Running On Average

Embracing February: Calm and Connected

Running | February 6, 2017 | By

If you recall, in January I embraced the word calm and tried to embody all that it meant. Mostly, it went well. I still had days where I couldn’t get myself together and nights where I was awake for two hours or more just anxious and overthinking, but in my outward emotions I was definitely more calm, especially with Riley. Although it’s winter and the days can feel long, I feel like we fell into a good groove.

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I embraced calm with my running, too. I was up early many mornings to get my runs in, but I didn’t pressure myself to go a certain pace or certain mileage- just simply to run by feel. This was hugely beneficial and I often (though certainly not always!) surprised myself with my run and was able to start my day with a clear head.

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For February, my word to embrace is

Connect

Everyone is talking about disconnecting from their cell phones, from technology, from distractions. I hugely agree with this, but I don’t want to put a ban on my cell phone or laptop, so to speak, because I don’t think that I am obsessively attached to either. Instead I want to work on connecting offline, in being present and connected to the moment, not thinking about what I need to do later or whether or not my life is exciting enough.

I feel isolated often being a stay-at-home mom and also being rather shy. It’s not necessarily that I am an introvert- I NEED other people and connections- but I am very anxious about making them and have a heard time really feeling close to someone. I’ve been living in Pittsburgh for over three years and only now am starting to feel like I have some friends. But my closest friends (sisters and mom) live hours away. So I want to make a point to open up and connect with the friends I am making. Stop being so shy about even texting them or hesitant about going out.

I even feel weird connecting with people on Instagram and writing comments- even though that’s the point of social media! I guess I fear rejection? I worry about putting myself out there and posting because not many people respond and it makes me doubt my efforts.

I also want to connect more with my body. I told Dave last night that I need to stop missing my pre-babies body and waiting impatiently for #2 so that I can get back to normalcy. I’ve been frustrated with how I don’t fit in my normal clothes and am so uncomfortable, but in all honesty, it’s not that bad. I need to breathe and love what it and what it’s all for.

I want to love and enjoy this pregnancy as much as I did Riley’s and in order to do so I need to connect more with my body. Appreciate the runs that I still can run, lay still and feel the little baby wiggling around inside (truly one of the coolest feelings). I found a yoga studio that offers both prenatal yoga and mommy and me yoga classes and I want to try to take at least two this month as a way of connecting with my sweet babies.

So that’s my goal. As always, I want to continue connecting with Riley during everyday life and not take for granted my chance to spend all day every day with her (even when they seem long).

Have you made a goal this year to disconnect from technology? How do you connect?

Are You Keeping Your Promises? Resolutions Check In

We’ve somehow found ourselves at the end of January already, one month of 2017 down and done. Thirty days ago we had dreams and goals, plans and resolutions for how we are going to make this year our “best year ever.”

But how many of us are keeping those resolutions?

I’ve read that as little as 8% of people actually keep their resolutions throughout the year. And while, admittedly, I can’t say that I have ever been in that 8%, every year I create resolutions and every year I strive to keep. And I probably will continue that for years to come.

I LOVE the idea of fresh starts, new opportunities, open doors, and exciting chances. There is so much to see and do in this world, so much potential that to not even try to embrace it seems like a waste,

So let’s check in on our resolutions and be honest with ourselves: are we keeping them? Solidly or kinda sorta? How can we improve? And how can we reward ourselves for keeping them so far?

My 2017 Resolutions Check-In

1) Have a fit and healthy pregnancy.

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So far, I am doing this one pretty well, although I amended my resolution pretty early on. After quickly realizing that an at-home yoga video wasn’t going to keep my attention, I resolved to work out 4x/week and made a small goal of running as many miles as there are days each month. Did I accomplish all this? Kinda sorta. The first and last weeks, I only worked out 3x/week, but I did manage to go over the 31 mile goal. And I also focused on resting when I needed it. For instance, this past Wednesday I cancelled my run because I knew my body needed the extra rest. And I definitely benefitted from that. So for February: 4 workouts a week and 28 miles.

2) Blog twice a week and write.

Yes! I have been blogging consistently this month and am so proud of myself. I am trying not to lose heart and know that follows won’t flock to my blog immediately, but sometimes I do feel discouraged and wonder if I should bother to continue writing. Does anybody read/care/get inspired? Is my blog pointless? But my husband reminds me that I am doing this because I like to, and that keeps me going.

