for a marathopregnant-163611__340n, my body has been asked to go into overdrive to prepare itself for the big event.

Similarly, both events will also culminate by pushing through pain and coming out of it having achieved something that previously seemed unimaginable.

 

 

Fit Pregnancy – Weeks 24-27

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I’ve been slacking on my pregnancy posts! The last few weeks have been really hectic (return of some pregnancy sickness two weeks ago and a really rough work week last week) and I am still playing catch-up.I officially started my third trimester this week and am still feeling strong (most of the time). While the second trimester started out a bit tough, after a few weeks I finally found my groove and found myself able to continue running much more than I anticipated. While there have certainly been bad days (and bad weeks) I have been really happy with the amount of running that I have been able to do. Although my pace is much slower than “normal,” it seems to have tapered off and my new “pregnancy pace” has been pretty consistent throughout my pregnancy thus far.

Here is what my training has looked like for the last few weeks:

Week 24     25.7       (no long run) –     This was a week I really wasn’t feeling very good 
Week 25     46.54     (long run 10 miles)
Week 26     44.18     (long run 13.63 miles)
Week 27     49.55     (long run 13.1 miles)

Second Trimester Total: 612.15
Avg. Weekly Miles:  40-50/week

I think the most difficult change over these last few weeks has been the increasing need to use the bathroom during runs! This becomes extra difficult when I am also trying to make an effort to hydrate more. Yet another unpredictable element of pregnancy. Some days I have been able to get through my runs with no breaks and others I find myself stopping after just a mile or two!

The temperature is finally starting to cool off a bit as well which should make things a little bit easier. The humidity has been rough lately and even though I am not wishing summer away, the slightly lower overnight lows make a huge difference in the humidity levels.

How-To Tuesday – How to Choose the Perfect Running Shoe

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I have decided to start a new series on my blog called “How-To Tuesdays.” The purpose of this series will be to address those daunting questions that you may have but are afraid to ask. This week will be all about shoes!

Truly, running only requires one piece of equipment (unless of course you subscribe to the barefoot movement – in which case you are good to go!) While there are certainly a number of other “essentials” made for running, having a good pair of shoes (read: running shoes) is all that you really need to get started.

What makes a running shoe different than other types of athletic shoe? To being with, running shoes are constructed to be able to absorb impact and therefore will provide greater cushioning and stability than many other types of shoes. They are also built for forward movement (as opposed to shoes constructed for other sports, such as tennis, where the athlete may often move laterally). Having a proper pair of shoes is essential for injury prevention. It is also important that these shoes are only worn for running and not for walking around and running errands. Running shoes have a finite amount of miles in them before they start breaking down (usually 300-500 depending on the brand and specific type of shoe).

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So how should you select a shoe? (Hint: it’s not by color or because they look cool, no matter how tempting that may be). To begin, there are a few questions that you should ask:

1. Do you pronate? Pronation is the way in which your foot moves when you run and nearly everyone will pronate to some degree. A “normal” pronator rolls their foot inward at about 10-15% and their body weight will be distributed evenly. An “over pronator” (such as myself) rolls their foot inward to a much greater degree. As a result, the runner’s body weight doesn’t distribute evenly. In contrast, an “under pronator” doesn’t roll their foot in enough, which also results in uneven weight distribution. Pronators generally will look to “motion controlled” shoes while regular pronators will typically look to “neutral” shoes.

There are a few different ways to learn whether or not you pronate. The easiest option is going to your local running store where the workers are regularly accustom to observing people walk and run. Many stores even have a treadmill that they will observe you on – just make sure to wear comfy clothes!

2. What type of running will you be doing? Factors such as your volume of mileage, the surface that you will be running on, and whether or not you will be doing speed work and/or racing should also be considered. Someone who has just started running will have different shoe needs than someone who is training for a marathon. Similarly, someone who is planning on running on trails may look toward a more technical shoe than someone who will be running primarily on asphalt and concrete. People who do a lot of speed training and racing may look toward a lighter weight shoe while those who are just logging miles may opt for something with more cushioning and support. Your running shoes should be tailored to fit your specific training needs. Newer runners will typically be fine with a standard daily trainer (either a road shoe or a trail shoe) while more seasoned runners may opt for something more specific to their goals.

3. Where should you go? Your local running store is a great place to start. While department stores also carry running shoes, a running specific store will have the widest selection (which means a greater probability of finding the “perfect” match). The employees at your local running store will also be well versed in the specific needs of runners and will most likely ask to perform a gait analysis in order to help you select a shoe (I have never been to a department store where I have had that level of knowledge or attention).

If you’re interested in learning more about different types of shoes, websites such as RunningWarehouse and RoadRunnerSport have shoe finder functions that allow you to search many different brands for comparable shoes. While both of these sites are great – they certainly can’t provide the same level of attention and detail that an in-person visit to a running store can provide (which may be especially beneficial for the newer runner).

What is your go-to shoe? Admit it – how many pairs do you own? What tips would you add to the list?

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