Runner Moms Podcast | Episode 005

Runner Mom Sarah Thorseth

Sarah Thorseth | An Open Conversation about Early Motherhood

Sarah Thorseth, runner, coach and mom of a busy 19-month-old, stops by the Runner Moms podcast to have an open conversation with Shayla on the struggles she experienced after becoming a mom. Her husband deployed when their daughter was just four weeks old and, in his absence, Sarah struggled to find her footing as a mom. She struggled with severe postpartum depression that caused anxiety, insomnia and other challenges. Thanks to a community of support and a return to fitness, Sarah worked her way through those challenging early days—emerging stronger and more confident on the other side. 

She talks through the importance of setting aside the ego to accept help and urges other moms to build communities of support around them. Now that Sarah is on the other side of those early motherhood struggles, she’s on a mission to reach out to other new moms and offer a helping hand.

Runner Mom Sarah Thorseth

Support the Runner Moms podcast: https://www.patreon.com/RunnerMoms

Connect with Sarah on Instagram: @Sarah.Thor_Fitness

Episode Transcript:

Introduction:

Welcome to the Runner Moms Podcast where we help women embrace their inner strength, take time for themselves and lead healthier lives. So, settle in and soak up some inspiration. Then rise, lace up those running shoes and embrace your inner strength because, momma, you run this world. 

Shayla:

Hello Runner Moms! I’m Shayla, founder of the Runner Moms podcast and I’m so happy that you’re listening in on today’s show. Before I introduce today’s guest, I just want to mention how much I appreciate all of the reviews that everyone has been leaving for the podcast. Seriously, it means the world to me and the reviews help more moms find our content. 

Now, on to today’s show. Joining me today is Sarah Thorseth. She’s a busy mom of a 19 month old daughter and is also a fitness coach. Similar to a lot of moms, Sarah struggled with her transition into motherhood and is brave enough to share her story with the Runner Moms community. 

As you’ll hear in a bit, a lot of her story resonates deeply with me and I think that it will also impact you as well. We all know that motherhood isn’t easy and, as Sarah describes it, often it’s the community that we build around us that gets us through and puts us back on our feet. I hope you get as much out of this conversation as I did. 

Well Sarah, welcome to the Runner Moms podcast!

Sarah:

Thank you so much for having me!

Shayla:

Yeah, I’m excited to have this conversation and learn more about you! So, to start us off, could you introduce yourself to the Runner Moms community? Maybe tell us how many kids you have, where you live, what you do outside of motherhood.

Sarah:

Sure! So, I currently live in southern San Diego. I have one daughter. She’s 19 months old and little spitball of fire. Yeah, she’s my daughter, no doubt about it! Outside of motherhood, I focus on helping other women. I’m a personal trainer, certified as a prenatal and postnatal corrective exercise specialist. Mostly I just focus on moms, mainly because I struggled in my transition into motherhood so that’s where I like to focus my attention. 

Shayla:

That’s awesome! Yeah, and I can’t wait to dive into those details as well. Going back to your daughter and, kind of, I always think it’s funny how, we have three kids, and I see a lot of my personality traits in them. Some of them, ya know, not so good, some of them good! It’s just funny how you can see reflections of yourself in your kids. 

Sarah:

You’re like, oh, that’s what I look like! Ok, cool! 

Shayla:

So, when did you first start running?

Sarah:

I started running in my senior year of high school. I wasn’t a runner, I was a competitive gymnast growing up. There’s not a lot of required running but I knew I wanted to join the military and try to get an ROTC scholarship. So, my sister, one of my older sisters, took me out to the track and helped me to run my first mile. It took months. I hated every minute of it. I was like, “I’m never going to be able to do this.” By the end of the summer, I was running multiple miles, and that’s when I started running. It was all because I wanted to be in ROTC. 

Shayla: 

So, how long were you in the military?

Sarah: 

 So, I was only active duty for a couple of years because, a few years in, I had a back injury and I ended up having to get back surgery at 22. I had a couple of herniated disks, bulging disks, accelerated degeneration. I mean, doctors basically told me, “You’re never going to be able to run. You’re not deployable.” So, the army was like, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Shayla: 

Oh, wow. So, that was probably a big shock. How did you shift in life at that time then?

Sarah:

I didn’t do it very gracefully. I was pretty upset. Just because I’d always planned on having a career in the army. It’s what I had worked towards. It’s what I focused on in college. So, it definitely took a while. There was some time in between where I was just annoyed and angry in all honesty. But, I look back now and I’m like, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me because I was able to let down my guard and just be who I really wanted to be and there is a lot of freedom in that. 

Shayla:

So, looking back in that transition period, you know, when you went through these medical issues and you were told that you wouldn’t be able to run and that you’d have to set aside your military career, what did your hiatus from running look like? Was it a multi-year thing or would you like to kind of walk us through that story?

Sarah:

Yeah. Well, the rehab took a long time. There was physical therapy. There was absolutely no exercise going on other than just physical therapy work for a couple of months. And then I was able to start walking a bit and just slowly gain that strength. A lot of back issues are also core issues. So, I started working with a pilates instructor and just really trying to strengthen my body from the inside out. I would say that really when I started to realize in proactive care rather than reactive. 

So, I really started focusing on how to strengthen muscle groups and how to not just throw myself into a workout but really think about what I was doing. Then, gosh, it probably took me a good two years to get back to a place where I was confident. I guess I had a lot of fear in re-injuring my back because it got to the point where I couldn’t even tie my shoes. I couldn’t get dressed. Like, pulling my shorts up, that bending motion was just so challenging. So, there was a lot of fear of re-injury that I had to work through. 

Then, once I got to a place where I was able to build up my confidence, increase my weights and just be more proactive in my fitness, than I also started adding running back into it. So, I focused more on the strength training part and then started adding the running. I did that maybe three years after my surgery. That’s when I was like, you know what? I’m going to start training for a marathon because the doctors told me I couldn’t! Maybe not the smartest idea, but I did it. 

Shayla:

So, walk us through that story. What did the training process look like?

Sarah:

So, I had never run more than a couple miles. That all I had ever needed for the army. So, it definitely took me out of my comfort zone. I lived in Lexington, VA at the time. I was working at VMI, which is a local military school. So, I would get up in the mornings before I’d go to work, and I would run 8 to 10 miles through the farmlands and it was gorgeous. It was just me, the cows, the hills. But, I definitely was an amateur. My pace was slow. I didn’t realize, I mean, looking back on it now, I didn’t realize I should have been doing speedwork. I should have been doing intervals. The way I was fueling my body was really not beneficial because I was like, “Well, I just ran 18 miles so now I’m gonna, quote unquote, reward myself with pizza and beer because I’m really hungry.” 

So, I would say it was definitely a, I wouldn’t say immature approach but, looking back at it now, it was just kind of a winging it, run lots of miles which is probably why, after the marathon, I took a hiatus from running for several years. I was just tired of running. I think if I would had gone about it a different way, it probably wouldn’t have beaten me down like that. 

Shayla:

Did you experience any reoccurrence of injury or anything through that training process?

Sarah:

You know, I didn’t. Honestly, I didn’t struggle with any kind of back pain or shin splints or any kind pain. That was what was really surprising to me. I really had no injury. I would say, after the marathon itself, I was definitely fatigued to an extreme I had never been before but I had no injuries whatsoever. 

Shayla:

So, looking, kind of fast forwarding to after you’ve run the marathon, you know, there has to be a sense of accomplishment with running your first marathon. And then, you transition into taking the hiatus from running. Do you want to kind of walk us through your mindset at that time? Maybe what the driving force was?

Sarah:

I just got a point where I was like, I don’t want to run. I just kind of had a mental block to it. Every now and then I would try and pick it back up again and I really couldn’t follow through. I would say the most I did was a sprint triathlon with a girlfriend of mine but even that, I didn’t enjoy it. So, I made that mental decision to be like, you know, if I’m not enjoying it, I’m not going to do it. 

There would be random days here and there when I’d wake up and I’d be like, I just want to go running on the open road. And I would and it would be fun. It wouldn’t be more than just a couple of miles. My mileage never increased over three to five miles. To this day I haven’t done more than that. Well, I take that back. I did a half marathon two years later. So, that was probably the longest I’ve done, and I didn’t prepare for that one. One of my sister’s friends broke his foot and couldn’t run, so I took his bib and ran in his place and I hadn’t trained for that. So that was, again, not a smart move. I think we’re noticing a trend here!

Shayla:

Well, let’s focus for a bit on your transition into motherhood. So, you’re 19 months in now, how has the transition gone?

Sarah:

Um, you know, to be completely honest, it has been really rough. I feel like I’ve gone through some pretty challenging things in my life and nothing prepared me for the transition into motherhood. I think society makes, or kind of helps you to expect that it’s just going to be glowing and cuddles and it really wasn’t that for me, unfortunately. 

So, I had my daughter in February of 2019, and then my husband deployed at the end of March. So, she was 4 weeks old and he left for a 6-month deployment. Unfortunately, she struggled with a tongue tie, so I was pumping exclusively. I didn’t really enjoy motherhood. I was feeling really like a lot of my freedom and independence was taken away. Being an independent person, it was very suffocating. 

A few months later, I experienced, and I, my doctor and I chalked it up to weening, so when I weened her from pumping, I experienced a huge hormone shift. I struggled with postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety. I had insomnia. I mean, I would be up for, until 3 or 4 in the morning not able to sleep. Just a vicious cycle of anxiety led by the fact that I wasn’t sleeping and then the fear of not sleeping. I really had to humble myself and call on my community because my family didn’t live close by. It was just me and the baby after he left. My mom came for a little bit and my sister was here but, you know, during that time, it was just very isolating. Just a very dark time. 

Then, once I just made a decision. I was like, you know, I don’t need to prove anything. I don’t need to do this deployment alone, packed up, went to North Dakota to live with my parents for several months and there was just a shift. Something happened and I didn’t feel alone. Through medication and a lot of therapy, I came out on the other side. I would say that the last nine months have been absolutely challenging but also some of the best days. It’s so fun and she keeps me on my toes. I couldn’t ask for anything more. 

Shayla:

That’s really great that you were able to make that shift and go to stay with your parents and find the support to kind of work through the challenges and come out on the other side. When you talked about your experience of her being four weeks old and your husband deploying, it just brought back so many memories. When our first son was born, he was six weeks old and my husband deployed and he was a very colicky baby. In quote unquote normal situations, where the spouse or the partner is there, it’s challenging enough, but to have it be your first child and they leave shortly after, it’s just, oof, it’s so much. 

Sarah:

It’s a whole new ball game. 

Shayla:

Yeah, and you don’t know what to expect with your own body and your own emotions and you’re also caring for a baby alone. I can’t imagine – we had family around, so I can’t imagine not even having family around to help out. That would be a lot to get through. Did you have friends around that were able to help out or did you feel like you could reach out?

Sarah:

Oh, I mean, I had to. So, it basically got to the point where, because I wasn’t sleeping, my doctor prescribed some pretty heavy sleeping medication but I couldn’t take it unless I had somebody else at the house to watch the baby when she would wake up and would need a feeding. So, I had like a rotation of friends who would come over, spend the night, and take the night feedings because I would sleep through it. 

That’s what I mean, I really had to humble myself because I’m someone who, in the past, was like, “I can do this. I’ve got this.” It really took a lot of breaking me down and to be like, look, ya sure, you can do this on your own if you want to, but you’re not gonna be in the best mental place. You’re not gonna be doing well, so reach out to your friends who have offered to help, who have said, “Let me know if you need me to come spend the night.” That’s why when people tell me now, like, “Oh yeah, if you need anything, call me.” No, like, literally, I will take you up on it. So, don’t give me an empty offer. Stand behind it. Because I am the person now who will take you up on it if I need help. 

Shayla:

So, through the process of becoming a mom and the challenges that you faced, what do you think are the main things that helped you to come out on the other side? Was it the friends? What it your family? What were the main driving forces that, I guess, helped you get through?

Sarah:

So, I would definitely say my faith. You know, we had experienced a loss before we had our daughter. Just kind of coming full circle and recognizing that, as hard as this season was, I was so grateful for the gift of life with my daughter and realizing that not everyone is given that opportunity. So, that just helped me to keep things in focus and to rely on god and greater power than myself. I guess the other was honestly, yes, family and friends who would take turns helping, who would watch her so I could get a break, who just remind me, like, this is a hard season and you’re not alone. Then, I have to say, fitness. Just working out and taking that time because that was something I did before I had my daughter and to be able to find that piece of who I was before and not completely forget about what things brought life and joy to me outside of just being her mother was probably the biggest driving factor. I used working out to help my anxiety prior to being a mother and why wouldn’t I use that during the transition into motherhood and after? That has been constant in my life. 

Shayla:

So, let’s focus on that for a bit. Right after you’ve had your daughter, when did you take up fitness again? Did it take some time to realize, “Oh, I need this back in my life.”? What did that look like?

Sarah:

It did. It took me a while. I thought that I would be back up and running after I got the checkup from the doctor at six weeks. I was like, I can do this and I did start to work out but I also realized that things had shifted in my body. It wasn’t fully the same. You know, pregnancy, labor and delivery, it changes things. So, it was very inconsistent and that was a huge struggle for me because I’ve always been someone who is very consistent. I work out every day. It’s part of my routine and a discipline factor for me. So, I would say I wasn’t able to consistently work out until she was closer to five or six months and so that was a struggle to recognize. But, given myself grace to say, “You know what, I’m in a new season. You’re not sleeping. You’re not 100 percent. Your is gone. Things are different. You’re not even in your own home. Just do what you can.” That was a huge place where I just had to learn to give myself grace. “You only got a 10 minute workout in? Good job!” Look at the positive and not at the negative. 

So, it really took a mindset change rather than looking at what I didn’t do to realize what I did. That was something that I hadn’t been doing before. You know, it wasn’t something that I needed to take into consideration before. 

Shayla:

So, as a mom, looking at your history with running. You took the hiatus and now it’s back in your life, as a mom, what do you enjoy about running? Or, what does it bring to you?

Sarah:

I would say, the freedom. I do sometimes run with my daughter, but I really enjoy just being alone and running. It just allows me to be in my own head, not worrying about anyone else or thinking about what I need to do, but just being out in nature. There’s an estuary right near our home and I just, running out there, there’s just birds and then nature and I just feel very free. I don’t feel like I’m mom. I can feel like Sarah. That’s the beauty of running because you don’t need any equipment. You don’t need anything but a pair of running shoes and a trail before you. That, the freedom, that’s what I love about it. 

Shayla:

Yeah, same here. I completely agree. I take my daughter out here and there for little runs but, yeah, I preserve the runs mostly for me time. It’s my mental freedom time. 

Sarah:

Yes, it is! 100 percent! You know, some people do happy hour. I go for my runs. 

Shayla:

Yeah, I was just thinking yesterday. A thought just came to mind. You know, in the past, years ago, I would turn to food or maybe alcohol as my checkout time. As my, you know, as my refresh time, but that shift towards fitness being my recharging time has happened over the past several years and it’s just so much better. 

Do you have any advice for new moms who, kind of, may be struggling similar to the struggles that you faced? If they’re struggling to take time for themselves or if they’re struggling with the shift to motherhood, do you have any tips as far as things you’ve learned that helped you?

Sarah:

I would say, give yourself grace. Don’t try to do it all in one sitting. Pick one or two small goals to start with. So, if you want to start exercising, just go for a walk. Start with walking and then jogging, and then you can get back to running. Those individuals in your life who are extending a helping hand, take them up on it. Use it. I wish I had done that sooner in life in all aspects, because, most of the time, people who offer to help, genuinely, sincerely mean it. And then check-up. Once you’re through this season, check up on your new mom friends. That is something that I still to this day, even if I don’t know them personally but it’s someone I follow on Instagram, I do check on them because you don’t know who is and who isn’t. It’s a very isolating season, so the more people that you can bring together and let them know they’re now alone, I think the better off we are as a community of mothers.

Shayla:

Yeah, I love that. I completely agree. I mean, it’s easy to be, you know, as mothers we’re so busy, it’s easy to kind of get wrapped up in our own routines and our own busyness but, yeah, it’s so important to check up on those other new moms within your community because, holy cow, yeah, it’s such a challenging time. You know, you kinda, at least I did, I just had to struggle through it and learn my own way but, yeah, if you have a supportive community around you, it would help so much. 

Yeah, that’s great. So, as a mom of a busy 19 month old, what does your fitness routine look like now? How do you ensure that it remains a priority in the household?

Sarah:

I get up every morning between 4:30 and 5, and get my workout in. I tried doing a workout when she’s awake and it’s just never the same. As much as I like her to see that I’m working out, it is my sacred me time. So, I just made that decision that, you know what, I’m going to get up before the rest of the household gets up to make sure that I can get my 45 to hour long workout in whether it’s some strength training and then a run or just strength training or just a run, whatever it is, it’s my uninterrupted me time.

Shayla:

Yeah, I love that. 

