Exciting Times

Hello and welcome! Since you've found this site, you might already know about Alpenglow Running, but chances are, you got here through typing Methow Endurance. When we moved to the we(s)t-side this summer we knew we'd be changing things around a bit, but as Sam became engrossed in his new job starting a junior cross-country ski team with Momentum Northwest; my coaching picked up and with it, a cascade of ideas and projects I want to pursue; it quickly became clear that we needed a different name*.

Thank you, good friend and awesome designer, Jeff, of Flying Eye Design. I love having talented friends who can read my mind.

Thank you, good friend and awesome designer, Jeff, of Flying Eye Design. I love having talented friends who can read my mind.

My goal with Alpenglow Running is to help introduce women to the joys of trail running and the amazing things that happen when, lo and behold, you accomplish what once seemed impossible, or a far-off dream. While yes, this is a business, I also think of it as a way to share experiences and inspiration. I am energized everyday by the athletes I coach and seeing them reach their goals is beyond rewarding. In the months ahead I have big plans in which I hope you'll take part. Additionally, I'm always interested in hearing new ideas, so if there's something you've been wanting to see happen, let me know.

*Have no fear, the Methow will always feel like home, so many events will still be there, including the running retreats and the Mazama 5/10k.

Spring Retreat Registration

I'm still coming off of my high from the Fall Running and Yoga Retreat and have a wrap-up blog on the way, but While I was in go mode I put the details together for the spring retreat. Running, yoga, flowers galore, and long sunny days? Yes, please.

Taking it all in, on a classic Methow spring day.

Taking it all in, on a classic Methow spring day.

This year we'll be at Sun Mountain, with endless trails right out the door. Check out all the details here. My premonition is that this will fill pretty quickly, so sign up early to ensure your spot.

From the archives...

As I was writing a client's training plan and explaining some concepts about core strength, I went to the end of the internet to find an old blog post Sam wrote on the topic and thought I'd share it here in case our really old blog vanishes. We had skiing in mind when we first wrote it, but it's just as applicable for runners. I've been thinking about core strength a lot since having Fiona; so much so that I'm going to have a class for new moms to get core strength back for easing back into running. Stay tuned for that.


Core Strength

As winter really picks up steam and gets her frosty legs under her, all your various little inefficiencies are probably starting to rear their fatigued, glycogen-deprived heads and cry out for assistance. Though most of my winter is spent on the racing circuit I do get the opportunity to teach a few private lessons and there are some very common issues I see which can be categorized under the general heading: core strength.

Go for strength over showy

Go for strength over showy

Let's start this discussion with a disclaimer: core strength is NOT six-pack abs. Not necessarily, at least. While the fit skier or runner will likely have a nice washboard stomach, it comes as much from leanness and body fat composition as it does sheer strength. Core strength encompasses far more than the rectus abdominus (the six-pack muscle): there are also the external and internal oblique muscles and the transverse abdominus. These muscles comprise the deeper layers to the rectus; they are also the ones that help stabilize and support your structure during both dynamic movement and when still. Additionally, we add (perhaps controversially) the lesser gluteal muscles into the mix - the minimus and medius, both on the lateral side of your hip. These muscles are also heavily involved in stability, especially for the pelvis.

In thinking particularly about Nordic skiing, the core is hugely important. Without adequate core strength, you will often see people skiing with their hips behind them, gliding with their weight predominantly on their heels instead of more appropriately, on the ball of the foot. Furthermore, a lack of core strength will manifest itself in the form of a cranky lower back after your first few skis of the season. Because skiing is such a dynamic sport, demanding that you be in a forward-leaning position and alternating between tensed and relaxed, you need a sturdy core to take the load off your lower back.

We prefer a max strength approach to core training, as opposed to the "1000 crunches every day" routine. Yes, you will get a ripped tummy with that many exercises (provided you're not snuggling up with Mr. Goodbar thrice a day), but will it make you stronger? We go for few reps and a high load to get maximal engagement of the core, complete with (and this part's crucial) correctly-fired muscles. Put another way, you want to engage your deeper core muscles INSTEAD of your superficial rectus abdominus. The easiest way to do this is, when doing a sit-up, focus on pulling up your pelvic floor; pretend your trying to hold in a pee. You'll notice your stomach contract and tension in your pelvic region, distal to your navel.

