3 Tricks for Warding Off a Workout Slump

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Usually my top tip for getting fired up for workouts is to sign up for a race and commit to a training plan. Because even if you don’t end up following it to a T — let’s face it, life happens — I figure that a compliance rate of, say, 80 percent will still net you good results.

But what happens when there’s NO race on the horizon or NO looming goals to keep you in line? Whether you’re on a temporary hiatus (like me) or your motivation is flagging for another reason, I promise there’s still hope for getting (or staying) in shape.

Here are the three tricks I’ve been using to keep myself going during pregnancy in the absence of training plans and racing adrenaline; the great part is that they apply universally when it comes to avoiding any kind of fitness slump:

1. Define your “why”

Maybe you want to play with your kids without feeling winded. Or you want your wardrobe to fit like it did before the holidays. Whatever the reason, figuring out what lights a fire in your belly will help you stay strong when you’re at a crossroads and in danger of making poor decisions (i.e. the couch is calling).

For example, running goals usually keep me inspired — either challenging myself by time or distance — and workouts are geared accordingly. Instead, I made it my mission to stay active during pregnancy in the hopes of having a smoother labor and healthier baby, which tugs at my heartstrings and gets my butt to the gym on days where I’m feeling more ‘meh’ than motivated.

2. Take a week at a time

While a great idea in theory, sometimes a goal like, “I’m going to work out five days per week this year,” is just too daunting. Especially if you have an ‘off’ few days and end up scrapping the whole thing in frustration. Instead, biting off a smaller chunk — like planning just a week’s worth of workouts at a time — will allow you to celebrate frequent victories instead of agonizing over intermittent defeats.

While I happen to be the opposite (I thrive on making a plan and sticking to a schedule), I was concerned about not having any kind of big-picture structure during my pregnancy. But having ClassPass has come in handy; you can only reserve four classes at once and are limited to scheduling one week out, which means I plan workouts just a few days advance and they end up fitting better into my ever-changing schedule.

3. Piggyback your workout

Take a page from Katy Milkman’s book and try bundling your temptations, as described in this study. The idea is that by pairing “instantly gratifying but guilt-inducing ‘want’ experiences (enjoying page-turner audiobooks) with valuable ‘should’ behaviors providing delayed rewards (exercising)” you’ll be more successful in the long run.

It was only after I’d read about this concept that I realized I’ve been applying it to my own workouts for the past few months. You see, I’ve gotten hooked on a few podcasts (Serial, anyone?), but will only allow myself to listen to each week’s episode if I’m at the gym on a piece of cardio equipment. And you know what? All of the sudden walking on the treadmill got a whole lot more appealing!

How do you trick yourself into making workouts stick in your schedule?
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January Goal Check-In

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Ok, 2016 — ready or not, here you are. Although it feels like we’ve just begun the year, we’re already a month in.

I’ll admit, pregnancy has given me a more leisurely attitude to this year’s goals…well, at least at this point in the game. And purposefully so.

Not only do I want to be kind to my body right now, but I’m also trying to stay present, cut down on unnecessary stress and enjoy the final weeks of Ben and I being responsible for no one but ourselves. All that’s about to change, and I know we’ll get back on track and into our competitive pursuits again eventually…but until then I’m making a concerted effort to keep things casual.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand at the moment:

1. Health & Fitness

Until Baby H’s arrival, I’ve been hoping to be able to stay active. That means continuing regular workouts with a mix of cardio, strength and flexiblity work throughout the week with one day off to allow my body to rest.

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Fortunately, my doctor’s fully in support of this plan. Despite some minor aches, pains and first-time-mom freak-outs (Me: “There’s a bruise around my belly button; what did I do wrong, and should I stop working out?!” My doctor: “Nope, that’s just pregnancy.”), she’s great with the fact that I keep moving so the baby will keep moving…ideally into the correct head-down birth position.