As for writing fiction, I have written, yes, but not to the extent I would have liked. So I need to dig deeper into this in February.

3) Learn how to and eat healthier.

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I would love to say that I don’t eat cookies on the regular anymore, but that would be a lie. I did back away from them for the first few weeks, but apparently if they’re in the house, I’m eating them. Additionally, I’ve been craving lattes, so I’ve gotten them two or three times every week. (I stay within the OB’s caffeine recommendations.) On the flip side, I have been conscious about eating way more fruits and vegetables and having balanced meals, especially breakfasts. I drink at least 70 oz. of water most days. Overall, I think I am doing pretty well, although there is definite room for improvement. (I’m looking at you, Chips Ahoy!)

4) Be the best mom and wife I can be.

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Honestly, I don’t know if I will ever say that I am being the BEST I can be, though I am certainly trying. Maybe this one is too vague, but it serves as more of a reminder to me to strive every day and not become lazy in my relationships even when Baby 2 makes me want to just lay down and sleep.

Now it’s your turn. Are you keeping your promises to yourself? Don’t sell yourself short. If you want to make a change, MAKE a change. Don’t wish for it. This is something that I am working very hard on doing!

Let me know how your year is going! I’d love to hear!

Weekly Workouts and Adventures

Running | January 19, 2017 | By

Hey, all! I reached 20 weeks this past Saturday and I can’t believe that I’m halfway through this pregnancy already! It feels like it’s going so much faster than with Roo, but at the same time 20 more weeks seems so far away. Crazy, right?

So let’s just jump right into my week, shall we?

Friday

No workout for me today.

We had our 20-week ultrasound! It suddenly made this pregnancy much more real and exciting. We don’t know if we are having a boy or a girl- like Riley, we are waiting until the big day!

Our “active little one” gave us a thumbs up to let us know everything is going well in there. Smile

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Afterward I got some me time while Dave watched Riley. This included getting a gel manicure. I don’t get them often, but I do love them. Plus, they are only $25 and last way longer and look infinitely better than when I do my own nails.

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Saturday

4 surprisingly easy morning treadmill miles while watching Revenge. I know I am waaay behind the times, but has anybody else seen this show? I’ve been wanting to watch it since it first aired years ago, but only recently started. The first few episodes sucked me in so fast, but now? I don’t know. I still like it, but it’s getting too complicated and some of the characters bug me. Tyler. The real Emily Thorne. Even faux-Emily is starting to wear on me a bit. So after Saturday, I gave it some time off and will go back to it in a bit. Possibly today.

But anyway, it got me through treadmill miles surprisingly quickly.

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Saturday night, Dave and I actually went out! One of Dave’s coworkers watched Riley and we went to a friend’s surprise 30th birthday party at a local brewery. Of course, I still couldn’t drink, but they had locally made soda that was delish and it was fun to hangout with everyone!

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Monday

Invigorated by last Monday’s early morning, I did a 5:30 treadmill run again. 3.25 miles at approximately a 10:20 pace. I’m definitely slowing down a lot from where I was at the beginning of pregnancy, but I’m glad to be getting some of my endurance back. This run was surprisingly effortless.

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Tuesday

I did the same 10 lb. dumbbell strength circuit as last week and barely finished it before Riley woke up. I was hoping to get some more core exercises in, but never made it. Even though it’s only a short circuit, it definitely gets my blood flowing and my heart rate up.

The afternoon was spent at another play date with my friend and her son. This time, Riley discovered slides and boy is she a fan. She has a little trouble transitioning from the top to actually sliding down so I had to help her every time, but it was so stinking cute.

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Wednesday

I REALLY didn’t think this was going to happen! I set my alarm for 5:30, but was relatively certain that I would blow it off for more sleep. Lo and behold, when the alarm went off I realized that if I wanted to really make this change and not have it be random one-off days, I had to DO it. So I got up and on the treadmill.

As my “reward,” I got to do intervals! I know, most of you are probably thinking that’s a sick joke, but I love love love intervals. Especially short ones. I ran one mile warm up, then alternated two minutes fast with one minute recovery for a mile and a half, then one minute even faster with one minute recovery for a mile, followed by a half mile cool down. Total 4.1 miles- my longest early morning run in about a year. I was so shocked with myself for getting it done and treated myself to a Dunkin Donuts latte later than day. Can’t go wrong with a latte!