For a more visual reference, picture this: when you're using mainly your rectus abdominus in a sit-up, it will bulge from your stomach, mimicking a "bread loaf". Our good friend Dr. Colleen Ryan, DPT, coined that term and we think it fits very well. In contrast to the bread loaf look, an engaged deep core will display a flat stomach:

The incorrect engagement - note the "bread loaf" abs. Notice also how curved the cervical spine is; a true, challenging sit-up involves a straight back, relying more on the deep core muscles instead of "rolling" along the spine and using the rectus.

The incorrect engagement - note the "bread loaf" abs. Notice also how curved the cervical spine is; a true, challenging sit-up involves a straight back, relying more on the deep core muscles instead of "rolling" along the spine and using the rectus.

A flat, sexy stomach in a sit-up is a sign of a strong core. See as well how the spine isn't as curved; when conducting the sit-up be sure to have the neck at a natural angle, as it would be if you were standing upright and looking straight ahead. (Editor's note: I could still have a more neutral head/neck positition)

A flat, sexy stomach in a sit-up is a sign of a strong core. See as well how the spine isn't as curved; when conducting the sit-up be sure to have the neck at a natural angle, as it would be if you were standing upright and looking straight ahead. (Editor's note: I could still have a more neutral head/neck positition)

A strong core is beneficial in every single sport. Our core is what is supposed to hold us upright and stable so that our more superficial muscles are left free to do the more specific, powerful movements. Beefcake McGoo may have a slammin' six-pack but without strong deep core muscles, he ain't gonna be out double-poling you in a 50km ski marathon any time soon.

Our First Adventures

A week after Fiona was born I felt much more my normal self, and started venturing on some hikes with the little one.  She is a trooper and loves her Beco carrier. When I plop her in, she promptly drifts off to baby dreamland (what does a newborn dream about that makes her smile?).

IMG_1396.jpg

Of course the previous nine (ten?) months were an amazing experience, but I'll have to say I'm very glad to not be pregnant anymore and much more content to have our little nugget out in the world. It feels so good to be out on the trails again during my favorite time of year: wildflowers blanket the lower elevations, while lots of snow is still in the upper mountains.

Steep hikes with weight (that is, Fi) have been my go-to work out. I'm hoping to do a couple races this fall and since I prefer the more mountainous courses anyway, I figure these hikes will get me strong and fit while I work up to being able to run again (I'm up tp 20 minutes right now).

First up was going up to the ridge above Cedar Creek toward Mud Hole Lake. It's steep the whole way, north facing so it's not too hot for Nikki, and the views are incredible. Fiona was quite impressed that it is so close to our house.

Next up was going up to the Rendezvous. Sam planned a mountain bike ride the next day, so we had him drop us off on the ever so pleasant/crazy steep East Fawn road to get a bit more climbing, then headed counterclockwise on the mountain bike loop.

The Nordic skiing in the rendezvous is of course amazing, but this 13 mile loop is also fantastic, especially in the early summer before the resident cows make their mark. Someday I want to host a race that highlights the area, but that will have to wait a bit. In the meantime, if you are ever looking for a fun weekend idea, the Rendezvous Huts are available in the summer, too. The views are incredible; even though you're only several miles out of town, it feels really remote, and you can link different trails together to get some really nice runs/rides in varied terrain.

I'm itching to start running again (we did a teeny tiny one to test out Fiona's Chariot) but until then, flowers and hills!

Snug as a bug!

Snug as a bug!

Mazama 10k Results

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Mazama Fun Runs this morning. We had wonderful weather and lots of help from our wonderful volunteers and sponsors (La Sportiva, Helly Hansen, Winthrop Mountain Sports, and Mazama Store) to make the event a success. Results are up online. As always, if you got something different, please email us so we can make it accurate.

Roll on!

*If you check out my massage blog at all, this will look quite familiar, but it's important!

Using a foam roller is one of the best things you can do for injury prevention, especially athletes. I became a fan when I increased my running volume to do a 100 mile race, but then really became a fan when I realized I didn't have to work as hard when my clients rolled between massages,  And while I love working hard for my clients, I love longevity even more. By foam rolling between sessions, I can be more effective during each treatment session and clients see better results.

