Hope you enjoyed my last post. I added a video of Maebels first year of life that wouldn't post earlier so go check it out here.
I've been back to officially working with my coach Pardon Ndhlovu for the last three weeks. He is a coach under the McKirdy Trained umbrella of coaching and we are a really good match from the start. For starters, he at least pretends my jokes are funny... even though, for the most part, I'm dead serious about training and racing, I also consider myself to have a healthy sense of humor. If you can't laugh with me, then it's not going to work. He also gives really difficult workouts that are different than anything I've done before. I worked under the same coach for over 10 years (Joe Catalano, the great), but change is good and essential for progress. Additionally, he is also very understanding of injuries and makes me feel comfortable communicating when I'm not feeling right... which has essentially been all the time, so far. He has even shared some of his own experiences and frustrations with his own injuries... and he's an Olympian... so it happens to the absolute best.
I worked with him all through my Boston training and felt like I experienced a break up when he told me he wanted me to take some time to recover and start back up when I'm ready. I was ready. I was all in--- emotionally--- but my body wasn't ready and I had to come to terms with that. It was like the nail in the coffin on my postpartum running goals... but I needed to bury those goals anyway because, in hindsight, I set them based on my first experience post-baby... and since I now unequivocally know that every experience, every pregnancy is different, It was really foolish to set goals before I even had the baby.
So What have I been Up to?
Most of you follow me on Instagram, and if you don't it's probably because all my narcissistic posts about my training each and every day are a bit too much for you (it's cool, I totally get it), but I've got goals and if I need to hold myself accountable through every avenue that social media and the World Wide Web has to offer in order to be successful, SO BE IT!
I last posted my training in a post titled "Road to Nowhere" I got injured sometime in March and lost all direction. I signed up for the Vermont City Marathon. It seemed like fate. I thought it was everything coming full circle. I was wrong. Sometimes injuries are just injuries and circles are actually spirals. Depending on your perspective you can spiral upwards or downwards. Initially, I was on an upward spiral looking forward to Vermont. I spent a fortune to hire a personal trainer to get me stronger than I've ever been before and I was excited... but then after a few weeks of just strength training I attempted to run again. I rehashed the injury and I spiraled downward... I spiraled downward HARD. On this downward spiral, Pardon "broke up" with me, and I continued to go to personal training but spent the majority of the time crying because I couldn't do anything without groin/abdominal/hip/adductor pain and I was perseverating on the fact that I could not get better. I was convinced if my calf injury occurred because my hip/groin/etc weren't firing or doing their job... I'm screwed for life... because I've now scored through every postpartum hip/groin-ish injury listed on google, and have read every persons question and comment about never finding answers. It was settled, I'm one of them. For sure I'm one of them. After all, I was spiraling downwards, so I couldn't see anything but the worst possible scenario and I just tried to wake up in the morning and keep at it anyway... or at least drag myself to a place where there was a person keeping me at it. Peak Fitness. I should note that during this time Pardon did not "break up" with me, he still checked in with me at least once a week and I always felt like I was the bottom of the totem-pole don't bother checking in with me, I'm useless and he always assured me that I was still working hard and training even though I wasn't running. I believed him just enough to not quit. I continued to roll out and ice and bike, and do everything I could in addition to the personal training in order to heal. I had to be moving in the right direction, I thought.
I Just to quickly fill you in on how I found Peak Fitness, my Physical Therapist now has two offices and one of them is in Peak. So you can work with a Physical Therapist who works directly with the Personal Trainers on staff. Mike and Paul worked together to come up with programs for me to increase the load on my calf in small amounts. I had done a lot of work and we thought I was strong enough to try jumping rope to build tolerance 5-10 seconds at a time. I literally jumped twice and that was it... unable to walk again after I believe 4 more weeks off.... (I can't remember now, I "reinjured" the calf so many times it's all melded together.) I lost it. LOST IT. I didn't cry, I literally just walked out of the room for a minute. The trainer suggested a punching bag but I wanted nothing. If it's not running, it's nothing. It's never going to heal, I'm wasting my money, wasting my time, nothing is possible. I reached rock bottom and my trainer, Paul, who at this point remained remarkably positive (despite the fact that I was constantly saying "I've spent a lot of money and I still can't lift anything pain free") challenged me and bargained with me to start coming in with only the intention of moving pain free and seeing that as a success rather than a failure. I never blamed him, I just was feeling dumb for ever believing I could get strong or that I was worth the investment... I felt guilt that I used the money my husband got for his bonus when there are a million and one more important things than my selfish pursuits....but they believed in me... and So I committed to changing my mind if not for me, for Paul, who had gone above and beyond anything I had paid for... (He's a trainer, not a counselor).... and for my husband and family who had made a lot of sacrifices for me to even get to the gym... and for Pardon, who kept reaching out even though he had no obligation to me, at least for now. I'm one of those people that is better at doing things for others than I am for myself, so in an instant, instead of being frustrated that lifting my leg up to my chest without pain was all I could (barely) do .. I worked hard to find pride in it... (and needed all the headpats on instagram for it, they really helped). I could not give up on doing the little things simply because it wasn't as much as I hoped or wished for. It was so so SO far from my goal that I couldn't see where I was going anymore but I had to keep trying because people were investing in me. On instagram people were investing in me, and at home, and at the gym, at work. Every direction I turned people were not allowing me to settle and so I kept going even though I, personally, wanted to eat cake and get fat (which, some days I did.... okay, many days...). I get a lot of messages on instagram telling me I'm inspiring for not giving up, but it's not me who doesn't give up, it's everyone around me. As my college coach would say "Surround yourself with good people and great things will happen"...
