You Know You're a Real Runner If/When...

Hi folks! How are you doing? 

It's Friday Eve! 

(when you read that, fake like I'm singing it to you because that's how I meant it to come across)

So we've got Friday Eve going for us - is it just me or is this week dragging? Maybe that will mean this weekend will drag too (yeah right...). 

And if you've already subscribed but aren't seeing the emails in your inbox, they are probably going to your junk mail so check there!

Today's workout was a doozy. Like I woke-up and then farted around for 25 minutes avoiding it before I finally forced myself out the door. Just so you have some insight, I typically get up at 5:10 in the morning but I do not bounce out of bed all excited and energetic. Sometimes I hit snooze, but I'm almost always up and out of bed by 5:20, and I don't usually get started with my workout until 5:30-5:50 depending on what it is and how tired I am that morning. So I roll out of bed, go to the bathroom and look on Facebook while I wake-up, get dressed, make my preworkout drink, take some selfies and then I'm usually ready to tackle whatever workout I have planned. This morning I woke up and went to the bathroom and then did this:

That's me, face-down on my bed. I could not even. So I did that for a minute or two and then I finished getting dressed aaaaaand I threw myself on the bed again. Finally I was like, GET UP AND GO. 

That face is the face of someone who is forcing themselves to workout when they really wanted to sleep another hour. 

And that's the face of a person who just realized they have to get out the door RIGHT NOW or they won't have time to do their core workout and meditate after their run. 

So I did it. I went outside and ran my scheduled workout, which was 25 minutes of running at race pace. I don't really have a race planned right now, but know that I want to improve my 10K time so I ran at my 10K race pace based on what my 5K race pace was (THIS is the calculator I use to figure out all of this pace stuff). I warmed up with a 1/2 mile run and then pushed myself to run around an 8:14 pace the rest of the run. Dude...it was so hard. Like I really didn't think I was going to be able to keep up that pace for the entire 25 minutes. I'm talking I really had to push myself to do it and would feel myself slow down a bit here and there. But whenever that would happen I would concentrate on increasing my cadence and would naturally start running faster just by doing that. This is when having a music playlist with high BPM comes in handy because I just try to match my feet to the beat. I did it guys, but man was it hard!

And super sweaty...but I'm pretty sure I could walk 3.5 miles and end up this sweaty afterwards. I'm a sweaty, sweaty beast! Then I did my transverse abdominal workout for my DR that I posted about yesterday (check it out here), stretched, did a really awesome body scan meditation (great for relaxation) and got ready for the day.

While I was running and trying to keep myself from stopping, I came up with the idea for this blog post. There have been a number of times during my running life that I have thought to myself "now THIS makes you a REAL runner" and I knew I wanted to share it with you guys.

Without further ado, you know you're a real runner if/when...

  • You spit on yourself while running because you were too tired to turn your head far enough to the left and it flies back in your face. And instead of being grossed out you just wipe it off and keep going without a moment's hesitation - this is what happened to me this morning and gave me the idea for this post. 
  • You come back from a run in the winter and have snot all over your sleeve/inside of your shirt where you had to wipe your nose during your run. Bonus points if you've actually blown your nose into your shirt *raises hand slowly*
  • You're convinced your child will love running as much as you do so you try to force them to run and sign them up for races without telling them...to be fair, we won this race and he did love that part, but he hates running overall. Which is a shame, because his form is perfect! Maybe someday he'll run with me again. And I can always try to brainwash Jules!
  • You spend over $100 on a race and then spend hours over the course of the next weeks/months looking up every review you can find of the race, studying the course map and elevation, and planning your race day outfit, gear, and fuel. 
  • You'd rather buy new running shoes than any other type of shoes. 
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  • You have a race day hairdo that you always fall back on #pigtailsforlyfe
  • You do everything you can to smile and have at least one photogenic picture during a race even when you feel like dying, but usually end up looking like a troll. I wish I could find the pictures from the first half marathon I ever ran...it was super windy and my face looked like I was in a skydiving picture but in serious pain too. It wasn't cute. This is the only photogenic racing picture I have and I'm kind of mad at myself for not buying it, but I'm a cheapskate and couldn't justify it. 
  • You have favorite items of clothing/equipment that you can't live without on your run. Mine is my Experia running socks. I may or may not wear them at least twice before washing them on a pretty consistent basis because I forget to wash them after my run and refuse to run without them. They're just that comfortable, people! No substitutions!
  • You regularly wake up before the rest of the world and run around for miles in the dark listening to music or podcasts or nothing and aren't even afraid of getting eaten by a werewolf or vampire because you're 99% sure you could out-run them anyway, even though you're normally pretty afraid to be outside in the dark alone. 

You really can't beat the sunrise in the morning. In my opinion it's worth waking up at the buttcrack of dawn and running around in circles for awhile in order to see it. Unless I did end up getting eaten by a beast of some sort, in which case I would say it wasn't really worth it and I should have stayed in bed that day. 

  • You regularly smile and wave at strangers when you pass them and get kind of butt hurt when they don't wave and/or smile back.
  • You've yelled "great job!" to a random person you pass on a run who is running themselves. I always make a point to yell out encouragement to anyone I pass while running who's pushing a stroller...because that ish is hard, yo! And just in case you have any doubt whether anyone will think you're weird for yelling positive stuff at them, I have had it happen to me a bunch of times and it always make me feel so much better/happier. I remember one 9 mile run that was hot AF and I thought I was going to die. Then this random older running dude yelled "you're doing great" to me around mile 6 and it literally made my run turn from crap to awesome. So don't hesitate to encourage each other out there!
  • You run in the rain/snow/sleet/humidity and like it. I remember this run like the back of my hand - I was training for a half-marathon and woke up excited to run. And then it was raining. There was a point in time when I would have just said nevermind and skipped my run, but for this one I put on a hat and went for my scheduled run. And I remember very specifically that I was running with a smile on my face pretty much the entire time and at the end I thought "I'm a real runner now"

Finally, the number one way you will know you're a real runner? If/when you go for a run.

