Rest is NOT Optional

Today, after I put Vera down for her morning nap, I didn’t lace up my running shoes. I didn’t turn on a workout video. I didn’t run around working on the myriad, never-ending chores waiting for me. Instead, I took a long, hot shower, put on clean PJs, and crawled back into bed.

I don’t think I actually slept. I’m a terrible napper. But it was a much-needed respite for my brain and body. I’ve been feeling incredibly worn down lately, and it’s no surprise. I’ve been running 3-4 times a week, doing yoga and strength training. I’ve been rehearsing for my show, staying up past my bedtime a couple of times a week. I’m still only sleeping in 3-4 hour chunks. I’ve been cooking and cleaning and trying to have a social life. And quite frankly, it’s all been a bit too much. While I’m not actually sick, it feels like it. My singing is suffering and my workouts are feeling exhausting.

It’s easy to forget sometimes that I’m only seven months postpartum. Only seven months removed from growing my baby and pushing her out of my body. While I wish I were at 100% of my pre-pregnancy energy and endurance, that’s far from the case. Most days, I feel a bone-deep exhaustion that never quite goes away.

It’s frustrating not to feel like myself most days. I don’t think I’ll get back to normal until I finish with breastfeeding. And that’s ok. I’m fighting against the nasty voice in my head that tells me I’m not doing enough. I’m ignoring the ever-present social media messages of “No excuses!” and “Never miss a Monday!” and “I lost all my baby weight working out 20 minutes a day and you can too!” and all of the other crap that I see telling me I can and should do it all.

Instead, I’m remembering that I am Vera’s primary source of nutrition, and if I don’t take care of myself, I can’t take care of her. I’m remembering that I get to determine what fitness looks like for me. I’m remembering that the overall picture of health has to include mental health. I’m remembering that rest is necessary. My body was telling me in no uncertain terms today that I needed to take it easy, so I did. And I don’t feel a single iota of guilt or regret.

How I’m feeling today is also an indicator to me that I need to clean up my social media follows. I don’t need help feeling guilty. I don’t need to see images and messages that make me feel bad. I shouldn’t have to type this, but I’m going to anyway: it’s OK to rest. It’s OK not to work out if you are sick, if you are tired, if you just don’t fucking feel like it. Giving your body the rest it needs is just as important as doing the work.

Do you ever feel like you need to force yourself to rest?

Advertisements

Goodbye Streaking, Hello Training!

When I started my run streak at the beginning of the year, I mostly wanted to just make running part of my life again post-baby. I was having a hard time finding motivation, and needed a fitness goal. In the back of my mind, I hoped that I would be able to make it the entire month of January, but wasn’t making a big deal out of it. I just wanted to see how far I could get.

When I reached the end of January, streak intact, I started seeing starry-eyed visions of streaking for the entire year of 2019. It was exciting and a bit scary and I so wanted to keep going. But this past Friday and Saturday, I started feeling some worrying niggles in my right knee. I hemmed and hawed and hoped it would go away. But I when I woke up at 2:30 on Sunday morning to feed Vera and felt that twinge, I decided immediately and unequivocally that it was time to practice what I preach and quit before a niggle became a full-blown injury.

I have to say, I absolutely loved my run streak. I loved the consistency of knowing each day that I had to get down to my treadmill and get it done. I loved pushing through hard paces. I loved cruising through easy miles. This run streak helped me feel like a runner again. It helped me reconnect with a body that had started to feel foreign and uncomfortable. It made me feel like me again.

I’m proud that I made it through 33 straight days of running; I am equally proud that I listened to my body and quit before I hurt myself.

To be completely honest, part of me is scared that without the streak to keep me going, I’ll stop running again. It’s cold. It’s dark. I have a 7 month old baby. Motivation is low this time of year. I need something else to keep me inspired now that the streak is done. Therefore, I’ll be loosely following a Hal Higdon 5k training plan. I say “loosely” because I always mix up the days a bit, but generally follow the recommended mileage for the week.

It’s an eight week “beginner” training plan, which has nice, low mileage. I probably won’t actually run a 5k race at the end of this plan, purely because there aren’t many races available during Vermont winters, but I’m looking at it as prep for the races I hope to run this spring and summer.

