Fit Mom: Valerie Marshall on Finding the Balance in Motherhood

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One week overdue with baby number two (left) & just five weeks postpartum (right)!

Most of the time I dedicate my Q&A’s here on the blog to athletes in pursuit of race goals, but this week I’m talking to a now-mom-of-two with some pretty awesome athletic achievements of her own.

I did a double-take when Valerie Marshall posted her pregnancy transformation shots (below) a few months back and was curious to chat with her more about her post-pregnancy journey.

While Val’s results may not necessarily be the norm (case in point: I’ve still got a few pounds to lose seven months out, but I’m in no hurry), they’re a testament to her hard work and dedication.

Yes, Val looks fabulous, but what I particularly love is that she embodies how pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood can be incorporated into a lifelong pursuit of health and fitness instead of approaching them as if you’ve reached the end of the road.

Read on for more of her philosophies, as well as Val’s top tip for new moms who are looking to reclaim their fitness and achieve “homeostasis” in their life…

Your transformation picture after your first pregnancy is impressive! What was your motivation for getting back into shape post-baby?

My motivation for getting into shape postpartum was easy and natural for me; I just wanted to exercise the way I did prior to pregnancy (and breastfeeding definitely helped). Before I was pregnant with Roman, my first pregnancy, I was training for my fourth marathon and I so badly wanted to get back to that place.

Did you do anything during your pregnancy that you think allowed you to bounce back more quickly after?

During my pregnancy I continued to exercise, but I modified high intensity workouts to medium or low intensity. As third trimester approached, I started to walk instead of run and do yoga or barre instead spin class. I believe that I bounced back so quickly postpartum due to exercising regularly before and during my whole pregnancy.

You attribute it to physical and nutritional work, but also a balance of wellness: social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical – can you elaborate on what that means to you?

I attribute my overall well-being postpartum to the whole spectrum of wellness: social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical.

Social: Within days postpartum I had my very first date as a mom with my husband, just the two of us. I had a difficult time leaving my newborn son, but I needed to remember that I am not only a mom, but a wife, too. About a week postpartum, I had my first girls’ night since being a mom. Once again, it was difficult to leave my newborn son, but I needed to remember that I am an individual as well as a momma. Plus, it was great bonding for my son to spend one-on-one time with his dad. From that first week on until now, I make sure to schedule out time for my husband, myself and friends and family; it’s all about balance in life.

Emotional: I was very emotional when I first became a momma, and throughout pregnancy; mainly due to hormones and lack of sleep, but also do to a changing lifestyle. To help keep myself in check, I went to yoga/meditated, exercised, and journaled.

Spiritual: Spiritually, I am a Christian and love to worship. So I made sure to set aside time for God, whether at church, in the car, or at home (usually while breastfeeding).

Environmental: This does not directly relate to how I bounced back postpartum, but I do try to use all organic products and organic/minimally processed foods. I enjoy the great outdoors and breathing in fresh air (I love living in Bend where recreational fitness is all around).

Occupational/Intellectual: Prior to being a momma I was a working-woman with a degree in Fitness and Nutrition. I made it a point to keep up on educating myself, so that one day when I do enter the workforce I will not be lost in the dark. I also really love learning about wellness and educating not only myself, but friends and family, as well.

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Val gained 40lbs while pregnant with her first baby (upper left), then had 10 lbs and muscle left to gain one day postpartum (upper right). She credits a “proper balance of wellness” to her results nine mos later (bottom)!

Walk us through some highlights of typical days of exercise & nutrition – immediately after, then 3, 6, 9 and 12 months out from being pregnant.

Highlights of typical days of exercise and nutrition: We all love to have our cake and eat it, too. I am a huge believer in rewarding yourself whether that be with food or not, but for me, I definitely reward myself with desserts. Plus, breastfeeding made me extremely hungry all of the time. I try to eat a “balanced” diet most days of the week to maintain a healthy lifestyle now and for a healthy future.