It doesn't matter how long you run or how fast you are, just that you lace up those shoes and if you're me, more that likely dirty socks, and you get out there and run/jog/shuffle. 

And if you have ever wondered if you are a "real" runner when you pass someone who's faster/has cooler running clothes/wears 95 different gadgets/has "13.1" tattooed on their calf muscle, you are one already and have been one ever since you shuffled out there your first time. And you should be proud of yourself because not every does it, even though everyone can.

So kudos to you, runner!!

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That's some positive talk courtesy of me. Maybe I should become a professional motivational speaker or something? Can you say the f word when you do that for a living or is that frowned on? I better stick with blogging (not that I get paid to do this, because I don't). 

Now I'll turn it to you - when did you decide you were a "real" runner? Did you have a turning point like I did while running 8 miles in the rain like a loony tune, or have you always felt you were a runner? Or perhaps you think running is dumb and I'm insane. That's cool too. I respect your opinion. 

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by! 

I'm Breaking UP

With the scale and I'm serious. This is a dysfunctional relationship and I'm sick of it!

Now that I have your attention, don't forget to subscribe!

Before I get to the end of my relationship with my scale, I want to show you a few things. 

First we have a pre-workout selfie...

Take a look at those leggings and remember them - they play a role in the demise of my relationship with my scale. 

Then I didn't really like that selfie so I decided to mix things up and take another one in my dirty mirror right by our front door...

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I sure do love to take flattering pictures of myself and then post them online for the world to see, don't I?! Also will someone please come to my house and clean all of my mirrors? I'm an embarrassment (but if I'm being completely honest I don't really even care). 

So I went outside and ran this morning. I had looked at my workout schedule like three times yesterday and again this morning and thought to myself every time, "cool, I only have to run 2 miles worth of 1/4 mile repeats - easy peasy". So I decided to do a full mile for a warm-up and run just a little over 3 miles. NO PROBLEM. Except here's the workout I was supposed to do:

I apparently can't math at all because I had that all sorts of wrong. Ugh. I ended up figuring this out mid-run and was like, there's no way I can run 4 miles of 1/4 mile repeats when I had only planned to do 2. Plus I really wanted/needed to do a core workout and didn't have time to do it all since I'd only planned for a total of 3 freaking miles, not 5. So I ended up doing only 5 repeats, for a total of a little over 3.5 miles. Yeesh. 

Get yo shit together, Jamie! 

Why am I showing you two nearly identical pictures of myself? Well I originally took those pictures for a blog idea - I'm really sucking it in on the left and not sucking in on the right and I had this grand plan on doing a post around them somehow. However looking at them right now, I can seriously hardly see a difference between the two and I'm going to be real honest and say that I look good. I mean, I'm pretty happy with how I look in those pictures overall - my stomach is pretty flat even when I'm not sucking it in and I felt great all day. 

Additionally, I have a ton of pictures from our beach day on Saturday and I am happy with how I look in all of them - those are freaking swimsuit pictures, people! I'm never happy with how I look in swimsuit pictures, but the fact that I was happy with all of them made me feel like I was really making some progress towards this whole self-love thing. 

Finally, remember how I told you to remember that picture from earlier with the leggings? Those leggings are pre-pregnancy and I have never been able to wear them comfortably because I always had muffin top with them. Or I'd have serious camel toe because I'd try to pull them way up over my muffin top and they were never comfortable #youknowyoudoittoo

So I should have been feeling pretty effing amazing this morning, right? 

WRONG!!

I got on the scale this morning right after waking up and guess what...I'm up 3 pounds from where I was on Tuesday of last week. 

F&%$ the scale!!

Raise your hand if you hate the scale...

Now raise your hand if you've ever felt great about yourself only to weigh yourself and have your entire mood change....

I am right there with you! I mean, I have been feeling pretty good about myself lately. My arms and my butt are looking really toned! My stomach is pretty flat most of the time and I'm starting to be able to wear most of my pre-Jules clothes while still being able to breathe! I have pictures in my swimsuit that I didn't even hesitate to post!

Then I let that stupid number ruin my happy roll. 

Well I'm not doing that anymore. This was the last straw!

Kind of. 

This will be a gradual break-up since I am currently running a Biggest Loser contest at work and don't want to drop out of it since I'm in charge of the whole dang thing. However instead of weighing myself every day like I usually do (except for Monday - I never weigh myself on a Monday #chipschocolateandwine), I will only weigh myself for the weigh-in days and luckily there are only 2 of those left in the contest. Once I'm done with that, I am going to work to measure my health/progress with other metrics and take the scale out of the equation completely: 

  • Progress pictures - these always make me happy, so this will be my primary method of measurement. 
  • Tape measure - I am usually pretty happy with this, but sometimes I actually measure bigger even when I feel smaller due to being swole. I'm such a douche - that's the second time I've blogged the word "swole". BUT IT'S A REAL THING!! I mean I guess I could say swollen or retaining water, but swole is so much more fun to say. Now if you ever hear me say or read "YOLO" or "FOMO" on this blog and I'm being serious, please find me and slap some sense into me. Moving on...
  • How do my clothes fit? If my clothes are fitting better and I'm more comfortable in my skin then that's a good sign that I'm doing pretty well 
  • Blood pressure and blood sugar tests. I haven't talked about this on here yet, but I've had some minor blood pressure issues since getting pregnant with Jules - my blood pressure can sometimes be a bit higher than I'd like and close to borderline high, like 138/80. Most of the time it's around 120/70, but that's even higher than I like for it to be and where it used to be (110/60). Also I've had two blood sugar tests that were pre-prediabetic in the past few years; like right on the verge. Luckily they weren't consecutive and being smart with my diet makes a huge difference almost immediately - for example, my last test was borderline, but it was in December. December = Christmas cookies. My doctor wasn't hugely concerned due to this, but I'm testing again in June and hope for better numbers this time or else I'm going to have to make some big changes (and I don't wanna). 

