Staying Strong and Running Outside

“#MilesforMollie”

Can I just start by recognizing how wonderful the running community is? While none of us knew Mollie Tibbets, we felt like we did. Because she was someone who enjoyed running. She was one of us. Simple as that.

Lately I’ve been thinking about all the runners who have been attacked on their runs – too many of those stories the past few years. Today, like many runners, I joined in running #MilesforMollie and dedicating my run to Mollie.

It was a particularly foggy morning and it was still dark at 6 a.m. Chris was leaving early for a golf tournament so I knew I couldn’t wait for the sun to come up; I needed to get out the door, and be home and showered by 7 to see him off and be ready for Abel’s start to the day.

Luckily I was planning a shorter run so, even though it was humid and warm, I was able to take Burton with me. He’s 25 pounds and more bark than bite but something about having him with me makes me feel safer. I enjoy running without headphones and haven’t used them for years so that wasn’t a worry. Chris knows my typical short morning routes and knew when to expect me home so I had that in my head.

Yet, even with all this, I still found myself looking over my shoulder far more than usual.

I honestly never used to feel unsafe running outside. Only within the past year or two, as more and more stories have been shared of runners being attacked, have I been a little scared each time I run outside.

Burton – protects Abel, protects me…sort of

Scared enough I avoid some of my favorite trails because they’re too secluded.
Scared enough I go through an escape plan in my head of where I’ll sprint to if someone were to approach me.
Scared enough I run at a pace that gives me enough energy that I could sprint at any given time, if needed.
Scared enough I put my hair in a bun because a ponytail or braid is easier to grab.
Scared enough I’m seriously considering running with my phone or mace on every run.
Scared enough that I’m no longer afraid of being hit by a car, I’m afraid of being forced into one.
Scared enough that I have a jogger stroller but I’m not sure I even want to use it (mess with me, okay but mess with my son – oh HELL NO).
Scared enough that – while only once – I’ve skipped an early morning run because my gut told me it was a bad idea.

While I no longer have the 100% safe feeling of running outside that I used to, I refuse to stop doing it altogether. I love running and I love running outside. If the opportunity to continue doing it means I have to look over my shoulder more often, stick to boring main roads and well-lit neighborhoods, and carry mace, I’ll do it.

What I won’t do is be scared into giving it up. Runners are strong. We’re a community that supports each other, even if we don’t know each other. We’re going to keep going.

Have recent years made you more fearful of running outside? Do you take new precautions you never thought you would? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

A Fitness Blog – and a Mommy Blog

“Write what you know”

Ever since I started blogging four and a half years ago (that’s a long time but it feels like even longer!) I’ve enjoyed it. I love to write, and I love to run, work out, and be well – and, most of all, I love to write about things I love to do – such as running, working out, and wellness.

In addition to writing about things I love to do, one of the reasons I believe blogging continues to be a positive experience for me is that I write what I know – again, enter running, working out, and wellness. Which brings me to something new that I know and my topic of this post.

Maybe I should have Abel become my blogging assistant…

When I announced I was pregnant late last year on the blog, I clearly stated this wouldn’t become a mommy blog. While it hasn’t, totally, I’ve realized it’s unavoidable to a certain degree.

I’m a mom now. It’s perhaps one of the biggest roles I’ll play in life so it’s natural that it has become a big part of who I am. I may not know it all but it’s my new normal. As a writer who writes what I know, it’s also only natural a lot of my posts have a parenting twist.

While I do my best to keep my thoughts from being completely parent-wellness-focused for my non-parent readers, it’s not always possible. This is now who I am, this is now what I know.

For those of you who have read this blog awhile and are still here, thank you. I hope you still find good info, humor, and enjoyment in the reading. And for those of you who come across this blog searching topics like, “Is it safe to work out when I’m pregnant?” or “Getting back to running after having a baby,” welcome! This is going to be a great place for you now, too.

What’s something major in your life that has altered the way you look at fitness and wellness? Please share it in the comments or tweet me at @LindsayIRL.

Running a Half Marathon Post-Baby

“Nothing is impossible – the word itself says ‘I’m possible’”

On Saturday, a hot, hazy August morning in Fargo, I lined up at the start for the GoFar Woman Half Marathon. This race was extra-special for me, being my first half back since having Abel and my first pacing gig since last fall. Despite the warm, sweaty conditions, it felt so good to be back out there doing something I love.