Nutrition is not only for weight, but is also for prevention and treatment of many diseases, so I try to keep that in mind when I am planning my meals. Meal planning was extremely important for my nutritional habits postpartum. It is so easy just to snack and graze throughout the day or to go long periods of time without eating. I would meal prep and prepare meals usually on Sundays or even just the night before. This definitely takes time out of your already busy and tiring day, but it is so worth it. I could talk days and days about nutrition, it is a true science to find what works for your body and lifestyle.

0-3 months: Due to nap schedules and lack of sleep, I exercised whenever I could find time. During those first three months I spent a lot of time walking, running and doing Barre3. At the local gym, there is a Baby and Mommy cycle class, where I could bring Roman in with me. This class was awesome, I was able to do an hour cycle class and he either napped in the stroller right in front of me or he played on a blanket on the floor.

3-9 months: I was not quite ready to introduce Roman into gym daycares yet, so I continued to exercise at home or when my husband, mom or best friend could watch him. During these months I ran, went to Baby and Mommy cycle class, started cardio yoga and did p90x.

9-12 months: I was finally ready to introduce Roman to gym daycares, which he loves going to. Roman started walking at 9 months, so he was on the move, which made it difficult to exercise at home. At the gym, I participated in HIIT classes, cycle classes, cardio yoga and some light lifting in the weight room.

And baby no. 2 (the adorable Kennadi) is a girl – congratulations! How was your second pregnancy? What’s the same & what’s different this time around?

Pregnancy #2: I was so excited and much more relaxed with this pregnancy. I had a lot of energy, thank goodness, since I was chasing after a toddler all of the time. I exercised and did my prenatal stretches most days of the week to prepare for the arrival of baby girl. I had a much more difficult time eating “healthy,” however; all I want to do is eat cookies and bagels with cream cheese!

My plan was to just play-it-by-ear for the first month or so when it comes to setting any fitness goals. Basic fitness goals of mine, with no set timeline as of now, would be to run a few more full marathons and maybe even my first sprint triathlon. Physically, I would love to get my body back to where it has been in the past, but I have a feeling that will take more time this round than it did when I was just a mother of one.

What’s your top tip for new moms who are looking to reclaim their fitness and achieve “homeostasis” in their life, as you call it?

My top tip is to set goals, make a schedule, have a plan and stick with it. Most importantly, remember that you are an amazing mother, but you are not only a mother; you have so many more roles in life and they should all be given special attention.

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The Baggs family: Roman, Tim, Val & Kennadi

Thanks for your time, Val — and congratulations again on your beautiful new addition!

Fit mamas, I’d love to interview you! Email me at info (at) kineticfix (dot) com for info. 

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Ashly Robinson

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In honor of our second Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing our new team members via this interview series throughout the next few months…get to know these impressive ladies, and come join us for a run Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm in Portland! 

Last, but certainly not least, is Ashly Robinson! As one of our most loyal community members last year, it made perfect sense that she’d be joining the ranks of the team leaders this year.

Although Ashly freely admits she’s “not the fastest or the strongest runner out there” (I’d beg to differ; she’s an avid racer who has since taken to the trails and has also been dropping her pace-per-mile like nobody’s business, thanks to interval training), she said what attracted her to our group what that she never once felt like she didn’t belong. And now she wants to share that same welcoming spirit with our new community members as the team continues to grow.

Ashly’s also particularly passionate about raising money for our charity, Breast Cancer Fund, because it’s a cause that has taken too many lives of those she’s known and loved. In fact, she’s spearheading one of our main events for the season, a fundraiser with Orange Theory Fitness — check out our Facebook page for details!

So, without further ado, we’re rounding out this interview series by finding out what makes this all-around fabulous lady tick…

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1. What’s your favorite route? My favorite route really depends on the season. In the warmer months I’m a sucker for the trails, mostly Forest Park, but I don’t discriminate! In the cooler months, I love making a loop on the waterfront paths and enjoying all the city views.

2. What shoes do you wear? I’m currently wearing Nike’s LunarGlide 7.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? My FlipBelt! I don’t always wear tights that have a zippered pocket, so this helps me carry my iPod/phone and keys without having to carry everything.

