There are two types of run out there in Saltyland. Mostly we run just to run; to get the workout done with no distractions. Sometimes though, running can be a super-practical way to multitask. That’s the second type of run: the practical variety. Got an easy jog on the schedule? Combine it with errands for superwoman-style efficiency! Need to transport something from point A to point B? Just run with it and save on gas money or public transportation. Boom! Miles in the bank! Read more >>
I grew up playing piano. Like, really playing piano. I was obsessed. In my teens, I even created my own arrangements for recitals. I used to be able to practice and perform under any circumstances—my baby sister would be running circles around me, shouting overhead at our mom, and I would keep playing, completely unfazed. TV blasting, phone ringing, vaccuum roaring, others in my house roaring at each other … I would keep playing. I loved it so much that I could block out everything else and focus on the piano only. When I played, I was only vaguely aware of the TV, of the appliances, of the screaming.
In adulthood, I’ve lost that precious, childlike ability to focus in compartmentalize and hyper focus on a single task without melting down about my surroundings. In fact, I am totally aware of everything swirling around me at all times. The closest I’ve ever come to that focus since childhood? Running, obviously.
Perhaps less obvious is that my inability to tolerate the swirling vortex of chaos without running is exactly why I had to step away from it. Or so I thought.
Is this thing on? It’s been a minute since I’ve blogged. Er, actually, about five years. If you remember me from before: congrats! You are a true Salty Running devotee. If you don’t, that’s okay. My MO was pretty straightforward, maybe even trite: qualify for Boston, but ya know, keep it balanced. I felt like I had a good perspective.
Running is only a part of my life, not my whole life, she wrote, presciently.
Even after I left the Salty-verse, again and again, Boston was my goal. If you don’t do that, at least PR. If you don’t do that, why show up? I shaved some time off my 26.2 mile journeys. I teetered on the right side of overtraining. It was working.
Balance is a funny thing.
And then it wasn’t. First I bonked a race, hard, then I dropped out of another due to heat and a cranky hip. I didn’t even start another. I did run the Flying Pig Marathon in Spring ‘16, but DNFed again that fall, and then again last spring. If you are keeping track, that would be a DNS and three DNFs. That last one really stung because I felt like it would be a big one. I had hired a coach and was nailing my workouts. I wasn’t going to qualify, but I had a solid time in me.
Sometimes running is just a thing, and sometimes it seems like the only thing.
What was going on with me? The truth is, I had crossed over to the wrong side of the edge and a lot of things in my life were going wrong. People had cancer. My dog was really sick and we weren’t sure why. My career was a mess. Why couldn’t running be what went right?
Sometimes, you don’t realize that running has become your only thing.
Last spring, everything changed. I got a new job. Actually, The Job. Pretty darn close to my dream job, only there are neither puppies nor free ice cream. Slowly, and then all at once, something shifted in how I thought of running.
Just a few weeks into the job, I decided to downgrade my fall marathon to a half. Life needed to come first. This was a big career change for me, and I wanted to be sure to get it right from the outset. That meant passing on the stress and struggle of marathon training while I got settled; I didn’t want to ever say no to an opportunity because of a run.
A few weeks after that, I was t-boned while driving home. I was mostly okay – just some cuts and bruises – but my car was not. After taking ten days off and still feeling pretty shaken, my goals for my annual Fourth of July 10K were completely different. Nothing like your car doing a 180 to change the way you look at things. It was my slowest 10K ever, but who cares?
Throughout the summer and into the fall, I kept missing runs after having to move them around several times. Before, going for a run was a top priority because it provided stress relief, an escape, a bright spot in my days coping with a job I had outgrown, among other Big Problems. But now I don’t ever want my job to be the thing to give.
Finding balance takes practice.
What I envisioned as a fast fall half turned into an easy run alongside a dear friend, our only goal to run the whole way and to spend a fun weekend together. Check and check! I felt spent after and pulled out of the half I’d planned a few weeks later. I needed a break. I wanted running to be fun and not a to-do list item.
Y’all, I needed to hit reset on my relationship with running.
So I ran when I wanted to and slept in if I wanted to. I went to cat yoga (twice, actually!) and also normal human yoga. I listened to what my body wanted. Then, one day, as they do, a Facebook memory sparked something in me when it popped up. It was a photo from the 2012 Monumental Marathon.
And I’ll admit, my first thought was how good I looked. But what really hooked me was how happy and fit I seemed. I remembered the race and how so many things had gone wrong, from missed connections to a dead iPod to hail (HAIL!), and how I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Eh, I’ve got this.” And I did. I was well trained but not overly so. I wanted a certain time, but it wasn’t the end of the world when I didn’t get it. It was the last race I could remember that seemed like I’d had it truly right, and I wanted that again.
I’ve struggled to explain this to some people, because I had PRs after that. As if they want me to put a clock time to this easy way of being that I’m after. But I can’t, because there isn’t one. It isn’t about time.
It’s about attitude. It’s about balance.
