Everything you need to know about breastfeeding and running

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When I was pregnant, I realized there were not many resources for breastfeeding and running mothers, so I created one! Here is everything you need to know:

This post gives you everything you need to do for breastfeeding and running. Breastfeeding and running can be daunting in the beginning, but this complete guide makes it easy and doable! You got this!
This post gives you everything you need to do for breastfeeding and running. Breastfeeding and running can be daunting in the beginning, but this complete guide makes it easy and doable! You got this!

What to do the first two weeks with breastfeeding and running

Nothing! No, seriously, take this time to focus on establishing a latch, letting your body heal, and bonding with your baby. Don't worry about trying to figure out breastfeeding and running quite yet. When your doctor clears you to exercise, take a look at this post on how to begin working out postpartum!

This post gives you everything you need to do for breastfeeding and running. Breastfeeding and running can be daunting in the beginning, but this complete guide makes it easy and doable! You got this!
This post gives you everything you need to do for breastfeeding and running. Breastfeeding and running can be daunting in the beginning, but this complete guide makes it easy and doable! You got this!

When and how to introduce the bottle

Lactation specialists suggest it's best to introduce the bottle when the baby is around two weeks old, and after the latch has been established, but not so late that they won't take it. This is especially important if you are returning to work and the baby will need to be comfortable taking a bottle. The bottle was crucial for us when I began running (it still is!). This is because if the baby wakes up while I'm out running, my husband won't have to groggily figure out how to soothe a hungry baby. In fact, we always keep a bottle on the nightstand for him to give her in the morning if she wakes up while I'm out.

What if my milk supply drops because of running?!

This is actually a myth. Running itself does not cause a reduction in milk supply, but rather other external factors such as stress and dehydration may negatively impact your supply. Some women also experience a dip in supply if they are not eating enough (I talk about that below). Kelly Mom has a fabulous post that goes more in depth with the topic of exercise and breastfeeding. The literature she references are definitely true in my case, too, as I have only noticed my supply drop during stressful times, or if I wasn't drinking enough water, but never because of exercise. I am running more intense workouts and faster than I have in my entire life, and I am still breastfeeding my daughter at 9 months old. So, it is definitely possible to be successful in both running and breastfeeding!

This post gives you everything you need to do for breastfeeding and running. Breastfeeding and running can be daunting in the beginning, but this complete guide makes it easy and doable! You got this!
This post gives you everything you need to do for breastfeeding and running. Breastfeeding and running can be daunting in the beginning, but this complete guide makes it easy and doable! You got this!

How to schedule running around nursing

It's difficult to know the best time of day to run, especially in the beginning when it seems like the baby eats every 2 hours. What has worked for us since I began my postpartum journey, and what I recommend to all new moms, is to become a morning runner. It's not glamorous, and of course it isn't easy getting up to run, but it makes breastfeeding/pumping very simple and straightforward. The plan is to run between ~5 am and 7 am, and pump or nurse before going out. When babies are not sleeping entirely through the night, they generally become hungry around 5am. Additionally, a woman's milk supply is most plentiful in the early morning hours, which makes it easy to pump a bottle. See the sample schedule below.

Sample AM breastfeeding and running schedule

4:45 am:

Wake up either from the baby crying or your alarm. Grab an easy snack out of the fridge. The baby will most likely wake up around this time anyway, so rather than seeing it as a bad thing, hop out of bed knowing you're excited to go for a run! (ha ha if it was this easy, right? ;) but really! just a little perspective shift. I promise it's not that hard!) If the baby does NOT wake up, then simply grab your pump. Either way, you'll need to get the milk out because running with full breasts is no fun.

5:15 am:

Finish up pumping or nursing, and put baby back down if she woke up. Leave a bottle by dad's nightstand in case baby wakes up while you're out. Change into running clothes, drink a glass of water, tip-toe out the door.

5:30 am-6:30 am:

Run like the wind, forgetting all your worries because you're a badass running early in the morning and you have a moment of silence to yourself :) IT'S SO WORTH IT!

 6:45 am:

Back home, grab a quick bite to eat, snuggle that babe, drink lots of coffee, get ready for the day!

This post gives you everything you need to do for breastfeeding and running. Breastfeeding and running can be daunting in the beginning, but this complete guide makes it easy and doable! You got this!
This post gives you everything you need to do for breastfeeding and running. Breastfeeding and running can be daunting in the beginning, but this complete guide makes it easy and doable! You got this!

How many extra calories do I need while breastfeeding and running?

Do a google trends search, and this is one of the top questions typed into google by mothers. Rightly so! I read so many different things when I was wondering this myself, and because there was a lot of conflicting information, I actually hired a nutritionist.  I don't think that is entirely necessary, though. One easy way to burn fat, change your body composition to be a little more toned, as well as recover well from running is to keep track of your protein intake.  I recommend using the formula below to calculate your protein needs, and simply keep up with the grams per day via MyFitnessPal. I found I didn't need to worry about getting extra calories if I was hitting the right amount of protein. The weight I wanted to lose came off quickly, I feel very confident in my body, and I'm faster than I've ever been. I also never experienced a dip in supply due to lack of calories.

Protein need for endurance athletes= (weight in pounds) x (.8 to 1 grams of protein) 

Example: If you weigh 120 lbs, you will need between 96-120 g protein per day. 

Source: Stacy T. Simps, PhD, author of ROAR: how to match your food and fitness to your female physiology for optimum performance, great health, and a strong lean body for life. 
This post gives you everything you need to do for breastfeeding and running. Breastfeeding and running can be daunting in the beginning, but this complete guide makes it easy and doable! You got this!
This post gives you everything you need to do for breastfeeding and running. Breastfeeding and running can be daunting in the beginning, but this complete guide makes it easy and doable! You got this!

Other important info for breastfeeding and running

The best running/sports bras for breastfeeding moms

The electric pump I use 

The hand pump I use (great for on-the-go, at races, etc!)

The bottles we use (with natural "breast" nipple)

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Finally, I wanted to share a free podcast episode I did with breastfeeding and ultrarunner badass mama Meridith, from @runningwithcadence. We talk all about breastfeeding and running, her recent 100 mile race (she pumped during the race and came in second place. I'm not kidding.), pregnancy, and being a new mom. Get the podcast here. Enjoy!

Do you have any breastfeeding and running questions?

This post gives you everything you need to do for breastfeeding and running. Breastfeeding and running can be daunting in the beginning, but this complete guide makes it easy and doable! You got this!
This post gives you everything you need to do for breastfeeding and running. Breastfeeding and running can be daunting in the beginning, but this complete guide makes it easy and doable! You got this!

How to use a maternity support belt for running

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RUNNING DURING PREGNANCY IS TRICKY

Some days during pregnancy, I'd wake up with shooting sciatica pain or round ligament pain, and other days running would feel easy and enjoyable. There were definite ups and downs! When I began feeling the round ligament pain, I did some research, and found a lot of runners (including Paula Radcliffe) wore a maternity support belt while running. (Here's a great throwback interview with her and Kara Goucher during their pregnancies :) )

I bought my awesome maternity band, and it was such a good decision! I believe it enabled me to run longer into my pregnancy than I would have otherwise, and also, gave me piece of mind that I was doing what was best for the babe. Everything was snug and supported!

When to start wearing the maternity support belt

I started wearing my belly band on my runs around 18 weeks pregnant. I wasn't noticeably bigger to most people, but I definitely was beginning to feel the extra weight in my front, so it was more of a comfort thing. It really helps support the pregnancy weight gain in the belly area! I wore the belt during most of my runs. I didn't wear it for all of them, because sometimes I just didn't feel I needed it, but if I woke up one day feeling extra sore or "loose", then I definitely wore it.

What does "loose" mean? 

Ligaments stretch during pregnancy to make room for the growth of the baby, so as your body does this, things become more tender, and exercises like running can easily irritate the areas supporting this weight. For me, it was my hip flexors and back. I found the maternity support belt really helped with this irritation.

Wearing a Maternity Support belt can make running during pregnancy more comfortable. This explains how to use and wear a maternity belt during pregnancy.

How to wear the maternity support belt 

The Gabrialla belt I have is velcro, and it adjusts on both sides. As your belly grows, you can adjust the side straps to make it more comfortable. Some prefer it over their shirt, but I preferred it under. You can kind of tell in the picture below where it is. I tightened it as tight as I could while still being comfortable. I fastened it right below where my belly starts to go out. Some prefer it a little higher up, but I liked it lower. I'll also point out it helps prevents you from having a muffin top on the sides since it just sucks everything in, ha! But, that's neither here nor there ;)

Wearing a Maternity Support belt can make running during pregnancy more comfortable. This explains how to use and wear a maternity belt during pregnancy.

You might need the maternity support belt for more than running.

Going on a hike, standing all day, doing a lot of moving around, and even at work. I have friends who are nurses and on their feet all day for their job, so the belly band really comes in handy for them. I also wore mine a lot towards the end of my pregnancy when I would go on long walks and everything just kind of felt sore and heavy.

Wearing a Maternity Support belt can make running during pregnancy more comfortable. This explains how to use and wear a maternity belt during pregnancy.

What does the support band not do?

It doesn't completely keep you from feeling discomfort. Pregnancy and running is just an uncomfortable endeavor, no matter what you do. It did, however, allow me and others I know to run farther and longer in our pregnancies, which definitely helps when returning to running postpartum. It was a great tool that helped keep little niggles at bay as we grew our babes!