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” I would have to say getting things ready the day before. Whether it’s a run after work or an early morning race, getting my gear ready just eliminates the “do I have everything?” stress.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I wouldn’t say I’m really better at anything running-related than anyone else, but I do a pretty good job of keeping a good attitude. I’m not the fastest girl on the block, I’ve even finished dead last in a race before, but I don’t let that stop me from getting out there and doing something I enjoy.

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6. What do you listen to while running? If I’m going out for a long run I like to listen to slower paced music to help me not run too fast too soon. This is usually something like Phantogram or Glass Animals, mixed in with some Eminem for motivation. For shorter runs I’m all about upbeat, “top hits” and some more Eminem.

7. What are you currently training for? Right now? Nothing. But I do have my sights set on a half marathon in December, so I guess I better get planning that!

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? Recovery isn’t my strong suit. That usually consists of some calf stretching and water/electrolyte intake. Definitely room for improvement there! Sleep, on the other hand, I’ve got that down. I’m an eight hours per night kinda gal.

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9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are, it just matters that you’re out there trying.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? This has to be from my first half marathon. A good friend of mine talked me into running this with her for her birthday, but I was never a runner. At the last minute, my dad decided to do it with me. Not only did I get to complete my first half with my dad by my side, but I also had great friends at the finish to cheer me on! Not to mention this was in Moab, Utah so the scenery itself was incredible.

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11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. There are so many people that I would love to run with. For right now, I’d have to say my husband, Sean. He’s done so much to help me achieve my goals and running with him (at his pace) would mean I’ve improved more than I ever thought possible.

12. Anything else you want to add? My dad always told me “we’re burnin’ daylight” when I would lolly-gag in the mornings. So in his wise words, get out there and quit burnin’ the daylight!

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Thanks, Ashly! Thank you for pitching in as a team leader this year; you continue to inspire those around you, and we’re excited to watch you crush yet another 13.1 come December! 

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com. 

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Vanessa Peterson

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In honor of our second Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing our new team members via this interview series throughout the next few months…get to know these impressive ladies, and come join us for a run Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm in Portland! 

Next up, meet Vanessa Peterson! During the week you can find her helping to straighten people’s teeth as an orthodontist…but when the weekend rolls around, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find our team’s resident speed demon heading out on some kind of great adventure.

Case in point: With her 30th birthday approaching soon, Vanessa’s made it a goal to run the length of the Wildwood Trail — all 30 miles of it. So for practice, she and her husband ran up Mt. St. Helens — that’s 19 miles with 4,300 feet of climbing over six hours, folks.

What I love most about Vanessa is that you’ll never met anyone with a softer heart and a stronger mental game. Seriously, this woman is one of the kindest and most genuine people you’ll meet, but when it comes to competing in races, the gloves come off — she’s just puts that much heart and soul into everything she does.

Needless to say, we’re thrilled to have her leading the pack with this year’s team, both literally and figuratively, so here’s a little peek into how she makes it happen…

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1. What’s your favorite route? I love running from the OHSU/Marquam Hill through Wildwood Trail to Pittock Mansion down into Forest Park and back. It’s a 12 mile loop that is perfect for a summer Sunday morning jaunt!

2. What shoes do you wear? I’ve worn Nike Pegasus running shoes for 15 years. I’m superstitious and nervous that if I switch I’ll get injured. However, this year is the first year I don’t have any crazy races that I’ve signed up for, so maybe its finally time to branch out and try something new…stay tuned!

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? I can’t live without my sunglasses and my phone. I love listening to Pandora or putting on a podcast when I run.

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” I keep an old pair of running shoes and a run outfit in the trunk of my car. That way, if a running opportunity presents itself or the rainy clouds open up, I’m ready to go and don’t have to fight traffic to go home and change.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I LOVE track workouts –tempo, fartleks, ladders, speed, you name it! I was a NCAA Track & Field Div 1 800-meter runner in college, and I’m also a rule follower. When a track workout says you must hit this time and you have this much rest, it doesn’t matter how tired I am, I’ll do anything to hit that split!

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6. What do you listen to while running? Lately I listen to wellness podcasts. They are so inspiring, and are especially helpful when I’m running the waterfront on my lunch hour during a stressful day at work.