 

I’m excited to build up my mileage again. The longest I’ve run since Vera was born is 3.5 miles, and that was months ago now. I don’t necessarily want to do a lot of distance running this year, but I’d like to get to the point where a distance of five miles feels comfy and doable, cause right now that feels almost impossible. When I complete the plan, I’ll have to reevaluate and see what’s next, but I’m hopeful that by then, running will be back in my life for good.

What running/fitness goal are you working toward right now?

Manic Monday Training Recap – 02/04/19

Manic Monday

Monday 01/28/19: 2.25 mile run
I warmed up for half a mile, then ran an ENTIRE MILE at 9:40 pace, then ratcheted it up to a 9:20 pace for a quarter mile, then cooled down for a half mile. I’m slowly but surely getting my speed back.

Tuesday 01/29/19: 1 mile run + hip strength and mobility
Vera was up at 4:30 am and I was a tired mama, so I did the bare minimum. 1 quick mile, followed by some clam shells, reverse clam shells, leg lifts, fire hydrants, and donkey kicks.

Wednesday 01/30/19: 1 mile run + hip strength + stretching
I was up late for rehearsal, so I just stuck to a nice easy pace for this run. I also did some of the same hip exercises from Tuesday, plus a 12 minute split stretch video. Gotta get my flexibility back!

Thursday 01/31/19: 1 mile run + hip strength + stretching
I squeezed in a quick mile for the final day of January, plus the same exercises and stretches as Wednesday.

Friday 02/01/19: 2.25 mile run + stretching
I’ll be honest, guys, the streak almost died today. I was tired and Vera was being super needy and cranky all day. But when she went down for her afternoon nap, I realized I needed some me time, and a run was just the ticket. I did some fast and slow intervals to keep it interesting.

Saturday 02/02/19: 1 mile run
Just a nice, easy mile for Saturday.

Sunday 02/03/19: Rest Day
As you probably saw in Instagram, I quit the streak today due to twinges of discomfort in my right knee.

Weekly Mileage: 8.5

Total 2019 Mileage: 48.75

After 33 days, the streak is done. I’m having a lot of feelings about it, but mostly positive ones. I’ll be talking about it more later this week, but for now I’ll say, I’m very glad I did it, and excited for what’s next!

Manic Monday Training Recap – 01/28/19

Manic Monday

Monday 01/21/19: 2.25 mile run + stretching + rolling
On this run, I kept the pace easy but cranked the incline up one notch every quarter of a mile until I hit 1 mile ,then decreased every quarter of a mile. Then when I was back to “flat,” I did a quarter mile at a faster pace, then cooled down for a quarter mile.

Tuesday 01/22/19: 1 mile run + 30 minute Barre3 workout
Continuing our new Tuesday tradition, my friend Penelope came over for a Barre3 workout. As a bonus, her partner Jaska came along, and they entertained Vera while Penelope and I got our booty burn on. During Vera’s afternoon nap, I snuck downstairs to the treadmill for my mile.

Wednesday 01/23/19: 1 mile run
Vera decided to only nap for a total of 40 minutes today, so I had to just zip through a quick mile while she had quiet time in her crib.

Thursday 01/24/19: 2.75 mile run
My girlfriend Julia came over with her son Leo and watched Vera while I got my longest run in quite some time. Then we visited for a while after, which was lovely. Mamas helping Mamas is amazing.

Friday 01/25/19: 2 mile run + hip mobility/strength
I attempted a bit of speed work for this run–a warm up, then 3 x 400 with 400 recoveries in between. And while laying on the floor with Vera after, I did 30 clam shells, 30 reverse clam shells, and 30 leg lifts on each side.

Saturday 01/26/19: 1 mile run
We had a busy day planned, so I ran immediately after we got up. I kept the pace nice and steady and easy.

Sunday 01/27/19: 1 mile run
Nothing much to say about this run. I just got it done to keep the streak alive.

Weekly Mileage: 11

Total 2019 Mileage: 39.25

Postpartum Fitness: Six Months In

Wow. I had a baby six months ago. This has been simultaneously the longest and shortest six month period of my life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I figured now would be a good time to check in on the whole postpartum fitness thing, since it’s been half a year (!!!). When last we left it, I was determined to do my best and not put too much pressure on myself to “bounce back” and lose the baby weight. I started pretty strongly back in the fall, running distances up to four miles and generally feeling pretty good. But then between illness, sleep deprivation, and an early-onset winter, I fell off the bandwagon.