2. Training

As I mentioned in my initial post on 2016’s goals, I’m signed up for the Portland Marathon and am considering a few smaller races leading up to that (recovery permitting, of course). Since then, I’ve further revised this goal so it’s more about completion than competition; meaning, I’m going to train to be able to finish events without any expectations of times, PR’s or age-group placements.

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While that’s the stuff that typically gets my juices flowing when it comes to training, it’s been a relief to let it go and give myself permission to not feel like I have to push so hard to prove something. And in the meantime, I’m working on maintaining a solid foundation on which I can build post-baby with an ultimate goal of remaining injury-free.

3. Community

Earlier this month, we officially announced the new roster for 2016’s Team LUNA Chix Portland Run. It’s a fantastic group of women of all ages, abilities and interests…but the one thing they all have in common is that they’re stoked to be able to once again connect with the community, promote the sport of running among women and raise money for our charity partner, the Breast Cancer Fund.

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Next up is our team leader retreat next month where we’re setting some goals and doing a little bonding before the season officially starts in April. Mark your calendar! We’ll be resuming our FREE Monday night workouts (6:30 – 7:30 pm), and you can find up-to-the-minute details via our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

4. Career

Now that the holidays are over, things have been ramping up again work-wise at Pulse Creative. I’ve got several projects in-progress with clients, including website audits, messaging workshops and content creation, along with ghostwriting articles for Forbes and other outlets on behalf of C-level execs — flexing my old journalism muscles has been especially fun!

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But as I attempt to wind things down for my maternity leave, I’m already contemplating the direction I want to take my business when I return. In other words, what really lights my fire, work-wise, and how can I do more of that? 

It’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately — not only in terms of where I can make the most impact for clients, but also how I can continue to create a sustainable career that allows me to find fulfillment yet maintain a healthy work/life balance. I want to continue to do this same type of project work, but I’m also exploring how to package up my favorite services for clients so I can serve them even better in the long run.

5. Life

Despite being proudly Type-A-organized, I will admit to having what I jokingly call a “Monica’s closet.” Look closely and you’ll see a bike helmet hung next to blazers and a hydration pack mingling among my purses. Yep, #fitpeopleprobs + #cityliving = interesting storage solutions.

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While my original goal was to finish  Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by mid-month so I’d have an update on it being in action for two weeks now, I’m behind schedule. I finished the book, but I know that one month isn’t realistic to be able to follow all the instructions laid out in it.

So I’m revising my timeline — this is about year-long goals, after all — and am aiming to tackle step no. 1 (my clothing) by the end of February. So if you don’t see me for the next few weeks, you know where I am…or what I might quite possibly be buried under!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

Triathletes: The Secret to Avoiding Injury This Season

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In theory, making the move from a single sport to three adds variety to your exercise regimen and will reduce injuries, right?

Well, the reality is a bit different, thanks to the “compound effect” of doing three activities: “What we have to compare it to other sports is the injury rate, and triathletes have one of the highest incidence rates of any sport,” Dr. Joshua Burns, a researcher and podiatrist at the University of Sydney in Australia, who has studied the nature of triathletes’ injuries told The New York Times in this article.

The bad news? Triathletes, in particular, are susceptible because they not only engage in a highly-repetitive stress activity, but also only move in one plane of motion (and likely sit all day at work), which contributes to limited range of motion in the mid-back and hips. The good news, though? With the right approach to strength training, you can correct imbalances, resolve weaknesses and vastly improve performance.

That’s where my friend Al Painter of INTEGRATE Performance Fitness comes in. Not only has he been teaching endurance athletes how to dodge the injury bullet for years, but he also knows. his. stuff. As you can see below, there’s a reason why he’s been named “Best Bay Area Personal Trainer” by CitySports Magazine, so I always love picking his brain about the latest workout crazes and geeking out together over the greatest fitness gadgets.

As training seasons begin to ramp up, I thought it’d be fun to sit down with him and talk about the not-so-secret secret for avoiding injury when it comes to multi-sport endeavors.