Happy running!

Wearing a Maternity Support belt can make running during pregnancy more comfortable. This explains how to use and wear a maternity belt during pregnancy.

How to have a healthy marriage when both people don't run

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I asked nearly 20 friends,  "What would be your relationship advice for the following statement: How to have a loving marriage (or serious relationship) when both people aren't runners." Based on my experience + all of the marriage tips I gathered, here are the top 4 most important insights:how to have a healthy marHow to have a healthy marriage when both people don't run. Is running causing relationship problems? This article gives 4 ways to have a healthy relationship with your partner, who perhaps isn't a runner!riage You're not just a runner (hashtagbalance ;) ) I'm putting this first because if you find yourself becoming upset or obsessive about your running, getting into fights with your spouse because of your [over]commitment to running, etc, then I suggest taking a step back before pointing a finger at your unsupportive partner. It is always a good idea to ask yourself, "Is too much of my identity found in my running/how fast I run/how far I run/etc?" I know this is a fine line. As runners we can get a little intense, and to be successful at anything, you must have dedication, but this should not come before your spouse or family. When I find myself getting out of balance, my husband will ask me this question in a loving way:

"Katie, if you had to give up running for the rest of your life starting tomorrow, could you do it?" If that answer is no, then I need to do some self-evaluating. We shouldn't be so attached to something that we couldn't live without it. My running does not define my self-worth.

How to have a healthy marriage when both people don't run. Is running causing relationship problems? This article gives 4 ways to have a healthy relationship with your partner, who perhaps isn't a runner!

Communicate your goals While the point above is primarily for the runner of the relationship, this one is for both partners. What are your passions? Your goals? What keeps you up at night? For my husband, he loves making furniture, going fly fishing, and he has a goal to have a career in the medical field. Make sure you and your partner communicate what it is you want to do with this passion of yours. Jon and I sit down twice a year and talk about what we want to do with our passions, from things as small as "I need to wake up early to run," to "this is what I want to accomplish in 5 years with my running." There are no gray areas. He is totally in the loop with me, and I am aware of his goals, too.How to have a healthy marriage when both people don't run. Is running causing relationship problems? This article gives 4 ways to have a healthy relationship with your partner, who perhaps isn't a runner!

Support each other's respective goals So you know each other's goals, now what? You become their biggest cheerleader! No, but really. This is where you can grow a strong marriage, or relationship problems can emerge. Your spouse has a big race coming up? Be there! I promise it means the world to them. One time Jon came straight from a 12 hour overnight hospital shift to watch me run a race. He was so sleep deprived, but he said he didn't want to miss it, and I so appreciated that. It can also be something small. He really wanted to attend a local fly-fishing class recently, and it was just half a day on a Saturday. Would I have preferred for us to hang out, go to brunch, and he be around to help with Emerson? Of course. But this was important to him, so I made sure to let him know, "Hey, I want you to be able to go to this class. I'll take care of Emerson, you go and have fun!"

How to have a healthy marriage when both people don't run. Is running causing relationship problems? This article gives 4 ways to have a healthy relationship with your partner, who perhaps isn't a runner!

Find common ground For Jon and I, we love camping and trying new restaurants! We also enjoy going on trips. He is understanding that I love to race while traveling, so I make sure to let him know I'm thinking of a race in a particular city (like our Los Angeles trip!), and then we will go travel, I'll get my race fix, and we both get to experience a new place! It can also be something as simple as having coffee together in the mornings. We both enjoy this, so I try to make a point to do this a few times a week. It means I need to run at night rather than the morning, or I need to get up earlier and be back at the house before he starts getting ready for work. It's worth the sacrifice, though! It's the little things :)

Is there something I didn't mention that you find important? What have you found to be the key to a solid relationship?healthy marriage running

Unexpected confessions of a new mom

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I wrote a post in April entitled, "What I thought I knew about motherhood." This is a follow up to that. I wrote that one when Emerson was two months old, and a lot less mobile than she is now at seven months ha. She changes daily. I've learned so much. And this whole parent thing is nothing like I thought it would be. This is a post where I'll share my current confessions and the wins. It goes back to a theme I hope to convey throughout my blog: letting go a little bit.motherhood what to expect 1 I was prepared. 

I read all the parenting books. No, but really. What to expect for pregnancy week by week? Click here. Breastfeeding? Here's a book for that. Baby care and surviving the first 6 weeks? Got you covered. Baby sleep? All you need to know right here. Feeding baby food for the first time? I read that one, too. You're laughing. I'm not. I've read everything. "I am definitely prepared!" I said.

Your baby doesn't care about the books.

And then we had Emerson, and while I can teach all my friends these research-proven methods, and perhaps they will work for them, Emerson just seems to do her own thing in a lot of ways. She truly is such a happy child. Like ALWAYS laughing and smiling and such a little busy bee. We really got lucky in that regard. People stop me in the grocery store and say, "Oh my gosh she just smiled at me for 5 minutes!" "Don't worry, she's not perfect, I say ha ha." I'm kidding. Maybe ;)motherhood what to expect 3

My baby won't go to sleep.

Let's talk sleep. Does she go to sleep in a peaceful manner at the recommended 7pm? Ha!  Nope. We've even tried to let her cry-it-out, and after 45 minutes of blood-curdling screaming, including staring at me through the crib bars like a prisoner, I just can't take it anymore.  So, I cave and pick her up and as soon as I do that she falls right to sleep on my chest. And yes, I melt. There's no method for what we're doing, and it will probably change next week. I just say we are "making it" in the sleep department. What the night generally looks like: dinner, bath, read to her as she drinks a bottle, put her down at 7pm, let her cry for as long as I can emotionally take it (30 minutes is my max), go get her, lay her on my chest in our bed, and she falls right to sleep. Jon then puts her in her crib. She wakes up again around 11pm, I nurse her in our bed, and we both fall back to sleep. And she normally just sleeps with us the rest of the night. It is FAR from perfect. Judge me. I judged people who slept with their kids BIG TIME before we had our own. But, what I've realized is that every person who has a child is doing whatever they know to just get sleep. This is what is working for us right now. If we get 7 hours of sleep I consider it a win. And this "method" allows for that. Win!motherhood what to expect 2

My baby won't eat. 

Eating all the cute little healthy finger foods like a good child? Another laughable moment. My independent baby shovels hot dogs and graham crackers in her mouth and spits out nearly everything else.  I would say we are doing some sort of weird hybrid between Baby-Led Weaning and purees. She'll mildly eat purees. But the girl just really loves hot dogs and graham crackers. I swear we don't normally buy hot dogs. She tried them at a friend's house and freaking loved them. They were nitrate free at least? ha. What about breastfeeding? Doesn't she love the sweet serene moments just her and me in a quiet room? Nah. My child stares at my boob and cries. Thus, I pretty much exclusively pump all of her breastmilk unless it's the middle of the night. Then, I can sneak the boob into her mouth like a warrior ninja while she's still asleep. ha ha. I'm not too worried since the majority of her nutrition is from breastmilk. The fact that I'm somehow still motivated to exclusively pump is beyond me, but I'm taking that as a win. Win!

Here's the point.

Am I telling you these struggle moments to scare you? Of course not. I'm just being real. Sometimes we can be so prepared, and then we are a sent a child who, perhaps, is meant to burst our little bubble of what an ideal life should look like. Maybe we need to let go a little bit and realize we don't have to have it all together. There's grace for that. We don't need to be perfect. We aren't expected to be. Emerson is so good for me in that regard. She makes me stop and take deep breaths, and helps me remember my life doesn't have to have all the boxes checked off to still be inspiring or worth something. God tells us we are worth something. I'm glad it's not based on whether our child sleeps or eats good food ha.

Here's to letting go a little more.

new mom confessions

Best sports bras for pregnancy and breastfeeding

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best sports bras pregnancy breastfeedingOne of the very first big changes I noticed during pregnancy was in the breast department. I wish I could say that in a more eloquent way, but plain and simple, your boobs get LARGE. If you are looking for really good sports bras that will carry you through pregnancy, nursing, as well as running or exercising during all of those changes, then this post is for you! I am seven months postpartum, and still breastfeeding, so I'll share my favorite bras I currently have in rotation.

High-Impact: 

My go-to bra for pretty much everything from a fancy board meeting to a long run is the Moving Comfort Fiona. I love it for work clothes because it doesn't have the criss-cross back and it looks more like a regular bra under clothes. The beauty for it with running is you can make it criss cross if you want, which makes the straps even tighter and more supportive! #winwin (I am wearing a size 34D in this photo) bras (1 of 3)I have three of these! I'd suggest getting one in black and white so you can wear them with every-day clothes, especially if you plan on pumping at work. Wearing a regular high-impact sports bra while trying to pump or breastfeed is the worst.

Medium-Impact: 

My favorite for this category is the Oiselle Gifted Verrazano . I don't find it to be supportive enough for running, but it's great for activities like strength training, and biking! (I'm wearing a size 8 in this photo)bras (3 of 3)

Low-Impact: 

The winner here is made by Champion, and is a simple seamless strappy. I have 2 of these I keep in rotation! They are perfect for every day things like working at your computer, yoga, or just lounging :) I loved this while I was pregnant, because there is nothing worse than a tight bra when you're already uncomfortable. They are also thin enough to easily pull up to nurse or pump. (I am wearing a size small in this photo. I've worn the heck out of this thing and clearly need a new one ha!)

bras (2 of 3)

Am I missing any here, ladies? Tell me your favorite sports bras! 