So that’s the story of how, in the past year, I have reclaimed my time and redefined my relationship with running. And really, truly made balance A Thing I Do. I’m not just paying it lip service or doing it just enough to come back from injury. Balance is now firmly ensconced in my being. I go to yoga 1-2 times a week. I row 1,000 meters and track my progress. I lift weights. I have some races on the calendar, but I’m keeping it wide angle and making a long slow build.
I can’t prescribe a formula for how to get there. I certainly wouldn’t recommend the path I took.
It’s easy to say you want balance when you have it, but you don’t really appreciate it until you’ve been knocked off kilter.
Finding balance takes practice. It is my practice to find it.
Okay, maybe the word “blissful” is not the best way to describe how I felt running in the earliest weeks of my pregnancy. In fact, I fluctuated between joy and pure anxiety about my lack of control over my body. This is my first pregnancy, so I have no prior experiences to compare with the way I feel right now.
I didn’t have the worst first trimester experience, but I definitely was not experiencing that pregnancy glow. In fact, I wanted to punch anyone who told me pregnancy was a beautiful thing, a feeling I attribute to the hormone surges. A lot of changes were going on in my body, and it definitely changed my running routines, as well. I had good runs and not-so-good runs. Slower paces and more frequent walk breaks became the norm.
It wasn’t easy adjusting to this change. Running has always been my stress relief, my therapy. When it felt like it became much more difficult, it was frustrating. Being pregnant has already made many things more difficult; why does my running have to be so hard, too?
So here it is, in all of its glory … my experiences running in the first trimester!
We runners are an impatient bunch. After a year or so of downshifting our running due to pregnancy and childbirth, we’re raring to find that running identity again. But physical changes mean physical challenges. Runners who’ve ever been pregnant often joke about peeing our pants – just a little! – on the run. Is it sweat on those gray shorts, or is it pee? Tee hee. And we laugh at the outdated medical advice that women shouldn’t run because their uterus might fall out, but pelvic organ prolapse is a real phenomenon (read Poppy’s guide to pelvic floor 101!)
Welp, the dreaded plantar fasciitis has come back to bite me in the heel. It’s the other heel this time, for some reason. I’ve fought this monster before and emerged victorious, but it took a long time. This time around, I’ve started fighting it more quickly and more seriously, rather than trying to run through the pain before giving up and starting treatment weeks or months later. Hopefully this will let me get back to running as quickly as possible. In the meantime, since this is not my first rodeo (to switch fighting-animals-metaphors midstream there), I’ve got some coping techniques at my disposal. Not gonna lie, I am seriously unhappy and dealing with injured-runner-rage over the return of this injury. But the advantage of having to fight again is that I know what to do. Read more >>
Whether intentionally or not, everyone lies to their coach. This is a terrible idea. Why do we do it?
What’s that? You’d never lie to your coach? Are you sure? Because there are a few different ways it can happen. You might not even be aware you’re lying!
There is lying by commission, such as:
- Yes, that pace felt quite easy! When actually you were huffing and puffing.
- My foot is fine. Well, there was that one little twinge, but I won’t count that.
- I ran too far because I got lost. Which you knew would happen, but it was a beautiful day and you just felt like running further.
- Strategically stopping and starting the watch to manipulate how the workout appears.
Then there is lying by omission, which is even easier:
- Failure to mention that recurring hip pain.
- “Forgetting” about a local 5K and racing it anyway.
- Simply running too far (or not far enough) but not saying anything about it.
Baby Mango is here! Well, to be more precise, baby Mango is over a month old. There’s nothing stopping me from writing here. She’s a sleeper. I’m just lazy! Her first and middle name mean ‘peace’ in two languages and she’s living up to it, completely unlike her big brother, with whom we stumbled around in a sleep-deprived haze for the first two years. She is a ‘trick baby’ – tricks its parents into thinking babies are easy. (100% of smug sleep-training guides are written by the parents of trick babies.) I joke that if we’d had her first, the kids would be closer in age…
So mentally, I could go back to work tomorrow. Emotionally and intellectually, I really enjoy baby snuggles (and catching up on my reading/ TV, heh) and I know that this is probably going to be the last time I have a teeny tiny infant. Meanwhile, my husband had a couple of weeks off and is working from home. We don’t have any family nearby so having him around for non-baby chores is invaluable! Thanks to a flexible, all-but-dissertation grad-student schedule, we spent the last two weeks reconnecting over board games while the baby napped and the big kid was in preschool.
Physically, the last few weeks of pregnancy, I was just DONE. Basically any time I left the house, I was a sweaty, uncomfortable mess, buoyed only by the thought that I couldn’t possibly be pregnant forever. Fortunately, labor and delivery were fast and intense. The day before my due date, we went to the hospital at 8am, contractions cranked up suddenly, I got an epidural at 12.30pm, and by 3.30pm, voila, baby. Being well-rested and pushing for only 10 minutes has made recovery that much easier – no pee leakage and my pelvic floor, core and legs feel so much stronger than the first time around. I also feel uncannily level: no night sweats, no mood swings. I was such a disaster the last time! Bodies are strange.
