Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Five: Postpartum Running Tips

Linking up today with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for Friday Five 2.0

You might all be tired of reading about my crotch by now, but I'm going to share a bit more about it anyway. I've been fairly lucky in my running carer so far, never having any serious injuries. I never would have dreamed that the issue that would keep me out for my longest break ever would be my pelvic floor!

It seems like pelvic floor issues, in women generally and specifically postpartum, are gaining awareness. My doula, midwife, and others, made sure to remind me that I can seek treatment, I didn't just have to live with it if I had issues. I know prior generations had more secrecy about these things, and I'm glad it's becoming more known that there are treatments, but it can probably stand to be put out there more. When I first felt what turned out to be a mild bladder prolapse, I started googling it and was seriously afraid that I'd never be able to run again.

I'm still just barely starting this return to running (finally, after a couple false starts!) and I certainly don't think I have it all figured out - I welcome any other tips and advice anyone has to share! But here are some thing that I've found important to keep in mind when having to improve and strengthen your pelvic floor to be able to safely and healthier return to running.

Not running with the stroller yet, but he can sit in it
for walks without the car seat now!

1. Ease into it. Seriously, progress even slower than you think you should. I didn't even start with Couch to 5k, because those 60 second intervals might have been too much. My physical therapist threw out the number 10 seconds as a suggestion - which I thought sounded ridiculous, so I went all the way up to 15 seconds! 

2. Wear a pad, even if you don't think you need to. I didn't really have the stereotypical issues of leaking while coughing or sneezing, so I truly had no idea how bad things were until my first run. I wore a pad, just in case, and that was a good thing. Until you get things figured out, it doesn't hurt to err on the side of caution.

3. Wear black pants/shorts - just in case. Even once you think you have it all figured out and are on the road to progress - just like everything else baby-related, progress isn't linear. You might not have peed yourself on the last several runs, and then all of a sudden you will. And you'll be really glad you're wearing black pants that make it not too obvious.

4. Talk to your doctor/midwife about it, and see a physical therapist if you need to. Not that I'd given much thought at all, prior to this, to what it takes to have the ability to not pee. But I didn't really know that there are physical therapists who specialize in pelvic floor issues. My midwife recommended one in particular, and she's fantastic. My issues are a combination of weak muscles, tight muscles, and scar tissue. So our sessions include trigger point massage for the tight spots and scar tissues, as well as practicing contractions (both talking through them and using an electronic device to track the pressure), and getting recommendations for what to practice on my own. Even just having her describe kegals or ab contractions in specific ways have made it easier to do them more effectively, in a way that just reading advice on Dr. Google didn't.

5. Don't give up. While there might be a temporary set back, we live in a time with tons of medical advancement. There are treatments and options available. Depending on the severity of your issues, those might escalate beyond doing kegals (even up to surgery), but there is almost certainly something you can do to make your body work the way you want it to.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

TOTR: Three Running Wishes

I don't want to make too many posts just be listicles and/or link-ups (although when I'm busy it's easier to get something posted if I have the focus/direction of such - but I hope I generally still maintain my own voice here and am creating content that's relevant to me and interesting to you - any feedback on this?), but I found this week's Tuesday on the Run theme to be really interesting to think about and wanted to join! So today I'm linking up with Marcia, Erika, and Patty for Tuesday on the Run. 

This week's theme: the running genie has appeared and granted you three wishes - what are they?

1. I would like my calf tightness to go away. Throughout my running years, tight calves and occasionally extending into tight ankles/achilles has been my biggest recurring issue. One small benefit of not being able to run for the last bit of pregnancy and for a while postpartum was that my calves felt normal for once! But as soon as I started consistently running again (and, uh, not stretching consistently) (and returning to work and wearing heels consistently), my calves are insanely tight again! 

2. I would like for super easy running/heartrate training to always be fun. I know it's important, and there are definitely times when being able to go out nice and slow and zone out is relaxing and just what I need - but there are times when it isn't, and it'd be easier to see the improvement that it causes if it were always enjoyable!

