I first spoke with Sarah Evans earlier this year after seeing that she totally smashed her marathon PR (and qualified for Boston) a mere four months after having a baby.
Inspired and intrigued, I asked if I could pick her brain, and my interview with her continues to be one of the most popular KineticFix posts to this day.
Six-plus months have passed since then, and we have yet to coordinate trail running schedules (one day!), although we do connect every so often over social media to root each other on.
So I figured it was about time for us to catch up on life, running and our shared love for getting lost on the trails…
KineticFix: How has training been going since we last chatted?
Sarah Evans: Training has been fun and one of the things that has remained consistent and steady in my life.
Since the first of the year I’ve ran several races, including a PR (personal record) at the Kaiser Half Marathon in February (1:33:40), a 35k on my (34th!) birthday in March and a fun 5k (tried to break 20 min; not quite there yet!) with my mom in April, culminating in my first Ultra (a 50k) this month!
I’ve continued running, cross training with cycling and have been including a lot more yoga and HIIT (high intensity interval training), boot camp-type workouts to my regimen instead of the boring, slow strength training that I did in the past.
I also decided to resign from my job as a medical device rep at the first of the year to stay home and raise my daughter for the time being. Since then I’ve studied for and passed/received my personal training certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and I’m also going to take classes to become a certified run coach next month through Road Runners Club of America.
So I’m really exploring other opportunities in the sport that I love while still being able to stay close to home with my baby girl.
KF: Wow, you’ve sure been busy! So can you share your latest tips for maintaining a workout schedule with a increasingly-active baby girl?
SE: With having an ever-changing and super-active baby, running has continued to remain my outlet and my ‘me’ time to get out in the early mornings before the day gets hectic (or exhausting!).
I still maintain my Sunday mornings with my friends on the trails; those are my 3-4 hours that are an unspoken religion to me to get out solo, so my husband is very supportive of that routine. But I’m also finding more time to run with my daughter in the BOB stroller, since she’s becoming much more aware, active and awake for longer periods; it’s a time we can spend together and I can start sharing my love of running with her!
During a typical weekday, I’m awake around 5:30/6am to get in a run or a spin on my bike before my daughter wakes up (at 7am). Twice a week I get until 7:30am to go on a longer run if I want, and my husband gets up with our daughter. It gives me some extra ‘me’ time and my husband gets some of those precious morning minutes that are so sweet with a baby. It’s a great compromise and schedule that we have worked out!
On those mornings, I know I have a chunk of my training done for the day, and then me and my daughter can enjoy the morning together taking a walk, playing in the yard or at the park. Then I will add on small/additional ‘workouts’ throughout the day.
That’s what I think is important for many busy women and moms to realize: You don’t need a full hour or two a day to work out. Just add it in little by little throughout your day! I keep resistance bands, my yoga mat, foam rollers, some small hand weights, ankle weights and an exercise ball out in our living room all the time (hey it eventually blends in with all the toys!).
While my daughter is laughing at her reflection in front of the mirror, practicing crawling or working on developmental skills with some toys, I can get in 10 minutes of core work, leg and butt exercises, lunges (during which I will hold her for extra weight!), you name it. I also have 10-20 minute ‘bootcamp’ or total-body workouts I’ll do, where each exercise is done for one minute.
It’s easy to stop those workouts, if needed, in the middle and pick them up later in the day. And when my daughter takes a nap, I’ll fit in a 20-minute yoga session in between dishes, laundry, taking a shower and preparing her meals. It is truly the small things you do throughout the day that add up.
Another way I also stay active with a 10-month old baby is by walking (or many times run!) when I do errands. We jog the mile to the grocery store or run/walk the 1.25 miles to the park, all instead of driving the car. We spend a lot of time outside, so that automatically lends itself to being active, in fresh air and staying fit.
And how I maintain my workout and training schedule is truly planning my weeks in advance. This works especially well when you have a training plan for a race mapped out, then you already know what will be running weeks/months in advance!
I will put the entire plan into my calendar, marking down what mileage or workout I need to do and on what days. Then when I look at my week on Sunday evening, I already know whether I need to carve out time early in the morning, during a ‘lunch-break’ (for me that may be nap-time) or sometimes later in the evening.
This helps because just as I’ll schedule a lunch, a meeting or an appointment with someone, I also schedule my run (or any workout, spin, strength, core work, etc.) It’s important to make that meeting with yourself, and this way it’s really difficult for me to miss a run or cross training workout because it’s pre-scheduled into my day!
KF: All great ideas! Speaking of getting active in the great outdoors, you’ve entered ultra territory, too. Why the step up to longer distances?
SE: I am competitive, especially with myself, and I’m always looking for the next challenge. I found myself wanting another hurdle to overcome (as if having a baby or my come-back from breaking my foot two years ago wasn’t enough!).
I had recently broken my personal records for the marathon and half-marathon within four and six months, respectively, post-baby — so I thought an Ultra (starting off with a 50K) would be the natural next step. Pair that with my absolute LOVE of the trails, and it seemed like a no-brainer.
There’s a big difference going from road runs with speed to the long, slow pacing of a trail ‘ultra’ distance. It taps into a different part of yourself and your spirit, and it seems to exceed a certain fitness level and delves into mental strength…but I like that new challenge!
I’m hoping that this isn’t my last Ultra. The community that surrounds the trails and ultra-running is very unique, open and friendly, and I love the feeling I get from getting dirty, sometimes lost (I think you can relate!) and being out in nature.
KF: Oh, yes! I like to say that if there’s a way to get lost, I’ll find it — especially on the trails. What’s next on your list, and can you share your game plan for getting there?
SE: I’m looking forward to kicking it up a notch and getting back into speed work and intervals when I start training for the Chicago Marathon, which I will be running along with my mom for her first marathon! This was also my first marathon in 2008, so I am looking for another personal record and Boston Qualifying time.
I’ll create my own training plan; I enjoy researching and finding new workouts to add to my runs and being my own coach. There’s not the pressure of answering to a coach, but I’m also my own worst critic, so I do a pretty good job at keeping myself in check!
I am also working out the details of registering for the 2015 Boston Marathon (with my last marathon qualifying time) and then trying to get into the Boston to Big Sur Challenge next April where you run back-to-back marathons, six days apart, on opposite coasts of the country. And I’ve always been a big fan of The North Face Endurance Challenge, so that could possibly be another 50k (or dare I say 50 mile!?) opportunity.
On the exploring and fun side, I have a deep desire to also run Rim to Rim (and maybe Rim!) in the Grand Canyon, so I may be putting together a group for late next Spring.
All of these races really are just a celebration for the running that I do on a daily, weekly basis. I don’t run just to race, the races just seem like a great opportunity to add on challenges to my running, which I still do purely for the freedom, joy and love of it.
I am very excited to share this passion with my daughter and possibly run a race with her one day, as I am doing with MY mom this year! I am also very lucky to be able to spend time at home with my daughter in her first year of life and to start to use my personal training and coaching certifications for my own knowledge and to share with my friends and family who seem to enjoy picking my brain for advice and input in their own active lives.
Now, as I look at my plans for the next year, there seems to be a lot going on. But in the end, it’s done for the fun of it all, to spend time on the trails with my running crew and to celebrate our training with races…not to mention coming home to my husband and daughter and going out for Mexican!
It’s the easy, simple things sometimes 🙂
Special thanks, Sarah, for taking the time to chat. Can’t wait to follow along on your adventures over the next year — and hopefully hit those trails with you soon!