You might feel tightness in your hamstrings and hips, but runners in particular benefit from rolling the quads and hip flexors. The front of the thigh and hip flexors often compensate for the glutes (especially if your glutes are weak), resulting in shortened, tight muscles. Working on hip extension is essential for this, both in your technique while running (work with a coach on this, or at least check out this book) and opening the front of the hips when you aren't running. Enter: the foam roll.

Happy rolling!

The Waiting

I like to think of myself as a patient person: someone who is pretty laid back and allows things to happen in their own due time. I've even been known to refrain from making decisions for so long that they get made for me.

From what I can tell, I've had an "easy" pregnancy. I've worked full time, haven't puked a single time, had only moments of nausea, and still have ankles. But! I'm now two weeks from my due date and am suddenly incredibly impatient. I can only compare my experience to what I've had before now, and if nothing else (and there are many other things), being pregnant has made me appreciate not being pregnant. I hold high expectations for my body and its capabilities, both physically and mentally, and being pregnant has made me have to let go of that. Of course I knew this would happen, or rather everyone told me it would happen. But I thought my laid back attitude would prevail. Not so. It turns out that my limit is eight and a half months.

While I'm hoping (obviously) for an early arrival of this littler person who now actually feels like a little person inside of my belly (SO strange/cool/magical), I'm also trying to come to terms with the fact that it could actually be late, at which point, I'm sorry for my family, friends and community who will have to endure my anxiousness and impatience.

Luckily I can live vicariously through my friends embarking on upcoming races and athletes as I write training plans I can dream of completing myself. I'll have to say, I'm quite fit in my head!

aaannnytime, little one...

aaannnytime, little one...

I'm all set for my upcoming ultra called labor, and am quite curious and excited actually, to experience it. My plan is to replay my best 50k experience, then 50-miler, then the slowest 50-miler, then a walk down memory lane through Cascade Crest 100. And if I'm still in labor after 26 hours, I'll imagine myself sucking thin air in the San Juans, to mentally train for my long-term goal of Hardrock. Ha! I'll let you know how that goes.



Rattler Redux

This past weekend was our second annual Rattler Trail Runs. We had so much fun and are so excited about how the event is shaping up. After a windy week prior to the race, the predicted rain held off long enough for a chilly but calm morning. We had nearly 100 runners this year, up from about 40 last year and are hoping to continue that trend. The four mile course had many young runners, which is always great to see.

The start of the nine-mile race.

The start of the nine-mile race.

Once again, there was a large local contingent, with Walker Hall and Liv Aspholm winning the four-mile race, while Heidi Dunn and James DeSalvo defended their wins from last year in the nine-mile and half-marathon, respectively. Allison DeLong and Nigel Mott won their age groups in the nine-mile race, and Leslie Hall won her age division in the half. Full results are here; great job, everyone!

Thanks to all of our volunteers and sponsors who made the race successful. We like beer after running, and thanks to Old Schoolhouse Brewery owners (and racers) Casey and Laura Ruud, we had many of their award-winning beers to raffle off and give to the final finishers. The goodies baked by the Rocking Horse Bakery were gone almost as soon as they came out, and several people received gift certificates and items from our other sponsors: Winthrop Mountain Sports, Clif Shot, La Sportiva, and Helly Hansen.

Photos from the day will be posted soon-stay tuned. Until then, here are a few. We hope to see you at our next event, the Mazama 5/10k!

Recovery begins immediately! Thanks Methow Massage Therapy for helping the runners.

Recovery begins immediately! Thanks Methow Massage Therapy for helping the runners.

Looking toward Mt. Gardner from the four-mile course. Photo courtesy of Pat Leigh.

Looking toward Mt. Gardner from the four-mile course. Photo courtesy of Pat Leigh.

Start of the 4-mile race

Start of the 4-mile race


Another form of recovery. Thanks, Old Schoolhouse Brewery!

Another form of recovery. Thanks, Old Schoolhouse Brewery!

Moderation VS. Risk: A Duel to a...draw

Last Saturday I ran the longest race I've ever run: a half-marathon. So yeah, not very impressive by the standards of my lithe and leggy ultrarunning wife Alison, but for me it was a milestone. I've made a commitment this year to see if I can "convert" some of the fitness I've accrued over the past decade or so of high-level xc skiing into running form (if I get really brash I might chronicle this journey in a more structured manner, but that remains to be determined), and the Squak Mountain Half (put on by our friends at Evergreen Trail Runs) was a starting point in this little vision quest. It was a good one for coming right out of ski season, with over 3000' feet of gain over the 13.1 miles and the majority of the running on squishy, west-side technical trails. 