3. To run an entire marathon without walking breaks. I'm not one to think that you're not "really" running if you take walking breaks or use an interval method, nor is it even about walking slowing down my time. Just for the sake of accomplishment, I want to fully run 26.2 miles. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

C25k: Week 1


Thursday: Run 1.65 miles (8 x 60 sec / 90 sec, 16:53 pace, 46*, 8:00 pm, 128 bpm)

Intervals 11:30 to to 12:51.

Saturday: Run 1.65 miles (8 x 60 sec / 90 sec, 15:16, 48*, 4:15 pm,139 bpm)

Intervals 9:13 (seriously? I'd like to believe this) to 12:38.

Sunday: Run 1.65 miles (8 x 60 sec / 90 sec, 17:06, 45*, 6:30 pm, 122 bpm)

Intervals 11:42 to 13:24. 

Total running: 4.95 miles
Average daily steps: 9,131

I totally dropped the ball on the yoga thing. Early mornings have not been happening (well, they have been, because baby. But I've been going back to sleep/napping any chance I get.

I've also been eating crap, and I've gained weight, and I've reached my breaking point where it's no longer ok. I came home from the hospital 20 pounds below the end of my pregnancy, and within a month or so had lost another 10 (which I claim no credit for - just reduction of fluid retention and whatnot). I've now gained 20 since then (30 over my pre-pregnancy lowest weight, which is my goal to get back to, eventually). Yes, I'm 10 pounds heavier than when I came home from the hospital after having the baby. I need to fix my eating, and I need to keep myself accountable, so I'm going to be sharing progress and goals here. 


Weight: +30 lb
Chest: +5" (I realize this is in large part breastfeeding related, but not 100% I don't think)
Waist: +6" (mommy pooch seems to be real)
Hips: +5" (also possibly birthing related, but again, probably not 100%)

Next week's food goalStart the day with a mug of ACV, lemon juice, honey, and hot water.

The alleged health benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar might just be woo, but even if so it would be beneficial for the first thing I taste for the day to not be diet coke or other junk. I think (hope) being consistent with a (small) new habit will help snowball other new habits.

Next week's active goal: Meet at least one of the three fitness tracker goals each day.

I'm still using my fitbit, as well, but my work changed insurance on January 1 and they issued pedometers that we can use to earn points that reimburse our deductible. I have somewhat mixed feelings about the "big brother watching us" and dictating health actions and whatnot. But it is motivating to get steps in when you're earning actual cash, not just bragging rights against your friends.

You can earn $1 each day for each of three things: Walking 300 steps within 5 minutes, 6 times during the day (frequency). Walking 3,000 steps within 30 minutes, once during the day (intensity). Walking 10,000 steps total for the day (tenacity). Even if I'm nowhere near 10,000 steps, I can still accomplish the other goals, especially the frequency one.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Five: Benefits of Winter Running

Linking up today with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for Friday Five 2.0. The theme for today is "winter fitness rants" - but I'd rather go the opposite direction! Maybe (ok, probably) it's just because I've been out of the exercise - and running, in particular - game for several months, but I'm enjoying the winter running ("running", such as it is) this year. It does have its perks.

What usually passes as "snow fall" in Portland,
though we had much more than that this year!

1. The cooler temperatures mean you can head out for a run on a nice weekend afternoon (rather than have to get up insanely early to beat the heat) - and that makes it perfect for the whole family to head out. Especially since I'm doing running intervals, I've joined Abe the baby for my weekend run/walk the last couple weeks. I run, walk back, walk together, etc. We can even make our route towards a park nearby for baby playtime now that he's old enough to sit in the swing (though doesn't seem terribly thrilled so far). 

2. Those cooler temperatures also mean your pace isn't impact by the heat - so you can feel awesome about how much faster you are than in the summer! This is particularly relevant when just getting back into running - I know my paces aren't, and won't be, anywhere near my pre-pregnancy paces for a while. But not being hampered by hot weather and at least makes what I'm capable of a little easier to handle.

3. To stay cool in the summer, you can only strip down so far. It may be annoying to have so many freaking layers on, but at least you can keep adding layers to stay warm. 