I will still weigh myself, but perhaps on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. I might be pretty happy with how I'm looking overall, but find that my health tends to be better when I am below 140. So I know I will get there eventually, but for now I'm slowly breaking up with the scale.

In fact, I'm ghosting the scale.

(if you don't know what ghosting means, it's when someone you're dating shoots you a few texts and then disappears from your life. It's a thing now. Now you know and you're hip and trendy like me!)

MadreDiem Break UP

It's not me, it's you. 

(actually it might partially be me...I ate some chips before bed last night. But whatever...we're still broken up, you dumb scale). 

Have you ever broken up with the scale and if so, did it have a positive effect on your life? I am just so sick of feeling discouraged due to a number, when everything else is making me happy! 

I'm going to throw this in because I sooooooo need it...

Thanks for stopping by, friends!

How I Survived My C-Section

I'd like to start things off by announcing that I slept 7 solid hours last night. Like in a row, without being woken up by anyone, and Jules also slept well (I actually had the baby monitor on last night because I've been feeling guilty and didn't hear a peep from her). 

So I woke up this morning feeling like a new person. It's amazing what some good sleep will do for a person!

I actually woke up this morning and was excited to run. WTF, right? I was all, YEAH, I'm so excited. See?!?

That's my BEFORE picture and I'm SMILING! WHAT?!? Anyone who has read my blog at all knows my before workout pictures usually rival Grumpy Cat. 

I actually had a real workout planned this morning too instead of my usual run around the neighborhood at a steady state for 3 miles (so boring) - this week I'm starting to incorporate some actual speed training into my workouts and it's obviously just what I needed. In case you're interested, my workout was:

  • 1/2 mile warm-up
  • Race pace for 1 minute, jog for 1 minute, SPRINT for 30 seconds, jog for 1 minute and repeat 6 times (you'll need a watch or timer for this)
  • 1/4 mile cool-down (ish - I just finished my lap around my neighborhood)

It ended up being just a bit over 3 miles and an AWESOME workout. Just in case you're wondering what my paces are, my jog pace is 9:30-10, race pace was around 8:10 and my sprint was around 7:15. If you want to know what your training paces should be, I highly recommend looking it up on Google "run training pace calculator" :-)

This is my post-run and pre-core workout selfie. I wanted to show you guys I'm not even kidding about being the sweatiest beast of all time. They say the more you sweat the better your body is at keeping it's temperature regulated and it's a good thing, so I'm going to roll with what "they" say this time. I sweat because I'm an awesome body temp regulator. 

Speaking of my core workout, I'm trying to focus more on my transverse abs right now, so I looked up "transverse abdominal workout" on youtube and did the highest rated 10 minute workout I could find. 

Little Cat wanted to say hey post workout as well, so "hey" from Little Cat. His real name is Marley (because we give our cats dog names...), but for whatever reason I've pretty much always called him Little Cat and it has stuck. Moving on...

How I Survived my C-Section (but just barely)

Let me tell you a little story about a girl named Jamie whose son had shoulder dystocia when he was born and had some struggles right after his birth. Needless to say, when I found out I was pregnant again I was worried about everything, including my preeclampsia that I had with Justin in my final trimester and the shoulder dystocia at birth. That ish is scary, my friends - Justin didn't breathe right away and the last thing you want to hear after giving birth is nothing. You want those throaty, desperate infant cries, AMIRIGHT? 

About 2/3 of the way through my pregnancy with Jules I voiced my concerns to my doctor and he said that since Justin wasn't a large baby, the dystocia probably happened due to the way I'm built. He recommended I have a c-section and then told Jason "if it was my wife, I'd tell her to have a c-section".

*insert angry face here*

Even though all I really wanted was a "regular" birth, I reluctantly agreed to a c-section and we scheduled it for January 20. Deep down in my gut I felt like it was the wrong choice and I do wish I had listened to my intuition. Did I get my beautiful baby girl out of it and escape alive? Yes. But I think we all kind of know what's best for us when/if we listen to our gut and I didn't listen to mine and I do regret it. 

Before you start thinking I'm slamming c-sections and/or people who schedule all of their deliveries, I promise I'm not. I'm a firm believer in moms doing what's right for them - c-section, all natural, epidural, champagne in the delivery room, breastfeeding, formula feeding, cry-it-out, cosleeping...you do you, mama! But for me I feel having a c-section was the wrong choice. 

So we get up way before the buttcrack of dawn on January 20 and head to the hospital for our scheduled c-section. 

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Look at how cute and excited we are! 

The c-section itself was not bad at all. It was like 15 minutes and BOOM, baby.

And she cried immediately. 

I was even able to do skin-to-skin for a couple of minutes before they took her back and cleaned her up and stitched me up.

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Then we were wheeled into the post-op room and this is where I ran into an issue. I had a 2 nurses - one who was the boss and one who was training. The nurse who was training asked me if I'd like some ice chips to see how my stomach tolerated it. Unfortunately she gave me a huge spoonful of ice and I ended up aspirating a piece and gagging/coughing for a couple of minutes. I was still completely numb from my c-section and didn't feel any pain at the time, but ended up popping a stitch and bleeding internally. This eventually ended up leaking through my exterior stitches and was a horrifying and terrifying sight - I'm talking murder scene stuff. I was so-so tired (more than I should have been) and could hardly get up and walk - I even blacked out at one point and almost fainted. Turns out I actually lost a lot of blood and ended up needing two blood transfusions and had a hematoma, which caused me to be extremely tired and terrified I was going to die. As far as I'm concerned I'm done having children - two extremely awesome kids is enough for me, and having scary complications with both of them is enough to turn me off of ever wanting any additional kids. 

