Runners: The Mistake You’re Making That Could Cost You Future PRs – Part II

4849F3D2-4456-46A3-BBA4-A9C2CE3B7234

If you’ve landed here from the Integrate Performance Fitness blog, welcome to Part II of our trilogy! If you’re wondering, “Where’s Part I?” click the link above to get up to speed.  

In Part I of this series, my trusted trainer friend Al Painter, a strength coach specializing in endurance athletes, and me (longtime runner, certified run coach) talked about a mistake many runners are making right now: Chasing PRs.

As he noted, what we’re really searching for is a sense of normalcy.

We like the motivation and purpose that comes with racing. We find control amid the chaos when we check off the boxes on our training plan. We feel productive when we’re able to nail speed workouts and see progress being made.

But with so many things up in the air – races cancelled or on hold, living our lives in an indefinite holding pattern – we agreed that now’s not a time to ramp up; it’s a time to reset your body and re-evaluate your goals.

Then when it’s go-time again, you’ll actually be a step ahead.

In fact, here are the five things runners should be focusing on right now (adapted from elite performance coach Mike Robertson):

  1. Family & Relationships. We’ve got the gift of extra time with loved ones; how are you making the most of it?
  2. Nutrition & Meal Prep. We also have a unique opportunity: unprecedented control over our fueling with fewer distractions; take advantage!
  3. Recovery & Sleep. If bedtime is creeping later each night, we’ve got choices to make; create and prioritize good sleep habits.
  4. Mindset & Meditation. Runners, this is where we shine! We already know we can do hard things, and normal won’t be back for a while, so flex mental muscles to stay positive and use running as both a moving meditation and stress-reliever.
  5. Mobility & Movement. Formerly known as “cross-training,” this is what we now want to make routine in order to take our running to the next level.

So when it comes to running, what exactly do we do?

Running coach Mario Fraioli put it well when he said, “step back and reexamine your relationship with training and racing, find new and different meaning in this pursuit of running, and start dreaming up personal projects or creative goals that excite you and can be pursued within the current constraints of this strange situation.”

Keep it simple, and just move. But listen to your body, and be willing to adapt, depending on the day.

I hesitate to post a specific running workout here because we’re all at different places at the moment – physically, mentally, emotionally – so instead I’ll issue a challenge: This week, commit to at least three days of “running-inspired”movement.

It could be as simple as setting your watch with a 15-minute timer then walking or running for that amount of time before turning around and re-tracing your steps (an out-and-back outside, or even laps around your apartment).

It could be finding a hill nearby (or set of stairs in your home), setting a timer for 20 minutes and working out current frustrations on the incline – run up quickly, staying tall with a slight forward lean at the hips. Walk down the other side or do a slow lap (around the hill or your house) to recover. Repeat until the time is up.

Or if you’re feeling up to it, take yourself on a long run. My new Sunday morning routine is to go out and get lost – in the miles, in my head, in the music – to build endurance and get my mind right for the week ahead.

As for the other days of the week – and the strength training and mobility I’ve been touting as the magic that will help us all run stronger, longer and without injury?

Well, for that I’ll send you back over to Al, who’s written up a runner-specific strength workout that he’ll cover in Part III of this series. Head on over here to check it out when it posts in a few days!

 

Why KISS Should Be Your New Fitness Mantra

pexels-photo-221210

Well, hello! It’s been a while, but it’s great to be back. Time away to reflect (and raise two tiny humans) has given me a renewed mission: to inform and inspire, along with igniting a passion for the process of getting fit. It’s not about letting go of your dreams, aspirations and ultimate goals; it’s about gaining the perspective to maintain a healthy balance while pursuing them. Curious about this new outlook? Read on…

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, and that’s where we’re at with the fitness industry these days.

Set goal –> Achieve goal –> Set bigger/longer/faster goal –> Get injured –> Recover –> Set even bigger/longer/faster goal –> Achieve goal (maybe) –> Get injured again –> ???

Sensing a pattern here?