1. Triathlon is in endurance sport, so why is strength training important for triathletes? It helps to reset the body from the repetitive stress nature of training in one plane of motion. It can also keep the hips strong, which goes a long way for happy low backs and knees.

2. How much about it is preventing injury versus being able to perform better (i.e. faster!)? Yes to both! I think one leads to the other. Keep the muscles balanced, and you can reduce your chances of getting hurt and improve your chances of performing well.

3. If body weight is the only thing being “lifted” during a triathlon, why do triathletes need a training program that uses free weights, machines or other equipment? It can lead to more speed in the pool, more power on the bike and more efficiency running.

4. How does strength training for triathletes differ from programs used by bodybuilders, powerlifters and the general public? Triathlon training should emphasize split-stance and single-leg lower body moves while incorporating single and alternate arm patterns to work on diagonal loading of the hips and shoulders working through the core. I’ll definitely get into more of what endurance athlete specific strength training should like the night of the talk.

5. What do you think is the biggest misconception about triathletes and strength training? That it will slow them down, add bulk and take away from swimming, riding and running.

6. So is it enough to go lift weights at the gym a few times a week? No, there needs to be a program dialed in to address what endurance athletes need: solid mid-back, shoulder and hip mobility. It has to have a plan, a purpose and specific outcome as the goal. Plus, if there is a performance gap in the pool, on the bike or on the run, strength training can help to close it.

7. What’s the biggest mistake you see most triathletes make with their current strength training routine? Not enough emphasis on the back half of the body which is the powerhouse for performance and proper posture.

8. If there’s one exercise triathletes absolutely cannot afford to skip, what is it? I don’t know if it’s an exercise as much as it is a movement: Learning the hip hinge is critical to opening the front half of the body and strengthening the back half to help with both injury prevention and performance improvement.

9. Should triathletes adjust their program when training for different distances? How? My stance on this is that the longer the distance, the more hip dominant movements (hinges, bridges, etc.) they should do. It should be the majority of the lower body work to keep the glutes as “online” as possible. Once they shut down, the whole operation can go south.

10. Say someone’s deep into training and short on time; is there a minimum amount of strength training they should be doing each week? Two days a week for at least 30 minutes using compound movements. Exercises combining hinging + pulling and squatting + pressing work really well. Especially using a split stance with single or alternate arm exercises.

Thanks, Al — great info, as always! 

Attention Bay Area friends: Al’s doing a *free* triathlete-specific strength training workshop at Sunnyvale Sports Basement from 6:30-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 11. Swing by, say hi, and pick up some of his tips on the best kinds of strength training exercises to help you race stronger, recover faster and reduce the chance of getting injured this season. 

Click here for details on the event, and visit INTEGRATE Performance Fitness to learn more.

Triathletes, is strength work part of your regular training regimen?

My 5 Goals for 2016

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‘Tis the season to look back at 2015’s learnings so we can get another batch of goals going for 2016!

But first things first: It’s been really tough to get as specific and measurable as I’d like when I know things will be up in the air with the arrival of Baby H in March. Since I’m not sure exactly what my own labor, delivery, recovery and life with a baby will entail, I’ve decided to take a more “agile” (read: iterative) approach and make educated guesses at goals, which I’ll revise quarterly throughout the year.

And in case you’re wondering — yes, I’m still working toward my long-term goals of going further (another 50k and possibly an eventual 50-miler) and faster (sub-4 marathon), but I’m realistic enough to know that this may not won’t be the year for all of that. So my plan is to continue to lay the foundation to be able to focus on some stretch goals down the road.