Before I knew it heel slides and assisted movements were a thing of the past. I started lifting. really lifting and it felt good! I attempted another run... another fail... but, honestly, I didn't think much about it. I accepted it right away because I was enjoying lifting so much that I felt like I had another outlet. I accepted that maybe it had to do with breastfeeding... maybe I had extra relaxin, or maybe there was something in my diet missing (I got blood tested and my ferritin was really low, even without training), for some reason my body couldn't heal my calf yet... but you know what was healing? The hip/groin/adductor/ab area. I felt more stable and confident as the days and weeks passed by. My posture improved and because of that so did my mood. Suddenly I'm spiraling upward again and I wasn't even running yet. I knew there was an end to this phase of injury because I was getting better in the places I thought I never would (hip/groin area)... and although the calf for some reason still SUCKED BALLS... I knew that would heal, too. (fingers crossed, As I write this I'm not out of the woods yet, just at the edge hoping I don't go back in).
I started running again after another 8 weeks and it was touch and go from the start with the calf. Typically the calf was such an aggressive and sudden pull, that I took my chances since it was presenting as more of a "burn" or "ache" than anything else. This was a hard stage. I was being pulled in a downward direction, but I fought it hard. I wasn't going to let this happen. I wasn't spiraling upward, but I was maintaining my position. I took another week off. I did the ice bucket, I walk ran for nearly a month, I started noticing what treatments worked better than others. I bought KT tape, compression socks, new inserts for my shoes. Placebo or not, I did not care... "the placebo effect is still an effect" and I needed all the reasons to believe I still had a shot at 2020 or 2024, or even just running casually but pain free for life.
I really turned a corner when I woke up with heel pain and felt it in my calf as well. I could have felt defeat and retreated, but instead I tried to figure out what my body was telling me. I read a lot about the plantaris tendon. Is that what I hurt? My initial injury occurred on a run where I jumped over several mounds of snow... The injury was sudden and stopped me in my tracks, If the plantaris tendon takes 6-8 weeks to heal and that's what I hurt, no wonder I keep re-injuring it! A lot of what I was doing to strengthen the calf was probably bothering the plantaris. I will never know for sure, but as soon as I started treating my "calf injury" like a plantar injury (working on the foot rather than the calf, never walking barefoot, icing with the ice bucket, rolling with tennis ball) I've been primarily free of any signs of injury (other than the heel pain when I wake up which is subsiding)
I'm running every other day and walking on most of my off days. My first week I ran 9 miles, then I did 17, now I'm up to 21 with my longest run being 8 miles. I'm fearful of writing this post and putting it out to the world. I feel like my "training for training" is over and my "training" can finally begin... but I know progress isn't linear, it's a spiral and sometimes you go down, and other times you go up. The thought of going back down is terrifying after how low I got, but I've been mostly up lately, and that's all I can ever hope for.
As much as I want to believe anything is possible, I'm a realist, and the reality is that this is just not true. I expressed a similar sentiment in my most recent instagram post. Love me or hate me, I was coming at you with some pretty raw emotion having torn(?... I really don't know) my calf for the third time in 9 months. (sidenote: How is it that I was able to run and race pregnant with no problems and now I'm a hot mess? My odds. ha!) There are a plethora of variables that dislodge you from achieving your goals. There are a million and one reasonable excuses, and other commitments that can keep you from your own personal "Olympic Trials Standard" (you know, that perfectly out of reach goal that you are stretching and grasping for), but there are two major major variables that I'm referring to as Thresholds that will come into play at some point.
Talent and Time
Talent is a confusing word in the world of running. In general, we all know talent means someone who has a natural inherent skill. Running is so much more complex than we give it credit for. The word Talent, in my opinion and from my experience, is really just a bowl of multiple skills necessary to excel in the sport. So, in theory, you can be talented in one aspect and not in another and still find success... but the more you have, the better you are.
Let me explain: In my years of running this is how I see it... Talent in running is like a bowl. Your raw talent (what we typically think of as talent; Your v02max) is your bowl. How much raw talent you have determines how big your bowl is. But you know the saying "Hard Work beats Talent when Talent doesn't work Hard". Talent is useless. A bowl is useless until you use it and fill it with something. What do you fill your talent bowl with?