Sarah:

Then, I’ll stretches or an ab workout when she’s around because I do think it’s important for our children to see that fitness and taking care of our bodies is a priority. I want her to see it. I do try to incorporate her but when it’s like the full, I need a good sweat, I do it on my own in the morning. 

Shayla:

Do you have any tips for other moms who may be struggling to maintain a fitness routine?

Sarah:

Accountability. Find a friend. Find a coach. When you have somebody to be accountable to and you make an invest into this, you’re more likely to stick with it. Most people who struggle with sticking to a fitness routine, it’s because they’re not feeling accountable. I’m accountable with my sisters. I’m accountable with my coaches and I also use my social media platform as an accountability tool because people expect me to show up every day and to share my workouts. Therefore, I show up every day and I share my workouts. I would say accountability is probably the biggest tool. 

Shayla: 

So, let’s focus for a bit on your role as a coach. What inspired you to become a fitness coach?

Sarah:

So, I’ve always done fitness, worked out and encouraged others. So, when I worked at VMI, I did coaching and fitness with my cadets. When I worked for the Navy, I also did fitness and coaching as part of my job. I would host competitions and challenges and 5ks. I always had my sailors and marines who would come up to me and be like, “Hey, I’m trying to work on these goals.” And I would just naturally share that information. 

I finally got to a point where I was like, well, I might as well have a certification behind this information that I already have in order to help people. So, that was kind of the driving factor. 

Shayla:

Looking now as a mom of a 19-month-old, what has changed for you from being the mom of a newborn, kind of living in a bit of a world of chaos on many fronts to where you are now? How have you built up your role as a mom and just making sure that you’re safeguarding your mindset and your own personal needs within that space?

Sarah:

That’s a great question. Honestly, I would say that I’m more so than ever a believer of the fact that I can’t give with an empty cup. So, I have to pour into myself and that is getting my time in the gym. That is getting my quiet time. That’s getting my time on a Marco Polo with my girlfriends. That kind of interaction, that time for myself is so important because if I’m depleted, if I’m not taking care of keeping my anxiety or my stress level in check, I am not a good mom. I am not a great wife. I’m not the best version of myself. So, I will say that I’m so lucky that my husband is so supportive. He sees the benefits of how I choose to, you know the routine that I have for myself. When he’s home, he gets up with the baby while I finish my workout and gets stuff going and just encourages me. I also say that, once my workout is done, nothing else in the day can really go so wrong because I’ve already completed the most important task of the day for myself and I’ve already done it first thing in the morning. 

I’m also a lot less, I don’t care so much about the mess. I started off on this motherhood journey with like, “Oh I need to do the dishes and I need to clean and I need to pick up the toys.” I’ve gotten to a point with a lot of help from my husband to just be like, you know what, I’ll just leave the toys. I will clean them up at the end of the day because they’re just gonna be right back out in about 5 minutes. 

Shayla:

Mmmm hmmm.

Sarah:

Right?! Exactly. I mean, there’s no point! You’re just gonna keep doing it. Same with the dishes. I can leave the dishes in the sink if it means my little girl wants to go and read a book right now. We’ll sit down and read a book. Dishes can wait. So, that’s been something really important to learn to let go of and it does make me a more relaxed mom which, I think, is a benefit for everyone. 

Shayla:

Absolutely, yeah! I’ve learned to embrace the mess as well. And with three kids, like you said, oh boy, the minute I clean it up, everyone’s stuff is everywhere anyways, so.

Sarah:

Why bother?!

Shayla: 

And, I’ve learned to make it a household task, the cleanup and the organizing. I’m not, I will no longer put any of that all on my own shoulders! It’s everyone’s responsibility. 

Sarah:

That is smart!

Shayla:

As your daughter grows and starts noticing your routines and how you live your life, what are some of the main lessons that you hope she takes away from you as a role model?

Sarah:

I think my biggest hope is that she sees herself as capable and strong no matter what size she is. I struggled with an eating disorder throughout high school and in college and still have moments where it’s a struggle. That is the biggest thing I work towards is that she doesn’t have those struggles. So, there is no restriction of food groups. There is only positive self talk. I am very adamant about not letting family members or other people to be like, “Oh, I don’t, these pants don’t fit. I look fat in this.” I’m like, you can’t talk like that in my house because that’s what my daughter sees and I don’t want her to take on that mindset because it is very detrimental. 

I know she’s going to get it in the outside world, but if I can create a safe place for her in the home where she knows she is beautiful no matter what size she is, no matter what she eats. Like, obviously, we try to eat clean and balanced but I don’t want her to develop an obsessive behavior around food and fitness. I want her to do it because it makes her feel good, it makes her feel strong. She is in a better mindset and if she doesn’t like working out, that’s fine. We’ll find something that she does like to do. 

Shayla:

Well, good for you for standing up for those important messages in your household and for shaping those messages for her. I struggled with similar things in my younger years and am now very focused on positive words and being a positive influence in my kids’ lives as well on that front. So, we’re very careful. I mean, fitness is a very big part of our household, so our kids see my husband and I working out and running and doing all of these things. But, we’re very careful to say, it’s not to be skinny or what have you, it’s because we want to be strength. We want to be healthy. You know, that’s why we workout. So, we’re trying to really enforce those messages in our kids so that, like you said, there will be outside influences, but hopefully the messages they get at home will be the foundation of healthy lifestyles moving forward. 

Sarah:

Yeah, that’s so important. 

Shayla:

So, looking back, if you wouldn’t mind talking for a little bit about it because it’s just a message that comes up, kind of a struggle that comes up again and again through my conversations with other runner moms, do you know what brought about your troubles with an eating disorder in the past?

Sarah:

I do. I’m fully aware of what it is. So, being a competitive gymnast, I would have to get weighed. We lived in Belgium for a time and that’s where the weighing happened. None of the gyms in the United States was I ever weighed before my workouts, you know, routinely to see where I stood. That really, I was in sixth grade when this happened. So, a very formidable age, very young. It just started triggering that idea. I’d always been, in my view as a kid, my sisters were always very petite and I always was just kind of the stronger, stalky one. To already kind of feel like an outcast in that regard not because anyone said anything but because of how I just felt. And then having to be weighed at the gym and, you know, being told, “Hey, you need to be working on this.” at such a young age. Then, seeing what society was throwing at us and still is, of what pretty is, just kind of snowballed. 

I would say it really escalated when I got to college and mainly because I would say the control issue. A lot of things felt out of my control and food was the one thing that I could control. It was the one area in my life that I had a say on what I did or didn’t put into my body. So, it just became this very toxic mind game of, “I am so strong. I am conquering this because I’m not eating.” I took up smoking. I was drinking diet sodas just to survive. It got to a point where they threatened to take away my ROTC scholarship if I didn’t seek out help and that kind of was like, ok, you need to fix this. And so I did, I got help. Left school for a little bit. And I don’t know that you ever fully recover in a sense. I think it’s always kind of in the back of your mind. I really was worried about getting pregnant and putting on a lot of weight, but I think because I had an amazing therapist, a great support system, and the tools to recognize triggers, and be like, ok, that’s going to be a trigger for me, I’m going to stay away from that was very helpful. 

It did not help during pregnancy. Like, I couldn’t eat any meat just out of like aversions. I literally survived on like bagels, cream cheese, and, gosh, green apples. Pregnancy was not fun. 

Shayla:

So, when those triggers come up now, you are able to recognize them now but when they do come up, how do you work through them?

Sarah:

I tell my husband and I tell my sisters because those are the two people who have either seen me walk through that really challenging time. My husband has this gift, he can just talk me down off a ledge, he’s a very calming presence in my life. He’s the yin to my yang if you will. Letting someone else know. Again, that accountability. Letting someone else know, hey, I’m struggling with this, this is how I’m feeling allows them to check up on me. To speak into my life. To remind me how far I’ve come. And I would say it has been a while since I’ve had any of those severe triggers. I don’t believe in weighing myself. I just, I don’t, because I know that the number on my scale means nothing. I would say that my goals have changed where at one point in my life I wanted to be that skinny. Now, no, I want to be strong. I want to build muscle. I want definition. So, I think the fact that my idea of what is beautiful has changed has also changed what triggers me. 

Shayla:

Well, I’m glad to hear that you have gotten on the other side of it. Also, I just want to say that, what a strong role model you are for your daughter. She’s lucky to have you and have you there as a role model going forward. So, that’s awesome. Well, is there one takeaway from your experiences of becoming a mom or as a runner that you would like to leave with the Runner Moms community today?

Sarah:

I would say, share your experience. Share what your journey has been into motherhood because I think there’s so much unknown, especially for first time moms that it almost feels like everybody was lying to us about either how hard or what to expect. You know, we see on Instagram, these moms just bounce back and it’s not that simple. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes. So, I really try to be as transparent with my struggles as possible because I think that’s what helped me. Seeing other moms who didn’t have their act together. Who were struggling and finding who they were as a mom, as a runner, as this new person. So, yeah, I think that would be my tip, just share your story and be transparent. 

Shayla:

That’s a great takeaway and also thank you for sharing your experiences and your challenges. I think your story will really help to inspire other Runner Moms and also to help others that are going through similar challenges. I really know that it will be an inspiration for them. So, if others would like to connect with you, where should they go?

Sarah:

They can find me on Instagram @sarah.thor_fitness

Shayla:

And I’ll be sure to link to that in the show notes as well and thanks again for being here today. I really appreciate it. 

Sarah:

Thank you for having me! This was so awesome! I appreciate it. 

Shayla:

As I mentioned in the introduction, motherhood isn’t easy and a lot of new moms struggle with the transition. Heck, you don’t need to be a new mom to struggle with the transition. With each new child come new challenges and life changes. I hope you have built a community of support you, just as Sarah did, so that you can lean on that support during the tough times and celebrate with your tribe in the good times. 

That’s all for today’s show. Be sure to head over to Runner Moms dot com for a ton more free content. Also, if you would like to be featured on an upcoming episode of the podcast, I’d love to chat with you! Feel free to drop a note to Shayla @ runner moms dot com. That’s S h a y l a at runner moms dot com. 

Until next time. Happy running and happy momming!

Wild Rice Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet Potato Soup

Warm up after an autumn or winter long run with a bowl of this wild rice sweet potato soup. Autumn is the favorite season for many runners—its chilly days a welcome break to the summer heat. If cooler weather is inspiring you to add more miles to your weekly schedule, don’t forget to amp up your meal plan to account for the increased outflow of calories. Prepare this wild rice sweet potato soup in advance and reheat it on the stove after your run for a meal that’s sure to warm you up and replenish your energy.

Sweet Potato Soup

The most important element of any soup is its base. The base provides, well, the base of flavor for the entire dish. Take care to let the garlic and onions cook long enough to release their flavor and blend with the butter. As you’ll see, the recipe calls for letting the uncooked rice sauté as part of the base for a few minutes. When the rice begins to release its nutty aroma, you’ll know it’s time to then move on with the recipe’s other steps by adding the sweet potatoes, broth and so on.

Oh, and this soup’s broth just begs to be soaked up with a hearty slice of artisan bread. Enjoy!

Wild Rice Sweet Potato Soup

Warm up after an autumn or winter long run with this wild rice sweet potato soup.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Soup
Keyword: celery, mushrooms, rice, soup, sweet potatoes, wild rice
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3/4 cup wild rice
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and celery and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wild rice and cook for 2 minutes
  • Add the sweet potatoes and chicken broth. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the sweet potatoes are tender.
  • Add the cream to the pan; stir. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Looking for more hearty soups to pair with your cool weather running schedule? Check out our Acorn Squash and Chicken Harvest Soup recipe. We love to make a big batch of soup on the weekend and enjoy it for lunch through the upcoming week.

Our recipe for Pancetta Pasta is another favorite of the Runner Moms community.

Let us know how the wild rice sweet potato soup turned out by leaving a comment below. We’d love to hear from you! Also, connect with us on Instagram to get first word when new recipes are added to our website.

Breakfast Taco with Crispy Cheese Tortilla

Breakfast Taco

Start your day with a little spice, a lot of crunch and a whole lot of flavor with this breakfast taco made with a crispy cheese tortilla. Sometimes you just need to mix things up at the breakfast table and this cheese tortilla and egg taco is sure to satisfy your craving.

Breakfast Taco

Experiment with different salsa flavors or various toppings for the taco such as sautéed green peppers and mushrooms. Also, feel free to swap out the cheddar cheese for your preferred variety of shredded cheese, such as pepper jack, to make the cheese tortilla.

This is also a fun recipe to prepare as a family. Let each family member choose their own variety of cheese for the tortilla and encourage the kids to experiment with different toppings for their breakfast taco. The recipe includes the ingredients needed to make one taco, but you can easily make multiple cheese tortillas and delight the entire family with this fun recipe.

Breakfast Taco with Crispy Cheese Tortilla

Bring a little spice and a lot of crunch to breakfast with this breakfast taco featuring a crispy cheese tortilla.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Breakfast
Keyword: avocado, cheese, eggs, taco
Servings: 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 avocado, cubed
  • Corn and black bean salsa
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Arrange the cheddar cheese into a 4-inch circle on the parchment paper.
  • Bake the cheese for 5-8 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Watch closely to prevent the cheese from burning.
  • Remove the cheese from the oven and gently blot with paper towel to remove excess grease. Flip over the tortilla and blog the other side with the paper towel. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the eggs together in a small bowl and scramble on a griddle or in a skillet. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Arrange the eggs and cubed avocado on 1/2 of the cheese tortilla. Top with your desired amount of salsa and a few pinches of chopped cilantro. Fold the taco and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

Experiment with different salsa flavors or different toppings for the breakfast taco such as sautéed green peppers and mushrooms. Also, feel free to swap out the cheddar cheese for your preferred variety of shredded cheese to make the cheese tortilla. 

Want to add even more new breakfast recipes to your week’s lineup? Check out our recipe for Apple Oat Flour Crepes! They’re the perfect weekend breakfast to enjoy around the table with family.  

Let us know how the breakfast taco turned out by leaving a comment below! Also, connect with us on Instagram @runner.moms to get first word when new recipes drop on the site.

Runner Moms Podcast | Episode 004

Andrea Dell Runner Moms

Andrea Dell on becoming your own health advocate and achieving big dreams.

Runner and Coach Andrea Dell has battled health struggles for the majority of her life. From severe asthma that started at a young age to widespread endometriosis, her health struggles left the cards stacked against Andrea leading an active life, let alone becoming a marathon runner. In fact, she was told repeatedly starting at a young age that running a mere mile would be too difficult and not worth the risks. Yet, time after time, Andrea pushed those voices aside and became her own health advocate. Her persistence finally led to Andrea getting her asthma under control and becoming an endurance runner. She joins the Runner Moms podcast to share her story and encourage other moms to stand up for their health needs as well as the health needs of their children. If you need a motivational kick in the pants to re-commit to your running goals, this is it!

Episode Highlights:

  • Runner and Coach Andrea Dell has battled health struggles for the majority of her life. From severe asthma that started at a young age to widespread endometriosis, her health struggles left the cards stacked against Andrea leading an active life, let alone becoming a marathon runner.
  • She was told repeatedly starting at a young age that running a mere mile would be too difficult and not worth the risks. In her 20s, Andrea finally became fed up with her asthma limiting what she could do in life, so she decided to take charge and become her own health advocate. Her persistence led her to a team of specialists who helped her get her asthma under control. 
  • Andrea then began pursuing a dream of becoming a runner, starting with a three mile race. Her running goals quickly progressed to Andrea running a half marathon and then a full marathon. 
  • Andrea also shares the story of her history with disordered eating, which started when she was just nine years old. 
  • After living in continual pain for several years, Andrea’s commitment to being her own health advocate finally led her to a specialist who was able to accurately diagnose her endometriosis and help her begin the healing process. 
  • While becoming an endurance runner has brought struggle after struggle for Andrea, she said that she remains committed to her goals because she worked immensely hard to get to this point and running isn’t something she’s willing to give up. 
  • She shares her story of struggling with health issues and becoming her own health advocate to resolve them. She also encourages other moms to stand up for their health needs as well as the health needs of their children. 
  • Andrea is now a running coach, helping other runners push through limiting mental beliefs to achieve big goals. She discusses her approach to coaching and what it means to her to help others push through challenges. 
  • If you need a motivational kick in the pants to re-commit to your running goals, this is it! 

Support the Runner Moms podcast: https://www.patreon.com/RunnerMoms

Connect with Andrea:

Episode Transcript

Introduction:

Welcome to the Runner Moms Podcast where we help women embrace their inner strength, take time for themselves and lead healthier lives. So, settle in and soak up some inspiration. Then rise, lace up those running shoes and embrace your inner strength because, momma, you run this world. 

Shayla:

Welcome, welcome Runner Moms! Shayla Ebsen here, I’m the founder of the Runner Moms community and I’m so happy that you’re tuning in to today’s show. Before I introduce our guest, I just want to mention how much I appreciate your support of the Runner Moms podcast. If you have a moment, please leave a review of the show through your podcast player. It will help other mom runners connect with our content. 