What now? I’m itching to run again. Starting again will be slow and frustrating. But I trust that my body knows how to run (been running for fun since I was 12) that it’ll come back to running when I’m ready (having taken breaks before, first for dance and then for baby 1) and that I’ll one day feel stronger and sharper and hungrier for speed than I ever have before (not ‘back to the same’, but beyond it).
I’ll run this fall, but I’m not planning to race till mid or late 2019. I want to enjoy life with two kids, remember how to enjoy running again, figure out a new routine, and while I’m doing so, figure out how to fit the necessary ‘extra salt’ into my routine. What better time to build in the extra salt from scratch, if my world is going to be turned upside down and rebuilt anyway?
How do you build extra salt – strength, stretching, rolling, etc – into a routine? I need your best tips – if you work and have more than 1 child, what does your routine look like?
For a man, being a father and a runner don’t always go together. In fact, finding time for running together with a career, partner, and social life can be as challenging for a guy as getting all their kids buckled into the minivan without anyone having to go potty — you think you’ve got it all under control, until everything comes crashing down. Ladies, do you ever wonder how these supermen do it all? In this Week in the Life, a busy #fatherrunner tells us how he balances family, work, life, and running. Read more >>
Today we’re addressing a question from reader CW that she left as a comment on a post about how to run a sub-3 marathon. CW asks a very common question: how to get back to her pre-baby race times.
Can it be done? Absolutely. Two of our resident fast-as-F moms, Hops and Parsley, have been there and done that. Below, they share their top 3 tips for CW and anyone else in her situation. While the question is sub-3-specific, the advice can apply to any woman at any level looking to train seriously again after having babies.
I am 32 years old now with two kids (seven months old and a three year old) and I really want to get back to racing. My last marathon was Boston Marathon 2013 and I ran it in 2:51. I ran that by running pretty much every day — maybe one day off every two weeks. I consistently did one long run a week of 18-22 miles with some at goal marathon pace and did at least one tempo run a week. I raced a 10k and half marathon in the training period to gauge fitness. I PR’d in the 10k with a 37:37 and half marathon with a 1:23. After having my first baby, I started running three days per week 6-ish miles at a slow pace for me. Then I got pregnant with my second kid (now 7 months old). Currently I am running three days a week about six miles per run. I really want to start training for another marathon but have no idea where to begin. Any ideas or training plans? I’d love to be fast again.
Sure, being pregnant and going through childbirth (and subsequent recovery) taught me a lot about what the human body is capable of. And coming back from pregnancy and childbirth forced me to get back into shape. I’d never needed to do that before. I was always in a constant state of getting more in shape, fitter. But not back into shape.
In any case, those lessons weren’t terribly surprising. What was surprising was how pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood have changed how I feel about running a race but not racing it. Read more >>
I started running because it felt good and offered relief from a stressful home environment. I mean, it wasn’t that bad, but in my family, something was always wrong. And after a run, it always seemed like everything was eventually going to be okay.
Over time, it got addictive. If I couldn’t control my home life, running was one thing I could control. Food had entered the equation, too, so there were two things. I started competing in high school track and cross country in 11th grade. Competition was fun, especially as I slowly improved on my meager 84-second 400 meter PR. But as the desire to control continued to escalate, my happiness decreased. I just couldn’t see it yet.
Underneath the carefully calculated miles and calories logged lay the belief that I wasn’t ever good enough. Read more >>
I ran a marathon in January. After that, I decided to take a break from marathons and from working with the coach that I had worked with for over three years. I honestly wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go with my training at all. I didn’t do any races in February (the first month in over two years that I haven’t done a race!). I did four 10ks in March and then I decided to chill a bit during April. Going into May, I gained a newfound sense of clarity as far as what I want to do in the next year, training-wise at least. There are still a lot of other areas in my life that are lacking clarity.
It’s been 32 weeks since I became a “party of two” runner, and those weeks have been about as up and down as your least favorite race course. As I come down the home stretch of this marathon, here’s a little update on my first experience running through pregnancy.
Running has been my “thing” for a long time; marathons have been my thing since 2011. Between 2011 and 2016 I ran 14 marathons. I’ve had amazing races, horrible races, races I ran just for the experience and everything in between – but no matter what, the distance kept drawing me in. The last marathon that I ran was Boston 2016, while 5 weeks pregnant. I had a blast, crossed the finish line, but certainly didn’t race it. After that I didn’t start two planned marathons: once because I had just suffered a miscarriage, and once because I was pregnant with Hannah.
So my last 3 marathons before I toed the line at the Buffalo Marathon this past weekend were comprised of two DNS and one altered Boston experience. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing but it certainly made the lead up to this year’s Buffalo Marathon on May 27th a bit more emotional. I also had to remember what taper and race prep felt like for a goal marathon. The last time I truly raced a full marathon was my 2:58 at Erie in 2015. Here we were in May of 2018, three years later; my PR felt like a lifetime ago. I trained hard but ultimately had no idea what to expect from my first post-partum marathon.
Read more >>
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