7. What are you currently training for? I am turning 30 this year and I’ve decided that, to celebrate, I want to run all 30 miles of the Wildwood trail in August. It’s not an official race, but I can’t wait! I’m hoping to get a big group of people to join me at least for parts of it!

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I do a ton of yoga — like 4-6 hours a week. I’ve found that flexibility equals speed, and good posture and a strong core leads to a long-term running career. Following a long run with yoga is almost like getting a massage; it feels so good!

I also am a very healthy eater. I eat 95% plant-based, which I think is essential to optimal athletic performance. Finally, I usually get eight hours of sleep and I’m up by 5 am. It was hard to get into a morning routine, but I’ve found the early morning is my favorite part of the day.

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9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? I tend to run like a Tyrannosaurus Rex with my arms clenched up by my armpits and my shoulders super tense. One of my coaches taught me to run with a penny in each hand between my fingers; it reminds you to relax your arms and drop your shoulders!

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? I got food poisoning the night before my first Ironman Triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). I decided to still do the race, but it was a very long day where I felt sick to my stomach.

During the marathon portion of the event, I was struggling and ended up running three miles with an 82-year-old man before he left me in the dust! It was so inspiring to see what great shape he was in for his age!

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with ______. My Friends! Running is way more fun to me when its a social event! I love that so many people in Portland are active and love the outdoors. It’s great to have friends who inspire and motivate you!

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12. Anything else you want to add? I’ve gone through many phases with running and triathlon. From running competitively in college to being on a sponsored triathlon team, I’ve run six marathons, including the Boston Marathon, and have done more than 30 triathlons, including two Ironman distances. I used to have a much more competitive spirit, but these days training outside is simply my zen.

There is nothing better than being on the trails with a great group of people. I developed such great relationships with so many Luna Chix last year. My goal this year is to have a blast getting healthy and training with an incredible group of women!

Thanks, Vanessa! We love having you as a team leader this season — and enjoy the challenge of trying to keep up with you each week 😉

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com. 

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Syreeta Abrams

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In honor of our second Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing our new team members via this interview series throughout the next few months…get to know these impressive ladies, and come join us for a run Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm in Portland! 

Next up, meet Syreeta Abrams! If you’ve been thinking about joining our group, here’s why you shouldn’t hesitate to come check us out: there’s more than a good chance that she’ll be the first person to greet you with a warm smile and jog a few ‘get to know you’ laps upon your arrival.

A people person at heart, Syreeta started coming to our workouts last year and quickly became a core member of the team. Whether it’s taking on new running experiences (trail races, Hood to Coast) or tackling some of the Pacific Northwest’s best hikes (hit her up for info), she’s game for anything.

What I love most about Syreeta, though, (aside from her wicked sense of humor) is that she’s a great example to us all for living a truly balanced life; she’s not only a proud mom, wife and successful executive, but she’s also an athlete and an avid world traveler.

The best part? She juggles it all with a positive attitude and level of energy that are genuinely inspiring. So here’s a little peek behind the scenes at how she does it!

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1. What’s your favorite route? I love running around Mountain Park and Tryon Park.

2. What shoes do you wear? Nike Structures

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? I can’t live without my phone, my music and my Garmin watch. I think I’m obsessed with checking to make sure I did a full 3, 4, 5, 6 miles. I hate when it says 2.99 miles!

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runback?” I don’t think I really have one.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I think I’m better at going the distance. Sometimes I feel like I can run forever — not fast but just far. And don’t let me have a partner that I can talk to; omg I might run to Seattle!

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6. What do you listen to while running? I listen to whatever my college-aged daughter tells me to download — so right now it’s Beyonce, Formation and Fetty Wap.

7. What are you currently training for? I am training for nothing at the moment! Life has happened, and I honestly don’t have the time to train for anything right now.

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8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I love to sleep, so lets just say I get my 8+ hours in on the regular, LOL! And I usually like to run every other day, so 3-5 times a week.

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? Go a 1/2 size up on your running shoes and listen to your body not what a book says. So if you find some good advice try it but don’t force it on yourself because each person’s body has different needs.