In addition to the inspiring stories and actionable tips that we share through the podcast, we also have a ton of great, free content over at Runner Moms dot com. If you haven’t yet, be sure to head over there and check it out. 

Now, on to today’s show. Joining me today is Andrea Dell. She’s a marathon runner and a coach with an incredibly inspirational story that I’m so excited to share with you. Her coaching motto is that any body can run and, as you’ll hear in a bit, she’s overcome immense struggles to become a runner and is a true example of that motto. 

If you need an inspirational kick in the pants to commit to your running goals, this is it. So, let’s get to Andrea’s story. 

Andrea, welcome to the Runner Moms podcast!

Andrea:

Hi! How are you?

Shayla:

Doing great! How are you?

Andrea:

Very good!

Shayla:

I’m so excited to have you on the show today. As I said before, yeah, you have just such a great inspirational story that I know is going to resonate with a lot of listeners. So, to start, can you just share a bit about you and your family? Kind of where you live, how many kids you have, all those important details to help us get acquainted with you?

Andrea:

Sure! My name is Andrea Dell. I am from Huntersville, North Carolina. I live here with my daughter who just turned nine, Evie, and my husband Bobby. We have five critters. So I kind of live in a circus! We’ve got two cats and three dogs. One of the dogs I actually adopted when I ran the Kauai marathon. I decided that she needed a home and that she needed to come back to North Carolina with me. So, I ran a marathon and then I adopted a dog and brought her home! 

Shayla:

Oh, that’s amazing for a long flight home from Hawaii! That’s amazing!

Andrea:

Her name is Mavis and she looks like a bat!

Shayla:

You’ll have to share a photo so that we can include it with the episode!

Andrea:

Certainly will! Her before and after is very impressive! My husband literally is like, no more! Like, get off Instagram and stop looking at things on the internet!

So, yeah! I run a lot in the community here. The cool thing about the North Charlotte area of North Carolina is that there’s a lot of little cities. We have so much opportunity and so many places that you can run. A lot of the neighborhoods where I live, it’s called Huntersville, we connect to each other. So, we can run from one neighborhood to the other. So, in COVID, we could run a lot in the middle of streets and be really active still and not feel like we were completely locked down because we could be safe and we could get out. I think that was like a life saver for me. 

Shayla:

Oh, that’s amazing. Yeah absolutely. So, kind of getting into your story a bit. Can you tell us when your journey as a runner began?

Andrea:

Sure! When I was growing up, I have asthma that was severe enough that doctors wouldn’t let me run the presidential mile that we would have to do for that test in school. They would always tell me that it wasn’t worth it to go run because I’d have to go home and I’d have to have my inhaler or I’d have an asthma attack and it would be just a bad deal. 

So, I started running in my late 20s because my husband and a lot of our friends are very talented runners and they’re fast and they were just so inspirational to watch. So, I just watched them, and they were so encouraging to me and they gave me a strategy that I’ll probably refer to a lot during this podcast. We started using interval strategies for me, being able to catch my breath and my lack of endurance, just from not being an endurance athlete my entire life. It was really nice to have like, you’re going to run for a minute and then you’re going to walk for a minute. They all taught me that it was OK. That doesn’t make you less of an athlete. You’re starting and anybody can do anything for a minute. 

So, I started doing that. For my first five-mile race, I think I ran for two minutes and then walked for a minute. After that five-mile race, I sat at the finish line and waited for all of these friends and my husband Bobby to finish and I saw people of all walks of life cross that finish line. It was so inspiring to me and it just shook me to my core. One man, I asked him and he’s like, “I’m 72 years old!” I was like, oh my goodness! I was just blown away, I just had no idea that you didn’t have to be a certain way to go and run 13.1 miles. You didn’t have to look a certain way. We don’t all look like Shalane Flanagan. You know, we’re of all ages and all races and all people and it just, it blew my mind. 

After that race, I’m like, I’m hooked. So, I’ve been running with that interval strategy ever since. 

Shayla:

Oh, that’s amazing! So, let’s go back to when you were a kid with severe asthma. It sounds like you may have grown up with people in your life telling you to not push yourself and that it was even dangerous to do so. How do you think those voices shaped your mental scripts? Because, we all have mental scripts about what we are and aren’t capable of and it really kind of guides what we do in life. So, is there any insight there?

Andrea:

Oh, completely. And I still hear that sometimes in my head and I hear it in other athletes that I’m working with too. That, I can’t or what if strategy, it’s just, it’s always in your brain at the very back of your head. I was a competitive water skier, so I really started having to run from one end of the beach to the other and I would have an asthma attack just running down the beach which would be 100 yards, you know, like a football field. It was so frustrating that I went to my doctor and I’m like, “We have to do something. I am 16 years old and I can not run the length of a football field.” They just kind of put their hands up and they’re like, “Well, this is what you’re dealing with. This is kind of how it will be.” And, I just went with it. 

Luckily, when I came to North Carolina and I just wanted to get healthier, and I wanted to be able to be outside. Here in North Carolina, we have allergens 24/7. So, allergies and asthma together could just level me for a month at a time. And, I’m like, I can’t live like this anymore. I’m 24 years old and I can’t walk around my block. I can’t go up my steps. And, so, it was really with the help of the doctors that I found here in asthma and allergy specialists that they helped me really turn everything around. They helped me build strategies with my medications and with allergy shots and things like that. That helped me move forward. They had the faith in me that I could do it. So, they slowly started changing those voices in my head. And I didn’t have to worry about being hauled off a course when I was running because I knew how to manage it so much better.

Shayla:

Well, that’s amazing that you did find specialists who were willing to work with you and encourage you and help you reshape those mental scripts. 

So, let’s go back to kind of the start of your running journey. How did you progress over time to become a marathon runner? I mean, it’s just incredible. So, can you kind of give us an overview of that journey?

Andrea:

Yes! Ok, so I started running a five-mile run and that was in the middle of October. After I left that night, I was fortunate enough to go to a party with two endurance athletes that were there with us. And we were all just chatting, my husband Bobby and I and these two athletes. And they were talking about the races they had run and the bike races they had done, and my husband said, “Yeah, we went to a half marathon this morning.” They looked at me and they said, “You ran a half marathon, that’s fantastic!” And I said, “Oh, no no, I only ran the five-mile race.” And they just looked at me and they’re like, “Well, you could run a half marathon.”

Of course, in the back of my head, I’m like, there’s no chance I could run a half marathon! Like, you guys are nuts! And, by the end of the night, we were talking about it, and I’m like, I really want to run a half marathon! Like, all of these people sitting around me were telling me that I could do this. I just kind of bit the bullet and I went onto the Run Disney website because we’re total Disney addicts and I found that they had a half marathon coming up in January. 

So, that gave me about three months to train. Then, they didn’t have any openings because they always sell out their half marathon races. Well, they sell out all of their races. So, I went forward and I signed up with a charity, Autism Speaks, because I have a cousin and he is non-verbal and he’s autistic and he’s so special to me. I was like, “I’m going to run for a charity and I’m going to run for Andrew.” So, I signed up for this charity and I raised the money and I trained in those three months. I just went for it. I had to train myself, which was a little odd. I pulled plan online and, luckily, I didn’t encounter any injuries, or anything along the way that would pull me away from that plan. But, I was lucky and so I made it through, pig-headedness and determination I think. 

That’s how I made it to my first half marathon and after I made it to my first half in Disney in January, I proceeded to run a distance race over 10 miles every month until I couldn’t find one over the summer. Here in North Carolina, they’re hard to find. I just continued that way. It was kind of the same thing when I signed up for the marathon. I just decided one day that I wanted to run 26 miles and, so, I created a plan for myself and I just kind of went for it. It wasn’t easy. I actually hired a personal trainer who is now a very good friend and a partner in some of the races that we work on here in Huntersville. He trained me because I knew I wasn’t strong enough to run 26 miles. So, I knew I needed run-specific training to get me through those 26 miles and that was a big game changer for me too. 

Shayla:

So, did you have any setbacks along the journey?

Andrea:

I had, between my first half and my first marathon, I was trucking along pretty well and I didn’t struggle. I found that the hardest part was being sore all of the time. I didn’t have the network yet or the knowledge, even though I was constantly listening to podcasts or reading or watching things online with videos from other coaches online, I was trying to get and absorb all of this information about what do you need to do to make it through marathon training in a healthy way. So, I found that I didn’t have the recovery techniques that I really needed. Once I got those, I struggled a lot less. 

I’m made for distance. I just love being out there. The long low heartrate runs are like, my jam. I just tune out and go. My friend Laura always says like there’s something weird that happens to Andrea after 16 miles. She just hits another gear and she just keeps going. So, once I found the marathon it was like, this is my deal. 

Shayla:

Well, it’s amazing that you’ve gotten there. What advice do you have for others who may have been previously told by a professional that they can’t run, kind of similar to you, or can’t pursue another personal goal, but still have that spark in their heart?

Andrea:

I’ve found, especially if it’s in regards to a medical issue, if you don’t hear the answer you want in regards to moving forward with a goal that you have, whether it’s figuring out to manage asthma like I had, I needed to find a specialist that was willing to try and that was hard. It wasn’t necessarily easy. Growing up in a small town in Wisconsin, we didn’t have specialists. We didn’t have the resources available that my allergy and asthma specialists here had. So, I just kept looking for someone that was willing to try and willing to help because I just knew it was something that I really wanted to do. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I think that’s something that has really changed my outlook on so many things. When you have to really work for it, you don’t forget that. You never forget how hard it was to run that first 10 miler or even to run that first three miles. You keep that in your head. So, you just have to find someone that’s willing to help you. That might take a long time but it’s always worth it. 

Shayla:

So, also, as moms, since we’re speaking to a community of moms here, as moms we obviously want the best for our children, but we also tend to worry a lot about them. So, for any moms listening who have children with health problems kind of similar to what you experienced as a kid, do you have any advice for them to, of course, face the reality of those health problems, but to also not contribute to building limiting mental scripts for their kids?

Andrea:

It’s hard because there are so many different diagnoses with asthma, but, I truly believe when you can find a specialist that can walk hand in hand with you and that’s willing to try, we can teach our kids that they can do anything. I think that there’s so much out there and there are so many different strategies that we should hope that we can find something that works for them. 

Shayla:

So, let’s pivot a bit and talk a bit about the other personal battles that you’ve fought. In our prep for the interview, you talked about a battle with a binge eating disorder. Would you mind talking about that for a little bit? Maybe, kind of starting with how long you’ve struggled with it?

Andrea:

Yes – I started struggling with food when I was nine years old and I remember the specific day because I was on a water ski team and we water skied competitively. We were the type of water ski team that would climb human pyramids. We would have to be picked up and thrown around for these acts. I remember somebody saying that I wasn’t light enough to be on one of the pyramids. I was just too heavy. So, as a nine-year-old, that hit me in a certain way and it kind of changed me. That idea of lightness and weight kind of stayed with me throughout the rest of my water-skiing career and then going into high school with cheerleading and stunting. I was 5’8” so I’m not a small person but I was 120 pounds and I just was never light enough to always be in the acts or do the things that I wanted to do with the routines that we were doing. 

So, that led to me really restricting calories. I grew up in a time where crash diets, I think they’re still around, but I think growing up in the 80s and 90s, crash diets were like, the thing. You would see that cycle of, oh, I’m going to try this, and I’m gonna do this for three weeks and I’m gonna lose 20 pounds, or whatever it would be. So, I kept seeing that, and I’d restrict for an extended period of time and then some switch flips and then I find myself, I was really good at eating in secret. I wouldn’t eat around people. Even going on dates, I would eat before I’d go on a date so I wouldn’t have to eat in front of people. I always felt like the amount of food that I consumed was too much. 

So, it just, it was a problem until my late 20s until I found a counselor that actually listened. She talked to me about what was actually happening with me. I’d gotten to a point right after our wedding that I had gained about 40 pounds. That was just because I’d quit restricting at all and I was just eating, just binge eating continually. At 5’8”, I was walking around at a weight that was unhealthy for me. So, I slowly started to lose weight by walking and eating on a regular schedule and working with a counselor and knowing that it was OK to eat six times a day. I’d just eat smaller amounts. 

We just found a lot of different strategies that worked for me personally and I’ve been able to maintain a healthy weight now for about 8 years now because my daughter is 9. So, right after I had her, I also went into a bit of a, I got really light, because I was using breastfeeding as a crutch. I knew that it burned a lot of calories so then I would restrict my calories a lot and so I was slowly losing more and more weight. Actually, the day of her one-year-old pictures, I was about 30 pounds lighter than I am right now. I just thought that was like so great. Then I realized, now when you look back on all of these things, it’s, hindsight it 20/20. But, it has really affected my life for quite a long time and it’s really nice to sit here and very awkwardly talk about it. 

It’s just a situation that I think is so much more common and I just wish that I could speak on it more eloquently because I wish that I could explain it better to people. It’s just out there and it’s so common that we look at ourselves 30 pounds lighter and I still thought I needed to lose more weight because then I would be at race weight or at an ideal weight. That’s one really cool thing that endurance running has taught me is that I can run just as well at one weight as I can 15 pounds heavier because I have more muscle mass and I can recover better and I’m not breaking down all of the time. Running has taught me amazing things. 

Shayla:

Through these interviews that I’ve been completing for the Runner Moms podcast, disordered eating is definitely emerging as a theme among many of the interviewees. I’ve personally dealt with it, struggled with it, and I know a lot of women do. Just kind of looking at the next generation coming up, for you personally, is there anything that you’re doing as far as teaching your daughter to have a healthier relationship with food and with body image than maybe our generation had growing up?

Andrea:

Certainly. And, I think with me personally, and being able to have a 9-year-old daughter, we can do things together. We can ride bikes together. We can run together. We are active together. Which, my family was active at home too. I mean, I was in multiple sports and we did things together. We were out and about, but, we talk about food. And we talk about organic food and we talk about why we eat certain things that we eat. I think that it’s really important that we don’t talk about, I don’t talk about being fat or talk about being overweight or when I put on my clothes, do I feel confident in my clothes. We talk about positivity. We may not love every part of our body but it’s accepting that these are our bodies and our bodies can do amazing things. 

Shayla:

As far as our household dialogue, my daughter will be 7 soon and I can see and hear that she’s already being influenced by others as far as body image. So, we’re already starting to work on it at home. It broke my heart the first time I heard her talk negatively about her body. I mean, it just crushed me. So, we work a lot on talking about, you know, you look strong, you’re strong, just using that word over and over. Yeah, not talking about skinny, not talking about all of those things. Right or wrong, I don’t know, but, one other thing that we’re trying to do, I grew up in a household where you were, in a culture if you will, where you’re told to finish all of the food on your plate. I’m trying to let my kids recognize when they’re full. Whether that will help with body image, I don’t know, but just kind of recognizing their own body’s cues. 

Andrea:

That’s a great strategy. Knowing our hunger cues is one of the things my counselor always told me about. When are you full? When do you feel full? You don’t need to go out to a restaurant and eat everything on your plate because you paid for it. You know, you can take it home. It was silly things like that, that, like you said, you need to clear your plate. Well, if you’re full, then you don’t need to clear your plate. We will set it aside and, in a couple of hours, we eat dinner really early, so, if you’re hungry and you need a snack later, the rest of your dinner can be there. But, if you’re full right now, we recognize that. That’s something we do all of the time. 

Shayla:

Well, thank you for sharing your history there. I do appreciate it. I’ve mentioned this in other episodes. I just think the more we talk about these things, the more we can help the next generation coming up to avoid some of these struggles. That’s kind of my hope. 

Turning back to your story, are there any current struggles with running that you’re facing?

Andrea:

I am. I am dealing with some aftereffects of endometriosis. I was diagnosed with that in January and I had a partial hysterectomy at 37 years old because I had endometriosis basically throughout my abdomen. I was unaware of it until about October of 2019 and so that inflammation throughout my body made me do really strange things while I was running because I had problems in my hips. One of my ovaries was actually attached to my pelvic wall. So, I had just a ton of inflammation in my right hip joint. So, I had a lot of scar tissue also. They’ve had to rebuild my belly button three times. 

So, I have a lot of inflammation and a lot of scar tissue that, the form problems that I had from running, dealing with that previously, now is causing a lot of problems with some of those scar tissue areas. I love to kind of swing my arms back and forth and rotate my abdomen. So, I kind of, I can’t really explain it, but I love to twist my abdomen when I run and that really pulls at my abs and makes my belly button really angry. So, I’m dealing with that. I don’t swing my arms traditionally. I like move my upper body instead. So, that’s something I’ve been doing for a long time but now it has become problematic for me. 

What else am I dealing with? I don’t know. Right now I’m just dealing with the weather!

Shayla:

And COVID!