I'm the guy in yellow (Alison has no patience for photography...)

I'm the guy in yellow (Alison has no patience for photography...)

And so to the title of this post. When I signed up for the Squak half-marathon I thought, I'd better get the miles under my belt if I want to do the 35km Angel's Staircase in August and the 42km Crystal Mountain SkyMarathon in September. Bold/foolish? Perhaps. Before last Saturday all the running I'd done since October consisted of 30min or less on the evening before a ski race. I did run 9 miles two weeks ago to preview the Rattler course, so that's something. But there was a whisper in the back of my mind that jumping headlong into a 13mile race knowing that I wouldn't be willing to go anything but hell-bent-for-leather, probably leaving myself stove up for a week straight afterward, wasn't the best idea.

Act I: Moderation.

Two days before the race I almost decided to change to the 12km distance, one I had done once before and given my improvements in running since that effort, I was confident I could do pretty well AND walk away relatively unscathed and capable of, well, walking. This cautious behavior stayed with me all the way through my two-days-prior tune up run (of a lengthy 3 miles) before...

Act II: Risk.

I thought, what the hell. I spent a good portion of my ski career weighing the pros and cons of EVERY start: what will doing this race mean for the next? Will I carry fatigue into the next race and sacrifice a good finish? Etc. etc. It's a decent mentality to have, to a point, but it sure is liberating to leave it on the roadside behind. I stayed with the half marathon, and had a great time.

My calves, by the end, did not. Nor did my voluptuous adductors, who complained that the inherent lack of V2 technique in trail running left them feeling abandoned and incidentally, quite chafed. Ignoring their cramping outbursts I was able to push the downhills hard to maintain the position I acquired in the climbing portions, where I could actually put skiing fitness to good use. The race gave me a chance also to give a go with some of the new sponsor goods I've got for the upcoming year, with my Scott Kinabalu 2.0 trail shoes and an ample supply of PowerBar products (delicious). 

Thank you, PowerBar, for confirming that Snack Time is All The Time

Thank you, PowerBar, for confirming that Snack Time is All The Time

Last year, Alison was fourth in the half marathon overall and about ten minutes behind the winner, who finished the course in 1:52:something. I figured if I could find myself somewhere in between those two times, it'd be a good day. I started the race and found myself in a pack of four other guys, including fellow Methow athlete Justin Huff; we comprised the chase pack of three ahead (actually four, but the leader was gone in the first minute and put a 20min gap on the field by the end...). After a mile or so of curvaceous trail running we emerged onto a FS road that climbed and climbed and climbed. I took that as my opportunity to go and split open our pack, putting me into a quiet in-between land where I stayed for the remainder to finish 4th in 1:51:something.

The Methow crew competing at Squak (l to r): Justin Huff, me, Ella Hall, Aden Jones, and Leslie Hall (female winner of 12km!)

The Methow crew competing at Squak (l to r): Justin Huff, me, Ella Hall, Aden Jones, and Leslie Hall (female winner of 12km!)

The hurdles to this year's successful running + Sam dialogue are: muscular adaptation and resilience, and pace. The first comes pretty easy, and just by running lots. The second demands a bit more patience and structured training and I'm excited to give it a go, utilizing many of the same workouts I did as a ski racer as my coach was a great proponent of Renato Canova (famed marathon coach of Kenyans and others), and adapted his training techniques to skiing. Now I just need to un-adapt them and use them as they were originally intended (albeit at speeds slower than Shaheen, et al). 

I always encourage my athletes, whether they're first-time junior high track runners or experienced competitors, to evaluate risk in their training and racing choices. No risk means you lose opportunities to surprise yourself and crush barriers which might've long stood in your way. On the other hand, always taking that risk leaves you precious little room for mistakes, and if there's one thing that endurance athletes do really well, it's make mistakes. They're part of the process (a necessary part), but never learning from them leaves you mired at a level far below your ultimate capability. 

Find the balance between moderation and risk, and recognize that they're less enemies and more willing accomplices to your athletic path. Namaste, little grasshoppers. 