They tell you when you have a c-section the best thing you can possibly do for yourself is to get up and walk around ASAP and while I was planning the birth and hospital stay I had every intention of doing this immediately. I was going to get up within hours and walk and pee by myself and have an awesome sushi meal and some champagne. Unfortunately due to my complications, I ended up not really being able to walk around until after my transfusion and then it was so painful due to the hematoma and ripped stitches that I could hardly make a loop around the nurses station without crying. 

By the time we were released and made it home, I was in rough shape. I kept running fevers on and off and could hardly walk. I remember Justin helping me walk back and forth along the hallway outside our condo several times a day while Jason stayed inside with Jules and I could hardly do it, which is obviously quite a departure from my usual running/push-ups/working-out-like-a-fool self.

I guess that wasn't such a short story, but I wanted to get the point across that my c-section sucked and it was probably out of the ordinary, since it seems to me that most of the people who have them are fine within days. That being said, when you leave the hospital after your c-section, your doctor will tell you not to lift anything and not to drive for 6 weeks and they send you on your way. That's it. 

A Cesarean is a major surgery. 

However it really isn't treated as such and a lot of women end up in lots of pain or have adhesions and other complications and have no clue what to do.

Well here's what helped me. 

This post will include some Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase an item I recommend I will get a very small commission. This doesn't change the price of the product; it's just a small (very small) thank you from Amazon for my recommendation. 

First and foremost, ask your doctor for a medical grade stomach wrap. 

It sucks and you won't wear it very long because it's horribly uncomfortable, but I honestly don't think I would have made it the first 2 weeks postpartum without it. These wraps are stupid expensive if you have to buy it yourself, so insist that you get one from your doctor while you're in the hospital and it will be covered by your insurance. Have your husband help you get it on, since you probably won't be able to get it tight enough by yourself. It will be uncomfortable, but I promise it's a lot better than the searing pain you will have whenever you cough or do pretty much anything the first few weeks. 

You might thing I'm over-exaggerating, but I am not kidding when I tell you I could hardly even walk for 2 weeks afterwards. 

Another plus of the wrap is that "they" say it helps shrink your uterus back down and get your pre-baby body back. 

Always have a pillow handy. 

You'll need to have the pillow to press on your scar any time you cough, laugh, or anything involving your core when you don't have a wrap on for the first couple of weeks.

Trust me here. 

Ask for help. 

My husband had to help me with literally everything for the first week. I couldn't even shower or use the bathroom or get the baby to breastfeed her without his help. He had to help me wipe and saw and did things I never thought I'd allow. He was absolutely amazing and more help than I ever could have imagined and I love him for it. 

C-section underwear

I'm not even kidding when I say these saved me. I was still feeling pain for months postpartum and having these to compress my incision was the extra thing I needed to get through the every day stuff. Yes, they're hideous and yes, they're pretty expensive; however they are 100% worth it and I would recommend them to anyone getting a c-section. I ended up getting two pairs and swapping them out every day, wearing one and washing the other. 

You can find the sizing in the images for the product and it's based on your current waist size (your preggo waist). So I went with the L-XL and they fit perfectly - you want them to be super tight but obviously don't want them to be so tight you can't pull them up.

Push yourself, but not too hard. 

I quit the hard painkillers a few days after getting home from the hospital, so everything hurt really really badly for weeks. I'm talking searing, horrible pain - I have a pretty high pain tolerance, so that's really saying something. Still, I persevered and made myself walk as much and as often as possible from the moment I could. By 3 weeks postpartum I was forcing myself to take a longer walk almost every day, and walked 2-3 miles as often as possible. Yes, it hurt. But I knew I would feel so much better more quickly if I kept it up. 

I would either wrap my baby up with me or push her in the stroller and listen to a podcast (I highly recommend you listen to Straight Talk with Ross from the beginning if you're looking for a hysterical podcast to listen to) and then I'd walk as far as I could. And then the next time I would push myself a little further. I remember it took me over 40 minutes to walk 2 miles the first time I tried to go that far and tracked it. There were some days where I would wake up with a lot of pain in my incision so I knew I needed to scale it back a bit, but overall walking helped me to feel better and I know it helped me recover more quickly. One thing that helped me a TON with walking was to wear a waist belt - by this point I was over my hospital grade wrap-thing, but still needed some extra support. 

You can find it at Walmart or on Amazon, but this belt helped me a lot with giving extra support on my incision. Just wrap it around you as tightly as you possibly can. I felt like I was in Gone with the Wind when I'd put this shit on - you know the scene where she's holding onto the bed post and getting her corset tied up? And if you haven't seen Gone with the Wind we cannot be friends. So go watch it now, because we should totally be friends!

I also recommend making your walk a family affair. Whenever possible I would wrangle Jason or Justin into my walk, which made it a lot more fun and also got them out of the house. 

Just make sure you go by yourself a lot too - it's a nice break from everyone else and Jules slept through our walks 99% of the time so I could just listen to my podcast and laugh maniacally because it's that funny.