Andrea:

I’m dealing with the weather! I’m dealing with the humidity and the heat down here. We had a week down here last week that was under 70 in the morning and it felt like, it was glorious. Now, this week, it’s 70s to 90s again and I’m like, OK. Ready for fall!

Shayla:

So, obviously, you’ve overcome a lot as just a human being and also to become a runner. It seems that, just as you got over the hill with one struggle, another has come along. What keeps you motivated to keep pursuing your goals? 

Andrea:

I literally am so frustrated with trying to get better with one thing and then moving on to the next. I would think that I was like, I’ve managed asthma, OK, I’m good now. I can do what I need to do. Then, all of the sudden, something else would pop up. And I just feel like, hopefully, I can use all of these things that I’ve learned to help other people because, otherwise, I’ve just gone through it for no reason. 

But it is so frustrating. Like, I would get healthy from one thing and then I would kind of go downhill again and I would have to deal with another issue. Finding a diagnosis for endometriosis was very difficult. The symptoms started three years ago when I had an umbilical hernia repair but they just thought that was scar tissue and, you know, whatever it could be. Then, it just continued to snowball and get worse. So, I had to fight again, just like with asthma to find doctors that would listen and that would look at my symptoms. I was in the ER, crying in the ER, and the doctor was like, I wish I could help you. Like, I don’t know how to help you. The painkillers, it was just all stuff that I wasn’t willing to do. I wasn’t willing to take a prescription pain med. I needed other answers. That was not going to sustain me for the rest of my life. So, it just got to the point where I got to like, I need to figure this out. 

Shayla:

So, what were some of the, I guess, cues, that showed you that something was wrong? For those who are out there that may have endometriosis that’s undiagnosed. They may know that something’s wrong, but they haven’t been able to figure it out. What kind of clued you in that things weren’t as they should be?

Andrea:

So, my endometriosis was not traditional. I did not have any issues with infertility. I had irregular periods and periods that were incredibly intense but most of the symptoms that come with endometriosis, I did not have. I had problems with digestion because I had endometriosis on my bowels and on my large intestine. I had endometriosis on my ribs and my diaphragm and my liver, which is also not as common. So, to find a diagnosis for it, myself, honestly, just racking the internet for hours on end. I kept googling ‘right upper quadrant pain’ and finally one that came up was endometriosis but it was very very rare. 

Usually it takes someone 6 to 7 years to get diagnosed with endometriosis. I had chronic ovarian cysts, which is something that people with endometriosis tend to experience, but mine was different. So, I actually went to my sports doctor and I was like, Dr. Bennett, I have this really bad pain on, just right under my ribs, it felt like the worst side stitch you’ve ever had. When you can’t stretch your arm across and stretch that out when you’re running. I said, “I think I’ve pulled something.” He said, “No, that’s your liver. I want you to go to your GP and get an ultrasound because that’s right on your liver, your gallbladder.”

So, he knew it was on my liver right away, which I thought was pretty incredible. But, it took a full year to get to a specialist that could actually tell me, like, she could put her hands on me, and say, “Everything you’re saying is endometriosis.” But, when I went to a doctor in May and I had a laparoscopy, exploratory surgery, because I basically demanded that someone open me up and figure out what is going on inside my body. I was scared it was something worse and it wasn’t going to get diagnosed. And, she had written that everything was normal except for the cysts on my ovaries. 

When we went in in January, 7 months later, and the doctor, the specialist at CMC, Carolina’s Medical Center, it’s an atrium hospital here in Charlotte, North Carolina, when she went in and she told me that there was endometriosis everywhere, I couldn’t believe it. It kind of shocked me to a point where I was in disbelief because it didn’t make any sense how one doctor in May could see nothing except for the one spot on my diaphragm and connecting my liver and then this other doctor, a specialist, could go in and excise this endometriosis basically from every surface of my abdomen. I was just so mindblown by that. 

So, that was again, an example of me fighting to get a diagnosis and fighting to get somebody to treat me. And I feel like this is the continual battle of my life. Just finding answers. And I think that battle is probably why I continue to run. You know, you gotta fight to be an endurance athlete. It doesn’t come easy to most people. I know some people can just go out and run for hours and it’s easy for them. For me, it has always been a fight and it was one fight that I wasn’t willing to give up, even with endometriosis. 

Shayla:

How would you say that your personal experiences as a runner, kind of what you just described, have shaped your approach as a coach?

Andrea:

I think that’s the best part of being a coach. Is that I’ve had a lot of personal struggles that I’ve had to manage, and I remember that. You know, they come back to me so quickly when I see somebody working really hard and I know that you have an 8 miler on the books, but you can only get out three miles. I know what that feels like. I know it’s disappointing to yourself but I also know that I can help that person so they don’t just say, “You know what? I just can’t anymore. I’m not hitting my goals. I’m not hitting my mileage. I’m gonna give up.” 

I think as a coach, the greatest thing that I can do is cheer for people and hopefully guide people and inspire them to know they are capable of things beyond their wildest dreams as an athlete. So, I think that’s one thing that really has helped me. Again, I wish I could speak more eloquently to how I want to help people and why I wanted to become a coach because, I know how hard it was for me and I just feel like coaches make it easier for people if you find the right coach. There are a million of us out there and it’s just finding one that clicks with you and one that really can listen to your situation and has the means to motivate you. Some coaches out there are going to be more drill sergeant like and then there’s going to be more, you know, I really like to speak to the emotional side of the runner. I really like to speak to the connected side of the runner. I tend to be a little more emotional with my people and I want to dig into their brain and into what they’re thinking when they’re running and how they’re feeling. I think that’s one of my strengths. 

Shayla:

And, really, that’s kind of the biggest hurdle that people face in many ways. You know, anyone, in theory, should be able to work with a coach and follow a subscribed training program to achieve their goals but we know that reality doesn’t often play out that easily. It’s usually the limiting mental beliefs that get in our way. So, yeah, I would definitely say that you have a strong approach there in my opinion. 

Andrea:

Yeah, my hero is Jeff Galloway. He brought running to the masses by bringing run walk run to the forefront of American running. He enabled generations and runners of all abilities to be able to go out and do distance training and I just think that, if we can inspire all different types of athletes, then I’m doing the best job that I can. 

Shayla:

Looking to the future, where do you want to take your journey as a runner?

Andrea:

I think, my goal as a runner is to experience different places through races. I was able to go to Hawaii to the Kauai marathon two years ago in September 2018 and seeing that island on foot was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The beauty that you can see while running somewhere just is mind blowing and there’s something so cool when you connect such a difficult physical race to seeing the scenery and just bringing it all in. The videos and the pictures I took don’t even do it justice. So, I think, my goal as a runner is to experience more of that in more places and more difficult races because Hawaii was incredibly hard. 

I also as a runner want to pace more races. That’s my goal because I think you get to see a grit and determination of athletes during a race that you don’t get to normally see just out on the road running. I think when you get to pace races and you get to cheer people on and you get to really push them and watch that grit really come out, it’s like one of the coolest moments ever. 

Shayla:

Yeah, I love that. Is there any, I guess, one takeaway from today that you’d like the Runner Moms who are listening to hear?

Andrea:

The one thing I always say as a mom is that we have to make sure that our training plans and our goals get to be priority in our lives. I think the hardest part about being a mom is that we’re constantly multi-tasking between careers and parenting and the house and all of my circus of pets. My training plan is usually the first one that gets thrown away. I will avoid my run because I have too much to do. I think that creating consistency for us is like the number one thing that you can do for yourself. Not only for your sanity and for your social time because running is obviously my social hour but just being consistent, that’s how we’re gonna be able to accomplish our goals so much faster. If we stop putting our workouts aside and we really take that time to focus on ourselves. 

Shayla:

Absolutely. Yeah, my run is always the first one to go when things are piling up around the house. And it’s no pressure from anyone else. It’s pressure I put on myself. Like, oh well, I’ll just put mine aside. It’s something that I need to stop doing and I totally agree. 

Andrea:

Consistency is my hardest thing. I can write a plan and I can have it all laid out and I can write it on my planner. It is really, it’s making that commitment, putting on my shoes and just being like, you know what, it can wait, I’ll be back. 

Shayla:

Yep! Well, thank you for sharing your background, your struggles, everything. If anyone wants to connect with you, Andrea, where should they go?

Andrea:

My website is AndreaDellCoaching.com and I am on Instagram @marathoning_mom. 

Shayla: 

Thank you again for sharing your story, Andrea. As I said at the beginning of the episode, it’s just the kick in the pants that I needed to recommit to my running goals and I know that it will be for others who are listening. 

I hope you are as inspired by Andrea’s story as I am. As moms, we often don’t give ourselves credit for our immense strength and for how much we can handle and accomplish. So, get out there and crush those running goals. 

That’s all for today’s show. If you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe to the Runner Moms podcast to get first word when new episodes are released. Until next time, happy running and happy momming.  

Roasted Blueberry Smoothie

Roasted Blueberry Smoothie

Looking to amp up your smoothie game? Look no further than this roasted blueberry smoothie! The roasted blueberries in this smoothie bring a delicious, concentrated fruit flavor that blends perfectly with the smoothie’s other ingredients. Whole milk yogurt, almond milk and Vega Plant Protein Powder round out the flavor profile for a smoothie recipe you’ll want to enjoy again and again.

Roasted Blueberry Smoothie

If you’re looking for a new plant protein powder to try out, we recommend Vega Plant Protein Powder. Some plant protein powders tend to have chalky texture, but the Vega powders blend well for a smooth taste and texture. Their powders do have some added sugars, so we recommend looking over the ingredient label to make sure it matches your nutrient needs. This recipe calls for the vanilla version of Vega’s plant protein powder, but they also offer other flavors, including chocolate, that you can use to fuel your days.

We recommend roasting the blueberries for this blueberry smoothie the night before you plan to make the drink. That way, all the ingredients will be at hand to make the smoothie in no time flat.

Roasted Blueberry Smoothie

This roasted blueberry smoothie is a delicious and nutrient-rich start to any day.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Breakfast
Keyword: blueberries, blueberry, smoothies, whole milk yogurt
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk yogurt
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 scoop Vega vanilla protein powder
  • 6 oz container fresh blueberries

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Arrange the blueberries in a small baking dish.
  • Roast the blueberries for 20 minutes or until their juices flow out and are bubbling. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  • Place the cooled blueberries in a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Add the almond milk, yogurt and protein powder to the blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Divide between glasses and enjoy!

Notes

Roast the blueberries the night before you plan to make the smoothie and store in the fridge in a sealed container.
Our preferred plant protein powder is Vega Plant Protein Powder because it mixes well into smoothies and doesn’t have a chalky taste or texture. Feel free to use your preferred variety of vanilla protein powder. 

Looking for other smoothie and shake recipes to power your days? Check out our popular Power Shake recipe as well as our Almond Banana Smoothie. As always, we’d love to hear how the roasted blueberry smoothie turned out! Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Chickpea Pita with Roasted Veggies and Tzatziki

Chickpea Pita

Fiber. We all need it, but few of us get enough of it. This is a problem, especially for runners. We all know how important it is to stay regular when training for a race or just when trying to feel your best as a mom runner with a busy schedule to maintain. This recipe for roasted vegetable chickpea pita with tzatziki sauce can help you increase your intake of fiber and enjoy all the benefits that come with it. It will also fill your belly with a slew of other wholesome ingredients.

Chickpea Pita

This chickpea pita is a great recipe to prep on the weekend and reheat for an easy grab and go lunch through the workweek. It’s super easy to prepare and any excess tzatziki sauce can be used as a topper for a ton of other meals.

Roasted Vegetable Chickpea Pita

Bring new flavor to lunch this week with this roasted vegetable chickpea pita.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: chickpea, chickpeas, pita, roasted vegetables, tzatziki, vegetables
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 sweet green pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 sweet red pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1/2 English cucumber

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 whole wheat pita pockets

Instructions

Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Place the drained chickpeas, sliced green and red peppers, salt, garlic and olive oil to a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Transfer the chickpeas and peppers to a baking sheet, arranging into a single layer.
  • Roast for 15 minutes or until the edges of the peppers turn golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from the oven and set aside.
  • Peel and remove the seeds from the English cucumber. Cube 1/2 of the cucumber and reserve the other 1/2 for the tzatziki sauce. Set the cubed cucumber aside.

Tzatziki Sauce

  • Cut the reserved 1/2 of the cucumber into small chunks. Add to the bowl of a food processor.
  • Add the salt, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, Greek yogurt and lemon juice to the food processor bowl.
  • Pulse the ingredients until smooth. Transfer to a small mixing bowl, cover and chill until ready to use.

Assembling the Pitas

  • To assemble the pitas, cut the top off of each pita and gentle open each one to create a pocket. Place the pitas in the oven set at 375 degrees F and heat for 3 minutes OR microwave for 30 seconds.
  • To assemble each pita pocket, add layers of the roasted chickpeas and veggies, cubed cucumber and tzatziki sauce until each pita is full. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

Refrigerate the roasted chickpeas and vegetables in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Refrigerate the tzatziki sauce in an airtight container for up to 5 days as well. 

Looking for more easy and delicious lunch recipes to include in your week’s meal prep? Check out our irresistible recipe for Roasted Tomato Ricotta Flatbread. It’s sure to become a new fav in your household! Also, if you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe to the Runner Moms podcast to follow the inspirational stories of the Runner Moms community. The podcast can be found through all of the major podcast players.

How’d the recipe turn out? Let us know by leaving a comment below! Also, connect with other mom runners through the Runner Moms instagram page. Happy running and happy momming!

Runner Moms Podcast | Episode 003

Alison Marie Helms

Acknowledging and healing postpartum challenges: A conversation with Coach Alison Marie Helms.

Running Coach Alison Marie Helms joins Runner Moms Founder Shayla Ebsen on the show to discuss the importance of acknowledging and healing postpartum challenges. Alison discusses the postpartum challenges that she accepted as normal for years until she finally reached a breaking point and took action to heal her body. Alison and Shayla also discuss body image issues and other challenges that runner moms often face.

As a special offer to the Runner Moms community, Alison is offering 10% off her Navigating Postpartum Fitness for Runners course with the coupon code, RunnerMoms. Simply enter the coupon code RunnerMoms during the checkout process on her website.

Support the Runner Moms Podcast: https://www.patreon.com/RunnerMoms

Episode Highlights:

Alison first began running with her mom when she was 10 years old. Her competitive nature inspired her to run track through middle and high school. After taking a hiatus from running in undergrad, Alison returned to the sport in grad school where she began writing training plans for her friends.

Alison’s background in engineering and teaching influences her approach to coaching. She focuses on breaking training programs down to the essential elements and offers easy-to-follow, step-by-step plans that are designed to help mom runners achieve their goals and heal their bodies in the postpartum stage of their lives.

She views postpartum running as an opportunity to slow down and start tuning into the body’s little signs when you’re running that runners often choose to ignore, and become a stronger runner because of it.

As a mom of two, Alison talks through the differences between her postpartum journeys with each of her children. She also discusses the problems with incontinence that she faced after her first pregnancy and the actions she took to heal her body several years later.

Alison is offering 10% off her Navigating Postpartum Fitness for Runners course with the coupon code, RunnerMoms. Simply enter the coupon code RunnerMoms during the checkout process on her website: https://alisonmariephd.vipmembervault.com/af/93690270/1034083

Connect with Coach Alison Marie Helms:

Instagram: AlisonMariePhD
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alisonmariephd
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXMiztbXsBOTn9k-NaD6RVQ
Website: https://www.alisonmariephd.com

Episode Transcript:

Introduction:

Welcome to the Runner Moms Podcast where we help women embrace their inner strength, take time for themselves and lead healthier lives. So, settle in and soak up some inspiration. Then rise, lace up those running shoes and embrace your inner strength because, momma, you run this world. 

Shayla:

Hello Runner Moms! I’m Shayla Ebsen, Founder of the Runner Moms community. Joining me on the show today is Alison Marie Helms. She’s a Postpartum Fitness and Running Coach as well as the creator of the Navigating Postpartum Fitness for Runners Course.

As a National Academy of Sports Medicine Pre and Postnatal Certified Personal Trainer and Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist, Alison has helped countless busy moms crush the overwhelm by using a simple, step-by-step formula to regain control over their bodies and lives so they can meet the challenges of motherhood. She’s been featured in a variety of media outlets including FitFluential and SHAPE magazine.

In addition to her fitness certification and expertise, Alison holds a Doctorate in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Tech. She has taught everything from sixth grade through collegiate level engineering courses. Her efficient scientific approach and passion for teaching shines through in her coaching programs.

Alison has so much great, actionable advice that I can’t wait to share with you. With that, welcome to the Runner Moms podcast, Alison!

Alison:

Thank you!

Shayla:

Yeah, I’m so excited to have you on the show! Just to get started, do you just want to give us a little background about yourself? Maybe where you live, your professional background, how many kids you have? All those important details.