Here are some examples of other skills or talents that are typically important to have in your talent bowl:
1. Work Ethic
2. Physical Toughness
3. Mental Toughness
4. Stress Management
5. Time Management
These are all stand alone skills that not every Raw Talented runner possesses. Just as you can only improve your God Given running talent so much, you can only improve on other skills to a certain degree, too. Some skills, like work ethic, can be improved upon better than others. Mental Toughness, for example, is an area I feel is very hard to gain if it is not inherently there. (There's nothing tangible to help measure mental toughness, so how do you really know if you improve? and if you're not sure if you are improving upon a skill, how do you know if what you are doing is "working")
Then there is durability. I didn't include durability above, because I see it differently. Durability; What is your talent bowl made of? How much of the above can it hold without spilling or breaking, or dropping something? (think of a bowl made of straw vs. papermache, vs clay vs glass vs. plastic vs stainless steel.) How much do you respect it and take care for it? It doesn't matter how big your bowl is (how much raw talent you have) or how much you put in your bowl (all those subset skills) if it's just going to break or leak or fall apart before you are able to use what you're storing inside.
So it's not the raw talent that really changes. The size of your bowl is generally fixed (maybe some slight modifications can be made, but nothing major). It's what you fill your bowl with and how you protect and take care of your bowl that produce results (some require more maintenance than others. eh'em). As much as we like to believe our potential is endless, it's not. Once your bowl is full there's not much more you can do. There are always exceptions, but generally speaking, if you see someone dropping 30 minutes to an hour in their time, its not because they beat genetics, it's not because they were never a runner, it's because they suddenly became aware that this talent was there. They found this big ol' family bowl that hidden in the back of the pantry somewhere and started filling it up with that other stuff they naturally had or had learned over time.
The good news (depending on your perspective) is that most people are not going to hit this threshold in their lifetime. Most people will never fill their bowl to the top, so this is amazing because forever in your life you will always have the ability to improve upon something. keep on grinding and don't give up!
With that being said, the bad news is that the reason you will likely not maximize (truly maximize) your potential in your lifetime is because there is another threshold: Time. With each passing day, the durability of your body declines, which means holding onto all those skills you've mastered gets harder and requires more work. If we had endless youth, and endless amount of time, think about what you would be able to fill your bowl with! There's a benefit to age. One study showed that a 18 year olds ran similar times in the marathon to 55-60 year old's, this is likely because experience also matters so much is learned with age and maturity. Research also showed that you can still run like your 20 well into your 40's.... that's amazing! But with that being said, your body is still losing muscle mass, and overall the stability of your bowl is declining. You are continuing to fill it up with experience after experience, after experience... but you are constantly racing against time. Will you have enough time to fill your bowl before it breaks?
Why am I writing this? Am I trying to crush everyone's dreams? NO... I guess I'm writing this to refocus myself, I need to give myself a visual for what is going on right now. I'm frantically tossing shit in a bowl because I'm fearful of time beating me... Meanwhile I'm wasting my time because the only thing I should be focused on is healing. Truly healing. So that's what I will do. Meanwhile, I don't have to worry about not gaining anything. I think injuries build a lot of that mental toughness. That part I said was really hard to come by if it wasn't already there, so there is always always something to be gained. As frustrated as I am, I'm going to focus on that positive, and hang onto it. I plan to take time off until I am out of school and have weened Maebel a little bit more. I'm done thinking about my goals for a while, I just want to focus on my family and my happiness. I'm not going to keep filling my bowl up with stress and anger, and frustration. Good Vibes only!
"This was a good one to miss"
It's what I keep hearing, and what I keep telling myself... But it's the furthest furthest thing from the truth. The sting in my heart over missing this once in a lifetime race of epic proportions is worse than the sting in the hands and toes and defrosting legs of all the runners who braved the conditions on Marathon Monday.
This Hurts. It hurts bad.
My only consolation is going to be a baller marathon time in the future, but if that never comes, if my body always remains in this state of too injured to run and race fast, but not injured enough to not try at all... I'm never going to recover from this.
Growing up as a runner, in Boston especially, everyone has their stories about where they were when...
Where they were when the weather was in the 90's and the field was allowed to defer, where they were in 2007 when it was a Nor'Easter (also the day of the Virginia Tech Shooting), where they were when the Bombs went off, where they were when Meb won, where they were when the fastest marathon was run in Boston (not to be confused with the World Record. Boston is not eligible for a World Record due to the point to point, net downhill, and tailwind nature of the course. Of course we all know now about the sub 2 hour attempt that is faster than the time run in Boston), Now this. Where were you when.... when Desi won, when a blue collared man who has run in a Panda Suit won (Yuki is now my hero in life, can I be him?), where were you when the weather was so epic, and so bad, that 56% of the elite field dropped out. Where were you when the Boston Marathon finishing medal meant more than any other finishing medal from years past?
I can tell you where I was.