I had a baby and now I'm a faster runner

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You guys told me I was going to be faster, that my fitness would come back, and I'd be even stronger than I was before I got pregnant. I didn't believe you, nor did I listen. Everyone said there's this thing called "mom power" and I just shook it off because, yea right I'm going to be sleep deprived and will I ever run again? Serious question. I just didn't know. postpartum runner mother runningBeing pregnant was really hard on me. I didn't handle it well, and I know I've said that before, but I want to continue to say it in case someone's reading this and they are not all roses while pregnant. I didn't bond with Emerson until she arrived. I don't know why, I just couldn't. I couldn't imagine my life any other way than with Jon and my two pups. Now, I wake up and I can't wait to see what she is going to do that day. Having her has totally wrecked my world in the best way. With that said, you can imagine my shock when I crossed the finish line of last week's off-road XC 5k in second place and with a 30 second improvement on my lifetime best. My previous 5k cross country PR was 19:34 and I ran a 19:01 in Los Angeles at Griffith Park. I won't say I executed the race perfectly, but I gave it my best, and I walked away happy. I still opened up with the first mile in 5:54....ha when will I learn? But when I started to fade at mile 2.5 and a girl passed me, I matched her pace and held her off. I'm proud of my effort, but more importantly, just so amazed at how my fitness has returned, even stronger than before. I hope I make Emerson proud. Being a mom to her is one of my greatest joys in this life. Looking forward to racing a few more 5ks this training cycle. Onward!

A Weekend in Los Angeles

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We found suuuuper cheap tickets with Allegiant Air, and flew out of Memphis on a direct flight to LA. Our goal? See as much as we could of LA, in 3 days, with a 6 month old. Ha, we realized it was a huge endeavor. But we were ready. First, let's talk this direct flight to LA from Memphis. You guys! Honestly this was not a bad flight at all! People like to bash budget airlines, but all I'm saying is for what we paid for these flights, (like $350 round trip for two!), we could sit in the lavatory for all I care. But really, not bad, not bad at all.

We were nervous about how Emerson would act on the flight. She honestly did SO GREAT. Laughed, smiled, and even slept some. Proud mama.Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

Touched down in LAX, sang some Miley Cyrus, and went straight to get tacos at Mondo Taco near Venice Beach. We had less than 3 days in LA, so pretty much every spare minute was accounted for.

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The one aspect of the trip we might do differently next time, and definitely would have done differently had we not had a baby with us, was take uber or public transportation rather than renting a car. Our rental car was the most expensive part of the whole trip, but ultimately, it proved to be worth it, as it gave us more freedom, and the ability to leave places whenever we pleased, especially if the baby started to get fussy. With that said, finding parking at Venice Beach on a Thursday night when there's a concert is terrrrrible. Also, my phone died and Jon and I got separated amidst the masses. Lol you guys. Everyone was totally high and I eventually just asked a group of high school boys if I could use their phone to call my husband. They asked what his name was, to which I said, "Jon, why?" And they all started hysterically laughing. Lol, am I missing something here? They had eaten one too many hash brownies FO SHO... Anyways, we all got reconnected, and took a walk around muscle beach and did a lot of people watching. It was such a nice night, and Emerson was totally content just hanging out in the baby carrier.

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It was starting to get late and actually really chilly out, so we hiked back to where Jon parked the car, and made our way across town to our airbnb in Highland Park. We chose this area because I had read it was an up-and-coming cool spot in the NorthEast section, with merging cultures and great local eateries. Also, our airbnb was super affordable and couldn't have been better! Highly recommend this place . We crashed and all three slept so well, which was actually something I was worried about. After debating about sleep arrangements prior to the trip, we decided ultimately not to bring the pack-n-play. Even though Emerson starts off the night sleeping in her crib at home, she always ends up in our bed as I nurse her at night, so we just left the pack-n-play at home, and hoped for the best. It wasn't ideal, but lugging that thing around seemed awful, and we didn't want to pay extra to rent one in LA, so we took a chance and all three slept in a queen size bed. It worked. Wasn't perfect, but wasn't terrible either.

On Friday, we woke up, put on a few extra layers (hello zero humidity!), and walked about a mile to get coffee at this place. It was such a nice morning, and we took the long way home to take in all the scenery and HILLS. IMG_3586IMG_3601

We explored more of NorthEast LA, stopped in some cool little shops, showed Emerson the plethora of cacti and why she should always love succulents forever and ever, and had lunch at Amara, a healthy little delicious kitchen! IMG_3620IMG_3615

Because I was racing Saturday morning, we decided to keep the rest of Friday pretty low-key. We took naps in the hammock that was right outside on our private patio, and then had an early pizza dinner before turning in for the night. Ps: also reading this book, as you can see in the photo below. It's been really great for my mental game! IMG_1013

Saturday, I raced a local 5k (more on that later, but I PR'd wahoo!), and we had such a great morning in Griffith Park! We tried to hike to the Hollywood sign, lolzz it was like 8 miles round trip so we said, "nah, we will hike to the summit." Then half-way to the summit we changed our minds and turned around and decided to go get brunch instead. ha! Regardless, it was beautiful and awesome to see the city below. Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

We originally were going to go here for brunch, because I had heard some really great things about it, but after seeing the wait was like 2 hours, we made a game time decision to go find sushi instead. Because Los Angeles=coastal city=the sushi has gotta be good, amiright. We were not disappointed ONE BIT when we walked into Sushi by H and looked at the menu. Explosion of deliciousness in our mouths. Hands down the best and most affordable sushi we've ever had. If you're in LA, GO HEREIMG_3641 copyIf you haven't caught on yet, our trip was pretty much centered around food lol. After our bellies were full of sushi, we went back to the airbnb, took a nap, read in the hammock some more, then got ready for our best food endeavor yet. C'mon, did you think we were going to forget about In-N-Out Burger? Our entire dinner was $7 ha!Processed with VSCO with b5 preset

Because I am a bottomless pit and gluttonous soul, especially while breastfeeding and after I race, I walked to get ice cream after our In-N-Out experience LOL. I am not sorry one bit. Ice cream from this place was NOT A BAD DECISION whatsoever. So so good. Jon opted for beer instead. But howwww?

We then packed our bags and got ready for our 4:30 am wake-up call the next morning. Boo. But, wow! What an awesome 3 days. We truly packed so much into the trip, especially with our little munchkin. She did great. Besides screaming the majority of the flight home (cue eye roll....so sorry to the other passengers, yikes), we were really so proud of her and how she just went with the flow the whole trip. I think the flight home was probably just too much. Poor thing. She did finally fall asleep as we taxi'd to the gate lol. IMG_3651

And that's a wrap! Whew, what a whirlwind of a trip, but so so awesome. We vowed when we had Emerson that we wouldn't stop living, and we would continue to go on trips, and do as much as we feasibly could while raising our daughter. We hope she grows up with an adventurous spirit as a result :)  Until next time, LA!

What I thought I knew about motherhood.

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I thought I knew a lot before I had a baby. I realized the things I was "so sure of", I'm really not so sure of now, and new challenges appear daily. Its the most pressing yet fulfilling time of my life. Here's what I know now: I thought breastfeeding would feel like such a sacrifice. Although I had a goal of doing it for 6 months or maybe longer, I secretly thought I'd probably give up earlier, because it would restrict my freedom and other knowingly selfish reasons. Honestly, I was dreading it a little. I was totally unaware of how powerful hormones were, and never thought I'd enjoy the one-on-one time with E as much as I have. My goal is now to do it for a year. Just me and her. It's amazing. I look forward to coming home to feed her. Its one of my favorite times of the day.

I thought getting up at 4:30 am to pump then get my running in would be nearly impossible. I'm not saying its easy, but if you want something bad enough, you just do it. I cant really explain it. I just get up, get it done, and move on. There really isn't time to put it off. Simply put, if I want to run, it's gotta happen at zero dark 30.

I thought I'd still be able to have little side projects and time to do things I "somewhat" enjoyed. I say "somewhat", because these are commitments I might have had before the baby arrived. I definitely enjoy them, but they aren't things I'm so so passionate about. For example, submitting articles for a magazine out of Nashville. I've been doing this for 5 years, and now it's all coming to a head and I've had to ask myself, "Can I still do this?" Or maybe it's the handful of people I coach for running. I do it because I enjoy it, not for the money, but do I truly have the time to still do this? This season of life leaves little time for side projects. There just isn't enough time in the day. I'm going to have to very purposefully choose what I want to do or who I want to see during "that one available hour." The things I choose to commit to and the people I choose to surround myself with needs to be very thought out. If it's not thought out, these "fire years" as Sarah Mac describes, will decide for me. These are the fire years.