4. I actually really enjoy the peace of being out on a dark, cool evening. Less foot traffic or vehicle traffic, easier to just enjoy the sky and stars above you. 

5. Of course, in the dark you do need to make sure you're visible to others - I think it's fun to have different reflective and lighted gear. At the moment I have a reflective + blinky vest and blinky lights on my shoes. I just saw a suggestion on Amazon for lighted and reflective slap wristbands, which I'm very tempted to get!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Pre-C25k: Week 0


Monday: Bike trainer 15 min (est 3 miles) + yoga video (15 min)

Tuesday: Run/walk 1.65 miles (8 x 45 sec / 2 min, 16:52, 37*, 6:30 pm, 114 bpm) + yoga video (15 min)

Intervals 10:21 to 12:54

Thursday: Run/walk 1.65 miles (8 x 45 sec / 1:45, 16:29, 50*, 8:30 pm, 121 bpm)

Intervals 10:29 to 12:04

Friday: Yoga video (15 min)

Sunday: Run/walk 1.65 miles (8 x 45 sec / 90 sec, 17:43, 50*, 1:30 pm, 124 bpm)

Intervals 10:18 to 11:49. Family run/walk, with Abe wearing the baby. We went to a park, and when I was done with my intervals, we let the baby try out the swing (he can essentially sit up by himself)! He wasn't too impressed.

Total running: 4.95 miles
Average daily steps: 8,312

Monday, February 6, 2017

Pre-C25k: Week -1


Monday: Yoga video (15 min)

Tuesday: Yoga video (15 min)

Wednesday: Run/walk 1.65 miles (8 x 30 sec / 2 min, 16:39 pace, 36*, 7:30 pm, 75 bpm (um, what? I highly doubt that)) + yoga video (15 min)

It was crazy windy during run - the kind that had occasional gusts that made you feel like you weren't even moving. (Garmin data shows 16 mph. Generally I'd prefer that the wind not being moving at a faster speed than I am!) But felt good other than that! Intervals from 10:14 to 12:04.

Thursday: 30 Day Shred level 1 (20 min) + yoga video (15 min)

I used 10 pound weights for the first two circuits! Only 5 for the third circuit, but it's one that inherently needs lower weights (movements involving arms straight out). 

Friday: Run/walk 1.6 miles (8 x 30 sec / 2 min, 17:22 pace, 36*, 7:15 pm, 123 bpm) + yoga video (15 min)

It was icy in the morning, but we didn't get the massive degree of freezing rain and ice that was predicted for the day; by the evening it was merely rainy a bit. Intervals from 10:20 to 13:54. 

My neighbor, who'd also seen me head out on Wednesday's run, commented that I didn't let any weather stop me from running, making me feel pretty good. She'd also commented near the end of my pregnancy that she was impressed seeing me stick with running - I've kind of surrounded myself (virtually, at least) with so many runners (who are sometimes extreme - I actually felt kind of down that I couldn't run through my entire pregnancy, as that seems reasonably normal), it's motivating to be reminded sometimes that that entire population doesn't view running as so normal, but rather a big accomplishment!

Saturday: Run/walk 1.7 miles (8 x 30 sec / 2 min, 16:31, 37*, 5:00 pm, 132 bpm) + yoga video (15 min)

I think it'd be best, especially for these first few weeks and perhaps even through the whole Couch to 5k program, to avoid running back to back days. However, at this point the forecast for Sunday had 100% chance of precipitation from 5 am to midnight - and potentially some of it snow. So I decided I'd rather not run in pouring rain and/or a snowstorm, and got it done Saturday afternoon. Finally got pretty consistent with my interval pacing - 10:26 to 11:56, and most right around 11.

Sunday: Yoga video (15 min)

Total running: 4.95 miles
Average daily steps: 8,708

Although I didn't manage to do the yoga workout every single day of January per the 30 day challenge, I definitely did more yoga than I would done otherwise! I still need to do some "after" pics of the poses that I did "before" pics of to see the visual progress, but in many poses I feel like things are coming a lot easier, both in flexibility and strength. 