Pacing and running with one of my lifelong BFFs (Maggie, on the left)

I was incredibly eager to run my first half post-baby – some might recall my recent blog expressing the joy I felt when I was able to get back into running. So it might come as a surprise to those who know me when I say it’s going to be my last half for awhile.

While I’ve adapted to getting up early to do my runs before Abel and Chris are up for the day, some days those 4:30 or 5 a.m. wake-up calls are tough.

Having a baby, no matter how good he or she is or how great a sleeper at night, is tiring. It’s a different level of tiring. And some days, as much as I love running and having that “me” time, I’m just not up for it.

Then there’s the mom guilt. Even though I do most of my runs before my son is awake for the day, I have this weird sense of guilt for leaving him. I’m worried something might happen to him or I might miss out on something – all because I went running.

I know running is important to me, both for my mental and physical health, so I’m not giving it up. Not at all. But I think I’ll scale it back for a bit, stick to the more manageable 2-5 milers. At least for now…until I get that itch to pace or do a longer race again ☺

Fellow parents, do you feel it’s tough – or any guilt – taking time for yourself to work out? Comment or tweet me @LindsayIRL.

Running In and Reviewing lululemon Clothes

“Fashion, turn to the left. Fashion, turn to the right”

In early May, I had a pretty cool opportunity. My running pal, Jake, who’s also an Ironman and has been featured on the blog, approached me about working with lululemon in Fargo. And when I say “working with” what I mean is demoing some running clothes and providing my feedback.

lululemon Fargo is having a grand re-opening this fall.

While I had only just begun getting back into running, of course I was onboard – and pumped. I mean, how cool, right? Getting asked to participate in anything running-related is always awesome, plus I had been wanting to try out lululemon stuff since the store arrived in Fargo but when I was pregnant I knew nothing would fit well. Even after having baby Abel, things still don’t fit great and I’ve been busier than usual…

Anyway, schedule and still-a-bit-larger-sized-than-normal aside, I eagerly met with the manager and picked out a pair of shorts and a tank to test out. After running much more regularly now, training for my first half back post-baby, I’ve been able to get quite a few miles in them. Here’s what I have to say:

Tracker Short IV
These have become my go-to running shorts, my favorite pair, my must-wear for long runs. The fabric is light and moves well (no chafing!), while giving a loose enough fit to be comfortable around my giant quads. There’s a little pocket on the side which I haven’t used yet but I could see being handy during a race (perfect size for a gel).

Breeze By Muscle Tank II
While my lululemon shorts are close to running perfection, the tank top hasn’t been the best fit for me – literally. I love the fabric and the feel, but the design isn’t ideal for my body shape. The design includes a thick elastic band at the bottom which, for someone slim, likely sits perfectly. I have a larger midsection and butt, so the tank rode up and bounced as I ran. The good news is, because it’s super-comfy and breathable, it will become a great go-to lifting tank for the gym.

Style
Even though I’m a believer in function over form, it’s always nice to have workout clothes that are practical and still look good, and lululemon stuff definitely looks great. I know most people probably tend to choose based on looks versus practicality so I think that’s worth mentioning.

Runners, have you tried lululemon? What pieces do you love? Comment below or tweet me @LindsayIRL.

Working Hard to Work Out

“Gotta work harder”

I have a confession to make. Throughout the first few weeks of my pregnancy I had FOMOR – Fear Of Missing Out on Running, which I’ve blogged about before. I saw someone out running or posting about a race on social media and I wished I could still do that.

Oh, I love my son and loved all the time I had with him in those early weeks, but in a small way I longed for those carefree days when I could go running basically anytime I wanted.

Waking up before sunrise so I can have more time with him – worth it

Needless to say, I was thrilled to get the okay from my doc to start running after my 6-week postpartum checkup. But running didn’t come back so easily.

Sure, I was tired from caring for an infant. Of course, I was out of shape. Yes, I was trying to keep up with housework, laundry, and everything else. But it wasn’t really any of those. As much as I love running and always enjoyed that time for me, now I hated losing that time away from Abel.

Spoiler alert – I’ve been running about three times a week and am training to pace a half marathon next month. To help ease the guilt, I’ve discovered I need to plan ahead more, often it means getting up super-early and running before my guys are up. But I can do it and I should do it.

This makes me wonder now, every time I see someone out running – maybe that person doesn’t have it so carefree and easy. Maybe he or she is working hard to make it work.

How do you make working out a priority? Do you rise extra early, squeeze in a workout over lunch, or pass up happy hour to hit the other bar? Comment or tweet me @LindsayIRL. Or, share your workouts on Twitter or Instagram and use the hasthtag #wellirl.