I thought cloth diapering would be easier. We are doing cloth diapering because of the impacts (or lack thereof) on the environment, and the cost savings. The downside is it is a little more time consuming because you have to wash them. Is it that much more time consuming? No. It's really not hard nor is it that gross. But, when you're sleep deprived and it's a matter of grabbing the drying diapers off the rack a few rooms away or the throw-away diapers someone gave you that are behind you in a bag, you grab the throw-away diapers. It's just a matter of being a little more intentional with our decisions. I'm sure when those disposable diapers run out, we will just suck it up, but trust me, when you're tired and looking for convenience, it's easy to forget your idealistic ethical ways :)

I thought my fitness would take a long time to return. I stopped running at 30 weeks pregnant, but really, I probably stopped at more like 26 weeks, as those last 4 weeks were very minimal running and very uncomfortable. I am totally shocked at how fast it's all coming back. I ran a 5k last weekend and won! What in the world?! This has been the most fun journey, and it's not over. I can't wait to see where it takes me.

I thought my non-parent friends wouldn't be interested in hanging out because I have a baby. I'm the first of my group of friends to have a baby, which means a lot of things are different about my life compared to my friends who are either single or newly married without kids. I thought my life would seem so boring and I'd have to make new mom friends. I am making new mom friends, but I never thought all my non-mom friends would be totally obsessed with Emerson. It's hilarious and the best! I love how they've taken her under their wing, offered to baby sit so Jon and I can go out, and just loved on our girl. I didn't expect that.

I thought returning to work at 6 weeks postpartum would be so hard. I was completely shocked when my transition back to work went smoothly. I very much expected to have an emotional few weeks or months of missing Emerson, feeling the guilt of being away, etc. I didn't realize how much I loved my job until I was about 5 weeks into maternity leave and I was "ready to go back to work." I love Emerson soo much, but I do think going to work makes me a better mom. I look forward to coming home to see her, and I love our time together, but I love my job, too. I always thought I'd be a stay-at-home mom. This definitely took me by surprise.

 

I never thought my marriage would be stretched the way it has been. I am all about being open and honest, because I feel like if I am vulnerable, maybe it will open other people up, too. Vulnerability help us grow as people. Jon and I have an amazing relationship, but if there's one thing that's stretched us, it's this beautiful bundle of joy named Emerson Ruth. She is a pretty easy child, but I keep going back to sleep deprivation, and we are actually sleeping 7-8 hours a night! Not getting the sleep you need (Jon and I both are heavy sleepers and Jon requires 9-10 hours a night, where I function best at the typical 8. We are high maintenance!) and having another human who requires so much attention, will make you say things you don't mean, and it will make you selfish. It's all such a learning thing. I can't imagine where we would be if we didn't have a strong relationship prior to the baby. It would be bad. With that said, I cannot stress enough, if your relationship is on the rocks or you are having troubles, do NOT think a baby is going to make things better/easier. It will make it harder! We have to be very diligent about putting Emerson down at 7:30pm every night so we can have time together. If we didn't do that, Jon and I would probably never have a chance to catch up and just be together. We need this time. That's a small example. We agreed from the beginning that our marriage comes first, and then the child. Everyone does things differently, but for us, we know a happy baby can only happen if there's a happy marriage, so each day, we say a lot of "I love yous" "I'm sorry" "I'll do better" and "How can I help". It's not always easy, but it's worth it. It is and will always be worth fighting for.

Until next time,

Katie

 

How to begin working out after having a baby (week 1)

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I had (what I believe was) an unusually easy recovery from labor. Within 2 days, I was taking short walks around the neighborhood with E in the baby carrier, and within a week, I extended the walks to about 40 minutes. I felt immensely grateful and honestly, very surprised. Perhaps it was the rush of adrenaline from the hormones, but I felt pretty amazing, both physically and emotionally very quickly post birth.  Those of you who kept up with my pregnancy journey can understand how much of a relief this was. Pregnancy was hard for me. I was allll over the place emotionally, so to FINALLY feel normal and like myself again, even just a few days postpartum, was the biggest breath of fresh air. img_9105

My activity level

I was up moving around and going on short walks within a couple days. I did have a second-degree tear, and a few stitches, but I never actually felt anything painful in that regard after birth.  I would describe the discomfort postpartum more as just, well, discomfort.  I gauged my activity levels the first week by the amount of lochia my body produced. One day I went for a 45 minute walk, and I knew it was too much when I was bleeding heavier than normal afterward. During pregnancy, you become pretty self aware of when you’ve overdone it, and postpartum is very similar in that regard. You are the best determiner for your activity level. Your body will let you know, I promise.

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My training log

My goal was simply to start with short walks (20-30 minutes), and to also begin a core and pelvic “re”-strengthening program. Basically, you have all this weight in the front of your body that steadily increases over 9 months, and then all of a sudden the majority of it disappears, so you’re left with most likely a tilted pelvis, rotated sacrum, and nonexistent abdominal muscles. Woof. Trying to run with all that jacked up is a terrible idea.  I maintained a pretty intense strength-training regimen up until the day I delivered Emerson, and I was STILL jacked up in the pelvic/core region. So, if there’s anything I can stress in this post, it’s to tackle that area first and foremost. 

PPweek Date Day Workout
0 2/1/2016 Mon
2/2/2016 Tues baby is born! Emerson Taylor, 5:20am; 7lb 4oz
2/3/2016 Wed
2/4/2016 Thurs 15 min very easy slow walk with E in stroller
2/5/2016 Friday 20 min easy walk with E in stroller
2/6/2016 Sat 25 minute easy walk (1 mile loop) with Emerson in baby carrier. feeling better each day!
2/7/2016 Sun began core/pelvic floor stabilization exercises. kegels--5x5 seconds each lying on back. pelvic tilts on back--3x10 reps holding 10 seconds each rep. sahrmann ab #1--5 reps on each leg. 40 min walk at the park with Emerson in the baby carrier. walked to and from church too. prob overdid it today with the walking.

Strength Training

Here are the pelvic/core exercises I focused on. I built my plan based on a variety of recommendations and sources, including Alysia Montano’s postpartum plan, to a physical therapist friend of mine, to even pinterest. I did these daily for the first 3 weeks postpartum, and then moved to every other day, adding in more difficult moves once these got easy. I am currently 8 weeks postpartum and still doing them every other day (you may find you need to keep doing them daily even up to 6 weeks or longer. Figure out what you need.) Whatever you do, DO NOT NEGLECT THIS. Your body and running will thank you immensely!

Pelvic Tilts against a wall (10-20 total. holding for 5 seconds each)

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Pelvic tilts on all fours--similar to cat cow in yoga (begin with 10, gradually build to 30 total, holding for 5 seconds each)

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Sahrmann #1 (this is best explained on this link )

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Kegels 

I remember my first postpartum Kegel. I could barely hold it for 5 seconds! Then, it got easier and easier, until one day I did probably 50 reps, and realized I was probably ready to graduate to something more challenging.

The first week was primarily about 1. Bringing our baybay home, and understanding how to raise a newborn/taking in all the newness of a sweet little one. And 2. Starting to begin the recovery process for my body. Nothing crazy, just a little commitment each day (probably 1 hour total with walking and strength training). Honestly not bad, and with how much an infant sleeps, you’ll find it easy to fit it in, I think.

I finished up this week feeling excited, surprised (at how great I felt), and ready to increase my walking and other activities the next week! Stay tuned!

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She's here! Part 2 of Emerson’s birth story.

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Birth stories are so personal and intimate; I thought maybe I shouldn't share about the day Emerson arrived. But, I also know both the benefit of writing my thoughts as well as having them documented somewhere. I'd like to say I think our daughter might want to read about the day she came into the world when she's older. Maybe not?     If you didn't catch part 1, the basic gist is I planned and hoped for a natural birth, and well, it didn't happen. And long story short, I am totally okay with that. Like I said in the first post, I have a beautiful baby girl, and like everyone promised me when I was making my birth plan before she arrived, in the end, that's all you truly care about. The plan can fall by the waist side as long as she's healthy and happy. And, it's so true :)

So, let's get back to the story. If you remember, I was given Cytotec, which is a drug used to induce labor. It's a tiny pill they insert into your cervix. It doesn't work for all women, but for some, it can put you into full blown labor, and FAST. The midwife warned me I may go from 0 to 100 within a few minutes. I didn't know what that meant, but I quickly found out.

No joke, within 5 minutes of my water breaking at 10pm, I was having strong contractions just 1 minute a part from each other. I remember one second I was joking around with Beth (my best friend) and Jon (my husband), and then the next, they were still talking and I was doubled over in the bathroom, unable to talk or really do anything. "Ohhhh, so THIS is labor." Wow. There was no warm up period at all.

 I moved from the bathroom back to the room, and I put my headphones in while I got on my knees and hovered over an exercise ball. I couldn't handle hearing outside conversations happening, so I turned up my music super loud so I didn't have to listen to them talk ha. What was the music of choice? Pandora 90's hits. Ironically I made this station just a few days before we went into the hospital. Jon and I were driving and we all of a sudden had the urge to listen to some good 90's music. So, as things were getting more and more intense, Christina Aguilera was telling me she was a genie in a bottle. Or something like that.

 The contractions continued, and I began to feel out of control. I knew induction drugs could do this, and I didn't have any prior labor to compare it to, but I felt like I was just hanging on, almost like I was being thrown against a wall by a huge wave. There was no sense of time, but as soon as I'd be trashed from one contraction, another one would come within just a few seconds. The nurse came in at one point and told me the fetal monitors weren't picking up the baby's heartbeat because I was leaning over the ball and they kept falling down. We tried to get them to stay on (they are strapped to your belly with velcro) by holding them with my hand, but it still wasn't picking anything up, and this made the nurse concerned. It made me pissed, because it meant I had to change positions, and I didn't feel like I could stand up. All I wanted to do was lay on top of the exercise ball.

