Accountability is Key

On and off for the past couple of months, my friend Meg and I have been meeting up for a Tuesday night run. We have slowly morphed these into tempo Tuesdays, as we are both trying to get into shape by increasing our turnover little by little. We are capable of running the same pace, so it’s really a perfect fit.

Yesterday, we weren’t able to meet up due to other conflicts, so we both said an early morning run would work – we would just be doing it solo. My alarm went off way to early (as usual) and I was out the door by 5:10am to start my run. Before I laced up my shoes, I swore off the tempo. I had just run 5 miles 10 hours prior, and my legs were tired. I quickly talked myself into the workout, knowing it was only 20 minutes. The beginning of a training plan is usually the most important, as every other workout builds on these first few weeks of effort. Even though it was only 20 minutes, it was imperative I got it done. I hammered out the few miles at tempo pace and came home feeling pretty accomplished. I knew as I was finishing up, Meg was probably starting out on her run, so I sent her a simple text.

 Accountability

Even though we didn’t run actually run together, the accountability was there so it felt like we did! We want to be able to train together for the duration of the season (and beyond), so checking in like this was great for both of us. I’ve always preferred to run with a group over running solo, but I find it difficult to find someone who runs a similar pace. Even though we couldn’t physically be running step for step, this little check-in really made me realize how important a support system is when training – not only from your family (which I have endless amounts of support from) but also from the people in your life each and every day.

Do you have an accountability partner you can check in with on a regular basis?

The Long Run – Just What I Needed

For the past month of so, I’ve been toying with the idea of signing up for a fall marathon. The biggest deciding factor in this is whether or not I feel I will be able to make time for my long runs. I went ahead and wrote up a plan for the Chosen Marathon, being held here in Tampa on November 15th. This is the first time the race will be held here and just so happens to be on my every day running route. The logistics really align for the race, since the start is about a mile and a half from my house. Now, it is just working towards making it to that start.

I haven’t thought much of long runs in the past – I simply went out for my run, and hammered out the miles. This time, it’s a bit different. What if I am awake a few times during the night before my long runs with Grant? Will I be able to keep my diet in check so my milk supply doesn’t dwindle? How will I feel the rest of the day after a 20 miler to be 100% for Grant? These are all questions I am considering as I choose whether or not to sign up for the marathon. Luckily, there is also a half marathon on the same day, so if I do decide to not do the full 26.2, I’ll still have a way to get a fitness check and at least get out on the course.

Saturday morning, I set out for my long run of 9 miles at 6am, curious how this training schedule would really go. About 3 miles into it, I looked down at my watch and noticed I was actually holding a respectable pace (these days, that’s anything under a 9 minute mile for me). To my surprise, I saw a similar pace for miles 4 and 5 as well.

9 mile long run splits

Could it be? I was actually running a somewhat normal pace again, on a distance I hadn’t seen in over a year?! (the last time I ran anything over 7 miles was my marathon back in April 2013). Yep, I sure was! As soon as I really noticed the pace and the distance, I was having to put a bit more effort into keeping that same pace. I decided at one point that 8 miles sounded just the same as 9 miles, and I should just cut it short. That would be way easier, right? Well yes, it would be, but if I really want to put in the time to train for a marathon for the next few months, I needed to start now, on the right foot. I put the 9 mile distance back in my head, and got those last few miles completed.

9 mile long run timing

I finished the run feeling very accomplished with what I had just done. I ran 9 miles, at a respectable pace, and I didn’t quite when my mind was telling me otherwise. It’s not everything I need to go all in for a November marathon, but its a start. I’ll consider that a great first step, and see where the next few weeks take me – closer to 13.1 or headed straight for 26.2.

What factors do you consider when signing up for a big race?

6 Different Ways to Squat

Squats are one of the most effective exercises you can do, but they are also one of most poorly performed exercises in regard to form. If you struggle with your form but still want to gain the many benefits of a squat, here are a few good options to build your strength.

Squat Graphic

Air Squat

This is as simple as a squat comes. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, with your feet pointed slightly outward. You don’t want them pointed directly ahead. Keeping your knees too close together will cause knee strain; too wide of a stance can cause issues for the MCL and patella. As you bend your knees, keep your back straight and pretend you are about to sit in a chair. Your weight should be in your heels.