Scar massage

Talk to your doctor before doing this, but I highly recommend starting scar massage as soon as possible. I didn't find out about this until months postpartum and it wasn't mentioned to me by my doctor, even though it's a mandatory part of cesarean recovery in other parts of the world. Seriously, look it up. Other countries include scar mobilization massage as a part of their postpartum recovery, as it should be. A lot of women develop adhesions post-cesarean, which sucks because adhesions can cause a ton of issues, including but not limited to back pain, bladder issues, pain during intercourse, and other fun things. If you don't start scar mobilization massage early enough, there's really not a ton you can do - they can do surgery sometimes, but that usually just ends up resulting in more adhesions. Scar massage also helps to diminish that beautiful mommy apron I'm sure my fellow c-section moms love as much as I do. 

There are some places in the US where you can get this done professionally, but it's rarely if ever covered by insurance here...another reason why maternity and postpartum care sucks in the US. That being said, there is plenty of information that can be found online and there are even some videos on YouTube that give you directions - as mentioned, I discussed with my doctor and he said it's absolutely fine to do and said the techniques I had found online were great. So again, talk to your doctor first and clear with them before starting anything. 

Lastly, don't give up on yourself

I still have pain and issues with my incision and my daughter is 15 months old. Like I mentioned, I didn't start scar mobilization massage until I was a few months postpartum (maybe even 6 months) and I definitely have some strange muscle imbalances and issues that I'm convinced are related to my incision. Every once in awhile during a workout I'll feel a strange pop around my scar and I speculate it's an adhesion being ripped/popped. It's hard to explain, but if you've ever experienced it I'm sure you know what I mean. Sometimes it hurts and I have to stop what I'm doing, but most of the time it's almost like a strange release feeling. There have also been times where I'm doing plank work and I cannot lift my right leg if I'm in a side plank - it's the weirdest thing. I used to actually collapse to the ground when I first started trying to workout postpartum. But I carry on with my workout as long as there's no lingering pain, continue massaging my scar when I remember and carry on with my life because that's all you can do! 

And regardless of how much my c-section sucked, it was totally worth it for this little princess. 

Picture from Monday morning - she thought she was so cute (and she was).

I hope this list helps someone out who is either getting ready or has already had a c-section. And don't let my story scare you off - I was one of the very few people who ended up with a complication and from what I have read/heard, most people end up fine! But regardless, take care of yourself and make sure you have that damn pillow for when you cough/laugh - you'll need it!

Also, don't feel bad if you're voluntarily scheduling your c-section. Do what's right for you! Not everyone wants to push a watermelon out of their hoo-hah and that's fine!

For those of you reading who have already had a c-section, did you have any complications or were you pretty much fine afterwards? Have any of you experienced any of the weird muscle imbalances I have/am experiencing? It's so weird and I don't have 100% evidence it is from the c-section, but that's the only thing that changed since I started experiencing them. So Dr. Jamie has diagnosed it as such and so that's what it is. Medical degree thanks to Google, just in case you're looking for my credentials. 

I hope everyone has a fantastic Tuesday. 

Why I Run, Plus My Gear Recommendations

Happy Tuesday! We made it through Monday, and oh what a Monday it was! That was probably one of the Monday-iest Mondays that ever Monday-ed!! It was such a Monday that Jules couldn't even handle it and slept terribly and woke Jason and I up a bunch of times and we're both zombies today. Needless to say, waking up this morning was a bitch.

Holy crap am I beautiful first thing in the morning or what?!? 

I didn't even take an after picture, so I'll just leave you with the above gloriousness and move on.

First, I want to let you guys know about a challenge that I'm having...with myself. I'm currently the only participant. But it's something I really need to do and I think it will help a lot with my anxiety, which I talk more about here.

I've decided to challenge myself to meditate every day for the next two weeks.

It doesn't have to be a long and crazy meditation with om'ing or heavy breathing. Just a 5-20 minute guided meditation in the morning or at night or even at work when I need a mental break. I decided to do this challenge this morning when I had a few minutes after my workout before I needed to jump into the shower and did a quick 6-minute guided meditation and love the way it made me feel. So I'm putting it down in my blog, which makes it official and public and you guys can chastise me if I fail. Deal? Do any of you want to join? I'm using the Insight Timer app, which is free and totally awesome! Let me know if you want to join in!

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This is usually where you can find Scooby whenever I meditate - this is an old picture, but 9 times out of 10, he's trying to sit on my lap or rub all over my face, which is suuuuuuper relaxing. *insert sarcasm here* 

Speaking of Scooby, he does seem to be doing a little bit better after being on antibiotics for a week and a half. He's still not 100% his old self, but he's started sleeping in bed with me again (he wraps himself around my head) and he and Little Cat were playing like crazy people this morning, tearing up and down the stairs and all over the house. He's also put on 0.2 pounds from last week, which makes me very happy. Hopefully he continues to improve - thanks again for your happy thoughts while he was sick!

Today I thought it would be fun to talk about why I run.

Running is such a scary thing for so many people and most non-runners seem to be intimidated to start. Coming from a prior lazy AF non-runner, I truly believe that anyone can be a runner and reap the benefits. Which are many. I also use these reasons to fight the voice in my head telling me to hit the snooze button in the morning or stay on the couch and surprisingly enough, it usually works. And when it doesn't I take that as a hint that my body needs the rest and I listen to it. 

Most people start running because they want to lose weight, which is precisely why I started. My ex-husband and I had just gotten divorced and I wanted to drop the baby weight so I could be a MILF. So I started running. Coming from being a person who simply hated to exercise at all, it wasn't the easiest thing to force myself to do, but I have the feeling getting out of work an hour early to go exercise (this started while I was in the Air Force) helped motivate me from the start. I wouldn't run a ton - just 10 to 15 minutes to start, sometimes indoors on a treadmill and sometimes outside. 

Cool story about running outside in Alaska...