Alison:

I live in South Carolina now but I’m not a southern native. I’m from Massachusetts originally. I moved to the south to Georgia for grad school at Georgia Tech. I have a background in engineering, so it was a big pivot, or small pivot if you look at the science behind training and the strategy, they’re all related. But I came down for grad school in engineering with this, “I’m gonna move back as soon as I’m done mentality”, and now I’ve been here for almost 15 years. And I don’t plan on moving back! The ability to run year-round without trudging through the snow, that, it had me. 

I have two kids, two boys, a seven-year-old and an almost seven-month-old, which I can’t believe. It’s flying by. It has been interesting, the second time around. Doing it only from home with nobody else around, it has been weird. 

My background in training: I started as a personal trainer about six years ago and I’ve been coaching moms exclusively pretty much the entire time but it has evolved into really focusing on that newer postpartum area within the last two years. 

Shayla:

I can’t wait to dive into all of those details about your business and your coaching here in just a little bit. To start us off, do you just want to tell us a little bit about your journey as a runner? Maybe, when you first started running and what your running journey looked like up until you became a mom seven years ago?

Alison:

I started running with my mom actually when I was 10 or 11. She was running for more of like a social thing that she did with her friends and started inviting me to come on runs. I ran my first long distance race the, Falmouth Road Race for those of you who are familiar with it. It’s a big race up north which was about 7.2 miles when I was 11. So, I have been into it pretty much my entire life. I ran track, was on the cross-country team, all those things. Took a little bit of a hiatus from it in undergrad, just busy with schoolwork and I mentioned the winters in New England were crushing that. In high school I was kind of able to take a break from running in the wintertime because I also did gymnastics, so it was kind of a good flip and something else to do when it was way too cold out. 

Took a little break from it in undergrad and then once I got into grad school, I started running. I had never really done a race longer than 7 miles before then, but some friends convinced me to sign up for a half marathon. I thought I’d try it once but, it’s one of those things, it’s just kind of addicting. So, I did another and another but with the mentality that I’m never going to run a marathon. I’m only going to do a half marathon. And then you get that itch. So, I was like, ok, I’ll try a marathon and I did one and my time was pretty close to qualifying for Boston but not quite. So, then I was like, well, now I’m going to do another one and I’m going to try to qualify for Boston and it just kind of spiraled out of control from there!

I did end up qualifying for Boston. I’ve run that twice now and it’s just one of those experiences. Someday, I will be back. But, then I had a baby and the longest race that I’ve done since then is a half marathon. The time it takes to train for a marathon is definitely doable as a mom but it’s just not one of my priorities right now. I’m staying more with the shorter races, working in some spartan because strength training has been a new love of mine over the past six or seven years. 

Shayla:

What years did you run Boston?

Alison:

2010 and 2011.

Shayla:

Awesome! Going back for just a bit to when you first started running, kind of from the spurring of your mom, did she grow up as a runner?

Alison:

No. She might kill me for telling you this! She came from a really large family. She’s the oldest of 11. Her brothers were very athletic and they got all of the attention from dad because of their athletics. So, she tried track in high school, sort of because of that, but never really loved it as a sport so much as just a source of friendships, consistency with fitness sort of thing. So, my evolution with running has been a lot different than hers because I am super competitive with it and she definitely did not get that, or I definitely did not get that gene from her!

Shayla:

Do you have any best memories of running with her when you were young?

Alison:

This is going to sound bad too, but my best memories are the times when I was faster than her! Because, again, the aforementioned competitiveness! But, no, it was just something to do where we could connect. I don’t have any specific memories of a moment or a day. I’m the oldest of three. She worked full-time, two other kids, it was just that one thing that just me and her did together with, not the other ones. 

Shayla:

I think that’s awesome. Our daughter is seven and I’ve been trying to take her out on runs here and there. I can see there is a little bit of a spark there. Just something kind of special that hopefully builds some good memories. I just think that’s awesome that she did that with you. 

Well, let’s focus for a bit on when you first became a mom. Going back seven years ago, what did your life look like as a new mom both career-wise and fitness-wise? And maybe tell us a little about the journey of regaining your fitness postpartum.

Alison:

Wow, there’s a lot to unpack there! When I first became a mom, I mentioned I had a background in engineering but, from there, I went into teaching as a public-school teacher, middle and high school. So, I took a year off from that when my son was born. He was born in the summer, so it was just kind of a natural transition. Finished the school year and took the next school year off. So, I stayed home with him. That first year was great to spend time with him but also incredibly lonely and I think that running was the only thing that I had. Also, at the same time, it’s also probably not something that I should have been doing. 

So, after I had him, I just needed to get back out and start running. It was my thing that made me feel like me. It was the source of most of my friendships at the time through Moms Run This Town or now it’s called She Runs this Town. I went back into running at a little over seven weeks postpartum and I peed my pants pretty much the entire time and I continued to do it. I incorporated strength training while I was saying home with him. That year was actually when I got my personal training certification. I dabbled in it. I wrote training plans for many of my friends before that, but I wasn’t an official trainer, so I got certified. Through that, I worked in more strength training. Before that, I used to just run and nothing else. But, worked in some strength training. 

It got better. I got stronger as a runner. But, it really took me years to realize that it was a problem that I probably should pay a little more attention to fixing. I think that is such the runner mentality. Just run through it. Just go. This little thing hurts, this thing is wrong, but it’s not that big of a deal. I can do it. I can push through. 

I just hit a wall with it. I was running a race with my husband almost six years postpartum. So, there is a lot in between but, just to kind of wrap up the postpartum journey with when I actually did something about it. I was doing this race and I was going pretty fast. We were running on a team and I was feeling like I could be the first female finisher on the team and then I hit a downhill. With every step, I was just peeing my pants. Through this race, I was booking it on the flats, booking it passing all these people on the uphills and then had to walk the downhills. And it was, just so incredibly frustrating. I needed to do something about this. 

That’s when I finally got into the more postpartum focused fitness. I went and got a postpartum corrective exercise specialist and really dove into all of the things that I really probably should have been doing from the beginning. It’s so much more than just core and pelvic floor. Everything in my hips was off. Now, I look back on it and I didn’t really realize it at the time. Postpartum symptoms are not just pelvic floor, peeing your pants. It was the hip pains I had, the low back pain, the stress in my neck and shoulders. It was all related to what I didn’t do and what I should have done postpartum before getting back into running or with getting back into running. 

Now, I look back on it. It was interesting, I mentioned I ran Boston before having children. Randomly, I got an email from Boston Marathon with marathon photos a couple of weeks ago with all of the pictures from my 2011 race. I looked at her. I looked at her stride and the muscle definition in her legs and, I’m like, given the time to train, I feel like I could smoke her now, which was a really cool feeling. 

I’ve adopted this mindset now and I talk about it a lot. Postpartum running is really an opportunity to stop and slow down and start tuning into all of those little signs that your body gives you when you’re running that we as runners completely choose to ignore, and become a stronger runner because of it. 

Shayla:

Absolutely. I love what you said about looking back and you know that you could smoke her now. I think so much strength comes with being a mother that we don’t give ourselves credit for. Yeah, if we just pause and tune into ourselves and our bodies, I mean, we could find so much power and do so many great things. 

When you had that realization that this wasn’t working and that something needed to change, what were those steps that you started taking, those corrective actions to overcome the issues that you were facing?

Alison:

The very first thing that I did, and I would recommend this to all women who have had a baby, is, I went and saw a pelvic floor physical therapist. They were able to help me uncover where my weaknesses were. I remember the first time. It was a very humbling experience because I felt like I was very strong, and they found all the parts of me that weren’t. I left in tears after the first time, I’m going to be honest. But, that’s when I started to adopt that opportunity mindset. Yeah, it sucked to have pointed out all of these places where I wasn’t strong but then I was able to work on them. 

The main things for me, and I think it’s really common for runners, we worry about pelvic floor weakness in postpartum time. But, a lot of times, it can be pelvic floor tightness, or an overworked pelvic floor and the latter is a lot more common with runners. It definitely was part of my problem. My pelvic floor was tight. It was overworked, just because my glutes weren’t really doing their job and the balance in my hips. So, I spent a lot of time focusing on strengthening that part of my body. I used to kind of joke that I was born with no butt. Flat – thanks, mom! 

There are some women who have the nice, round bottom and I’m just flat as a board back there! It was, again, just another one of those things where I just thought, “yep, this is my life so I’m just going to accept it”. But, in reality, there’s something I could have done about it. Not just for the aesthetics, and I wasn’t going to do it for the aesthetics because I didn’t care that much, but when I knew that it was affecting my running, that’s when I was like, “ohhhh, glutes are important! More, than just how they look”. Everything became glute focused and balancing around my hips. Then just getting as strong as I possibly could in that part of my body and core, obviously. 

Shayla:

You’re now six months postpartum with your second child. What would you say are the main differences in this postpartum journey and your first one?

Alison:

A lot! On the fitness side of it, the main difference was I came at this with a strategy. With an understanding that, I want to run again as soon as possible, but these are the things that I need to do first. So, I really focused on checking through that strategy first. Re-establishing my breathing and the connection with my core and pelvic floor. Doing those exercises even at two weeks postpartum. It’s simple just lying there on the floor while attempting tummy time with the baby. Then, strategically kind of relaxing the muscles that get amped up during pregnancy – hip flexors and low back – while trying to strengthen my core. 

Once I was cleared for exercise, it was right back at that focusing on getting strong and balanced in my hip musculature before I even thought about running. I waited until 10 weeks postpartum this time, which I say with a little hesitation because the general guidelines do recommend 12 weeks postpartum is when you start with running. But, the coronavirus and just everything going on, I got to the point where I just needed to get out of the house alone and just run. The other change instead of just going out and running a couple of slow miles was I started with run/walk intervals. I think that was a huge piece to getting back to running stronger because it really allows you, in those short amounts of time, to really tune in with your body. The biggest thing postpartum this time versus last is I have been practicing, I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered it, checking my ego. When my body is telling me that it’s not the right thing to do, ignoring that mentality that I developed over almost three decades of, just do it. Instead, just don’t do it. Focus on what my body really needs at the time. 

Shayla:

Absolutely. Really, I think that’s a particular struggle for moms because we push through so many things in life. If we aren’t feeling well but the kids aren’t feeling well, we focus on the kids and we push through our own pain. You have to tune into your body if you want to be a strong runner for life. You just have to tune in and pay attention to those cues and avoid those injuries. 

Alison:

Yeah, like you said, it’s not just a runner thing. It’s a mom thing too. Then, when you’re a runner mom, man, that mentality is hard to get over. 

Shayla:

Mmm-hmm. Let’s turn for a little bit and talk about your coaching business. You started out as a chemical engineer and transitioned into being a fitness coach. Can you talk us through what spurred that transition and how does your background as a scientist inform or influence your approach as a coach?

Alison:

It’s funny that you asked that because I’ve actually been reflecting on this moment a lot recently. I have this vivid memory from grad school of walking back from the gym after class and talking with my best friend. My running friend at the time. I was making plans for some of the other runner friends that I had met in research groups. Just loving getting to nerd out on the strategy of it all and I said to her, ‘it would be so cool if I could just do this for my job’. At the time, I was super fed up with grad school at the time too because it just gets old after a while. We both just kind of laughed it off like, ‘you’re here getting your PhD in chemical engineering and you want to write running training plans’. Now, I’m here doing that and yeah, that is really what I wanted to do with my life. It just took me a while to get here!

So, I didn’t actually go directly from engineering to coaching fitness. I went into teaching first. So, I just decided that I didn’t really want to be in academic research. I really like the coaching and teaching aspect of what I did as a grad student. I started as a teaching assistant and I just loved that mentorship place. That role. So, it evolved into wanting to go into teaching. So, I applied for Teach for America after grad school and I was placed to teach sixth grade science in inner city Atlanta which was a very large jump from teaching engineering classes at a big research university. But, I actually loved it. Through that, I started coaching a girls’ running program, Girls on the Run. I was kind of marrying together all of the things that I loved to do. 

In that year off from teaching after I had my son, I really focused on making the fitness side of it more official. I became a certified fitness trainer and just started training on the side from there because I still taught after having my son for a couple more years. I just trained on the side and then I made it my full-time business online when we decided to live in our RV and travel for two years. So, I had to pull the plug on teaching, and, in some ways, it was the thing that made me pull the plug on teaching and go all in on my coaching business. So that was the time that I officially, completely transitioned. That was probably about two years into being a personal trainer already.

To answer the question of how it all influences the way I coach, I think both my teaching experience and my science and engineering background significantly influence the way I coach. Everything is very organized into smaller bite-size pieces. Nothing I do is just like, ‘here, do these exercises’. I’m educating you on your body and why you need to do these exercises. Where you should be feeling these exercises. When you’ve mastered these exercises, where do you go from here so that you can take ownership of it yourself. I think that really comes from being a teacher and wanting to teach you how to do it instead of just give you exercises to do.

The engineering side, it’s all strategy for me. People used to ask what I did as a chemical engineer. The questions I always got were if I made drugs or if I made bombs. Well, neither, personally. A chemical engineer really is taking chemistry and physics and making the processes as efficient as possible. That’s the mentality that I take to fitness. I take all of the information and all of the body science of it and I break it down to the simplest form of what actually works so that it’s packaged in a form that you can do it one step at a time. 

Shayla:

And that’s what moms need, right? I mean, we’re so overwhelmed with everything in our lives! Just break it down for me. Tell me what I need to do in an efficient manner and, yeah, absolutely. 

Looking at your role as a coach for moms. A bit ago, you talked about the fitness challenges that you faced. Are there any similar challenges that you see moms just accepting as part of their lives now, maybe because of embarrassment about vocalizing the challenges they’re facing or because, maybe they think ‘well, this is just how my body is now’?

Alison:

Yes. So many different things and on so many different levels. Starting with the incontinence. There are so many jokes made about it. You know, the peeing when you sneeze and peeing when you run and just accepting it as what’s normal. It’s totally common but the saying in the women’s health industry is common but not normal. I don’t like that either because I don’t like to be called not normal. I say common but not something you have to accept as your new normal and that you can do something about it. It’s not something that you just have to accept but it’s also not something that’s really that big of a deal. Whatever, I’ll change my underwear when I’m done running. People just kind of go past it. But that’s not the only postpartum symptom for runners. Incontinence for one but it can be pelvic pain, hip pain, foot pain, knee pain, low back pain or pain in your shoulders. 

All of those things can be related to pregnancy and, a lot of times, it’s a very simple fix once you take the time to do it. But that’s the whole postpartum mom mentality problem in general. We’re so busy doing the next thing and the next thing and there are so many things that I should already be doing. I already feel like I’m not doing enough. How can I possibly take more time to do this other thing even if this other thing might make my life easier in the long run? We just go through the motions in everything. I’m using running and fitness as examples but, in so many parts of our lives, we need to stop doing that for just a minute to reset and see what really matters. 

Shayla:

Yeah, I mean personally as a mom, my life gets so wrapped up in the routines of my children sometimes that I just put myself off to the side and don’t notice what’s going on with my mind and body and all of that other stuff. I just hope that the listeners and others who are maybe struggling with postpartum challenges that they hear your message that it could really be a simple fix. You don’t have to keep struggling with this. Just tune into your body and take the steps to correct and figure out. Yeah, I think that’s great advice. 

Alison:

For most people, fixing the way they breathe, which is something that you do all day every day, just taking a couple of minutes every day, can get you, I can’t put a number on it, but I always say, like 90% of the way. Depending on the needs of your body, maybe more or less. Breathing deeply really is the foundation of it all. It’s something that we do all day every day anyway, so why not just take a minute to figure out and tune in with it.

Shayla:

And that’s even something you can do with your children. I think that’s an important skill to teach your children. It can help with anxiety. It can help with so many things. Kind of doing it as a family. 

Alison:

Yes, I definitely have taught my son breathing. Keep breathing. Just breathe! In through your nose and out through your mouth. 

Shayla:

Let’s turn now to the mom who has just a baby. She’s overwhelmed with everything but wants to reclaim her body and her fitness. Do you have any tips for those moms on even where to begin when everything already feels so heavy?

Alison:

Start small. Very almost like stupidly small. Moms who were athletes or really into fitness before I think really struggle with this the most because, in their head, they think of all of things that they used to do or feel like they should do because it’s what they used to do. Life is completely different now. You can and you will be able to do most of those things, if not all of those them and, if not more, someday. But right now, you have to lead with what you actually know you can do. It starts with fueling that consistency and momentum and motivation. I hear a lot of moms say that they’re just not motivated because they used to feel motivated and now they don’t. 

Motivation doesn’t exist. Motivation is momentum. It’s consistency. So, it’s starting with 10 minutes here. Or 5 minutes there. It’s super small first no matter what. You can not do more without doing less first and building the momentum with that. Whether that’s going for a walk. Whether that’s devoting 5 minutes a day to laying on the floor and breathing. Whether that’s just 15 minutes of standing doing hip circles or just something to make a promise to yourself that you know that you can stick to. Once you do that, you will feel more confident. Then you can do the next thing. But, starting with the smallest possible promise is what you need to do to get moving. 