For example, I don’t eat before I run (I mean nothing — no water, no food, not even a bite of something!) because if I do I get sick to my stomach while running. Why does this happen? Who knows, but it does, and I’ve met people for years telling me ‘you should eat.’

I tried it a few times and decided it just doesn’t work for me, and when I finally listened to my body, it worked just fine!

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10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? The best memory was when I was running my first half marathon in Williamsburg, Va. — the scenery was breathtaking and I had trained super hard and was ready to run like a maniac.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. My husband. He won’t run, but boy would that make my day!

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Thanks, Syreeta! We’re pumped to have you as a team leader this year, and I’m looking forward to many more adventures together. 

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com. 

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Alex Schrimp

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In honor of our second Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing our new team members via this interview series throughout the next few months…get to know these impressive ladies, and come join us for a run Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm in Portland! 

Next up, meet Alex Schrimp! She’s a Senior Research Assistant by day at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and has been a runner for a little more than three years now.

But after finding herself losing steam with workouts last summer, Alex needed some help staying motivated and holding herself accountable towards her goals. Enter Team LUNA Chix: One workout, and she was hooked.

Fast forward to this season — Alex is one of our rockstar team leaders, and is excited to help others find their fitness grooves again. Whether you’re looking for an upcoming race or ideas for how to spend your non-running time in Portland (hit her up for ideas on where to find the city’s best food, drinks and hikes…as well as what happened on this weeks’ episode of The Bachelorette), she’s your gal!

1. What’s your favorite route? I love to run from my house down to Tom McCall Waterfront Park, across the Steel Bridge, down Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade, across Tilikum Crossing and home. It’s about a six-mile loop. It’s great on a clear, sunny day, but I also love it on those cloudy, rainy Portland mornings.

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2. What shoes do you wear? I’m currently running in Brooks Glycerin 13 and Hoka One One Clifton 2.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? I love my Garmin GPS watch and my hydration belt! I have to have hydration and fuel with me at all times.

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” One of the best ways I’ve found to get my training in while still seeing my friends is to run into downtown to meet friends for a drink or dinner in the evening. I get my sweat on and still get to see everyone!

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5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I’m not sure I’m better at anything than anyone else is; that’s not why I run. I just like to get out there, relieve some stress and push myself.

6. What do you listen to while running? I listen to all kinds of music depending on what type of run (easy vs hard) I’m doing and the weather. I’ll usually listen to country music on easy runs and some top hits when I’m really pushing myself.

7. What are you currently training for? My goal for 2016 is to run one race/month and average a 9-min/mile.

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8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I usually increase my water/electrolyte intake and try to eat within an hour of finishing a long or intense run. As for sleep, I shoot for eight hours every night!

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? Listen to your body. I think that’s the golden rule in running. It’ll tell you all that you need to know.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? Finishing my first half marathon with my sister!

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Thanks, Alex! We’re thrilled to have you as part of the team this year, and we’re excited to cheer you on as you run down those race and pace goals this season. 

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com.

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Madeline Rhoades

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In honor of our second Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing our new team members via this interview series throughout the next few months…get to know these impressive ladies, and come join us for a run Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm in Portland! 

First up, meet Madeline Rhoades: She’s a self-described “fairly new” runner who joined us last season thinking she wouldn’t even be able to make it a mile…but ended up pleasantly surprising herself at our last workout by running a four-miler. Like a boss.

Not only did Madeline recruit a number of friends to join in on our weekly mayhem workouts, but she also happened to be our top fundraiser for last year’s spin-a-thon (seriously, people simply cannot say no to this woman!), so inviting her to join the team for our 2016 season was a total no-brainer.

Her hope for this year is to be able to be an example to other women who never thought they would grow to love running. Mission accomplished, Madeline — not only have you come into your own as a runner, but you’re inspiring others to do the same every week!

1. What’s your favorite route? I’m a big fan of nature running routes. If I get the chance to get out of the city and onto a (fairly flat) trail, it’s where I find my zen place. I used to frequent Ridge Trail in Forest Park when I first started running. It’s steep but is a great way to work your way up in intervals, (walk the steep parts and run what you can). Not to mention it’s gorgeous.