How to Meal Prep – Baby Style

“Meal prep is the new fast food”

Something occurred to me recently. As a new mom, I’ve spent probably hundreds of hours breastfeeding. Up until I went back to work a few weeks ago, I pretty much breastfed exclusively, with the exception of the nighttime bottle we introduced so my husband could join in on the fun of feeding our son.

Liquid gold, folks – liquid gold

Since going back to work, my life changed from feeding on demand to pumping as regularly as I can. Pump, bag milk, freeze it for later – pretty standard stuff for most working moms.

As I was getting Abel’s bottles ready for daycare one day, pulling out bags of frozen milk from the freezer, it dawned on me – this is meal prepping at its finest!

My husband is a champion meal prepper, and I try to do a few things here and there but have had trouble devoting time to it since Abel’s arrival. Either way, meal prepping is definitely a staple in our household. Maybe that’s why I equate pumping and storing milk to meal prepping. If I can’t do it for myself, that’s okay. But I love that I’m doing it for my son. And, as many of us know, breastmilk is essentially liquid gold in a nutritional sense!

As for adult meal prepping, how many of you do it on a regular basis? What are your go-tos or best tips? Comment or tweet me @LindsayIRL. Or, share your meal prep winnings on Twitter or Instagram and use the hasthtag #wellirl.

4 Ways to Work Out Outside This Summer

“Sweet summertime”

Hello, summer! Weekends at the lake. More daylight. Going outside without a coat. Even though winter is my favorite season, there’s a lot I enjoy about the summer.

One of the downsides of summer, besides uncomfortable heat and bugs, is it’s really easy to slack off on workouts. Between vacations, R&R, and the opportunity to be outside, it’s a little tougher to spend time in the gym. But there are great ways to be outside and get your fitness on.

It gets hot but it’s great to run outside

Here are my four favorite ways to take your workout outside.

1. Running
Okay, obviously this was going to be on the list. Sure, sometimes it’s uncomfortably hot and, yes, I will be the first one to bitch about how hot it is (but I never complain about how cold it is so that makes it okay ha ha) – but there’s really no better way to enjoy a nice day than going for a run outside.

2. Walking
You don’t have to be a runner to reap the rewards of outdoor exercise. Walking is a great way to get your heart pumping, burn some calories, and soak in some Vitamin D. Bonus, it’s a much more social workout than running so get a crew and make a date of it.

3. Yoga
Within the past couple of years, Fargo has really gotten onboard with outdoor yoga. Nearly every week in the summer, there’s yoga in the park, rooftop yoga downtown, or other outdoor stretch-fests. If your city doesn’t offer group classes, go ahead on your own. Especially after a run, I love doing my stretches outside.

Yoga and paddleboarding – two of my summer faves

4. Paddleboarding
I’m lucky to have more than one family lake home within an hour of the city. My favorite water activity is paddleboarding. After a hot run, I’ll jump right in the lake, cool off, and keep the burn going on the paddleboard. Other mornings, I’ll wake up and cruise for an hour down the beaches. Just last year, I finally tried paddleboard yoga – it’s tough but fun! I’m definitely no expert but have enjoyed trying. If you’re new to it, here’s one of my blogs with 3 paddleboard yoga poses for beginners.

Do you also love to do any of these activities in the summer? What are your other favorite outdoor workouts? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL. Share your summer workout pics on Twitter and Instagram too, and be sure to use hashtag #wellirl.

What to Expect – from Workouts – After You’ve Been Expecting

“Great expectations”

After what feels like a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it several weeks, I’ve started back at work. Overall, maternity leave was great. Don’t get me wrong, it was no vacation – it was much harder than my “day job” and much harder than I thought it would be. But it was also pretty great spending all that time with my son, getting to know him, letting him get to know me, and helping him adjust to his new world.

As someone who thrives on routine, I was excited to get back to work…and a little sad. I know virtually every parent has that bittersweet mix of emotions when going back to work, but I know it will be good for Abel to spend time with other people, learn new things from experts (first-time mom here so I’m no expert!), and get into more of a routine of his own.

While I definitely didn’t get back into the swing of working out during maternity leave as I maybe imagined or hoped I would, I did get back into it a little bit, to the tune of walking, EFXing and light running a few days a week. Now with going back to work and everything new that’s going to come with Abel, from adjusting his schedule to his next growth spurt to teething, I don’t see it getting any easier – but that doesn’t mean I’m not still going to try! And a big part of that is changing my expectations of myself and my workouts.