 I eventually stood up, because the nurse said I'd have to get into the hospital bed if the monitors kept falling off, so I just basically leaned on Jon and Beth (read: collapsed on them as I tried to stand, still reeling from the pain which was getting even more intense). I tried to remember all the techniques we talked about in Lamaze class like relaxing, breathing, and having someone press on my back, but honestly, in that moment, I was approaching it like I do in a race; I tensed up and just pressed on. I didn't breathe into it. My shoulders were tense, my legs were tense, I couldn't relax. I should probably work on that for running, because that really can't be good.

The damn monitors kept falling off. WHY WON'T THESE THINGS STAY ON.

The nurse came back in and told me I had to get in the bed so the monitors could pick up the baby. I don't know why this upset me so much. I knew the baby was fine. I also knew trying to labor while lying on my back in the bed would be so painful. I didn't want to lay down. But I had no choice. Once in the bed, I started having back labor. Oh dear Lord.

I got back on my hands and knees while in the bed. I started crying, leaning over Jon and remember saying softly to him, "I think I'm almost done. I'm trying so hard, but I don't think I can go much longer. I know we talked about this, and you're supposed to say to me that I can do it, but I'm telling you I can't. And I'm okay with that. I'm okay with getting pain medicine." I believe it had been 5 hours since my water broke.

The nurse came back in, the fetal monitors were picking up the baby a little better (still not great because I was still moving around quite a bit while in the bed), but I told her I'd like to get some stadol, a pain med that is essentially a drug that makes you sleepy and "takes the edge off" is what I had read on a few blogs. HA! Yea, it may have been 3 am, but I did not get sleepy, nor did it take the edge off.

About an hour later (I think . . .again, no sense of time during all of this. Just pain.), I said we needed to bring out the big guns. Let's go for the epi. "I'm okay with doing it." I said to my husband again. He told me he was proud of me, and that it would all be okay. Because I wasn't hooked up to an IV (I just had a hep-lock), I had to get some fluids in me before they'd give me the epidural. The fluid bag needed to be empty, which takes about 30 minutes. At that point, even though I could see the light because the epidural was coming soon, I was still in so much pain. Trying to breathe, but watching the fluid bag get less and less was like watching the minute hand on a clock. Brutal. Time was moving so slowly.

The epidural finally came, and I told the nurse anesthetist that I loved him, and it must be fun having a job where you get to make people in pain happy again. He was weirded out, but I didn't mind. He also told me during one of the contractions (because they were still going, and I was still being thrashed about), that I "need to cut that out. There will be no moaning or groaning." At that point my love for him turned to anger. HAVE YOU EVER HAD A BABY? YEA, JUST STOP TALKING AND STICK THAT NEEDLE IN MY BACK. ha, I didn't say that, but seriously, who has the nerve to tell someone experiencing the pain of child birth that they need to hush? SMH, MEN.

Pretty much as soon as the epidural was given, I felt some relief. It was amazing that with each contraction, the pain became less and less. Amazing. Truly amazing. Do I still want a natural child birth at some point in my life? If we have more kids, yes, I do. But, I've never been more thankful for modern medicine.

The midwife came back in to check on me an hour after the epidural, and I had dilated to a 10! I couldn't believe it. I guess that was all I needed. Just needed to relax, and the epidural provided that. I was immensely grateful.

Time to meet this baby! The midwife set the room up for the baby to arrive, and it was time to push. 30 minutes later, at 5:20 am, Emerson Ruth Taylor arrived. It truly was the greatest moment.

7 pounds, 4 ounces, 20 inches long. Tons of hair. We are still so overjoyed and can't believe it. Welcome to the world, E!  

Baby is here! Part 1 of Emerson's birth story.

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I'm breaking up the birth story into two parts rather than trying to cram it all into one. This is part 1, where I tell the details of my birth goals, and what actually happened leading up to it. From the moment we found out we were pregnant, I decided I would do everything in my power to have a natural birth. "Natural Birth" means different things to different people. For me, the phrase embodies going into labor on my own, laboring for a while at home, heading to the hospital when things start getting intense, and pushing a baby out without medical interventions like pain medicine or induction drugs. That was my plan. I read the books, Jon and I went to 6 weeks of Lamaze classes, I tried to stay as healthy as possible throughout my pregnancy, etc. Basically, I set myself up for success, or tried to anyway.     As my due date inched closer, I became extremely antsy. WHY ISN'T BABY HERE YET?! Like the majority of first-time moms, my due date came and went with zero signs of an impending labor. Honestly, I am sure my anxiety and impatience had something to do with the baby not descending. I just couldn't relax! There was no dilation of my cervix, and pretty much no effacement when I went to my appointment at 40 weeks. I started to become anxious about knowing when baby would arrive. I remember saying, "If someone could just tell me how many more days it's going to be, then I'll be fine! It's the unknown that is driving me insane."

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As part of the "natural birth" plan, we worked with a midwife throughout my pregnancy, which means you can imagine my shock when she said she really didn't want me going past 41 weeks if I don't go into labor on my own. (Normally midwives are much more lenient with waiting on babies to come on their own) "Wait, how will I have a natural birth, then?" became my thought process. I know that sounds selfish, but I truly had been envisioning this process for 9 months, so there was a little disappointment. I knew if I had to be induced, the dream of bringing a baby into the world without drugs would be nearly impossible. Most people I had talked to said laboring while on Pitocin or Cytotec (two drugs used to induce labor), is pure hell. So, as I inched closer to 41 weeks, I had to begin thinking about what an induction would mean, and whether my goals of a natural birth needed to change a bit. I was surprisingly okay with changing my plan. Besides, isn't that what you hear all the time? Have a birth plan, but be flexible. The time had come for flexibility, and perhaps I was just so ready to get the baby out of me, that the drugs and possibility of needing an epidural really didn't sound all that bad.

It was a Sunday, and I was 41 weeks pregnant. To be frank, I was not in a good mental state. Just sooo ready to not be pregnant and to meet this baby. I've never felt so impatient in my life. My husband and I were on a long walk to a local coffee shop when we had a conversation about inducing the following day. We both decided in the end, it would be best, and we would trust the midwife's discretion on getting the baby out soon for both his/her health and mine, which would mean possibly foregoing my plan of a natural birth. I was really at peace about it. I had accepted that our plans don't always go the way we want them to, and that is OKAY. The health of the baby is the most important thing. We would go to our prenatal appt the next day, and if there was availability at the hospital, we'd induce that day.

The plan to induce the following day came to fruition, and we headed to the hospital around 11 am Monday morning. I had heard horror stories about hospitals not letting you eat once you're in the labor and delivery room, so we made sure to get some high-quality food in my system while driving downtown ha :D

[wpvideo YvPHy823] By the time I was checked in and all the paperwork was complete, it was 2pm on Monday. I met with the midwife, who suggested I try a manual dilation before we jump to using Cytotec. The less synthetic drug intervention the better. So we opted for a dilation technique called Laminaria, which actually consists of using sticks of seaweed that expand inside your cervix to dilate it. And that's all I'm going to say about that. Yes, I was a little weirded out. So we tried the seaweed, with no guarantee it would work. And it didn't. I was still just 1 cm after they took them out 6 hours later at 8pm. I honestly wasn't disappointed. I had decided today was all about going with the flow, and I knew it was going to be a long labor, so I just relaxed and trusted the midwife. I was finally on the way to meeting this baby!birth story induction

The next step? Cytotec. If you've never heard of it, google it. It's a beast of a drug. It's a tiny pill they insert into your cervix, and once it dissolves, there's no turning back. Woof. It can make labor contractions down right brutal for some, and for others, like the Laminaria, it may not even work. 2 hours after taking the Cytotec, at 10pm, my water broke, and no more than 5 minutes after that, contractions came on in full force.

IT'S LABOR TIME.

Part 2 will be the actual labor, how I managed it, and ultimately meeting my beautiful baby girl. Stay tuned!

A Year in Review and what to expect for 2016

While my blog was pretty dormant in 2015 I still think "a year in review" is fun to write and read. One yearly recap I particularly loved reading was Tina's. I appreciated that even though I get her posts in my inbox each week, the end-of-year recap still seemed like fresh news! Hopefully I can portray that same feeling with this post. Without a doubt, I can say I grew more personally and even athletically in 2015 than ever before. Technically, even though I ran less than I have in previous years, the amount I gained in wisdom from various experiences will prepare me for the year ahead more than any workout could.

A year ago, on New Years Day 2015, I posted this to IG:

At the time, of course, I had no clue what "unexpected challenges" would mean! In short, 2015 was a phenomenal year, but not for the typical reasons you might think. Compared to 2014, where I was on top of the world, 2015 left me humbled and hungry. In 2014, I got married, excelled in running by PRing in every distance, and felt somewhat invincible.

This year, though, I learned so much, and sometimes that's what we need most. Let's dive a little deeper into the specifics:

2015

The challenges that made me stronger: 

Injury: At the beginning of 2015, I was coming off being sidelined from my IT band, but I cross-trained sooo much during that time, and truly reaped the rewards of that! After just a few weeks back running, I ran two PRs back to back in the 5k and the 3k. Cross training really does work!

3k PR and 7th place in a division 1 college track meet. What a great day!