Rattler Updates: Please Read!

We just learned today that a cattle drive will be in progress on East County Road and Hwy 20 from Twisp north toward the Wintrhop Saturday morning. Three to three and a half miles of Hwy 20 between Twisp and Winthrop will be affected. PLEASE, if you are coming Saturday morning from the south (Wenatchee, Twisp, etc), make sure to take the East County road from the Twisp side (by Aero Methow). The ranchers are planning to be off the Eastside road by 7:30, but not off the highway until as late as 10. The drive normally happens on Sunday, but something came up that made them have to do it Saturday instead. We want to foster good relationships with the various users in the valley and definitely do not want any animals or cowboys to be hurt, so please plan accordingly.

Remember your Discovery pass, as it is necessary for parking and unavailable to purchase at the trail head. Carpooling is encouraged; there is ample public parking at the Barn in Winthrop. Feel free to use our Facebook page to arrange with runners.

View from the ridge.

View from the ridge.

Bring a camp chair too (and a cooler with your beverage of choice), if you have one, so you can hang out in the sun and relax after the race!

Free post-race massage will be available by Methow Massage Therapy that you can sign up for when you pick up your bib.

Let us know if you have any questions. Otherwise, we will see you soon!

Springtime-Funtime and Rattler course preview

Two weeks ago I competed in my last pro-level race as a Nordic skier, and hung up my hat, "retired". Professional is a relative term for US xc skiers as we make very few dollars, are completely unknown outside of our little insular sphere, and with the exception of public access few of us will ever get decent TV airtime. But, it's a passion and a huge commitment of time and energy toward a goal. I'm grateful to have done it for eight years and to have had the overwhelming support I did - thank you all. 

And now I hope I don't get fat and lazy. We do have a child on the way (May 19th, accordingly to the celestial readings), so my days are apparently going to change somewhat. But Alison and I remain confident that we'll be able to combine forces to maintain a fun life of running and adventuring, just now we'll have a small giggly ball of boob-dependent flesh to tote along with us. The more, the merrier, I say. And so with that, I'm embarking on a small quest to be a better runner. 

I've enjoyed trail running as training for quite some time, but never before have I been able to actually focus on it, getting faster and more resilient to the impact. Usually when I would enter the occasional running race during the summer I would fare decently and then spend the next several days nursing my aching muscles back to health - they have not traditionally been up to the task, being rather bulky and prone toward skate push-offs instead of relentless downhill pounding. But the times they are a' changin'. I've got a few near-ultras (35km, 42km) on the schedule for the summer, and am more curious than anything else to see if I can convert my ski fitness into semi-competitive runner fitness. 

And what an opportune time it is; spring has landed with a thud here in the Methow and yesterday Alison, Nikki and I went to reconnoiter the Rattler race course in Pipestone Canyon. Under a beautiful April sun I tackled the 9-mile loop while Alison, the dog and the fetus completed nearly the same as an out-'n-back, meeting me halfway and turning around. The conditions are bomb-tastic right now and if you haven't signed up for the Rattler 4, 9, or half-marathon on April 19th, you SHOULD. Registration is here:

http://www.webscorer.com/register?raceid=18141

Six weeks until due-date with a baby in the belly hasn't stopped Alison from enjoying the first open trails of spring.

Six weeks until due-date with a baby in the belly hasn't stopped Alison from enjoying the first open trails of spring.

We've got great schwag lined up for the raffle and ultimately, there's no better way to greet spring and a new year of trail running than a race with your friends! Come on out and join the party with us. 

Winthrop Traverse - A Recreation Northwest event

We're excited to announce that we are the race directors for the upcoming Winthrop Traverse, a multi-sport race to be held here in the Methow Valley this coming June. The Traverse is part of the Northwest Traverse series, a collection of events run by Recreation Northwest and based in Bellingham, WA. These unique competitions blend fun and challenging courses with an ethic of conservation and environmental stewardship, and can be either solo affairs or done with a team of competitors.

For this year's Winthrop version we've put together an amazing course, starting at Pearrygin Lake State park with run, mountain bike, and paddling legs, then venturing out into the Chewuch River valley for a road bike tour before returning to Winthrop for a last 1.5 mile downtown run to the finish line at the Red Barn Park for beers, food, and post-race fun.