Workout or time with this face…easy choice!

I remember back in the day if I “only” did 30 minutes on the EFX or lifting, it seemed like a waste and I’d be hard on myself about it. Today, I managed to squeeze in a 20-minute run and felt glorious. So I’m happy to say that my expectations have already begun to shift a bit – though, I admit, sometimes I long for those days when I could knock out a 10k on a Monday night, get in leg day and an upper body lift, plus a little extra cardio, all before a Saturday long run.

Yes, I still crave the runner’s high and feeling of a good, long sweat sesh. But seeing my son smile and giggle, that’s something I really can’t get enough of. And something worth keeping workouts short – or skipping them altogether some days – so I don’t miss a second of his awesomeness.

Do you have any good, quick and effective workouts you love? Or tips for making short workouts really count? Please leave a comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

A Different Kind of Run Streak at the Fargo Marathon

“We’re going streaking”

The Fargo Marathon has again come and gone, and for the first time in 12 years, I was not at the start line of the full or half marathon.

Team Sam rides again

It was kind of a sad day for me, as running and this race in particular have been a big part of my life for more than a decade. I loved seeing all my friends’ pics on social media, even if they did make me a little jealous! But I know taking it slow as I get back into running is the best thing for me. And I know I’ll get back to it when my little is bigger.

On a positive note, I did keep my Fargo Marathon run streak alive by running the 5k with my friend, Christine and pushing her daughter, Sam. That’s 12 years strong participating in the event. It felt great to be part of it again and complete my first race since Abel’s arrival nine weeks ago.

Did you take part in the Fargo Marathon this year? Anyone out there run their first race recently? Let me know how it went in the comments or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

That Awesome Feeling of Getting Back to Running

“And I’m back in the game”

Last week was pretty great. In addition to another week with my baby boy, it was highlighted by something I’ve been looking forward to since I was 32 weeks pregnant with him. I finally went running!

I dressed for the mild, sunny weather, laced up my sneaks, and brought Burton with me on my maiden running voyage since my last miles six weeks before Abel was born. Taking the advice of several people, I started slow, just two five-minute runs in between walking intervals. I took the pace slow, too, running between a 9:30 and 10 minute mile pace.

One mile, people. F yeah.

Oh it felt so good to get back at it. It’s funny, I never thought running one mile and not peeing my pants (a very common side effect for postpartum runners) would be such an accomplishment but it was.

With that all-important first run in the books, I have some bigger goals in sight now; first, to run/walk the Fargo Marathon 5k. The plan is to do it with my friend and fellow Ainsley’s Angels runner, Christine, pushing her daughter, Sam. I’m so excited to take part in the Fargo Marathon in some way, as it’s a race I’ve done for more than a decade straight. We’ll see how things go as I start to increase distance but then my next goal is the GoFar Woman half marathon in August. Hopefully I can be a pacer, too, as I’ve enjoyed pacing the event the past two years.

It will be awhile before I can bring Abel with me on a run but that’s something I’m also looking forward to. In the meantime, he’ll just get to enjoy the positive side effects to me being back running – better mood equals better mom.

What’s the longest hiatus you’ve taken from running or your workout of choice? What advice would you offer someone just getting back into it? Please leave a comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

How Labor is Like Running a Marathon

“It always seems impossible until it’s done”

It’s April and, for the first time in years, I’m not in the midst of training for a marathon – which coincidentally means I’m not blogging about marathon training. Weird.

It just doesn’t feel right to not be blogging about marathon running this time of year. Since I like to blog about recent experiences and I recently experienced having a baby, combined with me having marathons on my mind, I started thinking about the similarities of running a marathon and going through labor.

Not ready to run yet but we’ll get there

Here are seven ways labor is like running a marathon.

1. Prep Work
Unless you’re that one random person who runs a marathon without training (which I don’t advise and do not support) runners put in several weeks of preparation, logging tons of miles, dealing with some level of aches and pains, and ideally eating well and getting more sleep. Labor is similar.

While the big event is the highlight, no one has a baby without the months of prep that is pregnancy. For some, this means some level of aches and pains but hopefully is more focused on eating well and getting more sleep.

2. You Must Buy Stuff
From specific shoes to moisture-wicking clothes to supplements, training for a marathon requires specific gear to help get in your best shape for race day. Labor is similar.