How do motivate yourself to wake up early?

What Pregnancy and the Postpartum Journey Have Taught Me About Running

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Running teaches us a lot about life. It teaches us about hard work and perseverance, chasing goals and pushing past our perceived limits. it becomes a coping mechanism when we’re weak, and a
“high” when we’re strong. We learn to be better people. Running helps us to lead bigger lives.

This is my second time on the pregnancy journey and with a one-year-old to look after, my life has changed drastically from where it was two years ago when I was running high mileage weeks and 8:00 minute paces. The things I’ve learned from running helped me a lot through pregnancy, including endurance during a water-broke-on-Pitocin-19hours-labor. It helped me bounce back after delivery and I was able to run a marathon at 6 months postpartum.

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Hatfield and McCoy Marathon

But I’m still learning. Running has taught me so much about life, but this journey has also taught me so much about my running. So without further ado…

What Pregnancy and the Postpartum Journey
Have Taught Me About Running

1- Priorities Change

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Back when it was just me and Dave, I ran a lot. Part of this is due to the extreme convenience of lunchtime runs at the office gym, but in the nice weather, I would almost always run outside after work. This meant getting home from my run after Dave got home, dinner being pushed back, and as a result, our whole night being on the later side. I’m a night owl by genetics, and I don’t trust running in the dark, so evening runs are my favorite and when I do my best. During peak marathon training, this could mean 8-10 miles after work, but to me it was worth it.

Now, I barely want to run at all when Dave gets home. Instead I want to make dinner and eat as a family, which includes Riley. Since she has a bedtime, pushing dinner back too far isn’t an option. And besides, I would rather be with my little family than on a treadmill. And I’ve learned that this is okay. I’ve started ditching my night owl ways for 5:30 mornings so I can run before anyone else is awake. When the weather is nice, I bring Riley with me and we go on stroller runs. She loves to go with me and is a great coach. If I slow down, she “yells” at me because she wants to go faster! Then, when Dave walks through the door, we can all relax as a family and not worry about rushing dinner and bedtime.

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2- Pace Isn’t Everything

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I’ve never been what you would call a fast runner. My race-official 5K PR is in the 24-minute range. This never stopped me from pushing myself hard to become faster and for farther distances. I love to feel the wind while sprinting. The rush from a fast, well-raced 5K can trump a marathon finish high. I love speed. (Perhaps this is how track got me hooked on running.) But speed isn’t easy when you’re exhausted or when you’re 35 weeks pregnant and 25 pounds heavier. You have to learn to let go of that deep seated desire to go faster. Instead, find a comfortable pace- one that doesn’t make you have to pee every half mile- and settle in, knowing that running no matter how fast or how slow is still an accomplishment. Hell, even walking can be good!

This also applies for getting back to running postpartum. I waited the full six weeks and when I got back on the treadmill. The first time I ran at a 12-minute pace with plenty of walk breaks. It was tough, but it was exhilarating. Speed is good and fun, but it’s not everything.

3- Sleep Wins (Listen to Your Body)

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Many people pride themselves on getting up and getting that workout done early, despite a late night or poor sleep. While I understand that this can be motivating and can even boost your energy levels, pregnancy or life with a newborn is not the time to skimp on sleep. Your body needs to rest and recover, your baby needs time to grow strong. Jeopardizing any of this for a few miles truly is not worth it. As I’ve mentioned before, the first few months of pregnancy see a serious dip in exercise for me. I am overwhelmingly tired, and I have learned to go with the flow. Running will always be there waiting, ready for me when I know that I am ready to return. I knew the first few months with Baby #2 that sleeping in the morning was much more important than a few half-assed miles. Now that I have more energy, I am able to get up and get that run done. It’s still hard to do, but I know that my body is ready and can handle it. But don’t ever jeopardize your health or your baby’s just for the pressure of saying “I got it done.”

4- How to Run for Myself

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I am SUPER competitive. Silently, (though she probably knows it) I have always been at secret competition with my best running friend. This was never a particularly healthy thing to do, but luckily I learned to let it go. When I was 5 months pregnant with Riley, I ran a local 5K with this friend and it was the first time that I didn’t even consider finishing at the same time. I simply wanted to finish in under 35 minutes. I ran a relatively easy sub-30. She placed in our age group. But it didn’t matter to me. I was proud of her for her speed and proud of myself for racing at all!