As you’ll see, not all my goals are fitness-oriented this year because there are some other areas in which I’d like to focus good chunks of time. But in the meantime, here’s what I’ll be working on for the next 12 months (well, aside from that whole ‘having a baby and keeping it alive’ thing):

1. Health & Fitness: Until Baby H arrives, my goal is to continue regular workouts with a mix of cardio, strength and flexiblity work 5-6 days per week. I’m hoping that my continued prenatal movement classes and other prep will allow me to avoid a c-section, but you never know…so depending on how delivery/recovery goes, I’m expecting anywhere from 6-12 weeks of easing back in with long walks and gentle cross-training. From there, my next step is to get back into ZOOM+Performance around April or May to get baseline measurements done so I can set more specific goals and a timeline for getting safely into a training cycle.

2. Training: There’s no better way to get motivated to get back in shape than with a race, so I’m already signed up for the Portland Marathon next October. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can start training for it in June, but my plan for the race (to simply complete it or run for a time) is TBD until after Baby H arrives. In terms of other events, they’re also pending recovery, but I’m eyeing my first duathlon, as well as some other shorter events (5ks, trail races, etc.) in between, so I can proudly represent as part of the Coeur Sports 2016 team!

3. Community: We’re baaaaack! Team LUNA Chix Portland Run is gearing up for its second season, and we’re in the process of going through applications for new team members. I’ll announce our new team in mid-January, and in February we’ll have a local retreat before the season officially kicks off in April. We’ve got some ambitious goals in terms of growing the team and raising awareness, as well as fundraising $1500+ for our charity partner, the Breast Cancer Fund — but we couldn’t be more excited to ring in a new year together!

4. Career: While this blog is what I call my “passion project,” I’ve actually got a day job in marketing and PR. In fact, as some of you may know, I launched Pulse Creative (my consulting business!) in 2015 after years of agency life and working in-house. It’s been growing steadily in the sixth months since its inception, and I’ve been very fortunate that most of my work has been referral-based, but my goal is to double revenue for 2016. So, shameless plug: If you know of anyone in need of marketing, PR or copywriting services, please let me know; I always appreciate referrals 🙂

5. Life: Finally, after hearing rave reviews from friends about Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” I’ve been inspired to de-clutter our apartment. Whether it’s nesting instinct kicking in, or just the fact that I’m tired of keeping half my clothing in our storage unit, it’s high time to shed all of those unused goods and make space for more streamlined living. My goal now is to finish the book by mid-month, and then I’ll put it in action in January and February. I’m nervous because it’s tough getting rid of “stuff” you think you need — but I’m excited to bring Baby H home to a place that feels lighter and brighter as a result!

What’s on your to-do list for 2016? 

One Look Back at 2015 to Go Two Steps Forward in 2016

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Kicking off 2016 without defining your health and fitness goals is like taking a road trip without knowing your final destination. Sure, there’s a time and place for wandering around aimlessly — but it’s not what you want to do if you’ve got an idea of where you’d ultimately like to go, which most of us are in the process of mulling over right about now.

One of my favorite posts on this exact topic from last year was, “9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Next Season,” based on my fellow Coeur Sports teammate Kecia’s blog post evaluating her 2014 triathlon journey in order to set S.M.A.R.T. goals for 2015. She just did the same for her 2015 season, and it inspired me to do a reprise, as well.

The point here isn’t just to pick a few things to accomplish willy-nilly over the next 12 months; it’s about reflecting on the previous year and taking a look at what went well and what needs improvement before planning for the future.

As a reminder, here were the five goals toward which I was working in 2015, as well as how I think I did on ’em:

  1. Seek Balance. I did have a nice mix of races for time and for fun, so I’ll give myself an 80% for this one!
  2. Train Smarter. I’ll give myself a 50% on this one because I was consistent, but it could’ve been more measurable. 
  3. Face Fears. Ditto — 50% here. Points for recent consistency in the pool, but toward what am I working?
  4. Push Myself. The duathlon, ultra and century ride all fell through after Baby H came into the picture = 0%!
  5. Give Back. This one’s my only 100%; we knocked it out of the park with LUNA, and are pumped for 2016.