The good news is, even though exercise hasn’t really been happening, I’m already within five pounds of my pre-baby weight. The bad news is, my body composition is still very far away from where I’d like it to be. My endurance is shot and I’m nowhere near as strong as I was before I got pregnant. Taking nine months off of exercise and growing a human will do that to you.

Now that sleep is back on the menu (thank you, Ferber method sleep training!) and I have a treadmill literally in my house, I’m hopeful that things will pick up again. I already started my New Year run streak, which I’m excited about, and I’m trying very hard to find consistency with yoga and strength training as well.

As of this writing, Vera is taking 2-3 naps per day that are anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. My goal is to just put on my workout clothes and do whatever I can during her first nap of the day, which tends to be her longest nap. If all I can manage is a 1 mile run, that’s better than nothing. But I think, as her nap schedule evens out and I get my running legs under me again, I’ll be able to hopefully start covering longer distances and getting my speed back.

My main fitness goal at this point is to simply feel more like myself. I currently feel like a bit of a stranger in my own body, and I miss feeling strong and confident. Also, we are still planning to have at least one more baby, and I’d like to be as fit as possible before putting my body through another pregnancy. I fully attribute my healthy pregnancy and uncomplicated delivery to how fit I was before I got pregnant with Vera, and while I know it’s no guarantee that next time will be the same, I’d like to at least give myself and the next baby the same head start.

Mamas, what was your favorite form of exercise after your little ones arrived?

Life Lately

Hey there, friends. I kinda dropped off the map there for a bit. In addition to feeling a LOT of ambivalence towards blogging (that’s a post for another day), life has been absolutely bananas. Here are a few updates on what’s been going on in the life of Rae.

To start off with, Vera is apparently one of those babies that just isn’t a good sleeper. Usually, between three and four months of age, babies develop discernible sleep patterns and schedules, and begin to sleep for longer periods of time (think 6-8 hours). We thought we were approaching that point when we started getting regular four hour chunks, and even a few five hour chunks, but as soon as we hit the three month mark, it all went to hell. Either she hit a growth spurt or started the dreaded four month sleep regression a month early, but she hasn’t slept longer than four hours since, and generally wakes at LEAST every 3.5 hours every night, usually even more frequently. Oh and naps? What naps? She might take two or three half hour naps a day. It sucks. A lot.

To help with the sleep issue, our pediatrician recommended me trying a dairy-free diet. V was having pretty regular bouts of crying due to gas pains during the day and waking up at night, so the doctor suggested both probiotic drops and going dairy-free for a while. Since starting both, Vera has had pretty much no episodes of gas-induced fussing. Whether that’s the dairy or the drops is kind of a guessing game at this point. We have Vera’s four month checkup next week, so we’ll be asking the doctor about next steps. Boy I hope I can start eating cheese again soon. It’s been extremely hard maintaining a dairy-free diet. Of course it’s worth it for the kiddo, but it’s no fun. Halloween was a huge bummer, let me tell you. Most commercial chocolate has milk in it. Boooooo.

5k training. Right. I’m training for my first post-baby race. It’s going… Not well. You may have seen my post on Instagram, but with three weeks to go until race day, I’ve missed more scheduled runs that I have completed. I haven’t been to yoga in over a month, and haven’t done any strength training in weeks. I know that I will be able to cover the distance, but I had really hoped to race this one, to see what I can do. The way things are going, this will end up being more of a fun run than a race.

We also turned our lives completely upside down to install hardwood flooring in more than half our house. While we are absolutely delighted with the results, it was a really difficult two weeks. I don’t recommend doing major home renovations with a new baby in the house. Our furniture was every which way, there were tools everywhere, sawdust all over everything… And it was very noisy. Not at all conducive to baby naps.

56219593769__1975cbfb-ace1-4c55-b2cc-20194bcae515

Vera’s room in progress

On the health front, things have also been less than stellar. I got a cold, which Vera and Ben then both got as well. And Vera can’t seem to shake the congestion. It’s been over a week now, and she’s still struggling to breathe through her nose, particularly at night. This makes everything from eating to playing to sleeping much more challenging for her. To help with sleep, we are putting her in the Rock n Play, which is a ridiculous crutch that we don’t want to rely on for the future, but is totally necessary for any of us to get a halfway reasonable amount of sleep right now.