Pregnancy: I've talked a lot about this already, so I won't go into detail, but in short, I've learned patience and the beauty of slowing down, both physically and mentally.  I've also learned to dream really big, which I'll go into later.

New aspects of my training I implemented:

Cross Training: I really can't express how much cross training helped me in 2015. I joined a masters swim group, met up with a local bike club on occasions, went to spin classes, and borrowed my friend's elliptigo at various times during the year. I've tried to cross train at least once per week, and especially during pregnancy, as I've stopped running, I've cross-trained even more! I am confident it will pay off when I begin running again soon.

Strength Training: I didn't start taking strength training seriously until I had my IT band issues. Isn't that how it always works? Once injured, I religiously did a 15 minute hip routine every day for 6 weeks, and voila, my IT band got better! Magic. Since then, I've kept up a general strength routine, and really have enjoyed the classes at my gym. I should not be left to my own devices when it comes to strength training. I like having someone to tell me exactly what to do! I hit up the classes 2-3 times per week, and supplement with some hip strength on those same days, since I know that's a problem area for me.  Periodic Physical Therapy Appointments:  I found a great physical therapist in the area, who has been phenomenal in helping me solve any imbalances, and prevent injuries before they occur. He specializes in gait analyses and works with endurance athletes. I have even gone to him during my pregnancy, too, to see how I'm doing with mobility/strength/flexibility, and what I need to work on. This just keeps things in check! I'll go after I have the baby, too, to get another evaluation, as my body is going to be quite a wreck :)

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Massage/Trigger Point Therapy/Yoga: Massages can get expensive, so I've learned to improvise a little. In a perfect world, I'd love to get a massage every week, but financially, that just isn't realistic for us right now, and that's okay! You can do a lot of self-massage through foam rollers, the R8, trigger point balls, etc! I probably get a professional massage every 6-8 weeks, and try to go to a restorative/foam rolling yoga class every couple weeks. I do massage work at home on my own a few days a week. I can be more diligent about this in 2016.

What's on tap for 2016: 

By the time this post goes live, it's possible I'll have brought a tiny human into this world! Whoah.

So, with a brand new baby, navigating going back to work full time, and trying to lead a balanced life, what am I thinking for 2016 in terms of running?

My first and primary goal is to be present for my family. This mindset has taken a while to come to fruition, but I am confident that if my faith and my family are balanced, then running will fall into place how it should. Does that sound too vague or does it lack ambition? It may sound vague, but I truly am so motivated. I am excited to get back to training. I've poured over race websites carefully trying to decide which races I'm going to complete, what shoes I'm going to wear, and what mileage I'm going to run. Yes, it's as neurotic as it sounds! It wasn't until recently, though, that I realized the insanity of all this planning, and said to myself, "Katie, all of this is going to be so new. Enjoy being a new mom, and run hard. Don't overcomplicate it. Don't overplan it. Let your coach do that." It's a shift in the previous mindset I had that I felt I needed to prove something or be someone with my postpartum running. I have nothing to prove, nothing to lose, and everything to gain (except maybe baby weight lol). I truly have no expectations for my postpartum journey other than to be the best I can be--the best wife, the best mom, the best runner that I CAN BE. I will run hard and be smart with my return, and I can't wait for you guys to follow along. It's going to be a fun and crazy ride.

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With that said, here are my running plans and goals for 2016:

-Rock'n'Roll Chicago 1/2 Marathon (July 17th, 6 months postpartum)

-build confidence over longer distances (long tempos, 10k-1/2 marathon races, aerobic threshold paced runs)

-be patient with my body as it makes it's return to training

-no specific time goals. I believe with proper training, patience, hard work, and fun, the improvements and PRs will come.

-continue to race without a watch; both PRs I set in 2015 were "watchless", and I am such a huge advocate for concentrating on effort over pace during a race.

-And finally, be a good example to my child by showing him/her what it means to work hard and go after your dreams, no matter how big.

Thanks for following along on this journey!

Katie

 

 

The good, the bad, the ugly parts of a pregnant runner

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This is part 4 of 4 of my running/pregnancy/life catch up I’m doing on the blog. Here is part 1 , here is part 2 , and here is part 3 in case you missed them!

The first few weeks of pregnancy were filled with angst as I tried to imagine the next loooong 9 months. At the time, it all seemed like it would take forever! When I related it to running, I thought it would be parallel to going through a 9 month injury, which I realize now is such a irrational assumption. I've said this before, but I grew up so much in 2015. Looking back, of course it's all so clear, that this is what I needed in 2015. What I needed more than any training plan, PR, or smooth-sailing year was a year to grow and be stretched to my limit, which is ultimately what happened.

I got to week 28, and couldn't believe it. The first and second trimesters flew by. But, let's talk about the last 10 weeks of being pregnant. You guys, I felt insane! The waiting and unknowns drove me up a wall. I am so bad with not knowing when something is going to happen (ie. labor), so the 3rd trimester was such a huge test for me. Especially the last 4 weeks, I felt I was constantly having a talk with myself about my attitude. Ha. "Katie, you have a choice whether to be positive or negative today. Choose positivity despite the circumstance of feeling large, uncomfortable, uncertain of when baby will come, etc."

My last "race" was on Thanksgiving day at a turkey trot in Boone, North Carolina. My family had an amazing time in the mountains together. I actually surprised myself during the 5k, considering I hadn't run in a few weeks! I figured I'd probably just walk/run it, but when Jon and I started out, I felt good, and just tried to stay steady throughout the race. I got lots of great looks and "you go, girl!" when I crossed the finish line, ha! I finished in 26 minutes, only about 8 minutes slower than my PR! ;) #keepingmehumble

After getting back from North Carolina, I decided to join a local gym, because I knew I would need the motivation those last 10 weeks. Honestly, this was one of the best decisions! They have a pool, lots of treadmills for walking when it's too cold out, spin classes, and my personal favorite: strength training class. I never imagined I'd get so excited to lift weights, but it's really the only exercise I found to not be too uncomfortable during the last trimester. As a result, I now feel super strong and know all those squats and lunges will only help when I return to running!    

I tried to fill my time as much as possible, so I wouldn't be just sitting around waiting, and something I really enjoyed was pouring myself into other people's running. I coach a handful of people, including my husband (lucky for him), so I did a lot of extra research on running/creating training plans/etc to keep my mind off things. I also picked up a few new runners, so it was super fun to get involved with their goals, and feel like I was making a difference in someone's life. Jon and I would go on "runs" together, where he would run, and I'd either bike next to him, or we'd go to the park and I'd walk around with the dogs while he ran. (read: I'd walk around like a creeper taking goPro photos of him because what else do you do as an overzealous spouse? #crazypregnantrunner)

Similar to the first trimester, the third was another test of strength other than physical. I really see myself as a positive person, but within my own head, I was constantly battling demons that were telling me "You'll be pregnant forever. This is never going to end." I know that sounds insane! But the truth is, when you become pretty much immobile, can't sleep, and everything makes you tired, it's so hard to imagine something so good and miraculous (like a beautiful baby!) will come out of all of this. I've said this before, but I want my blog to be an honest place where I share unfiltered thoughts, and if I'm being honest, pregnancy is not something I was able to embrace gracefully. I am sooo excited to bring baby into this world and be a mom. I know it will be the hardest and greatest job of my life, but I'm not afraid of that for some reason. I just don't want to be pregnant anymore. Lol. Everyone says you forget about how hard pregnancy was the minute you see your child, and I truly hope that's the case, because I've always wanted more than one child, and I love kids! I've talked to some women who fully understand and even have experienced the same type of pregnancy I have, and then I've heard stories from other women who absolutely LOVED being pregnant. I so wish that was me. But, once again, if I'm honest, I didn't love being pregnant. It's hard stuff, you guys!

As I wrap up this series, I hope I've shared the good, the bad, and the ugly of the last 9 months. It has truly been an incredible journey that I can look back on and say, "I am not the same person I was in April of 2015." And I mean that in the best possible way. I am mentally AND physically stronger, more patient, less anxious, and ultimately just a little bit more grown up.

Now, let's have this beautiful baby! Check back soon to find out the gender (it is a surprise!), the birth story, and my running plans for 2016.

This is part 4 of 4 of my running/pregnancy/life catch up I’m doing on the blog.

Here is part 1 , here is part 2 , and here is part 3 in case you missed them!

When you know, you know.

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This is part 3 of 4 of my running/pregnancy/life catch up I’m doing on the blog. Here is part 1 , and here is part 2 if you missed them!

As I mentioned earlier, by week 12, I was beginning to finally feel more like myself again, not only physically with being able to stomach foods like salad and vegetables, but the "fog" and sadness I talked a lot about in my last post was slowly subsiding. I have never dealt with depression, so that was all new territory for me. The surging hormones really did a number on my mental well-being, and I was just so happy to be feeling more upbeat.

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The second trimester is known for being the easiest of the 3, with increased energy and less physical discomforts than the first and third. I would say this was definitely true for me! Weeks 12-26 were a breeze. I've never been pregnant before this, but I can say there was a stark contrast between the first trimester and the second. Man. Growing a baby is the real deal! It will humble you and knock you on your face so fast, and it has in many ways. I truly feel like a different person than I was 9 months ago.