So with that in mind, here’s my stab at the nine questions outlined in this article from USA Triathlon, which will allow me to more effectively evaluate the season and plan for next year:

1. In hindsight, were your season goals clear and attainable?
Did you achieve what you set out to do at the start of the year? Knowing what you know now could you have aimed higher, or were you somewhat unrealistic in your expectations of your time, commitments or the physical skills you needed to develop? Use hindsight as a barometer for thinking ahead to next year and create goals that push you and inspire you to go for it.

Hm…yes and no. Knowing in the back of my head that we might be starting a family this year — and having the timing of it up in the air — prevented me from being as specific as I would have liked with respect to my goals.

For example, when it came to “training smarter,” I talked about building an aerobic base using heart rate, continuing strength training and pre-hab to activate glutes, along with regular cross-training for flexibility and functional fitness. All great things, yes, but I should have made them measurable — e.g. hit a certain range for heart rate training or designate a number of days per week to focus on pre-hab, etc. — in order to be able to better track progress.

2. What were you most proud of this season?
Was it the improvement you saw in your swim, bike and run splits? Or your dedication and ability to balance your other responsibilities around the sport? How you overcame setbacks and still performed at a high level? Think of the big things and the little moments that you look back on with pride and delight in what you accomplished.

Although I’d love to claim a shiny new PR here, this just wasn’t the year for that. But I am most proud of the fact that I’ve been on top of my game when it came to cross-training in 2015. From kettlebell to barre, bootcamp to yoga, spin to kickboxing — you name it, I’ve tried it and had a blast challenging myself in the process.

3. What would you like to duplicate next year?
Perhaps it’s working with the same coach or training plan, continuing to do a variety of races and taking on big challenges that excite you and motivate you to train consistently. Of the things that you really enjoyed, what would you like to be sure you experience again?

The first half of next year will be interesting, to say the least, with Baby H making his or her entrance on the scene. But I think, at least at this point, I would like to try maintain some kind of consistency when it comes to working out to re-build my foundation — as well as weave a heavy mix of cross-training into my marathon training in the second half of the year.

Signing up for different classes this year kept me from falling prey to boredom, but I have a feeling that being committed to classes in 2016 will be more about holding me accountable when I’d much rather be cuddling a cute little baby…or catching up on sleep.

4. What frustrated or disappointed you the most this season?
Did you struggle to see consistent improvement in your speed? Fail to summon your determination when things got hard? Were you unable to overcome nagging injuries? What concerned you and took some of your energy away from the positive things?

Just like last year: injuries. Although my plantar fasciitis has cleared up, my SI joint has been plaguing me for two years now.

Pregnancy has caused it to flare up for different reasons, and I’m hoping some time off from running will help. But I know this will be a big goal for 2016: Finding the root cause of this SI trouble and addressing it so I when I’m able to train, it’ll be full speed ahead.

5. What do you not want to happen again next year?
Were you unprepared for some races and found you performed better in training than in racing? Did you take yourself and the sport too seriously, forgetting to have fun along the way? Look for insights from question four — things that you need to avoid in order to be at your best. Put emphasis and focus on things that you can control or influence.

Basically, a repeat of years past where I know there’s a lingering issue but don’t address it before proceeding with training. If it’s there now, it’s not going to go away as I push my body harder and harder.

6. What did you learn by going through these experiences?
We all have good and bad days (and races and seasons) but what you take away from them can make all the difference the next time around. Despite the challenges or painful times, what valuable lessons did you learn? What meaningful lessons can you take forward as you build on your experience as an athlete? How can you catch yourself from slipping backward the next time you hit a rough patch?

It’s not always about the PR, the epic race or going longer/further/faster. Some seasons are for that, yes, while others are more for taking time to regroup, reflect and refocus. And grow babies!

I’ve also learned to keep the bigger picture in mind (being pregnant definitely helped with this). Health and fitness is about playing the long game, and there are so many ways to honor your body and feel a sense of accomplishment, so it’s been rewarding getting to explore different parts of that.