Registration and more info on the event can be found at the race website: Winthrop Traverse

For inquiries about the event please email Sam at sam@methowendurance.com. We hope to see you there!

An exuberant team crosses the finish line at last year's Bellingham Traverse

An exuberant team crosses the finish line at last year's Bellingham Traverse


Winter Wonderland

For the past week, nearly every morning has offered at least several inches of fresh snow: Saturday night dumped almost a foot! Normally at this point in the season I'm about ready to put the skis away and grab my running shoes again; this year, not so much. The late winter was just fine with me, and I'm happy to see plenty of the white stuff around. Given that it's becoming spring, overnight snow turns to a lovely, sunny afternoon, followed by more light! Nikki and I have been going on all kinds of adventures, and this prego lady feels quite fortunate to have a dog who will break trail.

"I love snow."

"I love snow."

Nikki is starting to wonder why she has to go first.

Nikki is starting to wonder why she has to go first.

The husky is a working dog, afterall.

The husky is a working dog, afterall.

A sea of white, looking across at Cedar Creek.

A sea of white, looking across at Cedar Creek.

I love this Ponderosa. In the winter, spring, summer and fall. And blue sky!

I love this Ponderosa. In the winter, spring, summer and fall. And blue sky!

Aaaand, time to go down.

Aaaand, time to go down.

Finally!

It's true that the snow this year hasn't been the best (spoiler alert-until NOW). I know a few people who decided to move here for the winter after hearing the locals boast of the amazing skiing to be had in the front and back country, only to experience the driest conditions most had ever seen. Since I'm coaching the little kids this year, I still have been getting out and while it hadn't been the normal plethora of white we are now accustomed to seeing, there was still (surprisingly good) skiing to be had. The running was quite delightful, with trails open that usually are completely unrunnable. If nothing else, this winter was a good reminder to be adaptable, and realize how many winter activities there truly are (including curling up with a good book when it's sub zero out).

I tried to maintain a positive attitude, thinking that surely we wouldn't have a winter when the snow never really came. As February approached, however, it was not looking good. Nearly every ski event had to be cancelled and we have a rather large event, the Women's Ski and Yoga Retreat, at the end of the month that was not looking very likely. I should have known, however, that as soon as I emailed everyone about the conditions and the potential of making the retreat more of a mellow weekend, the forecasts changed, and even more than that, became accurate: WINTER IS BACK!

Here are some pictures from the weekend. After deciding not to look at weather forecasts anymore during our dry spell, I feel like a kid again, excitedly awakening to a fresh blanket of white.

A little ski up Goat Peak Road, after a little touch up of snow.

A little ski up Goat Peak Road, after a little touch up of snow.

After a fun outing in the sun, I couldn't wait to head up to Sun Mountain to go up and run on the snowshoe trails. My favorite mountain bike trails become snowshoe trails when the snow flies, making running through the woods there one of my favorite wintertime activities.

My favorite trail at Sun Mountain, with lots of fresh snow.

My favorite trail at Sun Mountain, with lots of fresh snow.

The Sun Mountain Trail Map. New snowshoe trails (at least for me)!

The Sun Mountain Trail Map. New snowshoe trails (at least for me)!

Heading down Rader Creek. I think this was the first time I've done this loop in the counter clockwise direction. It was like a completely new route.

Heading down Rader Creek. I think this was the first time I've done this loop in the counter clockwise direction. It was like a completely new route.

My trusty trail companions, Nikki and belly.

My trusty trail companions, Nikki and belly.

Running along Patterson Lake. One lovely thing about this winter is that MVSTA has groomed a ski trail on the lake, offering a fun, mulit-use trail. It was so neat to see skiers, ice fishermen, snow bikers, and dogs, all frolicking around.

Running along Patterson Lake. One lovely thing about this winter is that MVSTA has groomed a ski trail on the lake, offering a fun, mulit-use trail. It was so neat to see skiers, ice fishermen, snow bikers, and dogs, all frolicking around.

Another fun day in the fresh air. And the snow keeps coming! There are still a few spots left in the Retreat. I just spoke with our partner at Lole and we'll have some awesome stuff for everyone that has me so excited. Happy Snow Day (and Family Day, to our friendly Canadian neighbors)!

Just since this picture, it's more of a white out; I can't keep up!