Shayla:

Yes, I love that. And just including your own needs in the priorities of the household. Yeah, 100 percent. 

Alison:

Even if it’s just making sure you’re hydrated. That’s huge. 

Shayla:

For years after having my first child, I felt so uncomfortable in my new body of motherhood. I just wanted so much to return to my pre-motherhood body, but I just felt defeated every time I looked in the mirror. I know a lot of moms struggle with that. Do you have any tips for moms who are facing this inner conflict?

Alison:

This is a part of my coaching and my own mentality that I’ve struggled with for a while. I used to give tips to help with the weight loss and altering your body and what you need to do to help flatten your stomach. But, I choose not to participate in that part of the fitness world any more. Because I think, even with trying to help, we’re placing impossible expectations on many new moms. 

That’s not to say that you can’t be comfortable in your body anymore. It’s more to say that, you will never be comfortable or never feel at home in a body that you want to change. That you feel is temporary. So, I think it’s more about embracing your body and focusing on the needs of your body and what you can do with your body than it is about what your body looks like. I just want more moms to think about it that way. And I know it is so hard to do and it’s super hard for me. Still, I catch myself checking out my stomach in the mirror and I’m like grabbing onto the excess skin and fat and I want it to be gone. But, at the same time, I ask, ‘ok, where are these thoughts coming from’? Are they my own or are they put here, you know, from the outside pressures? I’m really starting to pick that apart. 

I read this quote. I can’t remember it exactly and I wish I had written it down exactly. But, it said, the only way to life on this earth is through the body of a mother. And, if you are focused on losing the inches and losing the pounds and going back to what you looked like before that, you’re diminishing the immense power that that really is. And, I’m trying to really embrace that myself. Again, I know it’s super hard but, as a fitness professional, it’s a weird line to walk that I’m still kind of struggling with as well. 

Shayla:

Yeah, I love that quote. I’m three kids in now, so I think my mindset as evolved over time to more focus on, when I look in the mirror and I slip into that mindset of not being happy with this or that, I just pause and think, ‘well this body gave me these three kids and, in so many ways, I’m so much stronger than I ever was before I had kids so I’m just gonna choose to accept that this will never be as it was before but, in many ways, it’s so much better’. That has kind of helped me. 

Let’s focus for a bit on talking about your Navigating Postpartum Fitness for Runners course. What inspired you to create the course and, maybe tell us a little about what’s included in it? 

Alison:

So, I mentioned that I coached exclusively online for a long time and I just finally settled in South Carolina and I was going to get back into in-person training. I had set up this workshop called Navigating Postpartum Fitness that I had sold tickets for in-person. It was going to be my first thing back that I did after having my son and the first thing I did after coming back from maternity leave. It was a pet project that I had been working on for a really long time, but I felt like, to do the workshop justice, I needed to be in postpartum too because it had been so long. So, I had all the science and the strategy down, but I needed to be in the mindset of it when I created it. 

I had this workshop, tickets sold, and then the coronavirus happened, and I was like, ‘Rreally?!’ The first in-person thing that I going to do in over three years. So, I flipped it to an online workshop. We met through Zoom. I went through it with a cohort of a handful of moms once and then again and again. Through that, I molded it into what it is now as a self-paced course that, whenever a mom needs it, they can go in and work through the modules. 

It’s all the pieces that we’ve talked about that moms need over the past bit of our conversation. It’s the constant reminder to give yourself grace with the strategy of one small step at a time. Focusing on that opportunity mindset and doing the thing that you can do right now so that you can run with confidence when your body is ready. 

Shayla:

That’s so amazing that you were able to pivot and still bring the course to life and bring it into the world even in the midst of coronavirus. I think that’s really awesome. 

Alison:

Yeah, so it’s funny. Because I was coaching online for so long, I feel like, in some ways, it actually ended up as a better program because I did it online again. Because it’s what I was comfortable with. The way I organize everything and present everything, the teacher in me, it fits better with the online course platform, I think. 

Shayla:

If you want to learn more about Alison’s Navigating Postpartum Fitness for Runners course, you can find a quick link to the course description in this episode’s show notes. I’m also very excited to share that, as a special gift to you as this show’s listeners, Alison is offering 10 percent off her course with the coupon code, RunnerMoms. Simply enter the coupon code RunnerMoms – all one word – during the checkout process on her website. I’ll add those details as well as the coupon code in this episode’s show notes for easy reference.  

Thank you so much for joining me on the show today, Alison. I really enjoyed our conversation and know that the Runner Moms community is going to get a lot of value out of the wealth of actionable tips that you provided. 

If others want to connect with you, where should they go?

Alison:

You can find me, it’s AlisonMariePhD. That’s my thing everywhere – Facebook, Instagram and my website, alisonmariephd.com. 

Shayla:

I’ll include links with all of those ways to connect with Alison in the episode’s show notes. Well, thank you again for joining us on the show today, Alison. I can’t wait to release this episode and have a great weekend!

Alison:

Thank you so much for having me!

Shayla:

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Runner Moms podcast. Be sure to also head over to our website Runner Moms dot com for more inspiring stories and also to check out our collection of energizing recipes. Until next time, happy running and happy momming. 

Roasted Tomato Ricotta Flatbread

Roasted Tomato Ricotta Flatbread

Few things ignite your senses and warm the home better than the smell of roasted tomatoes and herbs. With just a few simple ingredients, this roasted tomato ricotta flatbread offers a soul-filling flavor that you’ll want to enjoy again and again.

This roasted tomato ricotta flatbread only requires a few minutes of prep time and the tomatoes can be left to roast while you go about your day. Feel free to experiment with other herbs in the roasted tomatoes such as oregano. The ricotta spread includes a vibrant flavor combo of lemon and chives that pairs perfectly with the roasted tomatoes. Pile it all atop your fav flatbread (we prefer whole wheat).

Prep the recipe’s ingredients on the weekend and enjoy a week full of delicious, pre-made lunches. Simply re-heat the tomatoes and warm the flatbread in the oven for the few minutes, assemble the flatbreads, and fill your belly in no time. Store the lemon herb ricotta and roasted tomatoes in separate containers in the fridge for up to four days.

Roasted Tomato Ricotta Flatbread

Enjoy the delicious flavor combination of this roasted tomato ricotta flatbread.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: flatbread, ricotta cheese, roasted tomatoes, tomato ricotta, tomatoes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Roasted Tomatoes

  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes fresh
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt

Lemon Herb Ricotta

  • 15 oz container of whole milk Ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped

Flatbread

  • 4 flatbread rounds

Instructions

Roasted Tomatoes

  • Preheat oven to 375 F.
  • Arrange the cherry tomatoes in a single layer in a baking dish. Add the olive oil, garlic, herbs and salt and stir to coat the tomatoes.
  • Roast for 1 hour, stirring occassionally.
  • Remove from oven. Using a slotted spoon, lift the tomatoes from the juice and transfer to a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

Lemon Herb Ricotta

  • Place the ricotta, lemon juice, salt and chives in a small mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Flatbread

  • Warm the flatbread pieces in the oven for 5 minutes OR microwave for 30 seconds.
  • Spread a few spoonfuls of the lemon herb ricotta over the top of each flatbread.
  • Add a few spoonfuls of the roasted tomatoes (still warm) over the top of the ricotta on each flatbread. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

Store the lemon herb ricotta and roasted tomatoes in separate containers in the fridge for up to 4 days. 

Looking for more easy lunch recipes for runners to include in this week’s meal plans? Warm up with the inviting aroma and delicious flavors of our Acorn Squash and Chicken Harvest soup. Our recipe for Artichoke Hummus with Roasted Veggies is another must-try lunch recipe.

We’d love to know how the roasted tomato ricotta flatbread turned out! Let us know by leaving a comment below. Also, feel free to share your other fav lunch recipes for runners with the Runner Moms community.

Runner Moms Podcast | Episode 002

Runner Mom Katie Camus

Finding purpose and positivity after the loss of a loved one.

#002: Katie Camus is now raising four kids on her own after her husband Jake passed away earlier this year. Her late husband was an ultrarunner and, as she puts it, he lived to run. Katie began running after her husband’s death to try and learn what he loved about the sport. She is also using her journey of becoming a runner and emerging from grief to spread light and positivity. Be sure to have some tissues nearby because this episode brings all the feels!

Episode Highlights:

  • Katie shares her and her husband’s relationship story. She also shares details on who Jake was and what led to his passing earlier this year. Jake was an ultrarunner and as Katie puts it, he lived life to the fullest. She didn’t understand what he loved so much about running but has taken up the sport after his death.
  • Katie discusses what spurred her to begin running and what running has brought her through this season of grief in her life. 
  • Before her husband’s passing, Katie said that she had never fully lived her life with purpose. Her main focus now is on getting the most out of life, living with purpose and choosing to focus on the positives of each day rather than the negatives. She’s teaching her children to do the same. 
  • Life is short and no one knows how much time they have left. Katie encourages other moms to also focus on getting the most out of this life. Take the trip. Go on that long run. Don’t wait to pursue your goals. 

Connect with Katie:

Support the Runner Moms Podcast: https://www.patreon.com/RunnerMoms

Episode Transcript

Introduction:

Welcome to the Runner Moms Podcast where we help women embrace their inner strength, take time for themselves and lead healthier lives. So, settle in and soak up some inspiration. Then rise, lace up those running shoes and embrace your inner strength because, momma, you run this world. 

Shayla:

Hello Runner Moms! Shayla here, I’m the founder of the Runner Moms community and I’m thrilled to have you joining me for today’s show. The story within this episode truly embodies many of the reasons why I launched this community. This podcast is about so much more than running. My mission with the Runner Moms podcast is to connect with other moms and bring forward their struggles and triumphs with the hope that their stories will serve as inspirations to you. 

Today’s guest is Katie Camus. She’s a widow and is now raising four kids on her own. Her late husband was an ultrarunner and, as she puts it, he lived to run. Katie began running after her husband’s death to try and learn what he loved about the sport. She is also using her journey of becoming a runner and emerging from grief to spread light and positivity. 

I know that this is going to be one of those conversations that sticks with me and with everyone listening. 

Katie, welcome to the Runner Moms podcast. 

Katie:

Thank you so much for having me! I’m so excited!

Shayla:

Yes! I’m so excited to have you on the podcast and, as I said just a moment ago, this is going to be one of those conversations that is just really impactful. So, I do appreciate you joining us today. 

I guess, to jump into things, you’re a busy mom with four kiddos. What are their ages?

Katie:

I have a 13-year-old daughter. I have a seven-year-old son, an almost six-year-old daughter and then my littlest daughter is almost two. 

Shayla:

Oh nice! So, we have three. We’re kind of in the same board where, at some point, we’ll have one in elementary, one in high school and one in middle school. 

Katie:

I just realized, when my baby goes to kindergarten, my oldest will go to college. That was one of those ‘oh, wow’ moments!

Shayla:

You can have the college age kid come back and help out with the little one. Babysitter! Right? There are benefits there.

Katie:

Yes! Absolutely, yeah, it’s a fun but chaotic way to have kids spread out. 

Shayla:

I always say there are pros and cons to both, whether having them spread out or close together so you just have to roll with what you have. So, tell us a little about yourself outside of your role as a mother. Maybe where you live, what you do, and anything else you want to share. 

Katie:

Yeah! So, I live in northwest Indiana. We’re about 45 minutes outside of Chicago. I live in a small town that has been just wonderful. It’s just a great place to raise kids and we just have this awesome neighborhood that we live in. 

I actually run a nonprofit here. It’s based in my hometown. I’m the executive director there and we actually provide housing and programming to homeless pregnant women. It’s awesome work. I always say I have a dream job and I’ll probably never leave unless they make me, and I might not leave after that! The work is great and the people I work with are incredible. It’s just like soul-filling work so you never feel like you’re dreading getting up and going to work in the morning. There is always something new coming—new projects to work on and new agencies to work with to really try and help these moms to better their lives and gain their independence back and that’s pretty great. So, I do that, and I coach softball and I cheer on baseball from the stands. Just everywhere, all of the time!

Shayla:

I can imagine, yeah! Constantly running. 

Katie:

One of the best parts about my job is that it’s super flexible and I work remotely a lot. So, it makes life so much easier. 

Shayla:

Oh yeah, I can imagine. You have to have that. I mean, when your kids are involved in activities, just the normal daily life of school and then activities on top of that. Yeah, you need that flexibility. 

Well, let’s turn for a bit to you and your husband. Could you tell us maybe how you met and a little about your relationship story?

Katie:

Sure, so him and I met—his name is Jake—we met in middle school. He was actually my best friend in middle school. We were kind of inseparable from the time we were 11 until he passed away earlier this year. We just had the same group of friends and hung out all through middle and high school. He pretty much lived at my house during different parts of our lives while we were growing up. 

I kind of went off and did the college thing and had lost touch for about a year or so and then we were actually both at an awards ceremony for our siblings who graduated two years after us. It was like we saw each other and it was like a day hadn’t passed since we had been together. At that point, we kind of started dating and three kids later we got married! Then, I looked at him one day and said, “we should have another baby.” He’s looking at me like I’m insane. I said, “I just want to know what it’s like at the hospital when everybody has the same last name.” He just started laughing and, well, we had another baby and it was no different. They treat you the same no matter what! 

I always say that she’s the baby we didn’t know we needed. She’s like the best combination of everybody in the household and she just brings this new light and lightness to our lives. And, we’re just us. I don’t know. I just wrote an article for a magazine recently and I was kind of telling our story and I love it. It’s so similar to a lot of like high school sweethearts but we weren’t. My mom told me, I think we were probably 12 or 13 and she said, “You’re going to marry him one day. You need to marry your best friend!” And I was like, you’re out of your mind woman! I don’t want to marry him! I have no interest in him! Then, at our wedding, I’m like, “Ok, ok, I see you.”

Shayla:

Alright, fine. You got me!

Katie:

You’re right. I’ll tell you you’re right this one time!

Shayla:

When you talk about your last child that you had, that’s totally our third. He’s definitely the child we never knew we needed. We call him our voice of reason in our household. He brings some calm to the chaos. 

Katie:

Everyone’s like, “She’s so well behaved.” And I’m like, “Well, she doesn’t have a choice!” She’s just kind of carted around where everybody else is. 

Shayla:

She’s dazed from the older siblings fighting! At least that’s how it is in our household. 

Well, could you introduce us a bit to your husband? Maybe talk a bit about what he enjoyed doing and a little about who he was?

Katie: 

Yeah, absolutely. So, he enjoyed everything. We’re doing this run coming up and it’s called Pushing the Limits because that was my husband in every sense of his life. It was zero to 100 on everything he ever did. He loved running. He got into that probably the last three or four years. But, before that, he loved basketball and football, and he loved coaching our kids. He really loved just kind of laying on the couch watching TV and cuddling with our kids. I always said that was his home moment. Like where everything was kind of calm and he loved watching like old TV shows and old movies with our kids. I think that’s probably what they miss the most because I’m not one to sit down and watch a whole lot of TV. My six-year-old said the other night, “Can we just have a movie night?” And I’m like, “Yeah.” She said, “I just want to cuddle on the couch.”

He was just that balancing force in our house. He was the calm. For as outgoing and personable as he was, he made friends everywhere. I couldn’t even send him to the grocery store to get like one thing I needed for dinner because he’d be gone for an hour. And, I’m like, “We live two miles from the grocery store! What happened?” And he was like, “I ran into this guy that used to come and see me at work.” And I’m like, “Ok, I’m just gonna go next time because now dinner is done and I haven’t finished making it!”

He made everybody feel like they were the only person in the room when he talked to them. He had this really unique way of listening to people. Even if he could care less about what they were saying or have any interest in the subject they were talking about, he made them feel like they were it. That he was totally invested one hundred percent of the time. There wasn’t a joke he wouldn’t laugh at. There wasn’t somebody he couldn’t make small talk with. He just really made you feel like you were his absolute favorite person and he did that with everyone he met. And I think that is probably the one thing I miss the most. That he could just have that ability to make everybody feel so special. That’s a hard thing to find in people just in general. To find people who are truly interested and invested in other people. Whether they were two or 92, he just really took the time and had so much patience with people and that’s why everybody liked him and wanted to be around him because it was just this love that he exerted. I always say, you never guessed or wondered if he loved you. He loved so hard that it was never a question. It was this palpable thing in the air that you could just feel which was just amazing. 

I had somebody ask me one day how the kids were doing. And I said, “Strangely enough, they’re really well adjusted.” I think it’s because we told them after he passed, “You’re so lucky to have had a dad that loved you so much in the short time whether it was 13 years or two years. So many kids don’t get that in a lifetime and you had that so hard all the time.” I think that they really do know that, and it sits well with their soul. So, they never had to question that. 