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At the beginning of this trimester, I was still experimenting with what is "too much" in terms of intensity with running. To go from giving everything you have in a workout, to being super cautious in order to keep baby safe was difficult for me. Of course, the baby's health is wayyy more important than a silly workout, but at times it was still frustrating to have to turn that competitive/adrenaline-rush-junkie switch off. Remembering to slow down (in life in general) and enjoy the process was a constant battle for me. That comes easier for some women, I know. Jen is a great example of having a healthy mindset while pregnant and running. Talking, reading, and listening to others who've done this before really helped me to take a deep breath and relax.

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I "raced" a bit during this time, too, which was fun. I was starting to understand what so many women had told me when they said, "You'll just know" when too much is too much. I was so frustrated when I'd hear that in the beginning, but ultimately, it's true. You know your body better than anyone, and as a mom, you're going to do what's best for your baby. I was finally getting to a place, with running in particular, where I felt I had a good handle on what training would look like for me, and when too much was too much. There would be a day when I'd hobble home after a run, totally sore in all areas of my hips/pelvis from pushing too hard. Of course, the baby isn't affected by sore muscles necessarily, but obviously I did too much, so the next workout, I'd know to reign it in.

For our anniversary, Jon surprised me with a trip out west to Sedona, Arizona! It was an amazing weekend away, and once again, a good reminder that these 9 months are meant to be enjoyed. I am such a go-go-go type person, so learning to slow down and be present has been a much-needed skill I've been forced to adopt. Being in Sedona among the beauty, and even doing a relaxing yoga class taking it all in was a perfect representation of this time.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset As I approached 25 weeks and onward, things shifted very quickly from "OMG I'm in a groove and running while pregnant isn't too bad!" to "Wow, I literally feel like my hips are 90 years old, and where did all this abdominal pressure and round ligament pain come from?" Things got uncomfortable practically overnight.

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My last hard-ish runs would be at 28 weeks. On Saturday I ran the last leg of a relay, and on Sunday I paced my friend, Beth, for the middle 6 miles of her marathon (which she got 2nd place in, by the way!) How did I know I'd be hanging up my running shoes for a while after that weekend? As much as I hated hearing these words from other people, "I just knew." :)

This is part 3 of 4 of my running/pregnancy/life catch up I’m doing on the blog.

Here is part 1 , and here is part 2 if you missed them!

Wait, I'm pregnant?!

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This is part 2 of 4 of my running/pregnancy/life catch up I'm doing on the blog. Here is part 1 if you missed it!

Two lines. Seeing them on the pee stick was like having an out-of-body experience. I sat in the bathroom and cried for a long time. We called my mom and told her and my stepdad the news. It wasn't anything like I had always imagined it would go, with balloons and a cute card saying "Congratulations, Grandma!". Through tears I just muttered the words: "I'm pregnant." Why did I feel so scared?

When we started telling people the news a few months later, friends would ask if I took a bunch of tests to make sure, and honestly I didn't even think about that. I just took 1? Taking multiple tests is a thing? I had no idea what I was doing (still don't. does anyone?). I just knew I was pregnant and scared.

The next 8 weeks, also known as the first trimester, are a bit of a blur when I look back. I was really sad. I cried a lot. I didn't know how to handle the news. I realized deep down that this would be a blessing and all the things I knew I was supposed to say, but I constantly asked myself, "Why do I feel so empty? I am being given one of the greatest gifts in life, one so many women dream of, and something I've always wanted, yet I feel like my life is suddenly changing and selfishly I'm not ready for that."

Because I know you're wondering, and because I was very open about this prior to getting pregnant, no I was not on the pill. In fact, ironically there is a draft post that I never published on why I went off the pill and how it was one of the best decisions personally and athletically for me. I still stand by that. So, technically, I should have been prepared for what could happen. Duh. It was a decision my husband and I made together, and we still stand by our decision, except he handled the news of having a baby wayyyy better than I did. It literally took him 48 hours and then he was all, "THIS IS AWESOME I'M GONNA BE A DAD!" Perhaps I thought I was immune to Mother Nature. Regardless, it truly took the entire first trimester for me to feel connected to baby.

My running changed pretty much overnight. I wanted concrete answers to how training should go during the next 35 weeks. I poured over blogs and books and talked to people I knew who ran while they were pregnant. Everyone just said, "You'll know what to do." WHAT THE HECK DOES THAT MEAN? Tell me exactly what to do! Do I wear a heart rate monitor? Do I still train hard? So many unknowns. With the future of having a baby and how to be a mom being so unclear, I desperately wanted answers and something I could control. Releasing the death grip on having a set-in-stone plan for running was difficult. This would become a recurring theme throughout my entire pregnancy. I've learned so much.

We celebrated my birthday in mid June with a fun 5k downtown and a nice dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. Jon planned the whole thing. It was such a treat, and getting to tell my good friend Julia the news was great. She's been such a huge support and a phenomenal friend over the last 8 months.

As I approached the 12 week mark, I began to feel like the fog was being lifted. I did a happy dance when I made it a few days without crying. People asked me if I ever had morning sickness or extreme fatigue during the first trimester. I didn't. A little nausea and food aversions, but nothing too terrible, honestly. I think it would have broken me had I experienced the physical pains on top of the mental. God is great like that.

I did eventually figure out a rough "plan" for running, one that worked for me. Because Memphis is insanely hot during the summer, I wore a heart rate monitor for the majority of my runs in the beginning. My coach still sent me weekly "plans", but they were not set in stone, and I eventually became okay with that. Here's my training log from a typical week!

6/8/2015 Mon. 6 min easy, 12 min threshold, 6 min easy AM swim. 1000 warm up, 9x100 progressively getting faster, 6x100 with fins. very hard to get out of bed, but i was glad i did it.
6/9/2015 Tues. 10-14 x 90 sec. @ 5k effort with 2 min. recovery this went great!! to avoid overheating, i did the workout inside on the treadmill. 1 mile warm up. 12 repeats. started at 6:30 pace and worked my way down, last 3 were 5:50. Heart rate never hit 170! feeling good.
6/10/2015 Wed. cross train strength trained and biked a bit.
6/11/2015 Thurs. 6 min easy, 12 min threshold, 6 min easy this was my "test" run for saturday. i wanted to see what my heart rate could handle, so i started at 6:30 pace for the middle portion. eventually had to slow down pretty significantly to get my heart rate back down. saturday will be a nice little "trot" ha.
6/12/2015 Fri. 14-18 x 10 sec. @ 400m effort with 2 min. recovery did 6 min easy, 7 min at threshold, 6 min easy.
6/13/2015 Sat. cross train or complete day off Gibson 5k. just paced my friend Julia. 7 min pace. She didn't race as well as she wanted to, but i felt great. it was really hot.
6/14/2015 Sun. 30 minutes easy nice and easy recovery run with friends!

The main thing was staying hydrated and making sure I could laugh during a workout. Initially, I was very focused on my heart rate and not going over 175 (my lactate threshold), but eventually I realized the laugh/smile/talk test was better, and let me be a little less rigid, without having to constantly check my watch or wait for it to beep to tell me my heart rate was too high. That's how I gauged the intensity and when to back off. I also trained with a talented high school xc team during June and part of July, which really helped with motivation, and feeling like I wasn't totally losing all my fitness. Those girls gave me more than they realized during those 6 weeks. I began to find a groove as I approached the second trimester, started feeling happy and confident that I could maybe do this motherhood thing after all!

This is part 2 of 4 of my running/pregnancy/life catch up I'm doing on the blog.

Here is part 1 if you missed it!

 

 

Oops, it's been since March

I honestly don't know what happened. Oh yea, I got pregnant. Let's try that again. I got pregnant! (can you tell it was a bit of a shock and a little bit hard to swallow at first? More on that later...We're having a BABY! It still blows my mind that I will be in charge of a tiny human soon.) But, that's not really an excuse for my absence during April and May. April and May were actually pretty decent months running wise. How do you catch back up when you haven't blogged in nearly a year? My husband keeps telling me he's waiting to see a post in his inbox, so I promised him I'd catch up the blogging world. These past 9 months have been a whirlwind. I really love reading blogs, so it puzzles me why I've had such a hard time writing. I think about this space often, but I suppose I felt like I lost my identity as a runner when I got pregnant. I know that feeling isn't logical, because pregnancy isn't a disease, and I won't be pregnant forever (despite feeling that way at 37 weeks currently). Nonetheless, I really became dormant fairly quickly. It might be because with pregnancy, your running truly can change overnight. I had no idea of this. One day I ran 7 miles, and the next I decided that would be the last run. Of course, I was wrong. Some running days truly feel like a fairytale, while others are miserable, just picking up my feet, trying not to feel like my uterus is falling out of my body. #dramatic While it may seem a bit narcissistic (aren't all blogs a little, though?), I'm going to attempt to recap the months of April + May in this post, and then I'll follow up with the first trimester. YAY, ALL ABOUT ME! I promise (SCOUTS HONOR) I will not leave you high and dry, and I'll also follow up with second and third trimester posts. I know if anything, I'll appreciate reading them down the road. Honestly, it's probably best I waited this long to recap, because like I said, I was quite literally ALL.OVER.THE.PLACE in my brain (actually, I still am) during this pregnancy, so looking at everything from a birds-eye-view rather than in the moment will make me seem less like a hormonal psycho. #forrealz pregnancy is no joke. I've cried and laughed in the same sentence way too many times the last 8 months. Here we go.

April

I had just PR'd in the 5k after months of rehab and cross training from my IT band issue. I don't know how. I still don't know how I did that on such low mileage, except that cross training really does work. You guys, I can swim now! Here's what my training looked like during April.