Do a quick check and be sure your knees have not gone in front of your toes – once your knees are in front of your toes, your form is compromised and you are at a higher risk of injury. Be sure to keep your core tight, and do not round your lower back. This will cause strain and could cause your back to spasm.

As soon as your thighs are parallel to the ground, you have completed the full range of motion, and can begin to come up. Keep your knees and quads still pointing forward and do not let your knees dip towards one another. As for your arms, place them wherever is most comfortable – on your hips, behind your head, etc.

Squat with a stability ball

The stability ball will help to act as a bit of a crutch for your squat. If you do not feel like you can achieve good form on an air squat, add the stability ball. Place it on your back standing up, and put your body weight on it against a sturdy wall. Perform the raising and lowering motion as the ball glides along your back. This will help your back to stay nice and straight and will give you a chance to work on good form. You will end up sitting back a bit further in your heels since the stability ball will account for some of your weight.

Squat with TRX straps

The TRX straps will provide a similar feeling as the stability ball, but your arms will account for a bit more of the effort. I did TRX squats multiple times during my pregnancy since my balance was off, but I still wanted the benefits of squatting to help me with labor.

Pregnant TRX Squat

Grab the TRX straps and hold on tight. Raise and lower yourself by sitting back in your heels. In the beginning, you can rely heavily on your arms to support you. Once you get the hang of it, try putting a bit more of the effort into your legs, and minimally use the TRX straps for support. This is a great way to transition from the supported squat to the air squat.

Leg Press

A leg press machine also mimics the squat, but in a different way. It is much easier to load a lot of weight with a leg press machine than it is with free weights or a bar bell. With that being said, it does not mean leg presses are easy! Keep in mind your low back should be nice and flat against the bench you are sitting on. If you have a little curve in it, you will be using your back to lift instead of your legs, and once again, will raise your risk of injury.

Squat with free weights

This will be exactly the same as an air squat, with the only difference being you have a free weight in each hand. Pay attention to the weights and be sure they are not pulling you too far forward. If they are, lighten up the weight. Your hands (with the weights) can either be by your side, or up by your shoulders. Just don’t rest them on your shoulders. Holding the weight right around your shoulders will give your arms some resistance as well, and cause you to keep a nice and tight core.

Squat with a barbel

Form is of utmost importance when adding weight to a squat, especially when the weight is held up over the head. You can either rest the barbel on your back (on your shoulders) or keep it held above your head. Start with minimal weight, just to get the feeling of the extra element added to the squat, and build from there. Remember, do not round your lower back when pushing back up. This is unbelievably important!

What other type of squats can you think of?

Body After Baby: 4 Months

On Monday, after updating everyone on Grant, I thought it might be time to get an update written about myself – finally! I had originally intended to do these posts once a month, just to keep track of my progress. When it really came down to it, I just didn’t care to do them. Time passed by way to fast, and I did not take the time to take photos of myself or track my weight. I figured I might as well write it all down since I’m now 4 months post partum!

4 months post partum

Here is a look back to just a month after Grant’s arrival:

1 month post partum

Before trying to get pregnant, I weighed 138 pounds. Now, I am at a solid 145 pounds. A lot of my clothes are fitting me again, and have been for quite some time, however I am still not fitting into the shorts I wore pre-pregnancy. My hips are still wider than they were before (although they have shrunk a lot!), so I have definitely invested in some new shorts for now. If there is one piece of advice I have for new moms, it is to go and buy some new clothes you feel good in after you have your baby. You don’t have to spend a ton on it either. Old Navy has been my favorite place to find affordable options while my body is in the transition into my clothes from before. I’ve been able to find a few pair of my favorite shorts for only $12. I can wear them now, and when it is time for baby #2, I’ll be able to wear them for the first bit as well – especially if I add a belly band.

Exercise

I’ve been really proud of myself in the exercise department. I’ve been able to get out in the morning before work for about 30-45 minutes, three to four times a week, and usually once on the weekend. This means my alarm is blaring at 4:45am, but if I want to get it in, early mornings are my only choice. Afternoons here have been filled with thunderstorms and I would much rather come home from work to spend time with Grant than have to worry about getting out for a run. I’ve also been strength training 2-3 days a week at lunch. My office has a gym we have the privilege of having access to, so I am very thankful for that perk. I am not sure how I would get it in otherwise. Unfortunately, activities like yoga and swimming are currently non-existent. I am still working on how to fit those into my schedule.