7. What decisions did you make that were empowering for you?
Think about the conscious decisions you made about what you committed to or improved: your nutrition, getting support from a coach or community, your approach to training and recovery, how you managed your life around your workouts, the number or frequency of races, etc. What were some of the most important decisions of the year for you, both related to triathlon and other parts of your life where relevant? And therefore, what decisions must you make for next season to experience even more success?

Opting out of races, whether it was restraining my itchy trigger finger the day a race’s website opened for sign-ups or even bailing on a grueling century ride in poor weather conditions when I knew my body was in need of rest. I felt torn every time, but am happy in hindsight that I went with my gut in those situations.

Also, I’ve enjoyed dipping my toes into the waters of alternative and preventative medicine, be it chiropractic manipulations, acupuncture sessions, regular massage or prenatal movement classes. Not only have I learned a lot about my body through this kind of work, but it also feels great and helps to (hopefully) keep some of those injuries at bay.

8. What habits seemed to hold you back from achieving your potential?
We all have them. Recurring ways of behaving and thinking which sometimes we realize — even when we know it’s not in our best interest — and sometimes we don’t. What causes you to skip training sessions? What do you tend to say to yourself during a race or training session, or when the alarm goes off before sunrise? In which ways has your diet been limiting your body’s potential? Where have you procrastinated or not been as disciplined as you’d like to be? Be really honest and list the items that you must change in order to achieve your goals.

I probably sound like a broken record, but I need to quit ignoring my body when it’s trying to tell me something. I’ve learned time and time again that if something’s bugging me, putting my head down and trying to train through it is not going to make it go away.

So while I would like to make at least a goal or two that really pushes me in 2016, I won’t until I know that my body is strong enough and healed enough to handle it. I won’t let my enthusiasm for going after a new goal with my usual zeal get the best of me again!

9. What decisions should you make in order to have your best year ahead?
Building off your insights from all the previous questions, what will you continue to do, where do you need to get extra help, what will you stop doing? This is a critical step, take your time and identify the key decisions you need to make.

I know myself well, and that means I’ll be anxious to jump back into things as soon as possible after Baby H comes in March. But rather than leap-frogging to a crazy goal to get myself motivated, I know I’ve got to have the resolve to take baby steps in order to build a solid base.

I’ve got to be ok with a half-step forward instead of the alternative — going too quickly and having to take two steps backward — as I heal and get “my” body back. 

For example, starting up a marathon training program before I regain my post-baby continence (something I’m genuinely worried about after reading up on the subject and chatting with other mom runners) is probably not the best idea. It took 10 months for my body to make a baby, and I know it may take a while afterwards for it to figure out what the “new normal” is.

And, in the meantime, the most important thing for me to remember is to not put the cart before the horse. Or, in this case, the race before the runner!

Stay tuned for my 2016 S.M.A.R.T. goals…

What were your biggest lessons learned from 2015?

Baby H: 24-Week Update

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And just like that, this little wiggle-worm and I are starting the sixth month of pregnancy. Here’s where we’re at for the 24-week “bumpdate” for Baby H…

Month Six: Probably TMI, but here’s a fun fact: Apparently my uterus is now the size of a soccer ball and s/he is as big as an ear of corn, weighting about a pound and a half and measuring roughly a foot long if it were stretched out from head to toe. I’m pretty sure I’ve officially “popped,” although people don’t seem to feel quite comfortable/confident enough yet to ask if I’m pregnant…ha!

Weight Gained: Between 14-15 pounds, and my doctor says I’m right on track. She did issue one warning, though, that it’s a lot easier to pack it on in the second half of pregnancy, so I should be extra careful to not overindulge too much over the holidays (I won’t talk about Halloween’s candy-fest…oops). We don’t own a scale, so I don’t monitor my weight in between check-ups. Honestly, I thought I would feel the extra weight a lot more that I do, but I’m not sure if that’s because it comes on so gradually or if it’s just all the other bodily changes that are more distracting!