I was freezing my ass off on the sidelines with a red bib number in my bag (Wave 1, Corral 6) wishing I was freezing my ass off in the street with my comrades.
I was made for the cold, wind, rainy conditions. When it snows, I'm running outside. It rains? I'm outside, wind? outside, Thunder and lightning? Outside (although I do wait this out often because it passes so quickly... but if time is not on my side, I'm out there...). One of my favorite things about running is the extreme conditions. This is one of the reasons I favor Cross Country running over everything else and why I plan to spend my running retirement in the mountains and trails... because as much as I love to compete and go fast, being one with the Earth and feeling Mother Natures power and some how channeling that power through me is my favorite. When Mother Nature is pouring down on you the way it was Monday? Ahhhh! HOW DID I MISS THIS?!???! How did I miss battling against and with the most powerful force of all time? This is not to say I would have done well, or that I would have enjoyed it in reality, or would have finished at all.... but just give me a chance!
This was the worst one to miss.... but the force inside me grows stronger with every missed opportunity... Some days I wake up with the fire still burning and I think "Why wont that shit go out?" With every set back, and every obstacle I've had attempting to put out my fire, why is it still there?! GO THE FUCK AWAY!!!
Do you know how much easier my life would be if I could just put that fire out? If I could stop caring? If I could just put my energy into being a better version of societies perfect mom or wife, or employee (the one with her shit together and nice hair, nails done, kids appropriately dressed, cooked dinners, clean car, on time for work, clean house, groomed yard, and a bank account that doesn't go into the negatives because of race entry fees and physical therapy bills)... Why can't that be me? Why can't I just forget about all this Olympic Trials bull shit?
For those of you who are feeling Post Boston Blues because you didn't have the race you wanted, I totally understand that. Let that rain and all the frustration light your fire instead of put it out. I don't know when I'll get to run Boston, but if Mother Nature doesn't make it Epic that day, I plan to.
Here are some of the things we used to stay dry while spectating at the Boston Marathon. Purchasing from any of the Amazon links included in my blog helps offset the costs of all the annoying physical therapy and treatments to get my hip up and running again. Every little bit helps, and if you see something you were going to get anyway, why not! Thanks Everyone! And congrats runners!
I'm trying to make sense of it all. Maybe I'm just not a marathoner... or maybe I just keep rushing the process repeatedly because I'm always up against a deadline that is fastly approaching.... maybe I pick fastly approaching deadlines because I don't have the attention span to make a goal that is far away.... I don't know... What I do know is that I've had the same calf injury derail or change my marathon plans for 3 different marathons... now 4.... and I'd be a fool to pretend that this time is different and it will somehow, miraculously, yield a different result simply because it's Boston.
After having Raea I had a beautiful build-up to the Vermont City Marathon (VCM) which was just shy of 10 months postpartum and the build up followed a 22 month hiatus from running due to knee injury, knee surgery, and pregnancy. Other than a small set back in February, everything went perfect, only to have it taken away in the last 10 days due to a calf pull that is basically identical to the one I'm dealing with now. I wasn't as familiar with the injury as I am now so I made a lot of bad choices. I tried to test it out and run way too many times on it for starters, every single time I ran on it I was catapulted back to the state of the original injury thus prolonging the time off from training all together. I signed up for a marathon that took place a month after Vermont thinking that I'd have enough time to recover and run a BQ there (because I thought a BQ was easy for me, I now know better than to use the word easy in relationship to anything marathon related ever again) but the only way I knew to trust the calf was to give it a solid 3 weeks of no running. I toed the line at the Great Cranberry Island (GCI) marathon without having run for an entire month (with the exception of the mile here or mile there that I foolishly attempted in that first week). This was not a good idea.
I set strict drop-out criteria for myself so I wouldn't cause more damage... The moment I was sure I couldn't BQ I would drop out. This was a last chance for Boston 2017 and all my family plans were centered around Boston 2017... so I really wanted that BQ. I should have dropped out at mile 6, the first sign of trouble, but I persevered until 18 when I knew with absolute certainty I wouldn't make it to Boston. I had to stop and walk. To my surprise it wasn't the calf that caused me to stop, but rather my IT band. Cross training can keep you fit, but it can not keep you prepared for the amount of impact you will endure across 26.2 miles. Vermont was flat, I trained for flat. Great Cranberry Island was not and I was still recovering from a knee surgery... It wasn't happening.
I'm looking at a very similar timeline right now. Here is a side-by-side comparison (although if you are reading it on a phone, which you most likely are, you wont get the full effects of the side by side! , sorry!)
Why am I even considering Boston? I know the result... I know this isn't going to go well. I thought last week that stopping at the earliest sign of trouble would make a difference, but obviously it doesn't. I've said from the very beginning that I was willing to sacrifice Boston for the bigger picture... am I?