I was running by my house on base and the base wildlife officer came tearing down the road and told me to get behind his car. Not even 10 seconds later a huge black bear came running out of the woods, right in the path where I was running. Holy shit-my-pants moment, right? I'm pretty sure I stuck to the treadmill after that. 

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. After a few months of adding running into my routine, I noticed I had dropped all the baby weight plus some. AWESOME!

My original reason to keep running was for continued weight loss. 

I think this is why most people start and continue running, because it does work remarkably well for weight loss at first, especially if you've been pretty sedentary. While this worked well for me when I was younger, I've since had to add in a lot more strength training and other methods of working out to try to lose weight, but that's another post for another time #gettingoldersucks

So you may be thinking to yourself, why in God's name are you still running if you no longer think it's the most effective way to lose/keep weight off?  Good question! Here are the other reasons I run. 

Endorphins

Even the worst runs I have ever had still give me endorphins. And I have had some serious bitch of a doozy runs. I've been halfway out on a 10 mile out-and-back in April in Florida, ran out of water, and starting having heat exhaustion symptoms. Meaning I had to walk/jog the rest of the way back, stop in a gas station as soon as I could find one to get water, and try not to cry about it where anyone could see me (this happened while training for the Country Music Half Marathon). But even then, I was still amped up and happy afterwards.

The runner's high is real and I love it!

Also, I need that shirt. 

Running helps me cope

Some of my favorite runs have been when I'm either super pissed about something or super sad about something. For whatever reason, I go out there with those emotions and I either pound the SHIT out of the pavement to get out my aggression or run a seriously therapeutic cry out of myself. I am not a big crier and have a hard time getting myself to cry, but when I'm super sad or bummed about something I've found that going running always gets me to cry and then I feel a bajillion times better afterwards. And then I smile and take a selfie. 

Pigtails

Where else can I get away with wearing my hair in braided pigtails? I've even learned how to Dutch braid my pigtails now which is a bit more complicated than the French braid, but way cuter. Braided pigtails are my go-to long-run/race hairdo now because they look cute and keep my hair out of my face. And no one judges me for being a 30-something runner with pigtail braids, when it may not be socially acceptable elsewhere. Not that I care or anything, because I don't. 

I run to be a good example

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Even though Justin absolutely loathes being active, he knows that by doing it he will be a healthier and happier person. I can only convince him to do a workout with me every once in a blue moon, but even when he refuses to participate I know that by being a good example and having running/exercise a part of my regular routine, he'll get to that stage eventually himself. Luckily it usually doesn't even take that much convincing to get him to join me for a run while he ripsticks (newfangled skateboard thingy) so I'm able to make him be active without running since he currently hates it. 

 

 

Jules has had no choice but to be a part of my runnin, since she's been my running partner through both a half-marathon and 5K training. She usually just sits nicely in the stroller for about 20 minutes before falling asleep for the remainder of the run, and she almost always wakes up when I've finished and laughs and smiles through my stretches.

I have this super secret hope that one day we'll run races together - shhhhhh, don't tell anyone. 

I run to always do better. 

I am super competitive. Sometimes with other people, but most of the time I am competing to beat myself. When I started really getting into running and started running races with my dad's wife at the time, I found out that I was actually pretty fast; I think I was running 8 minute miles without any training, just some recreational running here and there. I stuck to short races (5K to 5 miles) for years until I ran my first half marathon in 2012. I didn't train very well for the race and didn't run it very fast (I think I finished in 2:06 or something like that), but even though I hated the race and it hurt and I was way slower than I'd planned, I knew I had to run another one so I could beat my time. The next half-marathon I ran I knew I had to get under 2 hours, so I trained and really pushed myself and managed to meet that goal in 2014. Every race thereafter, I've been trying to beat myself in one way or another. My newest goal is to run the Mount Dora Half Marathon (my PR course; I've PR'ed twice there) in under 2 hours postpartum after totally blowing up during the race in 2016. I would also like to PR my 10K, since I actually have a really slow 10K time (in my opinion, 56:11) and there is nothing more motivating than a new PR. 

It's peaceful...

Yes, seriously. Sure it hurts and you're sweating and breathing heavily and sometimes your IT band or piriformis starts acting up and you know the run is going to end up being a shitshow, but even then it's still peaceful. My runs are my time that I get to myself, when I otherwise don't often get any time to myself (even in the bathroom right now #toddlerlife). I always try to make it a point to look around me while I'm running and appreciate the view. Whether I'm running on the beach, running through a neighborhood, or running through mountains - there is always beauty to be found. I can listen to music (just not too loudly - be safe, people!), zone out a bit from the every day stressors, and pound the pavement. 

The above pictures are from a run I took in Upstate New York in July of 2015. I miss running in the mountains!

You have to buy new stuff all the time - any excuse to go shopping is a good reason for me!

Overall running is a pretty cheap sport. You really just need decent running shoes to start. But once you get into it and start doing crazy things like running races or long distances, you will need to start buying some new stuff - some of this will be so you're comfortable and some will be so you don't die (see above story about the time I started to have heat exhaustion halfway into an out-and-back 10 mile run). 

On that note, here are my top recommendations for gear. 

I will be including some Amazon affiliate links. These links do not change the price of the item or do anything other than give me a small (very small) kick-back for making the recommendation. Thank you for the support!

Shoes

I started with Aisics, moved to Mizuno, and finally found Brooks. 

I love Brooks running shoes. 

I've actually had my gait tested and was fitted for running shoes and hated the shoes they told me I should wear. So my motto now is to run in what is comfortable. I also prefer the shoes to be purple - it makes me run faster (runner's superstition). My absolute favorite running shoes were the Brooks PureCadence 2, but they were discontinued like 3 years ago. I actually still run in them sometimes (I have two pairs). I don't like the way the new PureCadence models or the PureFlows feel, so I haven't been able to commit to a different shoe just yet. However I've heard a lot of really good things about the Brooks Launch, so I think I'm going to give them a shot next. ASAP, since I really need a new pair of running shoes. 

