Starting from worse than scratch: My first run since I gave birth

During my pregnancy, I was told to stop running after about the first month. I had complications and was considered “high risk” to start because of my age (I turned 40 two weeks after the baby was born), so the last run I’d taken was in early October 2015.

Until today.

I decided when I got up this morning to leave Baby M with her granny for a few minutes while I took a short, 1-mile run. I thought it was going to be a little hard, but I was unprepared for exactly how difficult it was.

First of all, my course from the house took me a half mile up a hill and then back down that hill. Within the first, say, 300 feet, both of my hips reminded me that they’d been knotted up for a long time and also had spread in the last year — they complained loudly. I stopped to stretch and, thankfully, my hips opened up about a quarter of a mile up the hill.

That’s when my legs let me know exactly how poor my nutrition has been lately. They cramped up, but this time I kept plugging. My lungs were next — I had not done anything strenuous (other than pushing out a baby, of course), in way too long, and apparently my long walks had not prepared me for breathing with purpose.

By the time I made it to the top of the hill, I was all but shouting mantras at myself about being able to do anything for two minutes and just having to get to the next driveway. I’m sure Mom’s neighbors loved hearing that. I figured the downhill would be much easier, and it wasn’t as hard as pushing up the hill. But I definitely felt the burn even from controlling my run back down, and by the time I reached home I was dizzy and disappointed. I’d taken 14 minutes to do a mile?! That was deflating.

So, I learned a few lessons today, mostly that I need to eat much better and get back out on the road regularly. If I ever want to run safely with my jogging stroller, I have to find my way back to some semblance of fitness. I also realized that I have to let go of what I considered “normal” a year ago. My body has been through some pretty dramatic changes since then, and I need to honor the rebuilding process as much as I honored the original building.

Most of all, I learned that I do still love to move and especially to run. I felt like myself out there today, deep down, and I recognized the runner inside me hiding beneath the labored breathing and sweat. I’ve missed her, and I’m glad I found her.

What a difference a year (or so) makes

Ok, so I haven’t blogged much — at all — in the last year. A lot of life has happened in that year, and while that isn’t a good excuse for not honoring my commitment to keeping up with my family’s health, I do have a bunch to report.

First and foremost, there’s a new Wise! Baby M is a healthy, adorable, precocious little 3-month-old now. She’s the main reason my health has changed so much, along with the rest of my life! She’s also the reason I’m starting back to blogging again. The health of an infant (and her mommy) is constantly changing, and I hope to keep up with tracking how we’re both adjusting.

Speaking of adjustments, we’ve moved! We’re back on the East coast, closer to the Wise family and our tribe of adopted family. Baby M’s father has chosen not to be in the picture right now, in case you’re wondering, and that’s ok. I’ve always said that all mothers should be prepared to be single mothers, regardless of their situation when they have their children. I’m no different, and I’m honored to have the chance to be this precious child’s mommy every day.

Looking back, I wish I’d been blogging about my pregnancy. Maybe someday I’ll summarize some of those experiences, but for now I’m going to focus on the present. I’m still working for myself, and this adventure in parenting aligns perfectly with that. So, life is all about learning a new town (again), figuring out our schedules and, of course, finding my way back to being the athletic, healthy eater I want my child to see as her role model. My body is finally ready to take on challenges. Here’s to a brand new life with a beautiful baby!


Fan Girl Moment: Check out these earphones!

Over the weekend, I lucked out and found Yurbuds earphones on sale for nearly 75% off retail price. I had tried on these earphones, which tout being made for women and using FlexLock technology that makes their falling out during exercise nearly impossible, at a race expo last year. I’d loved how they felt, but the price tag was too steep for me. (I’m hard on headphones, and I can’t see paying more than about $20 for them.)

I couldn’t help but jump on the chance to buy these. I can’t pass up a good sale anyway. And you know what? They live up to the hype.

I wore the headphones on a run Saturday, and not once did I have to adjust them in my ears, catch them as I ran or force them deeper into my ear canal to hear the range of my music. I ran, then climbed poles and ladders, did box jumps on stone benches and such at a local playground to maintain my sense of balance. I ran suicides on the basketball course, then I ran back home. Not once did the headphones fall out or stop producing great sound.

And get this — I put in my fastest mile-split time in months. I’m not saying these headphones make me faster. But I can’t help but notice that focusing on my run without the distraction of adjusting my equipment all the time made a measurable difference in my performance.

I’m not one to recommend brand-name products all that often. But in this case, I’m offering an unsolicited, fan-girl, “go buy these things” endorsement for Yurbuds headphones. I am a convert, and I suggest you try them, too.

Ill-advised life decision or healthiest thing I can do?

A week ago, I started the next chapter of my career. Three weeks before that, I chose to return to a life as a full-time freelance editor and writer, turning in my notice to resign from what some would call a comfortable position and choosing instead to find contract work on my own.

Don’t get me wrong: On a scale from 1 to Nightmare, my job as a Marketing manager at a nonprofit association was no slumber party on Elm Street. But it wasn’t serving me, or my health, either.