2. What shoes do you wear? I’m still experimenting. I think I might be too new to running to know what shoes work best for me. I like a lot of arch support but have not found “the ones” yet. I’m currently breaking in some Nike trail running shoes and loving them, they’re super supportive and cute. I can’t go wrong with Nike for style, at the very least!

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? Reflective everything. I usually run after work, and during the winter it’s dark. I want to be as visible as possible.

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” I am the best at making excuses, so a great “runhack” I use is bringing socks and shoes with me in my car — always. If it’s beautiful outside and I’m prepared, there are no excuses!

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I believe one of my biggest strengths in running is that I’m willing to learn. If a fellow runner gives me any tips or tricks, I’m up to try them. I love learning better ways of running, and when you’re open-minded to what more experienced runners have to say, it helps a lot.

6. What do you listen to while running? I don’t usually listen to anything other than my surroundings on runs. Especially if I’m in nature, I love the sound of what’s going on around me.

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7. What are you currently training for? I recently completed the Bridge to Brews 10k as my first race ever! I figured I would be slightly more motivated if there were craft beers at the finish line.

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I think I’m like every other human on the planet– I try to get eight hours of sleep a night. It’s not always possible, but I always feel so much better and more motivated when I get a full night’s sleep. A lot of the time I use an easy yoga routine to help me recover, to help me stretch all of the muscles that I use in running. I’m working on getting better at both sleeping and stretching!

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? You’ll never be “good at running” unless you start running. I had always considered myself a non-runner up until this point, and after I received this advice, I wasn’t so hard on myself for not being fast. I felt like it was less about the destination and more about the run. It’s impossible to be good at something unless you jump in!

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10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? Any time I push through something that I didn’t think I would be able to finish, I feel amazing. Whether it’s big or small, it’s great to look back and think, “I ran that extra mile even though I didn’t think I would be able to, I can finish this next mile too!” These memories keep me going through challenges.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. The Luna Chix! (Does that count?! I don’t really have any running idols.)

12. Anything else you want to add? Don’t let your mind hold your body back! You’re much stronger than you might think.

Thanks, Madeline! We’re so happy to have you as part of the team this year, and I can’t wait to watch you crush more of your running goals this season. 

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com.

How I (Swim, Bike &) Run: Ultra(wo)man Ailie Coulter

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Meet Ailie Coulter, an endurance athlete whose self-described likes include running, swimming, surfing, riding, reading, socializing and red wine.

But if we’re being totally honest, that list is a bit misleading — or, rather, it’s correct in that Ailie strives to live a balanced life…but it just doesn’t do justice to her focus, work ethic and the all-out guts she’s got that have allowed her to accomplish great things.

How? Well, first you’ve gotta familiarize yourself with Ultraman, which is basically an Ironman triathlon (140.6 miles: 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bikes ride and 26.2-mile run) DOUBLED. And then tack on another, oh, 40 miles or so for good measure.

That’s right; we’re talking 320 miles total, including a 6.2-mile swim and a 261.4-mile bike ride followed by a 52.4-mile double-marathon run. Put simply, it’s a race that’s “challenged and defeated the world’s fittest athletes for nearly three decades,” as aptly described by Triathlete magazine.

And second, all you need to know is that Ailie placed second at Ultraman Australia last year (watch the video about it here), which means she’s been invited to compete at Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii this year.

The prospect of undertaking (and crushing!) this kind of endurance feat — one that takes stamina, heart and determination to a whole new level — blows my mind. So, needless to say, it was an honor to take a few minutes with Ailie (a fellow Coeur Sports ambassador) to find out what makes this incredible woman tick!

1. What’s your favorite route or workout? Think that would have to be long-distance trail running. Nothing better than getting out of the city early morning, alone, in nature and experiencing all the different seasons. Normally start in fog and can’t see a meter in front of you and by the end of a 4-5 hour run session you have wolfed down all the food in your pack and replaced it with the layers of clothing you have taken off as the day has heated up!

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2. What shoes do you wear — both on the bike and on the roads? Running: Used to wear Asics but then they changed them and made the toe box really small and I started losing toe nails and getting horrid blisters. Then Pearl Izumi introduced their run collection a few years ago, and they made the toes wider than the heel and it is the best thing to happen to the world of running!!