From the very beginning all signs were not lining up for Boston, but it was worth a try since I was registered and... It's Boston... I still had plenty of time... At this point, however, all signs lead me back to where it all began: Vermont City. As I was writing this I stood up to help my daughter with something and a magazine fell off the table and this is what I saw:
Boston will have to wait, I've got bigger goals. I'm going to see if I can get as close to Sub3 as possible in Vermont and get as fit and strong as possible for the races after. I'm all in and throwing all I have at this. Now my Boston goal is to run with the elite women for my first Boston ever (which probably wont be the greatest experience, because I'll be in no mans land and the crowd will be thinner... but it would be ironic)
I've taken the instagram app off my phone because I need some time to process this. I'm not sure when I'll be back on- maybe tomorrow, maybe next week- Maybe after Boston... Maybe once I'm up and running again because then I can at least have a more positive outlook and not be as affected by the Boston posts.... maybe by the end of the night because I've been so transparent this whole time it feels weird to put up walls... But I needed a second to gather my thoughts on this without the influx of positive messages and well wishes and people saying "you can do it" when I'm now realizing it's just not what I want. So, in the meantime, I will keep blogging so if you are not subscribed, you should do that!
Some other Boston and Vermont related posts in case you missed them: Spoiler Alert, they all somehow have a calf injury mentioned in them. Not sure how....
"Hard work beats talent
Most of us are familiar with the concept of the quote above. It is basically saying that if you work hard you have the ability to surpass someone who is more naturally gifted at something than you are simply because you are "out working" them (or working smarter than them, I should also say).
You're going to be getting a lot of reflection posts from me these days because I've been having these revelations as I get further and further from a part of my former life that really held me down. Feeling the freedom to think my own positive thoughts without having a negative interjection counter it has made me realize a lot about myself and my approach to the sport in the last 7 years or so....
I was that talented kid that didn't work hard. That was always me. It's not to say I didn't work at all I'm simply saying that until my senior year of college, I never gave it 100%... or even 80%... probably not even 75%. In High School, when I started with this sport, I worked hard 180 days of the year (school days) and a handful of weekends... So maybe, just maybe, I was giving it 60% effort. When I was at practice, I was 100% all in, but when summer came and we had our workouts prescribed on paper and no one watching, I did nothing. I saw people from other schools training all summer and I laughed "why are they working so hard, I'm just going to beat them"... and that's usually what happened. When your talent is reinforced, instead of your hard work, it's more difficult to become a hard worker... even if that's what is necessary to get to the next level.
In education, praising someones work ethic as opposed to their natural intelligence or talent is all the rage. There has been a plethora of research done by Carol Dweck suggesting that praising a child for being smart can lead them to have a "fixed mindset", but praising them for trying hard, doing something challenging or outside their comfort zone that maybe they aren't so natural at produces a "growth mindset"
What if we apply this same level of thinking to sports? Is there a danger in calling someone talented? Maybe you know someone who was really talented but quit early due to a fixed mindset? I think there is a danger in how you praise (this is a huge part of what I do for a living in my special education classroom), and I am a direct product of praising inherent abilities rather than work ethic. I'm not writing this and moping because "wahh wahh, woes me, I'm talented, people called me talented, poor me" No, please don't interpret this post as me feeling sorry for myself and excusing all my shortcomings... I'm simply processing how to shift my mindset so that I can see more growth this upcoming year and beyond, and maybe this will reach someone else who is reading this who has also felt stuck.
Looking back, winning the Presidential Physical Fitness award in the 6th grade was the start to this partially Fixed Mindset and also the beginning of the word "talented" being thrown in my direction. Only three people won it in our school, and one of the other people happened to be my cousin who is doubly related to me (our fathers are brothers and our mothers are sisters). Maybe she was more talented than me and got it without trying, but I worked for that award. No doubt it was mostly talent. Ann and I have such similar genetics, it couldn't be a coincidence that we were 2 of the 3 people that achieved this highest honor. The running came naturally, and I weighed next to nothing so I could do push ups and crunches easily, But I was NOT flexible. There was this part where we had to stretch a certain amount of inches passed our toes and I worked for that. I was 11 years old I have a distinct memory of having my sister push on my back as I exhaled so that I could try and get 5 inches passed my feet (Mary can vouch for how annoyingly hard I worked). However, when that award was given, no one talked about the work I did. No one talked about how I improved from 2 inches to 5 inches, everyone just praised me for my talent. Naturally, I was proud.