Workouts: I’m still keeping up my weekly cardio and cross-training sessions, as I’m trying to make the most of the energy I have while I have it. Of note this month, though, is that running is looking like it’ll be off the table for the immediate future. Following an incredible-feeling six-miler earlier this month with friends, I strained a round ligament on the left side of my groin and could barely walk. I’ve alternated rest and a few attempts at slow jogs since then, but frankly it’s becoming more trouble that it’s worth. My current plan is to give it a week or so of complete rest, and then my doctor said I could try doubling up on the support before making the final call to call it quits for the time being. It’s been an emotional process letting go of certain expectations, but I’m grateful for what I am still able to do, plus I’m taking the advice of this article to heart and keeping things in perspective.

Symptoms: Thanks to the bump making it’s official debut this month, it’s been all about the round ligament pain as my midsection stretches. Oh, and frequent bathroom breaks throughout the day.

Food Aversions: None. But my sense of smell is still super sensitive; I can’t stand the scents of cigarettes or any kind of alcohol on people’s breath.

Food Cravings: My sweet tooth has gone into overdrive, thanks to Halloween and the upcoming holidays. So I’m really trying to limit the treats and make sure I’m filling up on nutrient-dense foods and good fats first. Other than that, hot soups have been my jam now that Portland’s been cold and rainy for the past few weeks.

Sleep: I get up once or twice to hit the bathroom, but if I can MacGuyver a fort of pillows around myself each evening, I’ll usually stay relatively comfortable while dozing on my side.

Looking Forward To: The holidays! It’s always been my favorite time of year…and having our (very active) little jumping bean along for the ride is making 2015 even more special. What am I not looking forward to? The dreaded glucose test and a few shots at my next appointment. But you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

Boy/Girl Suspicions: Still no clue! But can’t wait to find out come March.

Any Fun Stories? Baby H’s movements (i.e. flips, kicks, flops and flutters) have become stronger, more frequent and even a bit more predictable. I can’t help but wonder if there are any early indication of his/her personality. Baby H always seems to be up right as I settle into bed, after my middle-of-the-night bathroom trip and again when my alarm goes off in the morning, so it seems like s/he doesn’t want to be missing out on anything!

Stay tuned for the month seven update in a few weeks…

My Pregnancy Fitness Philosophy and “Training” Plan

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I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my pregnancy workout routine and how “training” has changed over the course of the past few months, so I figured I’d do a post on the topic. It’s interesting to look back on how things have evolved now that I’m sweating for two, although it’s important to remember that everyone has and/or will have a different experience; this is just what I happen to be going through, so take it for what it’s worth!

Let’s start at the beginning: Pre-pregnancy, I was what I call in “maintenance training mode” — meaning, I’d set a specific training plan for a major event (i.e. last fall’s marathon) but otherwise would try to maintain a level of fitness that’d allow me to not have to start from scratch each time. It’s an approach I highly recommend; building slow and steady means fewer injuries, and maintenance in between allows you to push harder with each cycle.

After lots of racing in 2014 (marathon, Olympic-distance triathlon, ultramarathon and more), I knew 2015 would be a year filled with more reflection, recovery…and, apparently, reproduction! I had dialed back the aggressive goals early on — not only to keep myself from getting sidetracked while adjusting to the first year in a new city, but also to keep from burning out, which I felt close to towards the end of last year.

Fast forward a few months, and we got the big surprise-on-a-stick! And, for better or worse, almost immediately I could tell my body was in the process of changing (I think years of tuning in — and out — during training and racing have honed these skills). I was determined, though, to find my personal form of “pregnancy maintenance mode” where I could challenge myself without causing injury to myself or harm to Baby H.

Little did I know that what I was aiming for would be a moving target!