Now, I’m not knocking goal-setting. It’s great to test yourself every now and then, both in relation to your former self and to others. But solely focusing on the achievement of a goal (or string of goals) isn’t just short-term when it comes to fitness; it’s short-sighted.

I’m guilty of this myself. After my son was born, I couldn’t wait to start training again; I had BIG GOALS for a half marathon PR. I thought I was being responsible, doing preventative PT, easing back into running and even going as far as to hire a coach to help rein in my training mileage.

But now I realize that a need to prove myself combined with a narrow focus was ultimately my undoing; I was still missing key strength components to help my new (postpartum) body navigate training.

The PR came, but at a cost: a stress fracture that left me wondering what it was worth.

It turns out there’s a fine line between relentless and reckless. And you don’t often know you’ve crossed it until it’s too late.

Over the past 20 years (I started my writing career at Windy City Sports magazine in Chicago during the early 2000’s), I’ve seen the industry evolve in a way that’s become a lot about ego: followers, PRs, races, workouts in “beast mode.”

The common thread? Bigger, better, stronger, harder, longer, faster, more, more, MORE!

We push-push-push to validate ourselves, thinking that we’ll finally feel the sense of worth that comes with PRs, qualifications, nailing skills or hitting certain levels.

But, the truth is, we still won’t feel good about ourselves, and the finish line just keeps running away.

I’ve talked about this extensively with Al Painter (a friend, colleague, 19-year fitness industry vet and former mountain bike racer), and we commiserated over the shared experience of chasing the elusive “win.”

“When I raced my mountain bike, getting faster was never fast enough. Every ride had to be a training challenge,” Painter told me.

“Winning races weren’t really victories because the second I crossed the finish line, I realized I had to start training for the next event, keeping me from feeling good about the one I just finished.”

We agreed that it’s high time to stop putting pressure on ourselves for PRs, and us competitive-non-elite-athletes are in desperate need of a mental shift.

Whether it takes getting sidelined by a major injury or being quarantined at home due to a global pandemic, we should be utilizing this time not to bemoan missed races, but to re-think our current routines and get back to valuing – and celebrating – the basics.

But don’t basics = boring?

Nope. That’s just your ego talking.

Think of fitness like a pyramid. At the bottom are things like adequate sleep, good nutrition, postural alignment, structural imbalances, etc. When we master these things and are doing them consistently, only then should we gradually layer on other training components.

The top of the pyramid is reserved for elite athletes; not only are they invested in conditioning their bodies for super specific niches, but they also benefit financially from doing so.

“If your livelihood depends on a certain level of fitness to get paid to perform a demanding physical task, you’re playing by an entirely different set of rules,” Painter said in a recent Red Delta Project podcast interview.

For the rest of us, we need to have an honest conversation with ourselves about training our bodies for the life we are living. Or, as Painter says (and I’ve since adopted as my mantra), “You’re not getting paid to play; you’re paying to play.”

I used to measure my fitness in running PRs, but now I define it more broadly: Running’s always been my therapy, so can I keep doing it and stay pain-free, with the occasional race thrown in? Can I lift my toddlers without tweaking my back? Can I go into each day feeling my best, so I can show up for myself and my family?

My challenge to you (and myself) is to take a simpler, kinder approach to your fitness. KISS, if you will. And here’s how we can start:

  1. Define why, then what. There’s no better time to do some soul-searching. What’s are your motivating forces, and how can you translate them into improving your health in ways that make you feel genuinely good about yourself?
  2. Develop body-listening skills. Pain isn’t something to be ignored, pushed through or “dealt with;” it’s your body trying to communicate something. Instead of trying various ways to shut it up, have the courage to converse.
  3. Identify blind spots. Your least favorites are usually the things you need to focus on most: core work, strength training, mobility, posture, etc. Turning weaknesses into strengths is the game-changer. What are you currently resisting?
  4. Learn what advice to take. And, more importantly, learn who to ignore. There’s a big difference between “expert” and “influencer,” so do your research.
  5. Reframe fitness success. Mastering one skill is impressive to people who are also concentrating on that one skill – i.e. running. But, again, unless you’re operating at the elite level, it’s not real life. Are you able to touch your toes, do yard work, take a dance class or throw a ball with your kids?