No more foot problems; I went and bought four pair in case they never made them again. Doesn’t have to be Pearl Izumi (although they are my favorite, support, cushioning, colors, etc.) as long as it has a large toe box, meaning it doesn’t taper off small and pointy and your toes can be free to spread out in the shoe each foot strike.

Bike: I wear Specialized S-Works road shoe, as they look the goods and make me feel pro. Also super comfy and can buy a pair new and feel like I have had them for years. Would happily knock out a 200k ride in a brand new pair with no issues. Before these I used to get hot feet, pins and needles, etc.

3. What other training gear can’t you live without? SOCKS!!! I have a bit of a sock obsession and love to sock dope on the bike. Bright, kit-matching, etc. on the bike, and I’m loving the MAAP range at the moment. Sometimes you gotta look good doing what you do!

4. What’s your best time-saver or “workout-hack?” Hill sprints, running or riding and swim sprints. You can get an awesome work out in half an hour!

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5. What part of each discipline (swim/bike/run) are you better at than anyone else? Swim: Rough water, everybody else complains when the swell picks up and there is white wash, I fist pump the weather gods.

Ride: Um… my socks look the best.

Run: I’m a diesel engine. A lot of people use this as an excuse to go slow; I can just maintain my consistent pace for a really really long time.

Overall, I’m not really better than others at any of these things; I think I just know how to hurt more than others and love it.

6. What do you listen to while training? I often don’t listen to anything. I have a hugely hectic life with lots of responsibility and training is my switch-off time. I like to take in the world around me, it’s almost meditative and leads my mind in so many cool places that I don’t want to take that away with music. For gym sessions, love a bit of Presets or something with a heavy beat that makes me feel like I can dominate the world.

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7. What are you currently training for? Ultraman Wold Champs in Hawaii in November. Will try to save some $$ and probably not enter any events in the lead up but will throw in a few big 3-4 day training camps where I completely punish myself in the hills. That way I can include a bit of time away with the man and friends and training partners, too, as its not all-consuming like racing can be.

8. What are your recovery and sleep routines like? They are more crucial than any training I could do! I ensure I get 8 hours sleep; the moment I cut this, I start to have issues with hormones and cortisol levels, which leads to getting sick, sinus infections, fatigue or injury, which leads to less training. So if I have had to work longer hours or have an important social function, I tell the coach in advance so we can plan around it.

For females, especially, this is absolutely crucial in being able to train consistently. In terms of recovery, in high-volume weeks my coach and I schedule in an afternoon power-nap between work and my arvo session; if my long ride goes for 8 hours, I tack on another two when making social plans so I have time to got home, make real food and have an hour of couch time before doing anything. Nutrition is a big part of all of this.

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So many female athletes can’t figure out why they are constantly sick or injured, and it is all because of hormone imbalances in the body. If you want to train consistently, we need to remember that we have three sources of stress in our lives as athletes: mental (work, relationships, finances, etc.) physical (training or other work-related physical strain) and nutritional (what we put in that our body needs to deal with).

If I have a family issue, I will dial down my training and eat perfectly. If I am eating horrible and for some reason including alcohol, I can’t be stressed at work and high-volume training. Given we can’t often control the mental stress, it is the nutritional and training stress that we need to modify when we can not control the mental.

9. What’s the best athletic advice you’ve ever received? Consistency is key!!

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10. What’s your favorite racing-related memory? Would have to be Ultraman Australia in 2015. I finally did what I went out to achieve. We spend so many years in this sport and put so much pressure on ourselves to perform, but the hard fact is that so many external factors out of our control can impact the result. At this race, I finally got it right and it was the best feeling in the world.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to grab a workout with ______. My friends!!!

12. Anything else you’d like to add? Life can sometimes be challenging; find out what makes you happy, and make that your priority. No matter what it is, find it and own it and smile your way through life.

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Thanks, Ailie! Not only do you exemplify #heartandcourage, but you’re a true inspiration for everyone to get up, get out and get moving. We’ll be rooting for you at this year’s Ultraman World Championships!

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com.