But, yeah, the last couple of years, he loved running. He’s completely insane and he just decided one day that he’s going to do this ultrarun. And, I was like, “What are you talking about?” And he was like, “Oh, I’m just gonna do this run with these guys from work.” And I’m like, “Ok.” And he’s like, “Well I need this and I need that.” I’m just like being the naggy wife asking, “How is this run costing you $700 in stuff?”

Then, he left, and he did the run over the weekend. I’ll never forget him telling me the story about it. He said, “We did the run and it was awful and amazing. There are just these people. You just don’t understand the people that are at these kinds of events. They are just incredible people. People that you want to be around. It was like this energy and this good vibe. We ran this 50k and then we went back to our hotel room and I’m just not really sure what happened the next 18 hours. I remember waking up at some point in this dark hotel room and there was just like a lamp on and this guy was just eating pizza in the dark by the light of this lamp. I had no idea what time it was because the room was pitch black. Then we just got up and drove home the next day.”

I remember him not running for a good four or six weeks after that race. He didn’t train. I think he probably ran a total of 15 miles before he did this ultrarace. And I laugh about it because I’m like, “Who does that?”

Shayla:

Oh my gosh. I have to say that sounds exactly like my husband when he ran his first marathon. It was very last minute. It was a group run. The teammate dropped out, so they needed someone to fill in and they called on my husband. He was like, “Yeah, I’ll do it.” He had never run more than two or three miles at a time before that and he just jumped in and ran 26 miles. At one point I saw him, and it looked like he was bleeding from the eyes. Like, not good! Don’t do that!

Katie:

Yes! I just remember not wanting to talk to him for a few days after that run. I’m like, I’ve never felt like that about you in our lives. He was so happy and proud of himself but, like, by the time he got home that weekend, I think he was so physically defeated that he didn’t know what to do with himself. So, after that, he started running on a consistent basis. You know, after his ultramarathon. He would always laugh because he’d always pick the funniest times to run. We went out to dinner with his parents and his aunt for dinner in a town like probably, it was a 15-mile run. He was like, “Oh, I’m just gonna run and meet you.” And I’m like, “What? We’re going out for dinner in an hour.” And he did. We drove past him when we were driving to dinner and the kids were waving out the window all excited to see him and he ran to dinner and he sat there sweaty and just a big old smile on his face. 

Sometimes, I think he’d run places just to prove to me that he could. Because, I’d be like, “Are you really going to do that? Am I going to have to come pick you up?” And never. I never had to go pick him up anywhere. He always made it. I never understood it. I’m like, why would anyone ever want to run? In high school, I was a sprinter. Well, I was in softball and I could run the base path and that was all I was interested in. So, I was like, I’m pretty quick, so I’m gonna try out for track. I’m just gonna be a sprinter and it’s gonna be great. So, I made the team and then, the first practice they wanted me to run a mile warmup and I was like, “Wait a second, what? I’m a sprinter. I don’t run a mile.” It was the first and only time in my life that I’ve quit something. I was like, “I’m just not game for this. I don’t want to run far. This is not what I signed up for.” So, my track season was really short. And I just stuck to softball until recently. 

So, he was just everything to everybody. He loved his work. I remember sitting there at the funeral home putting together his obituary and my mom looking at me like I was crazy when I wanted to mention the guys he worked with and his work in his obituary. And she was like, “Really? Just stick to your family.” But I’m like, “That was his family.” I’m going to try and say what he did but I don’t really know that I know. He was an inspector. So, he worked in oil refineries inspecting welds and piping and stuff. At one point he did Xray and ultrasound. The last couple of years he did visual inspection. But, when he first started on this career, he was sometimes working 100 hours a week. Nobody does that when they don’t like their job unless they can’t feed their family. He just loved what he did, and he loved the people that he did it with. And that’s how he got into running was with guys at work. He was good at his job and I think it was fulfilling for him. He just enjoyed being there. So, it was like us, and work, and running and that was pretty much everything he could ask for in his life and he was content with that. 

Shayla:

Well, that’s amazing. He sounds like an amazing person. You said that he passed away earlier this year. Would you mind sharing the story of what happened?

Katie:

Sure. So, he died of a drug overdose. And, I’m always not careful, like I don’t tiptoe around that. The reason being is because he was the guy in town that everybody knew and loved. I work in the mental health field. So, I see it a lot that people kind of look at addiction in this bottom of the gutter and worst of the worse kind of light. While fighting that stigma and stereotype, I don’t think is the sword that I want to fall on for the rest of my life. I just don’t think that’s the battle that I need to be fighting. But, I also know that cushioning that, or sugar coating it isn’t helpful either. So, I say it because it’s everywhere. It’s in stay at home moms and lawyers and doctors and union workers and politicians and grade school teachers. It’s everywhere and not only where people think it is. 

He was kind of a classic tale. He got hurt when we were, gosh, I think we were like 15 or 16. I don’t even think I could drive yet. I remember going to the hospital with his sister after he got hurt. That kind of started it. He had some really bad nerve damage in his neck and his arm. 20 years ago, pain meds were highly unregulated, and kind of this new phenomenon was happening in the pain management world. It got really out of control really quickly. He unfortunately got doctors who, I try not to place blame, I don’t want to say that they didn’t know what they were doing, or they didn’t know what they were getting into. I don’t know, maybe they didn’t care. I doubt that is the case, but I’ve seen it happen and it was a pretty classic pain med to street drug flip. 

For most of our adult lives, he battled pretty hard and pretty well. He was in recovery for a long time and he took pride in his sobriety. The only reason I talk about this is because he was so open about it. Some people that are in recovery, they call it anonymous for a reason. It’s not somebody else’s story to tell but he was comfortable talking about it. So, for that reason, I am too. 

He was proud of his sobriety and he worked hard at it. But, you know, sobriety is one of those things that you just can’t plan for sometimes and it’s one of those never-ending battles, I think. There’s no real cure for it. He was in recovery until he wasn’t, and it had been a long time since he had used any sort of street drug. I honestly couldn’t tell you what the trigger was. It’s funny. The things that I always would have thought would have been a trigger for anybody, you know, like that I think would trigger me, is always so far off the radar of any addict I’ve ever worked with. It’s always something like, somebody spilled milk. You know, we say the same thing about sobriety. Sometimes, crashing your car and losing your job and living on the street isn’t what get people sober, but they yell at their sister about knocking into them at a family party and they’re like, “Oh god, that’s my rock bottom.” It’s little things that can be that trigger either way for people. I always say, I couldn’t read his mind when he was alive, so I’m certainly not gonna try to read his mind from beyond the grave. I don’t know what happened that day. I do know that he fought for a long time and that he loved his life. Things happen. Unfortunately, one of the consequences to drug use is death and, it’s a crappy side effect but it happens, and I wish it didn’t, but, it does. 

Shayla:

Well, thank you for sharing that story with us. So shortly after his passing was when you began running. What inspired you at that time to take up the sport?

Katie:

The first couple of weeks after he died, are just a blur. We are insanely blessed to have an incredible support system—family, friends, neighbors—our community as a whole, people I don’t even know, reached out, donated, brought food, showed up, prayed for us, any number of things. At that time, I kind of remember just kind of dazing off all the time. Almost like this, you know in the movies when everything is moving in fast motion and you’re just kind of at a standstill. That’s kind of how that first couple of weeks felt like. So, he passed away on a Thursday and I think our kids were sent home on the stay-at-home order on like Monday or Tuesday or something like that. So, it was a really crazy time in the world in general. Then, for our family too. So, people had nowhere to go but my house, which was great because I needed people to step in and cuddle my babies and play with them outside and cook them meals when I was just kind of trying to grapple with what was happening. This terrible thing happens and then you have to make these arrangements and plan and write checks. It’s just like this overwhelming process that happens. 

After I started to slowly come back to reality. People, you know, go back to their lives and they go back to work and go home and go on with their normal life. Then, you’re just kind of here trying to figure out, what does normal life look like? Because everything I knew about normal life was now demolished. I said earlier there were times when he would work 100 hours a week and that’s true. I was used to sometimes having to run the kids by myself because he was working late or working weekends, but it’s a different kind of alone. It’s just different. So, I’m trying to figure out, what does our life look like now? So, now it’s just the five of us. Even with an incredible support system, those kids still look to you to be that constant need filler, emotionally, and they need their bellies filled. They need somebody to talk to. They need somebody to break up their fights. 

I always call it solo parenting because, I think it’s different when you’re a single parent. Whether it’s single when you have a child or you’re single because of divorce, I think when your spouse dies it’s just a little bit different. So, I always call it solo parenthood. You go from this family. He was not a helper. Our family was 50/50. He cooked and he cleaned and he ran kids and he coached kids. He did bedtime and he did baths and he did homework. He did all of these things. So, it went from having 50 percent of this family load to now, it’s mine, and that’s fine. But, how does this look going forward?

I was so used to kind of being able to go and do what I wanted to do. I’d go out with my girlfriends or do whatever, run to the store by myself. Just to get some alone time. Because work-at-home moms, it’s a special kind of job. You don’t get out a lot and you’re always multi-tasking. So, just being able to go and have that time by myself to clear my head and just to do something for me was something I was used to. I was fortunate to always have that in my life and never have any guilt associated with it I think was the big thing. He never made me feel guilty for doing things for myself. He encouraged it. So, I instantly felt like this weight. Like, now what? Am I still allowed to go do these things? The world is shut down now. I don’t even want to go to the grocery store. It was just this weird feeling. 

Then I had this, like, oh gosh, well now I don’t want to go to the grocery store. What if I get COVID and then I die and then who is going to take care of my babies? You have all of these crazy thoughts when it’s now just you. So, I was like, ok, this is not me. I remember sitting on my couch and I had somebody ask me how I was, and I was like, “I just feel like I can’t catch my breathe. I feel like I’m constantly taking deep breathes.” And they’re like, “Katie, that’s called anxiety.” And, I’m like, “What?” And they’re like, “Yeah.”  And I’m like, “I don’t think so.” And they’re like, “Yep, that’s what that is.” And I’m like, “Whoa.”  And, in the moment, it gave me like this instant appreciation for every person that deals with anxiety on a daily basis because, holy moly. I’m just so grateful that I don’t because I was just instantly like mad. I was like, wait a second, I don’t want this. I don’t want to feel like this. 

So, I was like, OK, I need to get back to something with myself. Like, I need to find some peace here. I didn’t know what that looked like. I had always, very parttime, taught dance at a local YMCA. So, I was always there. So, I’d workout or do whatever at the gym but, at the time, the gyms were shut down. I just, I didn’t know what that looked like.

So, I was like, you know what, I’m gonna run. I don’t know what it is about running that Jake loved so much. In my very first Instagram post, I think I put like, I don’t know why I ran. I don’t know if it was to run away from the chaos in my house. To run away from the responsibility and that weight that I felt on my shoulders all of the sudden. I don’t know if I was running to be closer to him. If I was running to give myself just 30 or 60 minutes of quiet time. Sometimes I think I ran to feel something. To feel the pain in my legs and in my lungs. At the time, it was still early in the year, so it was cold outside. To feel that coldness in my breath. Because, you kind of, not you, I, kind of had this just numb feeling for a while. You know, you’re trying to keep it together so that your kids feel secure. So, it’s just kind of like this blah. So, sometimes I think that’s part of the reason why I started running was just to be able to feel something. Whether it was misery or happiness. I didn’t really care. I just wanted to feel. 

Part of me just wanted to see why he loved it. What are these people and this community that he could never stop talking about? What is this vibe? What is this feeling that he loved so much? Why would he come home after a two-hour run, purple in the face, with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen? What is that? Because I had never felt that doing a kettlebell class at the Y. I’m like, ok, I feel like I did something, but I certainly wasn’t on top of the world from it. 

So, I started running. I had a couple of friends who would suffer through that were not runners and would just kind of appease me and go with. We would start walking. We’d walk a quarter mile and we’d run a quarter or a half mile and then we’d walk again and then we’d run. We’d kind of do that for a couple of miles. We just kind of slowly built up until it turned into this, I’m running because I like it now. I love it now. I have this need to run now. It was no longer, probably after two weeks. I’m super bad at creating good habits. I always say I fall into lazy really quickly, maybe because my life doesn’t allow for a whole lot of lazy time. I tend to, if I’m going to be lazy, it happens really fast. So, I can’t let myself make excuses. So, I had to be very purposeful about running those first couple of weeks and really kind of turn it into a habit. Turn it into something that was expected of me every day because I wanted to continue it. Because, at that time, I still wasn’t sure why I was running.  

I didn’t really like it, but I was doing it. I thought, at the very least, I was going to be a little bit healthier. Heart disease runs in my family. So, I figured the cardio was not going to hurt and then it just kind of turned into this thing. I was actually running one day when I was like, I’m going to start a separate Instagram account. I’m just going to write about my running. I think I did it because, some people just care to read about other people’s fitness journeys or their running. And that’s great. I honestly didn’t care about people’s fitness journeys for the most part. I feel like I’m somebody that always is rooting for people. So, like, I’m always super happy when someone is doing well or hitting new goals. I am a cheerleader at heart and I want to lift other people up. But, I’m going to be honest and say that I scroll past most of it. Like scrolling, scrolling. So, I’m like, you know, I’m just going to start this separate page and just as a way to like work through what’s going on in my head when I’m running. 

I had a friend who, I had run into her at Target. It was actually the day that I was buying an outfit for my husband’s celebration of life. Her husband had passed away a couple of years before. They were a little bit older than us. She was like, “Oh, I remember this day. You’re going to get through it. I want you to go home and I want you to journal. Listen, somebody told me to do it and I thought it was ridiculous, but I did it and it changed my life.” I had a couple people buy me journals over the past couple of weeks and I was like, you know what, I’m gonna try. What’s the worst? I’ve always enjoyed writing. Just journaling felt kind of weird to me. 

So, I started journaling. I noticed very quickly that the journaling had turned into letters to my husband. It kind of felt very natural. He was the person who I would tell everything to that happened in a day. So, I found that I’m journaling and I’m constantly telling him what happened in the day and what I was feeling. If I was mad or if I was sad. To be honest, I have not gone back through and read any of that. I don’t know if I’m quite there yet to see what my mindset was at but that was a really good way to get me working through this grief that was so new to me. I’m not a big feelings person. I’m really logical. I like to be able to reason things out and I like to be able to make checklists and solve problems. My husband always used to tell me, “Kate, you worry me a little bit that you’re not feeling bad.” And it’s not that I don’t feel bad for people or feel sympathy. I just want to fix you. 

Shayla:

Let’s just get to the outcome here. Let’s just get to the solution!

Katie:

Yes! And that’s just the way I’m wired. I’m like, “I swear I’m not a sociopath! I have feelings! But, I just want to help you feel better so I’m just going to help you fix this.” Through therapy of my own, I know that’s not always the answer. But, that’s just the way my mind works. So, I’m just not a super emotional person. He reminded me every week of our marriage that I didn’t cry when I said our vows and he did. You know, I didn’t cry when I kids were born, and he did. It’s like me crying to sloppily work through these emotions or even to know that I’m feeling them. 

So, I started journaling and it was awesome and I think it was great to see how that evolved. Then, I started running and I started writing about my running in the journal. It was kind of my accountability. I ran this far today, or I got new shoes today. It was just a way to kind of hold me accountable to kind of set those good habits up because I really wanted to do this long term. Again, I knew that the worst was going to happen was I was going to be a little bit more in shape. 

So, I did. Then, I just thought, hmm, maybe somebody else cares about what I have to say and maybe somebody else doesn’t but I’m going to give them the choice. 

So, all of that went into creating that separate account. and I’m like, well, if people want to follow my running, they can follow this other account. It’s public. 

I was running one day when I was like, “What should I call this? Well, I’m a widow.” I hate that word, or I hated it. It just had this, eh, I just feel like this 85-year-old woman shuffling her feet around. Just sad. Carrying a picture of my husband everywhere I go. It’s just like this weird word. And, I’m like, I just have this belief that we give words power. When we take that power back by using those words the way we want to use them or turning those words into something positive instead of something negative, that can be a really great thing. I didn’t want to shy away from using that word, widow. Then, I was just kind of laughing because I feel like Forest Gump with no purpose. Just running for no reason. I didn’t have anywhere to go. I didn’t have any goals specific to running. So, @runwidowrun just kind of popped into my head. I checked Instagram and no one had that username yet so, I just kind of ran with it literally and figuratively.  

Now, I just run, and I write about it and I’ve just gotten such great feedback about it. So, it works out pretty well. 

Shayla:

What would say that running has brought you these past six months in journaling, in running, in kind of having this public place to post your updates?

Katie:

Honestly, peace. It has brought me peace. It has brought me gratitude. It has brought me a huge appreciation for people who run really long distances! Somebody just asked me the other day, “How far do you run?” And I’m like, “Oh, I don’t know, I try to run 20 miles a week or so.” And they’re like, “Oh, wow!” And I’m like, “I don’t really think it’s that impressive, but thank you!”  Some people do that in a day! 