Think holistically, and the way you define yourself, your fitness, your successes and your failures fundamentally shifts.

Don’t stop dreaming; there’s a time and a place for goals. But just don’t base your self-worth on the achievement of them because it’s a slippery slope.

Channel your excitement into what it takes to get from here to there, and then that PR will simply be icing on the cake.

 

 

Duct, Duct, Loose: Clearing a Clogged Milk Duct

breast_abscess_750

If you want to watch a mom involuntarily wince, just say the phrase “clogged milk duct.”

Not only are they feels-like-you-got-punched-in-the-boob painful (quite possibly the female equivalent to a guy getting kicked in the junk?!), they’re also troublesome because they can lead to the dreaded mastitis.

I’ve had my fair share of troubleshooting clogs while feeding two babies, so I wanted to share a few tips from along the way in case you find yourself in a similar situation:

Breastfeed. Your baby is very efficient at draining milk from your breast. If latching is too painful, begin nursing from the opposite side to encourage let-down, and then switch sides.

Pump. The same goes for pumping; the object is to get that duct open and keep the milk flowing, so pump, pump, pump it up.

Positioning. Use gravity with a “dangle feed” to help get things moving. And try a similar position while pumping, as well.

Moist heat. The idea here is to reduce inflammation and pain, plus stimulate circulation. Take a hot shower or sit with a hot compress (don’t have one? simply wet a baby diaper & zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds) prior to feeding/pumping.

Vibration. My PT recommended this for helping to loosen things up and stimulate milk flow. And electric toothbrush works perfectly when used in small, circular motions!

Massage. Apply some lotion and massage out any lumps and bumps with your fingers, working from the back of the breast toward the nipple.

Sunflower Lecithin. Lecithin is reported to decrease the viscosity (stickiness) of the milk, thus helping it flow more freely. The recommended dosage for  helping to clear a clogged duct is 3600-4800 mg lecithin per day, or 1 capsule (1200 milligram) 3-4 times per day. You can decrease the dosage as symptoms decrease/disappear.

Anti-Inflammatories. I’ve had good success with using ibuprofen to treat pain and inflammation, helping to open up and clear out those angry ducts.

Compressions and/or Hand Expression. While pumping, work on any areas that are hard or tender in an attempt to un-stick the milk. For particularly troubling spots, you can also hand express after feeding/pumping, which often helps get things moving (and can even increase supply!).

Loose Clothing. Wearing a tight or poorly-fitting bra, constrictive clothing or anything that smushes your breasts can impede milk flow and contribute to a clogged duct. Loosen up!

Sleep Position. Continuous pressure on your breasts while lying on your stomach or even in some side positions can also hinder milk flow, so switch it up frequently (or bust out that pregnancy pillow again).

Ultrasound. When all else fails, find a local physical therapist who specializes in women’s health. Whenever I had a pesky duct that just wouldn’t loosen up on its own, a session or two with my PT worked wonders.

Mamas, any other tricks for finding relief with clogged milk ducts? Please share!

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional; this advice is purely shared based on personal experience. Please see your doctor to get clearance before trying anything new! 

 

Baby Registry Regrets: Getting the Scoop from Seasoned Mamas

467ebe370b8e8f923a43fb8952dfae37w-c0xd-w685_h860_q80

Pekic/iStock

I still remember how overwhelming it felt registering for baby number one. When you don’t know what you don’t know…it can feel almost paralyzing trying to make decisions.

Like…how do I choose from literally three gazillion types of baby bottles? What’s up with all the different breast pumps, let alone all their accessories? And are the more expensive car seats and strollers actually better – i.e. will they keep my baby safer?!