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Everyone is at different places in life. Don’t judge your runs based off someone else’s. There are so many variables. I’m not saying to never be competitive (I do think it makes you work harder), but running for myself and for my own happiness, health, and strength has lifted a huge pressure off my shoulders and made the sport so much more fun.

5- The Treadmill Isn’t That Bad

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I hate the treadmill. It’s boring as f**k. And it always feel so hard (probably because it’s boring). But you know what? It’s really not that bad. Actually, it’s hella convenient. Pregnant and postpartum women aren’t exactly known for having strong bladders, so when you have to pee frequently during a run, a treadmill is usually located relatively close to a bathroom. More privacy than behind a bush, less fragrant than a porta-john. Win-win. It’s also great for those early morning, late night, freezing cold, blazing hot, sauna humid, pouring rain, blizzard condition, or baby’s napping runs. I can say all these because I own a treadmill, but at least six of those can apply to gym treadmills, too. So let’s give a hand to the dreaded ole treadmill. We don’t appreciate you enough!

6- Why I Run

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Finally, my pregnancy and postpartum journeys have made me do some soul searching and rediscover why it is I run in the first place. It’s not because I made a deal with a friend in college. Although that started it, it’s not what kept me coming back day after day, year after year. Running is hard. There is no argument in that. It wears us down and sometimes tears us down and humbles us. But it offers so much more. It is my sanity. Raising a child is hard, time-consuming work and mom-guilt is a seriously real thing. Running helps me to alleviate my stress and recenter myself so I can be a better mom to Riley and #2. It also gives me the strength and energy to chase and carry my babies.

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But I don’t just run for them. I run for me. Because when you take away the watch that tells you your pace and distance, your splits and how much slower than you were two years ago, what’s left is the feeling of your legs in rhythm, your chest pounding (ignore that stabbing pain from your lungs), and the wind as you cut threw it. There is nothing so refreshing. It has built up my confidence and given me something to be proud of about myself. I have raced everything from the 55m to the marathon because I enjoy that feeling. I have seen so many cities and made friends. I am a runner for myself and for the opportunities it brings me.

Have you run through pregnancy or while raising kids? What has life taught you about running or exercise?

Weekly Workouts and Mom-ventures

Hey, all! It is absolutely gorgeous outside today, but unfortunately I still ran on the treadmill. That’s okay, though, because Riley and I went for a wagon ride! Smile

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Last Thursday, I said that I was going to run after Dave came home from work. By the time he came home my stomach was all wonky so it didn’t happen. It wasn’t until Saturday morning that I made it to the treadmill, but it was for a truly awful run. I started with a one-song walking warm-up, three songs running, one walking, two running, one walking, then ran the last song. I just couldn’t keep up. The running was slow, but oh-so-hard and when I stopped at mile 2 for a bathroom break, I almost gave up and didn’t hop back on the treadmill.

It was one of those runs that *almost* wasn’t worth it, but of course, it was. It was a good reminder for me, though, to listen to my body. To appreciate what it can do and be happy that, at 19 weeks pregnant, I am still able to run and lift, even if it’s not at the level I used to.

Monday morning, I woke up early for another treadmill run. After Saturday, I was really nervous about this run, but luckily it went so well and gave me a little more confidence back in my running.

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Tuesday was a full body circuit workout using ten pound dumbbells. It took about 30 minutes, just enough time before Riley woke-up.

Yesterday was a rest day, so instead Riley and I met up with a friend and her baby boy at an indoor playground at the mall. It was Riley’s first time at a playground and she had so much fun. She played with the games on the wall, climbed through the tunnels, and ran around giggling. It made my heart so happy to see her doing so well in a loud social setting with so many wild kids around. And it was really great to grab coffee and spend time with a friend!

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Today was another incredible run. I wanted to go outside, but the forecast was storms and I didn’t want Riley to get caught in that. The run wasn’t fast, 9:23 pace, but was faster than I’ve run in a while, especially on the ‘mill. It was also short, only 2 miles, because when I stopped to go to the bathroom (2 miles seems to be a trend), Riley woke up and did not go back to sleep. So a short, but oh so sweet run. Worth it, even if it wasn’t outside.

How have your workouts been? Are you getting the great weather that we are here in PA?