There’s a lot of stuff one needs to make it through the months leading up to labor and grow a healthy baby. For me, that included maternity pants, prenatal vitamins, and bigger workout leggings, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

3. All the Feels
When you line up at the start of the marathon, there’s a mix of excitement and nerves. This continues through the first few miles and brings additional feelings – some may feel overwhelmed by how much work there still is to go among other things. By the time you get into the later miles, exhaustion and pain may produce frustration and the typical, “Why did I decide to do this,” feeling. Finally, crossing the finish line – joy! Labor is similar.

When labor starts, there’s a mix of emotions, most of them happy. Once things progress and it gets more painful, that changes – I for one had the “Why did we decide to do this,” feeling during some particularly painful and close together contractions. But when our son arrived – joy!

4. Flying By
When you cross the start line and begin a marathon, it sets in that you have a long way to go and there’s hours of hard work ahead. But strangely enough, it goes by so fast and it’s over before you know it. Labor is similar.

Now I can’t speak to this as well. The actual labor portion of my experience was only about five hours. Many parents-to-be go through hard labor for 10, 20, even 40-plus hours – that’s right, two full days. But I have to imagine their feelings are similar in that, yes, it may seem like forever but before you know it, it’s over.

5. Never Again…Well…
The first time I ran a marathon, I swore I’d never do one again. Yes, this was around mile 22 or so when I wanted to die and the finish line still seemed so far away. To be honest, nearly every time I’ve run or trained for a marathon, I have proclaimed that this will be my last one. Spoiler alert: It never is. Labor is similar.

When my contractions started, it didn’t take long for them to start coming fast and furious. I can’t remember if I said it out loud or just to myself, but I decided right then and there this baby would be an only child. No way in hell I was going through this again. Fast forward to today, I of course would go through it again.

6. The Pain Continues
Even for the most badass runners, some pain and discomfort is likely during a marathon. And once you finish the race, the pain doesn’t end. It’s not uncommon to have soreness and pain for days after the marathon. Labor is similar.

There’s plenty of pain and discomfort during labor, and plenty more that comes for days, even weeks after. Let’s just leave it at that.

This – the ultimate victory

7. The Reward is Incredible
There’s no feeling like finishing a marathon. Whether your first or tenth, whether you hit your goal or not, it’s an accomplishment that goes beyond the actual race day; weeks, even months of discipline and work all for that incredible feeling. Labor is similar.

Making it to the baby finish line is an indescribable feeling. Not only is it a relief after all the work, you get the ultimate prize – not even the coolest finisher’s medal can compete with meeting your baby!

Speaking of marathons, Abel turns one month old on Monday April 16 – Boston Marathon day. We’ll be celebrating on Patriots Day by watching the marathon and BoSox game. I’m so excited for – and super jealous of – all the runners in this year’s Boston Marathon. Good luck and enjoy the run! It’s the absolute best.

If you have something to add to this post or any other thoughts on it, please leave a comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

From Wellness to Motherhood

“Some moms lift more than just their kids”

Wow. I’ve been incredibly MIA from the blog lately. Usually this time of year is filled with stories about marathon training, posts about all the food I’m eating, and a blurb about the struggle of trying to lift while running so much (why do I always assume this is the year I’ll be able to still lift hard and heavy while training for a marathon?). As much as I love the blog and my commitment to sharing new stories each week, the past few weeks have seen my focus shift to a much bigger priority.

The moment life changed forever…and I’d never sleep again

Nearly two weeks early and weighing in at just six pounds and one ounce, baby boy Paulson joined our family on March 16. We named him Abel and he has brought to us a wonderful mix of love, exhaustion, happiness, and frustration. Long nights and plenty of tough days have combined with sweet snuggles and so much love for this tiny human I didn’t know I was capable of.

With my days preoccupied, my nights no longer devoted to sleep, my diet being more restrictive than when I was pregnant, and my body needing some time to rest and heal, general wellness – working out, mindful “me” time, and eating to perform – have fallen to the bottom of the priority list. But even when I get the all-clear from my doc to get back to workouts, I wonder how I’m going to fit it all in, especially when I go back to work.

People always tell you having a baby changes everything and you have no idea what you’re in for and you’ll no longer have time for things you did before. It’s true. I mean, it has taken me the entire morning to write this one little blog post! Life – both in general and in wellness – is never going to be the way it used to be so my new challenge will be figuring out how to do it all. That, and running my first postpartum mile after nearly three months of not running, yikes.

Moms and dads, how do you fit it fitness along with everything else? Any tips for a brand-new mom? Comment on this post or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.

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