Ultimately, I avoided big box stores like the plague and went straight to a local boutique here in Portland that helped me streamline “needs” from “wants” and cut out most “totally unnecessary crap” (i.e. a wipe warmer – don’t waste your time or money).

That strategy helped, yes, but now that we’re prepping for numero dos (and especially since s/he is coming a mere two years later), there are still some things I wish I would’ve known – like to buy a stroller and a monitor with the capability of converting for two.

Hindsight may be 20/20, and it’s true that each family and baby is different (so there will always be some tweaking)…but I thought it’d be fun to ask some seasoned mom friends (with two to four kiddos each!) for their regrets, wish lists and best advice when it comes to gearing up for that little person who’s about to enter your life…

First up, moms share their “woulda-shoulda-couldas” learned along the way. 

REGISTRY REGRETS

Feeding Time

“I would have held off on buying baby bottles and borrowed some to try. We ended up going through six types of bottles before we found one baby would take. Now I have a lot of extra bottles.”

Bottles! Each baby is different. You may need one bottle of a few kinds to try out before something really kicks in.”

“I wouldn’t bother with a bottle warmer. It’s better they don’t get used to warm milk so they are more likely to take milk cooler when you’re on the go.”

“Most of my registry “regrets” come from preparing for things that ultimately didn’t happen. I prepared for vaginal births and breastfeeding…I had two c-sections and boobs that didn’t work. I had ALL the breastfeeding/pumping supplies and didn’t need anything. ”

Breastfeeding stuff. I think that is good to have nourishing cream, pads, etc…but it ultimately it’s hard to buy all the stuff only to realize you can’t.”

“The one thing I regret not registering for was baby formula. I was not able to produce milk, and we had to go to formula sooner than planned. We did not know how expensive formula was before we had to get it. If people put it on their registries and end up getting some and not using it, they can always donate it!”

Catching Some ZZZ’s

“I wouldn’t have invested in a convertible crib. With two kids two years apart, we didn’t want to buy two cribs. So instead of being able to use the toddler bed, we ended up just moving our two-year-old into her big girl bed by the time baby came.”

“I wish I would have registered for the Baby Bijorn Travel Crib – two kids in, and I still wish I would gotten that!”

“We ended up needing a camera I can access from my phone. I love that I can see her at work, plus if the monitor is in the other room, I can just check my phone.”

“A camera monitor! With multiple cameras! I thought I would always be by his side.”

Keeping Warm & Cozy

Clothes. That’s the fun thing for people to go off-registry for, but it’s impossible to know what will fit when (my four kids ranged in weight at birth from 6#8oz to 9#11oz and grow at remarkably different paces).”

“Fancy swaddles. I didn’t realize I had a child that would only be lightly swaddled for two weeks before moving to a sleep sack.”

“Please NO more blankets. I have about three favorites and two huge bins full of them!”

On the Move

“I wish I would have bought a stroller that converted to a double from the beginning. We knew we wanted at least two, but it never dawned on me to have a stroller that accommodated both of them.”

“I didn’t even know that they made convertible strollers… that would have been good to know!”

“I don’t suggest a double Bob. They’re huge, and running with two in tow is actually a challenge.”

“I would get a different car seat – one with more easily adjustable straps!”

“I wish I hadn’t registered for a pee pad for/under the car seat. When I had the baby car seat safety class in the hospital they scared me into not wanting to use them.”

Next up, moms weigh in on what they found to be the most lifesaving products when it comes to keeping baby happy. 

NEWER MUST-HAVES

Items Getting Rave Reviews 

“I would definitely get a Dock-a-tot! I co-slept way more then I expected (aka I said I would NEVER do it…ummm yeah that lasted like two hours).”

“I literally put my son in a short basket in the middle of the bed. It had a tight sheet on it and was like $10 on Amazon.”

Dock-a-tot! I am obsessed with ours and tell all of my friends about to be moms to invest in one.”

“I wouldn’t have been able to live without our Nest camera for a monitor – easy to access from my phone from anywhere, and we pack it with us whenever we sleep somewhere overnight.”