4 months post partumEats

I eat so much more now than I ever did while I was pregnant. I have been cognizant of eating healthy items, but I tend to eat a whole lot of them. I can not go more than 3 hours without eating something, or I start to feel very woozy. Exclusively breastfeeding Grant has made my body burn quite the large amount of calories – pair that with exercising each day, and my body needs a lot of sustenance to keep it going. Every time I think I should cut back a little on the food intake to try to lose the extra 5 pounds I am still holding onto, I immediately regret the decision. If I want to exercise like I am while continuing to pump, then it is my only option. I am not saying good-bye to either of those things, so a few extra pounds will just have to stick with me for a while.

My Mind

I have to say, this past week I have been completely over not being able to fit into the rest of my clothes. I mentioned to both my sister, Emily as well as to Marcus, about why on earth my hips have not yet gone back down to their original size. They reassured me that it has still only been a few months since I had Grant, and even less time since I got the green light to exercise. My body did quite an amazing thing (birthing a baby!), so I need to cut myself a little bit of slack.  After all, this little guy is worth each and every pound and extra inch!

4 months post partum

 

Anyone else need a good pep talk about post baby body progress at one point or another?

Grant: 4 Months

Well Grant, another month has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I have a feeling I may be saying this a lot, but your last month was the most fun yet!

Grant 4 months

Your personality shines through wherever you go. You don’t spend much time staying still anymore – those arms and legs are always movin’ and a shakin’! You have really started to become aware of your surroundings lately. No one can walk by you without you turning your head to look at them. If they are lucky (which usually they are), you flash them a big ole’ gummy smile, which just so happens to be one of my absolute favorite things in the world.

Grant Louisville 4 months

You are tipping the scales at 15 lbs 7 ounces now, which your pediatrician tells us is perfect – I’d have to say I agree. You did very well at your doctor’s appointment again this time around, even though you got your next round of vaccinations. Of course, you hated the shots, but you had a smile on your face just minutes later. You are still 100% breastfed, and are doing great with it! I was worried you might not like it as much when I went back to work, but I was wrong. I think we both look forward to that time we spend together each day (even if you are looking forward to it for a much different reason!).

Grant 4 month checkup

I have a feeling your most favorite place in the world is on your playmat, singing and dancing to the music with the fun animals. You can lay there for quite some time. Pair that with your daddy playing some music for you on the guitar, and we are good to go! You don’t need to be held nearly as often any more, as you are finding out what those little hands do and really like to grab a hold of things, especially my hair and necklaces.

Grant 4 months

You still love bath time and time spent on your changing table. You are so content in both of these places, and just chat up a storm. Having your diaper changed is always a fun time in your book. You are completely out of your 3 month PJ’s at this point – you are just too long to fit into them anymore. You can still fit in your other 3 month clothes, but some of them are getting pretty tight. Looks like its going to be all 6 month clothes pretty soon!

Grant 4 months

The most fun thing for you in the past month was your first airplane ride! Grant, to say you did well is an understatement. Most of the passengers around us didn’t even know you were there since you were so well behaved. It was quite the relief for daddy and I.

Grant airplane rideOf course, since we were on a plane, we were going somewhere fun, right? Right! We went to Louisville for your Papaw’s 60th birthday celebration. You were able to meet so many great aunts and uncles, and all sorts of cousins. I can’t wait for our next trip up there so you can run around with all of the kids!

Grant Adele and EmmettYou did really well on the trip, even though you were a bit off of your schedule. Night time sleeping wasn’t the best – you were up at least 3 times a night, which was definitely surprising since you sleep through at home on most nights. No worries – you were back to normal the night we got back –> daddy and I thank you!

Grant and Adele reading

Grant, I know I tell you each and every day, but I am so lucky to be your mom. You are such a fun and lighthearted little guy, and I can’t wait to see what month 5 brings us! I have a feeling it will be a lot more smiles, laughs, and tons of love!

Grant and Mommy Pony