It wasn't until I started entering bigger ponds that talent started to recognizably hurt my way of thinking. I was always able to win the important race in high school. I am still one of 6 people that have ever won three consecutive CMASS titles, and I'm the only runner to win in both Divisions.... but I always under performed at the States. I would say "well, I can't win that, so I don't care." as if the results were fixed... just like my way of thinking. The only year I ran well was the year my team had a chance to win. That was the only year I beat World Record Stroller Runner, Dianna Chivakos but it wasn't until later that that became important. College took some adjusting. I spent most of it feeling horrible because I simply couldn't win anything and I didn't even realize that the girl winning everything was Dianna. She saw me in the bathroom and mentioned she recognized me because I out-kicked her at States. I was in her families home video or something. Whaaat? I beat her? HOW? I realized I had to give more, why is this person that I beat in High School minutes ahead of me? I needed to rely on something other than talent. Before entering Senior Year I finally started running over the summer (yes, I never ran over the summer). My hard work was immediately reinforced with a 19:08 5k right off the bat, a 30 second PR. Later that season, I made it to the NCAA National Championship. I was so proud of the hard work I put in, but I remember someone telling me "well, it's about time!" I knew that was their way of celebrating with me, but it voided all my hard work. I worked hard, this wasn't something someone handed to me... I worked hard... for the first time ever, I worked hard" and it didn't matter that I worked hard because all I did was finally, finally meet the expectation people already had for me based on my talent. In that moment I stopped feeling proud, instead I felt ashamed. Have I been letting people down all this time?
As you can see, my inner dialogue was always concerned with what people thought of me. Am I Good Enough? I would never describe myself as insecure, but this was as close as it got.
fFI've been fighting a battle with a Fixed Mindset for a long time as it was the foundation I had laid early on. Fortunately, I had a lot of people (my high school coach, especially) pushing me in the direction of a Growth Mindset and I developed enough of that to never quit. It's really hard to change what is already there; change the foundation in which you built everything you've ever achieved on top of. The only real way is to destroy it all and rebuild from scratch. The knee surgery, the injuries, the two pregnancies; these, I guess, are the things that made me realize I need to start over. I'm not "rebuilding" a foundation, because I don't want the same thing. I'm simply building something totally new. I'm building a totally new physical and mental foundation. It's only been 12 days of the new year, but these 12 days I have spent looking at my new blueprints, my new map, instead of trying to put patches in places that just keep breaking or taping together my old map that really leads to no where. For the first time ever I’m excited about the hard work rather than the result. Maybe I fail a few times, but having the goal to work hard is completely in my control, and so far—I LIKE IT!
Do you struggle with a Fixed Mindset in any aspect of your life?
What steps do you take to overcome this way of thinking?
What do you attribute to forming your Growth Mindset?
Happy New Year's Eve, Everyone! Obviously, if my New Years Resolution was to keep up with my blog, I was not completely successful with that. Maybe 2018 I'll do better.
Before I talk about my resolutions for 2018, let me first look back on 2017.
I've decided to break this blog post up into 2 parts so stay tuned for the second part of this post coming tomorrow!
2017 got off to a great start. I set a handful of measurable resolutions, S.M.A.R.T. goals, if you will (that's for all you teachers out there!) I'm just going to touch on a few of them:
1. Have another healthy pregnancy and baby
2. Do Cardio a minimum of 5 x per week until a Doctor says not to
3. Mom Crush Monday Every Monday
4. Laundry 2 x per week
5. Wake up early to do Drills 2 x per week
Lets dive in below and discuss how all of these actually went.
Have another healthy pregnancy and baby: Obviously I achieved goal number 1! This was the most important goal, but in many ways the easiest because once your on this path, you have to stay on it. You really can't stop the pregnancy train once its rolling... and while you do have some control over the health (ie: don't smoke, drink, and do absolutely foolish things while pregnant) pregnancy and everything that comes along with it is a total LEAP OF FAITH! I'm so grateful that this goal was realized, and failing at everything else, but having this would be totally okay in my book.
Honestly, If All the goals I set for myself were total and utter failures except for this one goal, I'd be completely okay with it. I could stop this post here and call 2017 a complete success... but I want to set myself up for big things in 2018, so lets keep looking at the other goals.
Do Cardio a minimum of 5 x per week until a Doctor says not to: When I got pregnant I knew I was qualified for Boston, and I knew I had a goal of the 2020 Olympic Trials marathon. SO, since I was completely unable to run for my first pregnancy due to knee surgery, I wanted to do my best to stay in shape during this one so that I could transition to running 6 weeks postpartum. Obviously, I know now that even if you stay fit, pregnancy is different for everyone and there's no way to predict how labor will go and how recovery will go. I was able to run all through the first 36 weeks of pregnancy with only minor setbacks here and there, and then I forced myself to finish up a 1000 mile goal when it might have been a smart idea to stop... but mostly I was successful. Here is a link to all my pregnancy recaps week by week if you're interested. I learned a lot during this process. It was very humbling! Especially as an active instagrammer following other people running pregnant who made it look easy! It was NOT easy! However, it did make the time pass by quicker and gave me little benchmark goals to help me get through it all which I liked (more to come on this topic tomorrow). I set small goals such as reaching a max mileage of 50 MPW (a feat I rarely do unless I have a marathon on the schedule), then I did many weeks of 26.2 miles, and again, I did the 1000 miles and I had a bunch of races in there, as well. .