“Definitely a Rock-n-Play…we have two one upstairs and one down. And a white noise machine…for keeping #1 asleep at night when #2 is fussy!”

And finally, moms get real with what helps the most when it comes to transitioning into parenthood.

FROM THE MOUTHS OF MAMAS

Most-Appreciated Items

“Consider neutral colors of items like seats, sleep sacks, Boppys, etc. that work for both girls and boys.”

“My recommendation would be to lock in as many hand-me-downs from co-workers/family/friends BEFORE setting up a registry to know what things might be available.”

“While all the frou frou stuff is undoubtedly appreciated, money is the best gift ever. I ended up not needing most, if not a lot, of what I received as gifts…and the toys we got were destroyed within the week if not ever played with again out of boredom.”

Target and Amazon gift cards were the most appreciated gifts because I was able to chose things myself when I needed them.”

Gift cards to restaurants were great because I couldn’t cook since I had a c-section. It was hard to move, and my recovery was long!”

Starbucks gift cards were awesome since I needed help staying awake to take care of big brother while the little one slept.”

Gift certificates to Buy Buy Baby or your favorite local baby store go a long way.”

“It would have been nice to have more bed sheets because my kids always threw up or soiled our sheets while we were co-sleeping. I never had enough!”

“The best registry gifts are when several people go in on an expensive item, like a dream stroller (note: those HUGE strollers are great in the city…suburbia so heavy to get in the car), a nice car seat or a nice high chair.”

“It’s worth it to acknowledge that the first few months are full of emergency Amazon orders so gift cards are a great idea!”

“I am almost certain that I’ve made a purchase from Amazon every day since my daughter was born. So, gift cards!”

“A baby nanny. I see celebrities have them, but give the baby nannys to us common folk!”

“You don’t need as much STUFF as you think you do. Get gift cards and diapers, the rest will work itself out!”

First-time mamas and repeat mamas-to-be, hopefully you’ve been able to glean some good information from the wisdom of these seasoned pros! 

Do you have any registry regrets that didn’t make the list? What about newer products you can’t live without? Or advice for mamas who are navigating their registries for the first time?

 

 

What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You: Outdated Guidelines for Pregnancy & Exercise

pregnancyexercise

via Getty Images

Disclaimer: This post does not constitute medical advice. If you’re pregnant – and especially if either you or your pregnancy are considered high-risk – always check with your health care provider for exercise recommendations before starting new a fitness routine. 

In a recent physical therapy appointment, my PT asked about how workouts were going now that pregnancy has progressed to the “oh-she’s-definitely-pregnant-not-just-overindulging-during-the-holidays” stage.

For the most part, great, I told her. Although no training’s happening at the moment, I put myself on a loose schedule of cardio, strength training, PT exercises and workout classes throughout the week to keep moving.

The major difference between this and my first pregnancy? I’m feeling larger and dealing with the usual minor discomforts earlier this time around.

And the biggest similarity? Oddly enough, how other people are reacting to my current state – particularly when it comes to fitness: instead of addressing the obvious and offering advice/adjustments, it feels like most instructors simply opt for avoidance.

Yes, there are potential ramifications and legal complications for trainers giving pre- and post-natal fitness advice when they’re not qualified to do so. But given the fact that the average pregnant women isn’t sure what she should (or shouldn’t) be doing, some general guidance would be helpful.

Literally, I have to bite my tongue every time I see another pregnant woman past her first trimester doing sit-ups. 

And what’s even crazier is that some doctors still adhere to dated exercise principles (aka the heart rate one below). This is not to say you should ever go against your doctor’s advice, but rather that you should shop around and find someone who is up on the latest research if you’re wanting to work out at a certain level with baby on board.

So today we’re tackling a few of my biggest pregnancy pet peeves (outdated exercise guidelines and common myths!), as well as some common-sense do’s and don’ts for a happy, healthy pregnancy for both you and baby:

Myth #1: Keep your heart rate below 140 bpm. 