Here’s one week’s worth of workouts I logged from very early on during my first trimester — while I was still trying to keep up “maintenance mode:”

  • Monday: 45-minute indoor cycling class
  • Tuesday: 30-minute elliptical + yoga class
  • Wednesday: Portland Trail Series 5-mile race
  • Thursday: 30-minute run + barre class
  • Friday: Strength training class + 60 minutes of walking to/from meetings
  • Saturday: 3-mile run + prenatal movement class
  • Sunday: OFF

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As I look back through my logs, I see that during the later weeks of my first trimester (once the pregnancy symptoms really hit) most of my cardio was walking. Running just felt “off;” my bladder was heavy, and I was out of breath about 10 seconds into a run. That, combined with sheer exhaustion, and I knew I was lucky to be able to continue some kind — any kind — of activity, even if it wasn’t at my usual intensity.

Here’s a week from my log during that time — I call it “survival mode:”

  • Monday: 30-minute walk with dogs + Pilates class
  • Tuesday: 60 minutes of walking to/from meetings + yoga class
  • Wednesday: 30-minute elliptical + some bodyweight exercises
  • Thursday: 60 minutes of walking to/from errands
  • Friday: Strength training class
  • Saturday: OFF
  • Sunday: 5-mile run

Around week 17 I hit a sweet spot, though, where running felt great again. I was hitting the pavement (or the trails) two or three times a week, and my goal was to do at least a six-miler each weekend to keep my mileage up.

That lasted for all of maybe six weeks.

Now, as I’m creeping toward the end of the second trimester, running (at least at the moment) isn’t working for me anymore. I ran an awesome six-miler with friends on Nov. 1, but later that afternoon got blindsided with what felt like a strained a ligament in my groin and could barely walk for two days.

Physically, I get it; my body’s got a lot going on, and something’s gotta give. But it’s been much more difficult, mentally and emotionally, to detach from my “happy place.”

With pregnancy comes a lot of uncertainty, and who knows what will feel good a few weeks from now, let along a few months down the road. But it’s an excellent lesson in learning to roll with the punches, look at the bigger picture, get creative and be grateful for what you can do rather than what you cannot.

So here’s where I was as of last week, which I’m calling “the new normal mode:”

  • Monday: 60-minute walk during lunch + prenatal yoga class
  • Tuesday: 30-minute elliptical + barre class
  • Wednesday: 30-minute stair stepper + prenatal movement class
  • Thursday: 30-minute laps in the pool + barre class
  • Friday: 45-minute indoor cycling class
  • Saturday: OFF
  • Sunday: 3-mile run (painful!)

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And in the meantime, I’m keeping things fluid, taking it day-by-day and approaching fitness with a more pregnancy-friendly set of principles:

  1. Listen to my body. I modify like nobody’s business, and if I’m not up for something, I don’t do it. It’s as simple as that!
  2. Keep it a priority. Fitness has always been and always will be important to me. I make it work around other commitments.
  3. Keep it in perspective. Races and PRs will be there waiting for me. Right now, I want to stay in the moment and enjoy this time.
  4. Have fun. Whether it’s meeting up with friends or trying a new class, I love having more freedom to experiment.
  5. Mix things up. Even if my new default is walking, I’m trying to get as much variety as I can to keep my mind and body engaged.
  6. Re-think “training.” As in, my immediate focus is getting through childbirth come March, then being healthy enough to chase a kiddo.
  7. Stay curious. Gone are strict training schedules for the time being, so I’m just enjoying figuring out how to work this “new” body.
  8. Be grateful. I’ll do whatever I can for as long as I’m able. It feels good to move, and I want to honor my body where it’s at as this process progresses.

And, on the bright side, I’m also hoping that if I do have to take a good chunk of time off of running, I might finally heal some nagging injuries (old: SI joint, new: ligaments/groin). For example, my plantar fasciitis is almost a distant memory now that I’ve dialed down the impact activities, which I’ll take as a win.

So where will I go from here? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’ll keep you posted.

How did your perspective on fitness change during pregnancy?