Best sports bras for pregnancy and breastfeeding

One of the very first big changes I noticed during pregnancy was in the breast department. I wish I could say that in a more eloquent way, but plain and simple, your boobs get LARGE. If you are looking for really good … Continue reading

How to stay motivated and prevent runner burnout

Falling off the fitness bandwagon  I have had this conversation with a few different lady friends recently, and I know it’s something so many of us deal with, maybe on the daily. For me, personally, I am in this running/healthy … Continue reading

I didn’t listen to you guys. . .

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



What I thought I knew.

I thought I knew a lot before I had a baby. I realized the things I was “so sure of”, I’m really not so sure of now, and new challenges appear daily. Its the most pressing yet fulfilling time of my life. Here’s what I know now:

I thought breastfeeding would feel like such a sacrifice. Although I had a goal of doing it for 6 months or maybe longer, I secretly thought I’d probably give up earlier, because it would restrict my freedom and other knowingly selfish reasons. Honestly, I was dreading it a little. I was totally unaware of how powerful hormones were, and never thought I’d enjoy the one-on-one time with E as much as I have. My goal is now to do it for a year. Just me and her. It’s amazing. I look forward to coming home to feed her. Its one of my favorite times of the day.

breastfeeding wherever. i’m all for normalizing it. it’s a beautiful thing for mom and baby.

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

one of the few runs when i’ve finished after the sun rose. usually i finish and it’s still dark. this was a treat, so I took a pic 🙂

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

bubble baths? no more time for that. that’s okay.

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

E wears cloth diapers probably 80% of the time

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

first postpartum race! Thanks Breakaway Running.

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

my dear friend Jenna loving on E.

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

coming home to them every day is the best. Jon’s in school, so this situation works for our family right now.

 

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

love my fam so much

Until next time,

Katie

My Postpartum Journey: Week 0

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

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2 days postpartum. honestly, feeling great!

I promised I’d share my recovery plan week-by-week, so let’s get down to it.

Like I said, I was up moving around and going on short walks within a couple days. I remember being wheeled out of the hospital 24 hours after giving birth and thinking, “I really don’t need this wheelchair.” I didn’t say anything to the nurse or patient transporter just because protocol is protocol, but I honestly could have walked to the car by myself. Also, in full disclosure, I did have a second-degree tear, and a few stitches, but I never actually felt anything painful in that regard after birth. Tears really are not as bas as people make them out to be or what you think they might be. Like I said, I never felt it.  I would describe the discomfort postpartum more as just, well, discomfort.  

I gauged my activity levels the first week by the amount of lochia my body produced. One day I went for a 45 minute walk, and I knew it was too much when I was bleeding heavier than normal afterward. Again, not painful, just crampy, and I knew I needed to back off a little bit. During pregnancy, you become pretty self aware of when you’ve overdone it, and postpartum is very similar in that regard. You are the best determiner for your activity level. Your body will let you know, I promise.

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7 days postpartum. don’t be deceived, there’s definitely still a tummy. please notice Eli’s jealous face LOL.

My goal going into what I called “Week 0” in my training log was simply to start with short walks (20-30 minutes), and to also begin a core and pelvic “re”-strengthening program. I never really understood before I gave birth what people meant by “your core and pelvic area are totally wrecked after you have a baby,” but trust me, I found out veryyyy quickly what they meant. Lol. Basically, you have all this weight in the front of your body that steadily increases over 9 months, and then all of a sudden the majority of it disappears, so you’re left with most likely a tilted pelvis, rotated sacrum, and nonexistent abdominal muscles. Woof. Trying to run with all that jacked up is a terrible idea. Don’t do it. Don’t think you’re “different” and can just power through it. I maintained a pretty intense strength-training regimen up until the day I delivered Emerson, and I was STILL jacked up in the pelvic/core region. So, if there’s anything I can stress in this post, it’s to tackle that area first and foremost. And, be very careful at the same time.

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

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

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

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

2ndtri-warmup-cat

Sahrmann #1 (this is best explained on this link 

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Kegels 

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

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

trying to fit it all in.

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

The 6 week postpartum running update.

For fear of totally inundating you with a vomit of words on the screen, I’ll give a quick update, then focus on how I’ve managed to return to running and training amidst the millions of hours of breastfeeding, pumping, diaper changing, and on some miraculous days, getting my own life together and taking a shower! WOOF.

First date night out! 5 day old baybay

6 weeks. It’s the time in a newborn’s life when they “wake up.” All of a sudden this tiny little thing has LUNGS! They discover their hands and feet, and they even start to socially smile.

6 weeks. This is the week I went back to work, and Jon began his manny duties (he coined this term, not me). I will be honest and say it was a pretty rough transition in our house. Jon was incredibly helpful the first 6 weeks of Emerson’s life, but nothing quite prepares you to be a solo parent while the other whisks off to work. At the end of the day, I come home from my job all energized and happy to see them, and he is utterly exhausted. It’s all such a learning process. One thing I do know: he really is the best dad, and I can’t imagine a better person to be there for our daughter at this stage in her life.

6 weeks. By this point, I’ve been running for 4 weeks. I was so surprised when my midwife cleared me to begin exercising (“with caution”) at 2 weeks postpartum. While I was incredibly fortunate to have an easy labor and delivery, I know that I couldn’t have recovered so quickly had I not had a plan in place. At just 2 days postpartum, I was ready to do short walks and begin core and pelvic exercises. Prior to giving birth, I put together a recovery plan, and because it worked so well for me, I want to share!

baby’s first visit to the track.

Over the next few posts, I’m going to do a week-by-week breakdown of what I did recovery-wise that helped me bounce back so quickly. By the time this post goes live, I’ll be nearly 2 months postpartum, and up to about 30 miles/week with one speed workout + one long run. Overall, I feel good.

When I was nearing the end of my pregnancy and coming up with this plan, I remember trying to find some sort of similar guide for how to come back safely to running, and what you need to do to ensure you are doing what’s best for you, your body, and your baby. Unfortunately, a lot of women leave the doctor’s office after their postpartum checkup, and are told they can exercise again, but that’s about it. What is safe and reasonable is usually left out of the conversation. Additionally, while there are some very broad resources out there, I couldn’t find anyone’s personal journey, which is what I find to be most valuable. I’m looking forward to sharing what worked for me, and hope you’ll follow along!

6 weeks with this cute easter egg. 

A Year in Review and what to expect for 2016

While my blog was pretty dormant in 2015 I still think “a year in review” is fun to write and read. One yearly recap I particularly loved reading was Tina’s. I appreciated that even though I get her posts in my inbox each week, the end-of-year recap still seemed like fresh news! Hopefully I can portray that same feeling with this post.

Without a doubt, I can say I grew more personally and even athletically in 2015 than ever before. Technically, even though I ran less than I have in previous years, the amount I gained in wisdom from various experiences will prepare me for the year ahead more than any workout could.

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

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

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

2015

The challenges that made me stronger: 

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

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

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

New aspects of my training I implemented:

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

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

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part of the problem with my hips was “hip drop” from a lack of glute med strength. thanks to my best friend/personal Physical therapist, Jeni, for filming and catching this imbalance!

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

What’s on tap for 2016: 

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

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

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

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couldn’t do any of this without this handsome guy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for following along on this journey!

Katie