This is perhaps the most common preggo urban legend, but did you know that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynocologists (ACOG) actually removed this recommendation from their guidelines back in 1994?

It’s still a prevalent piece of advice, however – in fact,  a 2010 study of 93 practicing physicians and midwives found that 64 percent of all respondents believed that maternal exercise heart rate should not exceed 140 beats per minute.

Your best bet? Again, check with your doctor for specific metrics, but also consider using breathlessness and perceived exertion to keep yourself in check during workouts.

Myth #2: Don’t lift more than 25 pounds. 

This is actually an arbitrary number, meaning there are no studies that show that lifting more than 25 pounds has an effect on birth weight or premature labor.

It is true that a woman’s capacity to safely lift a load decreases throughout pregnancy, but this has more to do with a change in center of gravity affecting balance, as well as hormones causing connective tissue, ligaments and tendons to soften in preparation for labor.

The safest game plan? Gradually reduce your maximum load as pregnancy progresses, and pay special attention to keeping proper form to avoid unnecessary injury.

Myth #3: Vigorous exercise will overheat the baby. 

You’ve heard the term “bun in the oven” but no woman wants to inadvertently cook her poor fetus!

Interestingly enough, pregnant bodies have a few mechanisms in place to prevent this, however: First, increased blood volume and a lower sweat threshold make it easier to get rid of excess heat. And, second, mama’s weight gain means more tissue that needs to be kept warm.

Of course, use common sense and don’t run in the heat of the sun at the warmest time of day. But as long as you hydrate, hydrate, hydrate and keep cool with sweat-wicking fabrics and proper ventilation, etc., you should be good to go.

Myth #4: Ab workouts are off limits. 

Yes, doing crunches, sit-ups and other ab exercises on your back are a major no-no after the first trimester because they put you at an increased risk for diastasis recti. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore your core!

Depending on the state of your stomach (check with your doctor or a physical therapist first), things like planks may even be off-limits. So modify, as needed, and monitor for “coning” to help avoid separation of your abs.

What else can you do? My best advice here is to see a physical therapist who specializes in pre- and post-natal work to develop a personalized program to keep your core strong – yet safe – during pregnancy.

Myth #5: If you weren’t active before, now is not the time to start. 

You can use your pregnancy to get off the hook when it comes to a lot of stuff, but never – I repeat NEVER – is it an excuse to be totally inactive (unless you’re on doctor-prescribed bed rest, of course).

The exercise benefits to both mama and baby are so great that it’s worth the time and energy investment throughout your pregnancy – just (again) use common sense and stay away from activities that increase your risk of falling. Be mindful of the belly!

If you’ve been active, perfect – simply stick to your usual routine, dialing it back to adapt to your changing body. And if you’re new to working out, even better – now’s the best time to start a wonderful habit with lasting positive effects on both mama and baby for years to come.

Again, it’s worth repeating: Always clear any kind of activity and/or exercise with your doctor. S/he knows your unique situation and can give the best advice.

And, above all else, listen to your own body. You’d be surprised at how mama intuition kicks in when you leave expectations and ego at the door and simply appreciate what your body is able to do!

The Essential Gift Guide for Expecting Mamas

PreggoGG

Stumped on what to buy the pregnant lady in your life this season? Or maybe you’re the one who’s knocked up and just in need of a little pick-me-up?

I’ve got you covered: Starting clockwise from the upper left corner, here’s a handy list of gifts to make any mama-to-be’s life a little easier.

Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Mama-To-Be Tea Sampler: Because when you can’t have a cocktail, you turn toward these four herbal remedies for nausea, heartburn, anxiety and labor prep, respectively.

Leachco Back ‘N Belly Contoured Body Pillow: Support in just the right places to help you sleep like a baby…even if baby is doing his or her best to keep you awake at all hours with those karate kicks.

Serola Sacroiliac Belt: Recommended by my PT and vouched for by me, this keeps cranky SI joints and other pelvic problems (thanks to relaxin hormones) in check so you can keep moving with less discomfort.