The picture on the right is from a couple of years ago - let's just say I have a few more purple running shoes thrown into the corner of the closet right now. I have an addiction.

Along with shoes, you really need good running socks

 

I used to run in whatever I could find, but found that my feet would slide around and I'd sometimes get blisters during longer runs. So I did some research and ended up finding the Thorlo brand of socks and haven't looked back. They're comfortable and supportive and amazing. Buy them. 

 

 

Clothes to run in

When you first start out, you'll probably be fine running in any old pair of shorts and a ratty old t-shirt (I know that's what I did), but once you start factoring in heat and cold and sweating and wanting to look cute, you'll want to start investing in some good running clothes. 

For pants I've always had really good luck with the running capris from Target. I also picked these beautiful dip-dye leggings up on Amazon a few months ago and they've quickly become a favorite because I'm basic AF and love anything dip or tie-dye. And the high waist keeps everything tucked in tight, which makes me a lot more comfortable than when my waistband falls down and my stomach flops all over (true story - not comfortable)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a hard time with running shorts right now since I'm still a bit over my pre-baby weight and find my shorts tend to ride-up whenever I run, which drives me bat-shit crazy. Chub-rub sucks.

However one of my goals for 2017 was to get back into running in shorts, since it's so god-awful hot in Florida 80% of the time.

I had really good luck with the Brooks Chaser short and Oiselle Roga, so I'm planning on breaking those out this month and giving them a shot during one of my shorter, morning runs. I know they fit since I use them for other workouts, but haven't gotten up the nerve to try running with them yet since having Jules.  

As you can tell with both pairs of the shorts, they have a wide waistband, which is key to prevent any muffin top digging. They also both have several pockets throughout the shorts, which are a good enough size for a GU, chapstick, or your car key.

As for shirts and sports bras, I tend to buy what's on sale and what's made for the heat. I like the UnderArmour heat gear tanks and love the sports bras from Target. I'm not super well-endowed, so I don't have good advice in regards to sports bras for more support, but I've heard the bras from Moving Comfort are pretty amazing. 

Sun Protection

I live in Florida, otherwise known as the Sunshine State. That's not a misnomer since it is SERIOUSLY sunny here most of the time. Unfortunately I struggle to run with sunscreen since it makes me sweat even more than usual (and I'm a sweaty beast). I'm taking sweat pooling in your shoes and streaming into your eyes here. Due to this, I don't usually run in sunscreen unless I'm on the beach or an unshaded area, and I try to run as early as possible and on a shaded trail. I do recommend that you run with sunscreen when at all possible. I do take extra precaution to wear a hat or visor because I suffer from melasma and getting any sun on my face results in some serious skin discoloration. I tend to use whatever hat I can find laying around the house until it starts getting super hot out and then I break out my visor. And I love that the band soaks up all of my sweat from my forehead and scalp so it doesn't get into my eyes. 

Running watch

I used apps on my phone for years and they worked just fine, but I love having a running watch. I've owned two Garmin's and highly recommend them, but especially recommend the newest one we got in January. Yes, it's refurbished - I buy everything refurbished since it usually just means a customer got it, didn't like the color or something, and returned it. This watch can do everything I need during a run including vibrating at me if I'm running under the pace I want to be running at, which is super helpful if you're training for something. It's easy to read and I was able to set it up without reading the directions, so it's easy to set-up too! 

My Garmin runs always tend to be more accurate than the apps I use on my phone, which is also really important when you're training for a race. Also, this watch comes in purple if you can find it (but the refurb price was more important to me than it being purple)

Water bottle

This is especially important in Florida or for any run over 4 miles or so, but I prefer to run with water all the time. I used to run with this and it works okay for shorter distances, but it was never enough for anything over 7 or 8 miles and if there weren't any water fountains on my route...heat exhaustion. I'm not a huge fan of the water bottles that you wear on your waist, so I will probably look into getting a bigger handheld bottle when I start training for my next half marathon in September. 

Technology crap

Since getting my new phone (the iPhone 7+), I had to upgrade most of my gear, since I preferred a pair of wireless ear buds and something to carry my phone in that wasn't an arm band due to the phone being so effing big. I did a lot of research and settled on...

The above ear buds, which are only $26 and are FREAKING AMAZING! I have a seriously terrible time getting ear buds to stay in my ears for any length of time during a run. Which is infuriating when I'm sweating and need my music to keep me going and the ear buds keep falling out. These suckers NEVER fall out or need adjusting. I'm not even kidding when I say I love them. And the music quality is so much better than the other ear buds I've tried. Needless to say, I highly recommend them. 

And this waist belt, which is only $8. I start my music, shove my phone in, zip it up, and turn it so the phone is on my booty. And then I run and forget it's there. It doesn't fall off or really even move the entire time. 

Fuel

Prior to leaving for a run (or in the morning before whatever workout I have planned), I always drink my watermelon Aminos. I've said it before, but I love this stuff and highly recommend it. It gives me clean energy without any jitters, there's no artificial colors (with the watermelon flavor), and I don't experience a crash later in the day. Also coffee gives me heartburn if I drink it prior to running and this stuff doesn't.  

If you plan on running more than an hour, you should plan on bringing something with you to snack on/replenish the salt lost through sweat/replenish electrolytes/give you energy. I have always had good luck with GU, and almost enjoy the salted caramel flavor - I think it's the most palatable.