I don’t know that I’ll ever run a marathon. Maybe. Maybe on a whim one day I’ll just go run a 50k or something. Probably not, but you never know. Never say never. The other day I was feeling a little bit defeated. I started grad school this week. The kids went back to school. Work is picking up and everything is just a little bit chaotic. I was feeling really, I don’t think it was overwhelmed. A little bit defeated that I couldn’t be everywhere I needed to be and get everything done I needed to get done. 

My 13-year-old just rolls her eyes at me all of the time because I’m like, “Uh, I might not be here for your whole game.” And she’s like, “Mom, I don’t care.” But, I’m like, “But, I do! I want to see you.” And she’s like, “I’d rather you not see me!”

Shayla:

I’m 13!

Katie:

Yes, I’m fine! I had realized that in the chaos of my grad program going from in-person to online that I was going to have to be logged in on Zoom during all of her middle school football games that she cheers for. So, I have like 12 girls at my house from this swim party that she had and I’m crying. And my friend is like, “I don’t know what to do with you when you cry. You don’t cry!” And I’m like, “I don’t know either!”

I was just like so frustrated. Then, I gave myself a minute and I went for a run. I get through the first mile, which is always the worst. The whole second mile of my run, I just listed off things that I was grateful for. I’m not a fast runner so it takes me like 10 whole minutes to run a mile. So, for 10 straight minutes, I did nothing and said nothing except for said, “I am grateful for this. I am grateful for that.” And I listed probably 200 things that I was grateful for. After that, the rest of my run was a breeze physically and mentally. 

I came home and I’m like, you know what, I can get a hotspot on my phone. I can log in from the corner of the bleachers with noise cancelling headphones. Watch my girl cheer. Do my work. I will make this work. It is not life or death. That was one of the things in my list of things that I was grateful for that I said. None of these things are life and death. I am grateful that not a single decision that I have to make today is life or death. I am so grateful for that every day. That none of these things that are going on in our quote on quote chaos is life or death. These are not life or death things. If I wasn’t running, I wouldn’t have done that. If I didn’t have that 45 minutes to myself with just the road and my airpods and sunshine, I would not have been able or give myself the opportunity to make a gratitude list like that. 

When I journaled, which is more rare these days than it was at the beginning, I would always put three things are that the beginning of my journal entry that I was grateful for. Because, if you can find three things, three things that you’re grateful for, it will greatly improve your life. Your outlook on life. If I have a safe house in a safe neighborhood and a pantry full of food, my basic needs are met. Everything else will come secondary to that. Or, I have healthy kids and a healthy family and a great school district that took my kids back. 

Three things can really change your outlook on a day. So, to be able to be running and have that opportunity. Give myself that opportunity to have the time to clear my mind to consciously list hundreds of things in my life that I could be grateful for changes your life. It changes everything about your life. Because, when we live in this state of — I could walk around and go, poor me. I have four kids and I’m by myself and what am I going to do and I still have to, you know, I could not sign them up for sports and not try and give them this full life and tell them that they should feel bad that their dad is not here and that this is unfair. 

Or, I can teach them that their dad loved them, and he was awesome and that they’re lucky that they had that at all. That we have so much life left to live and that their dad would want that for them. And that we are blessed to have a supportive family and supportive friends and that we have a great life. Life might not be what we planned. My 13-year-old said to me, I don’t know if it was the day that we told them that he had passed or the next day. All she said was, “Why did it have to happen so soon in my life?” And it broke my heart for her. But, we follow that up with, yes, this is not how we planned it. This is not how we saw our lives. I did not see myself as a 34-year-old single mom of four trying to figure out how to give them this life that they deserve by myself. Well, I’m not by myself and it might not be the life that I pictured, but this is the life I have. 

I am going to make a purposeful effort every single day to get everything out of this life. Every joy. Every victory. Every smile. Every effort. When my kids get in the car and I take them to school every day, we pull up to the drop off and I’m telling them to unbuckle and I’m like, “Eyes up. No excuses.” And, what I mean by that is, let’s pay attention to what we’re doing. Let’s be purposeful about the actions we take and the words that we use. There are no excuses to not have a good day. Now, we are going to have bad moments. We’re going to have a bad hour. We’re going to have something bad happen. That’s life. It’s unpredictable and it’s messy. But, there are not excuses for having days, bad weeks, bad months, bad years because there is something in every day that you can grateful for. You choose whether to take that moment, that experience and let that be how you remember your day or let the negatives be how you remember your day. 

So, I tell them that and I will tell them that every day for the rest of their lives. Eyes up. No excuses. We’re going to do the right thing. We’re going to have a good day. We can cry. We can be mad. We can think things are unfair but, once we get that out, we need to now shift our focus to what do we have to be grateful for. What do we have that we can share with others? What can we do to make our lives better and other people’s lives better? Those aren’t just words in our house. Those are actionable items. 

I never, in my life, lived purposefully before this. Don’t get me wrong. I loved helping people and I work in human services and I consider us good people and do the right thing. But, I think we were really selfish. We saw what was right in front of us and we saw what we wanted and that’s kind of what our focus was. While I wish so many times over the past six months that my husband was still here with us, that’s not life. No matter how much I wish, that’s not gonna change our reality. So, instead of wishing for that, I want to grow from that. So, I take what life has handed us and I’m going to make a purposeful attempt to be better. To grow. To find the light. To find the laughter. To find the humor. Like, my husband could make anything funny and it was almost obnoxious sometimes because, like, I just want to be mad at him and he’d do something so stupid and I’m like, “I just want to be mad at you for like five minutes!” But that wasn’t how he wanted to live his life. 

While his story may be done. Ours isn’t. And, I’m going to use what he poured into us for all of those years and I’m going to continue our story and make it purposeful. I don’t want to just live anymore. I don’t just want to be alive and I don’t just want to go through the motions. I don’t just want to live for the weekends and live for the vacations. I want to get something out of every day. No matter how exhausted I am. No matter how frustrating logistics can be with four kids in one vehicle. No matter how many times I think that there’s just too much. There’s just enough. We have just enough to get us to where we need to be for that day. And I may be dead tired at the end of the day, but that day will have been for something.

We are doing things on purpose now and, because of that, our days are better. There is less arguing and there is less chaos because we’re doing things for a reason and not just to go through the motions. I don’t know if that ever would have happened if my husband wouldn’t have passed away. We probably would have just continued on our lives and we would have had a good life. We would have been good people. But, I feel like now, I have a purpose. That purpose is to be mindful and to do things consciously. 

Shayla:

You talked earlier and along the way about how lucky your kids are to have had such a great and caring dad and to have a great support system around them. But, I just want to say, they’re also very lucky to have such a strong role model for a mother. As you said, coming out of his passing and these past six months, things could have obviously gone a very different way and it would have been warranted. You have a mountain on your shoulders between his passing and COVID and everything else going on that you don’t have to be where you’ve gotten in the past six months. So, I just want to say how strong you are and how lucky your kids are to have you along this new journey. 

Katie:

Well, thank you. That is very, very sweet. I just think I just owe it to myself. I think, as moms, we get into this mindset where we want the best for our kids. We want them to have everything and to be able to do everything. The moment we turn that focus away, I think, many factors, society being one of them, we feel this instant guilt. If I do something for me and not because my kids need it, then do I look like a bad mom? Do I look selfish? What are people going to say? I think that I’m more concerned about myself now than I’ve ever been. 

I don’t call it selfish because it’s not. I call it self-care. When I think selfish, I think doing things that are good for me but bad for somebody else, knowing that and almost in a way to do that. Right? Like, I’m going to be selfish and I’m going to take that cookie even though you haven’t eaten all day because I want it. Where, when we’re doing it from a self-care perspective, it’s, OK, I’m taking this hour for me today to go run so I can be a better human, a better mom, and I can sleep at night. Or, I am going to put the work in to grow and have this purposeful life. 

Do my kids deserve it? Absolutely, my kids everything. They’ve been through a lot and they’re incredible kids and, hell, before my husband passed away, I thought they deserved everything. But, now, I know what I deserve now. I know what he saw in me and it took me a really long time to get there. I think that, when you are going back through these pictures or Facebook posts because you’re just trying to cling to anything that you have of somebody that’s passed, you start seeing that. He always knew I was amazing. He always was rooting for me. He always knew my potential. Even though I have been a fairly confident person, I didn’t realize that I realized what I deserve until he wasn’t there to be like quietly in the background pushing for it. 

I want my kids to live that way. I want them to know that they deserve a happy life but that it’s up to them to make their life happy. They can’t rely on other people to fill them emotionally and spiritually. That’s not going to lead to happiness. That’s going to lead to resentment. So, me on this journey is finding my happiness. 

I remember after he died and sorry if I’m getting lengthy on this, feel free to cut me off. I remember after he died, somebody asking me what I like, and I couldn’t even answer them. Because, I think when you’re married, and you have kids and 20 years of our life had been entangled in each other. You don’t even know what parts of you are you. What parts of you are your marriage and what parts of you are him. When all of the sudden that other person is gone, and you start like slowly undoing this knot and trying to figure out where the root of these things are from. Do I really like going to this place to eat or do I just like it because it’s some place he liked and so I found something on the menu that I enjoy? Do I really like going and doing this? Do I like reading this or listening to that? Or watching this? Or participating in that? Hell, do I like these people? That was a big one for me. Do I still like these people or did I just like these people because he did? And, I like most people, but it’s just kind of one of those weird things that you never think about. 

I said to somebody one day, I feel like, at first, every decision I made and everything that was going on and coming my way, I was trying to think, well, what would he want me to do? Which goes back to me never being able to read his mind. If I said what would he want me to do when he was here, he would literally laugh at me. Because what I would think he would want me to do is usually the opposite of what he would want. Jake was great because he didn’t weigh in on a whole lot of things. Like, he could care less about a lot of decisions. He was like, if it makes you happy, do it. If you think it’s good for the kids, do it. But, when he had an opinion, I took him very seriously because he only expressed his opinions when he felt very strongly about something. So, me trying to guess at things those would be is insane. And, you know, but when you’re married you try and make compromises and do what’s best for you as a family. I’m like, I’m making life harder on myself trying to do all of the things the way he would want them done. 

What he would want is for me to be happy. What he would want is for me to do what sets right in my soul. That’s all he ever cared about was making sure that we had what we needed, what we wanted. That we were happy and when I had that realization, it was so freeing for me because I’m like, you know what, I’m going to make this decision and I’m going to be confident in that decision. I know that if it makes me happy and I think it’s the right thing to do, he would support me without hesitation. That’s all I need to know. It was just this very liberating thing and I think that my kids see that. They’re making better decisions because I’m confident in the decisions that I’m making. 

We don’t realize how much our kids are listening and watching and picking up on things. My kids are happy. They’re healthy. They have good relationships. They love people. They look nothing like they’re father. They’re all little minions of me but man do they love like him. I love watching it because some people are almost taken aback by how caring they can be. And, I’m like, that’s their dad! He couldn’t contain it and these kids can’t contain it. Now seeing that, it’s my job as their mom to be that model for them and say, ok, you want a happy life? Well, don’t wait on somebody else to make you happy or make you laugh. You make yourself happy. You do the things that fill you up. You fill other people up beause that, in turn, is going to fill you up. You pour into other people. You be vulnerable and be positive. 

There is always a light and you can choose to be a light or you can choose to suck somebody else’s light. And I, in this life, am choosing to be the light because, even if I don’t need the light myself, somebody else may. And if they don’t, what’s the worse that happened? I was a light in a dark room with nobody in it? Ok. And I’m ok with that. And it’s not a way that I ever lived my life before. Instead of being mad that I wasted 33 years being less than enlightened I guess, I don’t care. I’m just going to keep going for the next how many ever years I get on this earth and do my best every day. We do the best with what we have at the time and I think I did. I was a good mom. I was a good wife. I was a decent friend. But, now, I’m just being more purposeful about it and I think that’s just better. I know better now. 

Shayla:

So, is there one takeaway from your story that you’d like to leave with the Runner Moms community today?

Katie:

Life is short. I know it’s so cliché. One time, somebody, actually it wasn’t somebody, I think it was my mom, said he’s an addict and he’s going to have to battle that forever. Are you prepared to live in that battle with him? And, without hesitation, I said yes. And the reason I said yes was because he could have walked out the door and got hit by a car. He worked in a super dangerous field. Anything could have happened any day. He could have fallen. There could be a fire. He could get in a car accident. There are any number of things that can happen to anybody on any given day. Life is short and unpredictable. So, don’t wait. Like don’t wait until tomorrow to make those plans. Be purposeful. Do things. Because, even if they’re small things, when you do things, it changes everything. And it may seem small and insignificant but to somebody else it could mean everything. To your kids. To a stranger. To yourself. Running for five minutes today may seem like a minimal thing. But five minutes today turns into 15 minutes next month and it turns into a half hour, 45 minutes, an hour, 3 hours. And, on those runs, we find ways to be grateful and be better people but because we made the choice to do and not to wait. 

And that is it. That is where I’m at. I don’t know if this is where I’ll five years from now. I’m sure life has a whole bag full of things coming my way but today, right now, I’m going to do and I’m going to choose to do on purpose. And I’m not going to let life happen to me because that is where we find our power and I think that is where we find our peace. Is doing and accepting. I’m gonna go do and I’m gonna accept what is because, if you battle those things, that’s where you get all up in your head and funky. So, choosing to do and accepting what is and the rest of life, it just kind of happens. 

Shayla:

I love that. That’s a great takeaway. Absolutely, well thank you Katie for your bravery in sharing your family’s story with the Runner Moms community. As I mentioned at the beginning of the episode, your story is one that’s going to stick in my mind and I know that will also be the case for the other moms who are listening. 

So, if others would like to follow along on your running journey, where should they go?

Katie:

They can find me on Instagram @runwidowrun. I post regular updates. I try to do it daily. Sometimes just a short jaunt about my run. You know, we have different events coming up and things like that so you can find me on Instagram there. 

Shayla:

And I’ll be sure to link to your Instagram in the show notes as well. Well, thank you again Katie. I appreciate you being here today. 

Katie:

Thank you!

Shayla:

I hope you got as much out of this episode as I did. Katie offered so many great bits of advice and takeaways that I know I’ll be digesting for a while. As she put it, life is short, so live with purpose and make it count. 

Thanks again for listening along on today’s episode of the Runner Moms podcast. If you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe to our show and also leave a review through your podcast player. I’d greatly appreciate your reviews as it will help other mom runners find our content. 

Until next time, happy running and happy momming!

Carrot Cake Scones with Honey Glaze

Carrot Cake Scones

Looking for a healthy twist on traditional carrot cake? Look no further than our recipe for carrot cake scones with honey glaze! Made with almond flour and a star studded lineup of other wholesome ingredients, these carrot cake scones are both delicious and nutritious. They’re perfect for breakfast paired with scrambled eggs or as a mid-morning snack.

Carrot Cake Scones

If the carrot cake scones don’t disappear within moments from coming out of the oven, they’ll store well in an airtight container for two days. Avoid impulse snacking and ensure a healthy option is always close at hand this week by freezing a batch of these scones. Just pop a frozen scone in the microwave for 30 seconds and you’ll have a warm, delicious snack ready to amp up your day.

Carrot Cake Scones with Honey Glaze

Healthy and delicious carrot cake scones with a sweet, honey glaze.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Breakfast
Keyword: carrots, honey, scone recipes, scones
Servings: 8

Ingredients

Scones

  • 3/4 cup carrots, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pineapple, crushed
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup whole milk plain yogurt
  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Honey Glaze

  • 1 tsp pineapple juice reserved from pineapple used in scones
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp butter, unsalted

Instructions

Scones

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the carrots, walnuts, raisins, vanilla, egg, honey and yogurt. Squeeze any excess juice from the pineapple, reserving the juice in another bowl to use in the glaze, and add the pineapple to the mixing bowl. Whisk the ingredients together until combined and then set aside.
  • In another large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Stir to combine.
  • Whisk the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients. When the dough begins to come together, scrape the whisk clean and then continue mixing the dough with your hands. Form into a ball (it will be a wet dough).
  • Dust a countertop with some of the all-purpose flour. Transfer the dough to the floured surface, sprinkle a bit more flour on top and then gently pat the dough into a 12-inch circle.
  • Using a knife, cut the dough to like a pizza into eight scones.
  • Using a pie server or spatula, transfer the scones to the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the scones are firm and slightly browned on top.

Honey Glaze

  • While the scones are baking, combine the ingredients for the honey glaze in a small saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Boil for 1 minute and then remove from heat. Let cool slightly.
  • When the scones are done baking, brush a light coating of glaze over the top of each scone using a pastry brush.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Video

Notes

The scones will keep well in a sealed container for two days or can be frozen.
Useful gear to have on hand for this recipe:

Looking for more delicious and nutritious breakfast or brunch recipes? Check out our popular Apple Oat Flour Crepes that are sure to have your kids asking for more.

Let us know how the recipe turned out by leaving a comment below. We’d love to hear from you! Happy running and happy momming!

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