Since having Maebel (birth story) the 5x per week minimum has not been a goal since I'm now under guidance of a coach. I would say this one was a complete success even though there are weeks at the end here that are incomplete. The purpose of this goal was to keep me fit through pregnancy, not have me foolishly running if I'm sick or injured. So no sense in doing 5 x per week right now but I'm still making sure to do everything I can... and I'm enjoying my training partner being my sidekick instead of kicking my side
Mom Crush Monday Every Monday: I actually did pretty good with this one even though I didn't achieve it. I highlighted 36 moms in 52 weeks. My intention behind this goal was to create more purpose out of my instagram. I wanted to get my followers interacting more, and to get to really know more about some of the people I was following so that it wasn't this weird "stalker-like" environment. I wanted them to know that I saw them, and that I thought they were awesome! I also wanted to create a little #momcrush community. I thought it was cool that a 4 hour marathon mamma could be featured as a mom crush the same way a 1:57 half miler could be. I loved doing this but really started slacking after I had the baby. Mostly because on maternity leave I didn't know if it was Monday or Friday... and then once the slacking began... it never ended... as is the case with most of my goal setting. Once I slip, I can't seem to get my grip back... (more on that to come, also)
Laundry 2 x per week: In this goal I specified that I meant a full load of laundry.... all the way to the folding and putting away part... I think my mom skills are pretty good, but my classic housewife skills? OMG. I failed this goal in the first month. Maybe the first week. My intention behind this goal was to support my husband in his new job where he is traveling a lot... and he typically does the laundry... but I literally found every other way in the book to show my support other than laundry including finding a dirty laundry system that is so good the house can still be clean even when every single article of clothing is dirty... I'm sure I turned on the dryer at least 2 x per week. I probably did enough loads in the wash to add up to an average of 2 x per week. But I can only think of one time where I did the whole load and folded and put it away (and I did like 10 that day. #nesting). so... well... better luck in 2018?
Wake up Early to do Drills 2 x per week: Another early fail. I am NOT an early riser. My intention behind this goal was two things: 1. Get myself in a habit of waking up early knowing that my future in the sport is dependent on early mornings. 2. Do drills to maintain strength throughout pregnancy. At some point early on (March Maybe?) I was just so, so, tired from pregnancy (the really really tired phase seemed to hit me in early second trimester). It was so, so cold, and I was just like "why am I doing early mornings when I can just do the strength at night? when the time comes I will wake up when given no other choice" and this is actually true. I wouldn't say I tracked 2 x per week exactly. It seems like I'd get in a good routine, then have something happen or not feel right so I'd skip a week and then take a while to get back into a groove, and then when I'd feel an injury coming on I'd ramp up the drills 5 days a week, then back to nothing, and the cycle continued. Not my best effort, for sure.... but it wasn't a total loss.
No Explanation Needed
This year I made myself a fancy data sheet that I'd show you if it didn't end up in the trash during one of my extreme nesting moments. I had each goal written down and had boxes for each month that I could either check off or color in for days that didn't apply. I had a new sheet for each month. I started off tracking this really well, but as weeks went on and more an more goals began to shift and change, the data sheet was almost useless. It wasn't giving me a clear picture of what I was achieving and where I was falling short. It was actually just making me feel bad. I'd look at it and be like "ugh, I didn't do my drills this morning" and instead of being able to say to myself "hey, I can still do them now" I already felt like I failed. The point of resolutions is to improve yourself, and I feel like I did that, but when the data was showing the opposite, I had to get rid of it. I was constantly modifying and changing and adapting my goals in order to do the best I could do every day.
Some highlights of this year that my resolutions could never account for:
1. I ran several races pregnant... and many weeks I stuck to a 26.2 mile goal
2. I ran 1000 pregnancy miles
3. I pushed a baby out in 3 pushes.
4. I hired a coach
5. I took care of 2 children at 10 days postpartum for 5 consecutive days with no husband and no help! That was very hard!
6. I packed up my entire classroom and started a job in a new building
7. I learned SO MUCH new technology when I returned to work.
8. I created a website for myself (even though I haven't really kept up with it, it's here, it's live, and it looks awesome!)
9. I rearranged the house several times to accommodate all the changes.
10. I kept a positive attitude in the face of every adverse situation I've been in this year, and it was a lot!
My idea on resolutions has been shifting a lot, and mostly because a year is a long long time (never is that more obvious than when you are pregnant). I don't think I've ever had a bad year... a year that I didn't better myself in some way, but I also don't think I've ever fully achieved any of my resolutions. Maybe it's because I'm setting the standard too high, but really I think it's because setting a goal for a year limits your possibilities. Goals need to be more flexible so you can keep a door open to other possibilities...
So in reflecting on 2017 and looking forward to 2018, I intend to create a goal that is achievable, flexible, and that leaves room for small tastes of success to help keep momentum during times when the tide ebbs and for greater growth when the tide flows.