Just since this picture, it's more of a white out; I can't keep up!

Adaptations of a Pregnant Ultrarunner

I've been working on this post for several months now, but haven't quite figured out exactly what I want to say. I certainly am excited to be going through pregnancy and very much looking forward to the changes that a new addition will bring, but must admit that I haven't quite felt myself since August, when I learned about our upcoming family member...


This picture has nothing to do with the post, but I like it.

This picture has nothing to do with the post, but I like it.

While ultra running hasn't been my entire focus for my adult life, it has played a pretty prominent role. I love my job, friends, and other parts of life, but running is always there. I have never been afraid to take a day or seven off if I don't feel like running, but for the better part of the last ten years, most days include a quiet run, usually accompanied by just my dog and thoughts. I fully enjoy being out in nature, experiencing the seasons, and rooting myself to this place through the trails. Some of my best ideas were born as I huffed my way up a hill with Nikki trotting beside me.

Beginning last September-not so much. As it turns out, growing a baby takes a lot of energy. Apparently women don't burn extra calories in the first trimester, which just doesn't compute to me based on anecdotal evidence and what one's body is actually creating, but I digress. I basically went from trying to refrain from passing out on my massage table all day, to coming home and doing absolutely as little as possible.

Being pregnant is interesting in so many ways, one of which is people touching my belly. I was forewarned, which was good, as I'm not the most touchy-feely person (despite my career). Another shouldn't come as a surprise, but of course makes total sense: everyone wants to know how I've been feeling and wish me well. When word got out (it doesn't take long in a tiny town), many women told me they felt the best they have ever felt while pregnant. Huh? I am not one of those women. I certainly have not had some of the horrific experiences I've heard some women relate, but I would by no means say I feel the best I've felt: something has taken over my body, taken all my energy, and made my hips wider (among other physical changes I thought would take a while).

At this point, a pity party seemed the best response. Of course I knew I wasn't the first athlete to be pregnant, but it's the first time I've had to let go of whatever fitness goals I have for a reason out of my control. For several months now, I had lost fitness and didn't have anything to work toward. I wasn't able to wallow quite as much as I thought I would, unfortunately, as I began to get some energy back and put it to somewhat good use. Work was still quite demanding, however, so those short outings became shorter and less frequent. Then one day while living vicariously through others, I read Ellie Greenwood's (trail running bad a** and nice person) article on iRunFar about her year of injuries, and it dawned on me: pregnancy is like an injury! People get injured all the time and have to deal with this. And they recover! In the years I've been running (knock on wood), I've been lucky enough to only have had a brief stint of tendonitis that resolved after a few weeks. Amazing runners have setbacks and they come back from them! However simple and obvious that realization was, I felt better immediately. Plus, I'm basically blood doping right now and taking human growth hormone, so it's better than an injury! And I'll have a baby at the end of it!

Inching my way up a hill.

Inching my way up a hill.

My approach now is to think of my little outings as I instruct clients recovering from an injury to do: listen to your body, don't try to do too much, set attainable goals, and think about the big picture. Ha, easier said than done. So I've compiled a list of things to remind myself that everything will be ok:

  • Athletes get pregnant all the time. Consider all the rockstar moms I know.
  • It's just nine months.
  • I'll get a training boost from the extra blood (so keep doing little things so I can put it to use post baby).
  • I'll most likely (hopefully) have a new pain threshold that will help me in 100 milers.
  • I'll get to practice living on less sleep that will also help for 100s.
  • When the lil' biscuit wakes up at 5am, we can just hit the trails! (Ask me how this is going in June...)
  • Training with said biscuit will be bonus strength training.
  • I'll get to see big gains by starting out having to rebuild my fitness.
  • I GET A BABY at the end of it all!!!

Anyone have anything to add? I'm curious how other mom's dealt with all of this. I keep thinking about the similarities between training for a race and training to be a mom, and to a lesser extent, training for labor. My body has never been so flexible: it does what it needs to do, and I'm just along for the ride.

(It's impossible to post about pregnancy and not get sappy...sorry)

Pregnancy/gestation is magic. I can feel the little sprout kicking and moving around a lot now, and it's its own being! I'm baffled and amazed constantly throughout everyday and absolutely cannot wait to meet the little one. And start training for a 50k in September.