To keep it up, I decided to use a 7 day yoga challenge on the same youtube channel, and do it four weeks in a row during February. I think the repetition of the same workouts will be good to really solidify some moves and more easily see progress. Plus, that repetition should make it easier to form the habit of doing yoga every morning, and they're all only 15 minutes long so reasonably to make the time for it!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday Five: My Home Workout Space

Linking up today with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for Friday Five 2.0. Today's theme is about gyms and workout spaces - I do the vast majority of my working out at home (or just stepping out the door from home), so I wanted to share what my setup currently is and the equipment/tools I use. 

A spaceFirst of all, obviously, you need a space to workout! But - I think it's important to note that it doesn't have to be a dedicated space solely for your home gym. I do most of my home workouts in the basement - this is what that looks like: 

Super neat and motivational exercise environment, huh?! I suppose if I put some effort into organizing (and keeping organized, which is really the key) the basement, I could have a portion that was just for exercising and keep equipment laid out ready for use (and maybe add some aesthetics beyond a concrete floor). But as it is, it's really not that hard to pull out what I need, and yet keep it out of the way of other uses of the basement the rest of the time.

My bike (when not using it frequently outdoors, which I haven't since before being pregnant) stays hooked into my bike trainer, which allows me to easily flip it up against the wall. (When it's pulled down, it blocks access to both the litter boxes to the left and some of the storage to the right.) And easily flip it down and put the front wheel on the stand to ride it indoors.

The weights and rolled up mat just hang out to the side of the washer/dryer, the mat generally on top of whatever boxes are currently stacked in that area. While working out, the mat goes in the main cleared out space of the basement, which is directly in front of the washer and dryer.

I do at least have some race memorabilia hanging in the stairwell to make the space somewhat more workout-oriented and maybe even give me a boost of motivation when needed.

One exception though is that I usually do yoga (on a nicer mat that's kept just for yoga - I'm not going to take the one that sits on the basement floor where kitty litter gets tracked all over the place into a yoga studio) in the living room (or sometimes in the baby's room). For yoga I think there's more benefit from having a nicer environment around you! The rest of the house is definitely more zen than the basement.

My computer. There's so much available online you can do for free or cheap, and without leaving your house (the latter being particularly important now with a baby!). I've paid, at times, for subscriptions to DailyBurn and; I've also found a lot of stuff for free on Youtube - some Jillian Michaels videos and a yoga channel I'm really liking currently. I also watch netflix when riding my bike on the trainer (my laptop nestles perfectly on top of the handlebars and brake wires). 

Adjustable hand weights. With limited space, not to mention having to store them out of the way in between workouts, I think this style of dumbbell is perfect. You don't have to pull out every set if you're using different weights within the same workout - you just have to store the one pair, and adjust as needed for each exercise. Plus, the total set, which really gives you 5 pairs, is not much more than buying one individual pair that you'd have to replace to use a higher weight. 

This set is 5-lb increments from 5 to 25 lbs; I also used to have one that was 2.5-lb increments, from 2.5 to 12.5 lbs (that one is now in my mom's possession for the 30 Day Shred workouts - she's moved up from the 2.5 to the 5 pounders!); I found both at Target. 

Doorway pull-up bar. Probably the gym equipment that seems hardest to replicate at home is the assisted pull-up machine. I definitely can't do a real pull-up! (Not anymore... I was getting to be able to just barely eek out one last year after doing NROLFW.) So just a bar isn't enough. But a bar, which is cheap and fits securely in a doorway without any installation (out of the way - unless you're 6'4" but Abe just ducks his head), plus resistance bands to assist (you can also put a chair underneath for assistance or do reverse pull-ups) give you a lot of options to build upper body strength.

Rec center membership. Yes, I do most of my workouts these days at home - but sometimes you need another option. For swimming and the occasional treadmill run or alternate cardio (stair stepper, most often), I buy a monthly pass to the local parks & rec district facilities. 

The drop-in pass is only $30 a month (or cheaper if you have more than one family member or buy for more than one month at a time), and gets you access to all of the aquatic and cardio/weight room facilities - which is several locations. There are some by home and some closer to work. Cheaper than all but the cheapest gym, especially for multi-location access.

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