A word of caution, I only eat about half at a time and eat it slowly while drinking water. This stuff is very thick and sweet and sticky and it's hard to swallow if you try to eat too much. This might be disgusting to some of you, but when I do have one I slowly eat half and then shove the other half in my sports bra for later. #extrasalt #frommyboobsweat

The thing that I LOVE to eat before a longer run is a honey stinger waffle. I usually have a bagel at home an hour or two beforehand and then have a waffle right before taking off. These things are delicious and I always eat one before any long run that's more than 6 miles. I have a fairly sensitive stomach and these never bother me and give me a nice burst of energy #carbs

That's all I have for today! Please let me know if you have any recommendations for gear you love for running. Do you have a favorite running shoe that you're diehard loyal to #brooksforlife, or do you think I'm a crazy person? 

I hope you have a fantastic day - thanks for stopping by!

Never Skip a Monday

How is it Monday already?

Did anyone else seriously struggle to wake up today? And also struggle to fall asleep last night, meaning today is going to be a struggle squared.

Especially the day after daylight savings...why is this even a thing anymore? 

Especially the day after daylight savings...why is this even a thing anymore? 

Before I jump into the real subject of the day, first I thought it would be fun to share some weekend happenings. Jason was working this weekend so that means I was on my own with the kids. We spent a lot of the weekend running around and doing errands, grocery shopping, and threw in a hiking trip for good measure.

On Saturday we stopped by a puppy store and looked at two different puppies, a husky and a goldendoodle. Both were adorable and we loved them, but they're not "our" dog. And yes, I am actively looking for my new dog - I think I'm finally ready and I miss having one (Jax is awesome, but he is definitely Jason's dog). Can you see the husky's eyes though? They are so blue and he was so playful and fun, but after living in Alaska and hearing the constant howling of the husky's at the dog sled houses, I have always said I don't want anything to do with a husky. Plus, we live in Florida. It's hot here and they like the snow - it almost seems cruel to have a husky here, but they're actually a really popular breed in Florida right now.

On Sunday, Justin, Jax, Jules and I decided to go on a hiking adventure before hitting up Subway for lunch and going to the grocery store. We went to this place outside Sanford/Lake Mary called Black Bear Wilderness Area Trail. It's a 7.1 mile loop, but we only did about 1.5 mile out-and-back, since it was hot and we didn't really plan for a 3 hour hike. Jason went here once with one of his friends and they saw alligators and all sorts of stuff - we only saw birds. But I'd rather see only birds than come across a bear or an alligator up close. 

Moving on to today's topic, which is never missing a Monday.

This is something I try to abide by every single week unless I have the plague, which was where I was at last week. I've found that as long as I get my lazy butt out of bed and get my workout in Monday morning, it starts my week off on the right foot and I have a more productive week overall. On those occasions that I miss my Monday workout for whatever reason, I tend to be less active overall. Case-in-point, my workouts last week were less than stellar:

  • Monday - no workout, I had the plague
  • Tuesday - no workout, plague-recovery
  • Wednesday - strength training & pilates
  • Thursday - kickboxing
  • Friday - strength training
  • Saturday - nothing and no excuses for it; I was lazy
  • Sunday - strength training & 50 minutes of hiking

That's actually about half of what I would normally do activity-wise. A lot less cardio than usual and while I obviously needed to take Monday and Tuesday off, I could have been more active the rest of the week. But I skipped Monday and it threw everything off (that being said, my body probably needed me to be less active than usual, so I don't mind.) Respect your body, people!

So this week I'm going to hit-it hard, especially since it's my last week of doing Chalean Extreme before starting a new P90X/Running hybrid I made up and will post below. First, my schedule this week:

  • Monday - Run 3 miles (done)
  • Tuesday - Chalean Extreme Lean Circuit 1 & pilates
  • Wednesday - Run 4 miles, short yoga
  • Thursday - Chalean Extreme Lean Circuit 2 & pilates
  • Friday - Run 3-5 miles, do some sprints in there somewhere
  • Saturday - Chalean Extreme Lean Circuit 3 & HIIT
  • Sunday - Rest Day and I'm going to need it because starting on Monday.......
MadreDiem P90X & Running Hybrid
See the definition in my tricep? Love it!

See the definition in my tricep? Love it!

This is going to be a really intense schedule, but I think I'm ready for it. My body has changed a lot since I started Chalean Extreme, and it's all for the better! I've pr'ed in the 5K distance (and won 1st in my age group, NBD), and I've lost 7 pounds, some inches, and gained some serious muscle definition. I will do a final weigh-in and results post later on once I'm completely done and have been able to get everything noted down.

But now I'm ready to get really fit and badass again. I want to be able to do pull-ups again, and P90X is heavy on the pull-ups.

I'm talking constant pull-ups...

Also, while I've really enjoyed Chalean Extreme, I haven't really been sore. Like so sore you can't sit down to pee sore...and I remember being like this the last time I tried P90X and hope for more of the same this time. I like to be sore, at least for a day or two. 

One of the reasons I have never finished a round of P90X is because I'd always gain weight whenever I'd do it. I was always like, noooooooo I need to lose weight, I can't gain it. And then I'd quit and run like crazy until I lost the weight and then injure myself because you can't just run; you need strength training. Well it's been a few years since my last attempt and I've since learned a thing or two more about fitness than I used to know, including the fact that you tend to gain weight whenever you start a new program, but especially a strength program. So I know I may gain a couple of pounds here and there, but they'll drop off and eventually I hope to lose the final 5-7 pounds that have been hanging around since having Jules. One part of this will be cleaning up my diet, but I'll post more about that later another time since I've already written quite a bit. 

Needless to say, I will not be skipping next Monday.

And I highly recommend you don't skip it either. Find something active that you like and/or can look forward to, and make sure you start every week off right. 

What are you currently doing fitness-wise that keeps you active and excited?