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4/13/2015 Mon 6 min easy, 6-10 minutes @ threshold (about 6:45 pace), 6 minutes easy. No joke. That's it. I would supplement with swimming in the AM.
4/14/2015 Tue 8-10x1:30 @ 5k with 1:00 min walk recovery
4/15/2015 Wed cross train (either swimming or biking)
4/16/2015 Thu same as monday (6 min easy, 6-10 min moderate, 6 min easy)
4/17/2015 Fri 8-10x:30 sec @ 800m with 1:00 min walk recovery
4/18/2015 Sat cross train or complete day off
4/19/2015 Sun 30 min very easy on trails

During April, despite my low mileage, I started to string together some great workouts, and my confidence was coming back. Knowing I was in good shape after running a 18:35 5k at the end of March, I was ready to tackle some more races, and see if I could snag some more PRs. I mean, If I can do well on 20 miles a week and stay injury free, heck I am one happy girl! I emailed the coach at University of Memphis to see if I could jump into the 3k at their upcoming invitational.IMG_5297

May

The word for May was consistency. I told myself to just stay consistent and keep rehabbing the IT band to make sure that nasty injury doesn't come back. It worked. I raced in the 3k at U of M like I had hoped, and even though it was my first 3k ever (automatic PR ;) ), if it had been a full 2 miles, I would have PRd by 20 seconds! Despite not feeling great during the race (had no idea I was pregnant at the time, but that explains why I needed to puke up my lunch the entire 7.5 laps, woof), I ran the 3k in 10:37, and snagged 7th place in a division 1 college meet! It was a really great day, and it was so fun to have some great friends there cheering for me.

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The next, and final "race" I would run in 2015 would be the Knoxville, TN Expo 10k over Memorial Day weekend. Every year, we go to East TN during this weekend to visit friends, and I look forward to this race. Even though I felt terrible during the 3k a few weeks prior, I knew I was fit, and I was looking to go under 40 minutes this year. I did this same race in 2014, and knew it would be HARD. Hills in East TN are no joke. I was ready to have a great day and work the hills, though. Well, what happened? I felt terrible again! I went out with the lead pack of females at around 6:15 pace, and totally bonked. I was really disappointed. Why did I feel so terrible? Was I dehydrated? Did the hills get the best of me? It was after this race + sleeping literally all weekend + drinking all the water I could get my hands on that I realized maybe something was up. I took a pregnancy test on Memorial Day when we got home. Everything changed so fast.

Stay tuned! I've already got a reminder on my calendar to publish the first trimester post. No getting around it.

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Snow Day Survival: Day 2

IMG_2819.JPGBecause we are all getting a little cabin feverish over here . . . So I actually ended up going into work yesterday, and the photo above is how I felt about it.

This morning I woke up and my gym was closed again! Womp womp...

I knew I needed to get a run in, but the roads are so icy, so I had to get creative. I wanted to share what I did in case you are cooped up, too, and don't have access to a treadmill.

Here's the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Workout I did. It's my favorite because a.) no equipment needed and b.) it's 30 minutes of elevated heart rate. WIN!

IMG_2842.JPGMy other snow day survival tip? Make a HUGE hot smoothie bowl. Oh my. This was so delish.

IMG_2801.JPGHot Berry Protein Smoothie Bowl

makes 1 large or 2 small servings

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1/3-1/2 cup filtered water or coconut water

1-1.5 cups frozen or fresh berry mixture (I used strawberries, blueberries & raspberries)

1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, divided

1 scoop protein powder (Vega One Berry flavor worked perfect for this!)

1 tablespoon sweetener of your choice (optional, but I used pure Maple syrup)

1/4 cup goji berries (can substitute cranberries, dried cherries, dried blueberries, etc)

1/4 cup almond slivers

Instructions:

1. Combine water and chia seeds together in small bowl, stir well, and let sit for 5 minutes to thicken.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt coconut oil and add mixed berries, Heat until berries are at a slow simmer. Stir frequently to prevent burning.

3. While berries cook, prepare the smoothie.

4. In high powered blender, combine chia/water mixture, almond milk, coconut flakes, 1/2 of the coconut flakes, and sweetener if you'd like. Blend until smooth.

5. Add hot berries to blender, and pulse a few times.

6. Pour hot smoothie into a bowl, top with remaining coconut flakes, almond slivers, and goji berries.

Stay warm, everyone!

Snow Day Survival Food

strawberrybasilpancakes_6 You guys. Snow food. YESSSS.

Guess who got their first snow of the year?!?!

Memphis, TN, yalllll! Okay, well actually it's like 2 inches of ice, but we don't know any difference in the south, so let us party people party.

I'm taking a break from the ice party to give you these Valentines-weekend-turned-three-day-weekend-because-of-snow-day pancakes.

YOU.WILL.LOVE.THEMstrawberrybasilpancakesstrawberrybasilpancakes_4strawberrybasilpancakes_1

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Chocolate Chip-Strawberry Pancakes with a Basil-Balsamic Reduction

Serves 1 large or 2 medium portions

Ingredients

1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 2 tablespoon water) or 1 chicken egg

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1⁄2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1⁄2 cup whole-wheat flour (all purpose works fine, too)

1⁄4 cup chopped fresh strawberries

1⁄4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the basil-balsamic reduction

2/3 cup fresh sliced strawberries

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons coconut sugar (brown sugar is fine)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

Instructions

1.  Heat griddle or large skillet over medium heat, or 350 F.

2.  For the reduction, add ingredients to small saucepan, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until

thick, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

3.  If using flax egg, add ground flaxseed and water and let sit for 2 minutes in order to gelatinize.

4. Add melted butter, agave, baking soda, baking powder, salt, almond milk, vanilla and whisk

well.

5.  Add flower to mixture above, being careful not to over mix. Carefully fold in strawberries and

let better sit at rest for 5-10 minutes.

6.  Lightly grease skillet, and add 1⁄4 cup of batter per pancake, sprinkling with chocolate chips.

Flip when bubbles have formed.

7. Stack pancakes, and top with reduction sauce.

Recipe adapted from minimalistbaker.com

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Surrendering: I want to be fast again.

I haven’t drafted a blog post in months. I haven’t even wanted to. Life has been fine and I am running again, but I’m far from where I was just a few posts ago. Seeing photos from when I was at my peak at the end of the summer makes me get a little sad, because my running has changed a lot since then. Gone are the speed workouts and the days when I darted through the door to give my husband a huge sweaty hug after nailing a hard workout.  It doesn’t mean those days will never return, but when you have been dealing with an injury for 4 months and nothing really has changed, you get a little down and think you’ll never get back to where you were. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’re there now. IMG_1548.JPG

Fine, I was dumb and pushed my body really freaking hard, apparently too hard, and now I’m paying the terrible price of that. It’s not been easy. I love the adrenaline of 25x1:00 minutes at 5k pace, with 1 minute recovery. Those are the workouts that build character and physical strength. Those are the workouts I miss. I’ve traded my running shoes for a swim cap and a bike helmet, and while I do get similar endorphins from swimming and riding, when you peel back the layers and get down to it, at the heart, I am a runner. I can’t keep up with the fast guys/gals on the bike like I can on a run. I flop in the water like a dying fish while my new swimming buds zoom past me. I’m not used to that. I’m not used to being last or gasping for air trying to keep up. It’s been an incredibly humbling process.IMG_1614.JPG

I know seasons like this build strength inside us that a run/swim/ride never can. We learn who we really are when we find ourselves in the valley. Life in and of itself has been one big incredible mountain-top the past year, and for that I am immensely thankful. Simultaneously, however, there remains a gap in my life that I realized just can’t be filled with much of anything but a good, hard, gut-wrenching run. I know God calls us to tough places when our strength must be surrendered so we can feel his presence and know we can’t do this journey alone. I’ve felt that a lot during this injury. And despite how difficult it’s been, I do accept and appreciate that.

To say I’ve hit rock bottom and completely surrendered would be a lie. I haven’t. In some ways I wish I had, so I can just throw my hands up and say, “Whatever you want, God.” I know he wants us to do that. Maybe I’m on the road to doing that, and that’s why he’s allowed this shitty injury to linger when it should have been healed months ago. Besides, it’s just a little IT band nag, but if you’ve ever dealt with IT issues, you know a little “nag” can drive you up a wall with its inconsistencies and stealth.  Ultimately, I don’t have the answers, but I do know life is more than how fast I am or even if I ever run again. As hard as that is to type, I do believe that.  When you are in a valley in a certain area of your life, the word surrender becomes more and more powerful and attainable. Runners are control freaks. To deny that is like denying that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. Surrendering to the unknown of the future to a God you can’t see is so freaking hard. I know this is a running blog, and even if you don’t believe in God, I’m confident we all can agree surrendering to anything is difficult.IMG_2280.JPG

With all that said, like I mentioned above, I am running, and have even raced a couple times, albeit with unimpressive times, but I have improved as far as pain is concerned. The pain is not constant, however, it is inconsistent, and I haven’t really gotten answers from anyone, including professionals. Everyone says IT band pain is related to your glutes, and I’ve strengthened those things like a freaking psycho. All in all, I am on the right track, I do believe that, but it’s been an arduous journey.

With high hopes of returning to my old self again and promises to blog more frequently,

Katie