I also still have a milk blister on my left nipple. Did I tell you about this? I honestly can’t even remember. But yeah, I have a blocked milk pore that is extremely painful. It’s been there for over a month. I’ve been to the doctor twice, and had it lanced twice, once by a midwife and once here at home (with a sterile needle given to me by my midwife). I’ve done everything recommended for at home treatment and it’s just not getting any better and I’ve kind of given up and decided that this is my life now. Breastfeeding is no joke, people. I honestly don’t know what women did before modern medicine.

Additionally, we went for our first family road trip. We went to Pittsfield, MA to meet up with my bestie Mandy, her husband, and their new baby at her parents’ house. It’s basically the halfway point between them in Jersey and us here in VT, so it was nice that we could see each other without either side having to drive the whole distance. It was wonderful to see my friends and meet their baby. Liam was born a little over a month before Vera, so Mandy and I basically went through our whole pregnancies together. The weekend was great, but hectic. Mandy has a huge extended family that is always drifting in and out of her parents’ house, so we were socializing all weekend. Vera had a hard time with the change in schedule and slept even worse than usual, although she thankfully was a champ and slept the entire car rides down and back.

Reading back over this, it all seems very doom and gloom, but that’s not what I intend. It’s simply an honest look at what’s been going on. Thankfully, Ben has been on paternity leave from work since October 8, and has been enormously kind and helpful as far as trying to get me some extra sleep. He generally gets up with Vera every morning to allow me an extra hour or two in bed. And he’s been knocking lots of little niggling home improvement projects off the list left and right. We’ve now got a shelf in the laundry room for our detergent instead of balancing it on a windowsill. We’ve got new light fixtures in both bedrooms to replace the ugly fan/old lady light combos. The cat scratcher is now mounted on the wall instead of kicking around the kitchen floor. AND…

We bought a “new” car. It’s a 1998 Honda CR-V and we LURVE it. We’ve been casually keeping an eye our for a small SUV for a while because Ben’s truck can’t take a car seat. We knew that eventually we’d want more than one car that can transport the kiddo, and we also knew that if we were going to have more kids and/or get a dog like we want, we’d need a slightly larger vehicle. We found this on Craigslist and got a hell of a deal, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it stays road-worthy for us for a few years. I’m just happy because it has studded snow tires and all-wheel drive, so I’ll probably use it as my winter car while Ben drives the Civic. Fun fact, we now have cars from each decade of the 80’s, 90’s, and aughts–an ’87 Toyota pickup, a ’98 CR-V, and a ’08 Civic.

img_6646

So yeah. Life has been chaos. And I think with a baby, that’s just kind of how life is going to be now. We’re just trying to roll with it.

What kind of car do you drive?

Have you tackled any home improvement projects lately?

Training For My First Post-Baby Race

So. Training for the Zack’s Place Turkey Trot 5k has officially kicked off. As usual, I’m using a bastardized Hal Higdon plan. According to The Plan, I’m to run four days a week, maxing out with long runs of five miles.

I have a long and complicated history with training plans. Mostly, I don’t really follow them all that closely. Which is weird for someone as generally Type A as I am. But for whatever reason, I have a hard time sticking to a training plan. I generally do about 80% of the scheduled runs and then wing it race day. Training is already off to an inauspicious start; I only did two of four scheduled runs my first week.

I’m trying really hard to be smart this time. Stick to the plan. Stretch. Foam roll. Keep easy runs easy. I have absolutely zero illusions about hitting some kind of PR on race day, but it would be nice to actually race on race day. To push myself and see what this post-baby body is capable of. But I need to get to the starting line healthy first.

Now that I have a baby to care for, and as the days become darker and colder, it will be even more challenging to stick to a training plan. Thankfully, I have a few things working in my favor. One: Ben started his six week paternity leave on Monday. Because Vera was born over the summer, he didn’t take his leave. Now, we’ll have another six weeks together as a family, meaning I’ll hopefully be able to get more sleep and have more time for running. Two: I now have a treadmill. Hooray for Front Porch Forum! Weather and darkness will no longer be a limiting factor in my ability to get a run done. And I can even potentially sneak in runs while Vera naps.

I think my biggest challenge in sticking to a training plan will be lack of sleep. Vera is still not sleeping through the night. Nowhere even close, in fact. It’s rough. Most days I’m too exhausted to want to do much, let alone go out and run speed intervals. I’m hoping that over the next few weeks, sleep will improve. We’re planning to call our pediatrician this week to see if she can give us some tips, cause both Ben and I are reaching the ends of our tolerance.

So yeah. Long story short, being a mother runner is hard, but I think I can stick with it.