In my nine months behind that desk, I regained 25 lbs. I lost serious stamina, as evidenced by my half-hour slide in half-marathon time last winter. I slept poorly, I ate poorly. My allergies became almost as bad as they were on the East coast. I visited the doctor half a dozen times — more than I had since I took control of my health five years ago. I’d seen this decline before, and I couldn’t ignore the signs: Working in an office was killing me. Again.

So, I’ve decided to do what I must to regain my health. In my first week of not being in an office, I’ve slept better than I have since moving to the SoCal coast. I’ve eaten better, worked out more consistently and felt better overall than I could ever have expected.

Is the uncertainty stressful? Certainly. Is money a concern? Of course. But you know what? I’m ok with that uncertainty, as long as my health is certain.

I’m breaking a rut by doing what I think I can’t

For the longest time, running seemed hard to me. Each progression in distance, each cut in my time felt like a challenge. I loved the thrill of doing things that had sounded impossible just weeks before.

Once I got used to running, that thrill was gone. I admit it: I got bored with trying to beat a time by 5 seconds at a time, with adding a mile to my normal runs when I knew I could run a half marathon without really trying. My times got stagnant, and I started slacking.

In the past month or so, something inside me woke up. I realized my boredom and the resulting slack in my development were holding me back from being my best self. I wanted to find something that made me feel like a beginner, and I wanted to live up to expectations of myself.

Enter Spartan training.

I know, I know. I’ve done a Spartan Race before. Thing is, I know I can do a lot better if I train, and I want to do a trifecta anyway. So, I’ve chosen to accept my own challenge and get to training for three races between now and the end of 2015. And I probably will have to do them alone (unless you’d like to join me… think about it!).

First real test: 300s

I started lifting weights consistently again in early March, and I did the 30-day lunges challenge. Then, I took on the 30-day burpees challenge. I’ve been rebuilding my strength slowly and making sure not to injure myself.

Today, though, I took on a challenge that made me nervous the way a 4-mile run once did. Apparently, it’s called a “300s workout.”

I did this 10 times in a row:

  • quarter-mile run
  • 30 burpees
  • 30 lunges
  • 1-minute rest

The running part didn’t bother me so much, even though the runner in me refused to let me slack off and knew I had to shoot for 2-minute quarters. But the idea of adding my two least-favorite exercises, burpees AND lunges, at the end of every quarter felt downright terrifying.

And that’s what I wanted.

Instead of going to a track (which probably would’ve been easier), I decided to run through my neighborhood and use my GPS watch to keep track of my distance. The first two rounds were pretty easy, or so I told myself. But by the end of round 3, I was thrilled that my route had taken me to a park equipped with working water fountains. I finished my 7 rounds after that at the park, running around flatter surfaces like soccer fields and using the relative flat spaces to do the rest of the circuit.

The workout was hard — really hard. And you know what? I loved it. I plan to repeat it at least twice a week for the next month, to see how much faster I can get and how many more “real” burpees I can do instead of up-down versions.

Training for a Spartan Race (or 3)

A year ago, I ran my first-ever Spartan Race. It was a life-changing experience. Training for the race forced me to commit to my own strength and flexibility, and I haven’t found that level of inspiration since.

Now, after struggling to recover my fitness equilibrium for the last 6+ months, I’ve decided to commit myself to a Spartan Trifecta. What better to get my body into shape than to prepare for three times the effort I put in last year, especially when I know how hard the obstacles were last time?

So, get ready to hear about burpees, nutrition, running, monkey bars. And get ready to hear about how my brother and my Sherpa from last year might be joining in the training of our lives. I’ll be checking in more regularly to keep myself accountable and hopefully help the people around me be more accountable, too.

Back to the matter at hand…

Well, the last few months have been, um, exciting to say the least. I’ve gotten a new job (yay!) and moved to the beach (well, a few miles off shore, but my new town has “beach” in the name). Yet again, I’ve started over.

After spending about a year and a half as a remote worker, adjusting to the in-the-office, 40-hour-plus work week has left me exhausted. I’m not nearly as healthy as I used to be, and I haven’t been on a consistent schedule since the summer when I searched for, traveled to interviews for and finally landed said job. Now, it’s time to get myself back on track.

That’s even harder than it sounds.

Truth is, I’m tired. All the time. So far, my body has refused to adjust to the idea of an 8 a.m. start time and rebels against any reason for getting out of bed other than “man, I gotta pee.” That means I haven’t been able to work out or run before work. After work, especially in the darkness of almost-solstice, I have no motivation either. All I want to do is sit around, and that’s not helping me at all.

I wish I’d returned to my blog triumphantly, reporting goal-weight accomplishments and stellar training stats. Instead, I’m here to report that I’m dragging my tired behind back to the starting line once again to improve my health a little bit each day. I’m here to report that I’m still alive, I’m still determined and I’m happy to be here.

If you have any advice for getting up in the morning, please share it. That one shift would mean a world of difference for me.