Simple Wishes SuperMom All-in-One Nursing and Pumping Bra: I sang the praises of this brand’s pumping bra last time around, and for baby number two I’ve upgraded to their three-in-one version for maternity, pumping and nursing. Loving it so far!

Prenatal Physical Therapy: Either I’m ‘older and wiser’ or maybe just older and accepting that the concept of ‘bouncing back’ doesn’t really apply. In any case, it’s a smart investment to not only ward off aches and pains, but also prepare for labor and set your body up for success when it comes to healing after.

The Spoiled Mama Tummy Butter for Stretch Marks: It glides on, isn’t super sticky and smells like orange-chocolate, which is basically the stuff pregnant women’s dreams are made of, right?

Move Your Bump Workout: After following fit mom and health Nancy Anderson on Instagram, I was so inspired (do it for baby, she says!) that I pre-ordered her pregnancy workout program, which will be released December 20.

Expecting More®: The 4th Trimester Workout: Another Instagram fit mom, Sara Haley is a former Reebok Global Master Trainer, as well as a pre- and post-natal exercise specialist. Her 4th tri workout includes modifications for diastasis recti and c-sections, and is how I plan on easing back into fitness post-baby.

Ingrid & Isabel Active Legging with Crossover Panel: One of the few maternity workout pants I’ve found that is versatile (wear panel over belly or folded down), stays put, provides support and flatters blossoming curves.

How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids: Required reading (don’t let the title scare you away) with practical marriage advice and insight into successful conflict resolution that’ll come in handy when the going gets tough – which isn’t ‘if’ but ‘when’ as your relationship dynamic changes overnight.

Prenatal Massage: Another pregnancy non-negotiable. There are so many benefits, for both mama and baby, but the best part is lying for an hour on your stomach thanks to that glorious cushion with the belly and boob holes.

True Botanicals Basics Duo: Billed as “pregnancy-safe skincare that works,” this liquid gold isn’t cheap but is worth it when it comes to peace of mind for mamas who want results without toxins that may be harmful to developing babies.

Mamas, do you have any other faves to add to the list? Please share!

Top 5 Things to Look for in a Running Coach

In my previous post, I talked about the fact that I’m now a running coach convert. It covered why, but now we’re talking about how — as in, what exactly does it take to find someone who’s a going to be a good fit?

After all, there’s more to running than just…well, running. It’s as much a mental sport as it is physical, so here are the top five things I considered when shopping around for a running coach:

  1. Credentials – Look for someone with at least one type of professional certification (e.g. RRCA, USTAF, Revo2lution Running) under their belt that covers the fundamentals and mechanics of the sport. Continuing education is also important to they stay on top of the latest industry news, research and trends.
  2. Experience – While not completely necessary, I like working with someone who has firsthand experience and can speak from the athlete’s perspective; it’s especially helpful when explaining abstract concepts and working on the mental game.
  3. Personality – Consider what kind of relationship you want with your coach and what motivates you. Do you need a nurturer or someone no-nonsense, a cheerleader or more of a pragmatist?
  4. Philosophy – Ask about their approach to training to see if it jives with your schedule and lifestyle. Are you heavy into cross-training but working with a coach who believes it takes six solid days of running per week to get you to your goal? If so, you may want to reconsider.
  5. Budget – There can be quite a range here depending on how much access you want to your coach or how much direction and feedback you need along the way. A tip: more hands-on means more expensive, so think about how you work and what makes sense to keep it cost-effective.

Bottom line: There is no formula for a perfect running coach; the best one is simply someone who meets your specific needs, gets you fired up to put in the work and helps guide you safely toward your goals.

And if you decide that a coach isn’t in the cards for you? That’s totally fine, too!

There’s always the option of working out with a group under the guidance of a coach — like Portland Women’s Run Club, for example, if you happen to be in the PDX area 😉

What’s your best tip for meeting your match when it comes to running coaches?