EDIT: Resolutions Post (Part 2) is up and ready
It's no secret I've been trying to Monetize my blog since earlier this month. I intend to mostly continue on doing what I'd normally do... I'm just pushing myself to actually follow through and write. If applicable, I've started to include links to products directly related to the topic I'm covering... (so if you see one, and it's something you're interested in, help a girl out!)
I was blogging anyway, why not try to make something of it?
In the process of learning the ins-and-outs of having a blog to make money (even if your goal is, say, gas money?), I've created a Pinterest. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm way behind on this stuff. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the little "Promote" icon and I followed my curiosity to pay for an advertisement. I scheduled to pay a whopping $2.00 (because.... I still need to pay for gas) to promote a post I wrote a long time ago and just recently edited and linked to the products I originally mentioned. This post was organically created, and was the most "pinterest worthy" post I had... so it made sense to experiment with the promotion features with this particular post.
It was titled "10 Things they DON'T tell You: POSTPARTUM" and if you don't remember, this was the image that I soon found out was not worthy of an advertisement:
Here we go again I thought another viral facebook post.
This was my first reaction to the "Me Too" movement started by Tarana Burke many years ago and recently shared by Alyssa Milano in response to the Havey Weinstein scandal. It's not that I don't think these issues are important, and that people shouldn't speak out... It's just that I, personally, would speak up (and for the most part have spoken up) the minute anyone crossed me the wrong way.... and my knee jerk reaction was that this movement just opened the door for people who actually have not been harassed, assaulted, or raped to seek attention. The idea is that you just post "Me Too" if you've been a victim, and although stories are welcomed, they are not required... In my mind I rolled my eyes seeing some of the "me too's" knowing full well that nothing "serious" ever happened with many of the people posting.
....but then I had a change of heart after reading some comments of people who didn't think much differently than me, particularly one from my friend and teammate Ellen which read as follows:
It's a very popular topic. You see it everywhere on facebook, twitter, instagram. People (especially women) posting pictures of their transformations along with a lengthy post about how they have changed and feel great about their body, and just look at how it's changed.... Now, I have no problem with the programs themselves or the message people are trying to portray. It sells, I guess. Image sells.
I'm ONE WEEK postpartum today, and starting to feel human again. I managed to get myself out of the house a few times and everywhere I've gone I've been told how I look amazing. I think I do! I worked hard! BUT as much as I'm happy to look good, how I feel and what I'm able to do is much more important!
I think it's time we change the conversation from "Body Image" to "Body Function". Is it just semantics? Maybe... But removing the word "image" removes the idea that what you look like has a direct correlation on what you can do and it's simply not always true.
I don't post about Body Image because I'm not concerned about what my body looks like but I am concerned about its function all the time! If we put the focus into the function, the physical changes will follow suit. At the moment I couldn't tell you how much weight I have lost because I have not stepped on a scale. In fact I never knew exactly how much I gained (I know I weighted 167lbs on my last appointment, but I never knew what I started at). I can tell you that although I feel like my image is going to bounce right back, I'm putting all of my focus on the function.
I have some joint dysfunction right now. My pelvis and pubic bones feel abused... standing on one leg is a struggle, and since running is entirely done on one leg that is something I absolutely need to correct. I'm still unable to use my abs to sit up, and my upper abdominal muscles still feel like I have a baby stretching them out. Maybe it's from carrying a nearly 9lb kid (as opposed to the 7lb kid I carried the first time) Maybe it's because I ran longer than I should have, maybe it's just normal and since I'm chasing after a 2 year old I notice it more... I don't know... But I do know with 100% honesty that I'm not concerned with my image at all... and for you pregnant mamas following along or postpartum mamas that are worried or feeling down from stretch marks...
....Focus on improving what your body can do, your body function, and you will create a spiral of positivity that will change how you perceive yourself, which will change how others perceive you, and THAT is the only way to change your body image.
Breastfeeding and blogging is way easier than breastfeeding and trying to stay awake in the hospital... So, lucky for all of you, Maebel is a bit more demanding than Raea (and a professional latcher) so I'm nursing around the clock and I've got a bit of "spare time" to blog another birth story.
According to my blog stats Raeas Story was my second most popular post (first was the 10 Things they don't tell you: Postpartum... Which I thought I was exaggerating at the time, but I WAS NOT!) So if you're up breast or bottle feeding, waiting for your own baby to come, or just find my grammatically incorrect blog updates to be super entertaining to read, follow the links and check out those posts as well... it will be impossible to write this post without referencing Raea's story since this story turned out to be an extension of that.... so, again, here is Raea's Birth Story. Onto Maebel....
Welcome to my blog! I blogged my entire pregnancy in 2017 and I had high hopes for where I could take my running after baby number 2, but my body had other plans. At some point I got too discouraged to write and recently realized that it is essential for my personal growth and development to keep putting feelings into coherent(ish) thoughts. I still hope to run sub 2:45 in the marathon one day, but for now I’m trying to focus on the process and I’m learning to enjoy it. You can come along for the ride, apologies in advance for grammatical incorrectness!