So Long, Farewell…. For now.

Well folks, after three years of sharing my running and whatever random thoughts are in my head, I’m going to call it a day… For now. I took the site down for a week but have put it back up for sentimental reasons… and just in case. You never know when the muse may strike 😉

 

I have loved sharing my experiences with you, and being fortunate enough to receive your interest, your support and your advice. Soon I’m going back to work (ughhhhhh) and to be perfectly frank, it’s hard enough to find time to balance everything as it is without adding work into the mix. Sadly running will have to take a step back in my priority list, which means blogging will be even lower.

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Trail Running in the Lake District

I am still crazy-competitive, and have certain goals that I want to smash. Such as….. running London again, doing a sub-3:30 marathon (not at London, maybe Edinburgh again!), and beating my 1:41 half time. But none of these will happen in enough time to make for an interesting blog! Here is what a post would be like:

 

Hi everyone! This week I did a 5k run with the running buggy on Saturday. It wasn’t park run, we can’t get organised enough to go to park run. I also aimed to go to the gym but did laundry instead. Then on Tuesday I ran the 1.6k to nursery with the baby, and worked in sweaty clothes all day, before running to collect her. Yay! 

 

So you can see why I’m stopping now.

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Nothing is more fun than running in Paris

This blog has pushed me to keep up my training, forced me to stay honest and actually adhere to training plans, and has helped me hit huge running goals and allowed me to be self-indulgent and celebrate. I remember the day Gilly P and I were chatting online and decided we should actually do it – she is always be a huge inspiration to me, and the person who encouraged me the most in getting my 3:43 at Edinburgh, which honestly is one of my proudest moments. FYI, she smashed a half iron man recently as you do, and was cool as a cucumber about it. #lifegoals

My best bud

My best bud

Thank you all for reading – to our regulars, and to anyone who just stopped by. It’s been so much fun, and I’m grateful to have all this documented so I can bore Baby B when she’s older about my running achievements. Lucky her.

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Londonnnnn!! My newest achievement

I’m not quite sure how to end this last post, so I’ll just share some random finishing thoughts:

 

  • Lemonade by Beyonce is the best album to be released since she released ‘Beyonce’ in 2013. Fact*.
  • Doing the plank with the hanging straps on the TRX machine makes it way more fun, and way more effective
  • It’s two years since I ran my Edinburgh marathon (which is very important to me still, not sure if you guessed?)
  • Women in my old running group have assured me that eventually, mothers often come back stronger and faster so I’m looking forward to that. I’m sure it will take some work!
  • Make sure you go out and run today. It’s always nice weather for running*. That’s another fact for you.
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Ready for ya Edinburgh!

Thanks again everyone, I have LOVED it!!

 

Ellie B

 

*This post contains large amounts of sentimentality and any facts stated may not actually be true. But they probably are, so you should just agree.

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A perfect Christmas present for you runners out there….

Running with or without headphones is a big debate in running circles. It’s right up there alongside the benefits of barefoot running, and what is the best treat after a long run. I’m on the Pro-Headphones side: I  lurve running with them. Listening to music and podcasts helps me establish a rhythm, it distracts from the tougher times, and it helps me learn song lyrics so I look like the biggest geek in the world cool at karaoke. Because, you can look cool at karaoke. Believe me.

 

Anyway. Headphones are a big deal, and I’m very particular. They can’t be too big or they’ll fall out of my tiny ears. They also can’t have a solid wrap-around headband, as they don’t often fit my narrow bean head.

 

66 Audio sent me a pair of their BTS Sports headphones to try out, and I was reallllllllllly excited about it as they use blue tooth, which is the ultimate in cool headphone technology. Many a time have I pulled my own headphones out with an enthusiastic arm swing getting in the way of the cord.

BTS 1

 

They arrived and my first feeling was one of uncertainty: they were a little bulkier than I had thought, and there was my enemy the wrap-around headband! But my uncertainty was short lived as they are honestly a dream to run with, and this is coming from someone with a bean head and a running soundtrack compulsion.

 

Here is why they are the bees knees:

  • They paired immediately with my phone, no hassles at all
  • They actually cuddle the top of your ear between the band and the headphone itself, so it’s not the wrap-around band that holds them in place. That means there’s greater flexibility in terms of whose head they will fit: I imagine these will fit everyone.
  • The large headphone pads (or whatever the right term is) means they aren’t falling out of your ears, with the added plus that your ears are kept all toasty warm
  • The volume is powerful enough to compete with a busy road or a crying baby, and they use noise cancelling technology
  • They have a microphone so you can make and receive calls clearly

 

BTS 2

 

There is very little movement once they are in place, and I don’t feel like I’m actually wearing them. There are controls on the right ear so you can jump/rewind tracks, adjust the volume etc, with grooves so your fingers can suss out which button is which. Personally I can never actually get things like this to work when I’m running, but it’d be good for someone a little more switched on perhaps.

BTS phone

See the ridges on the side of the earphone

I have used them both outdoors and in the gym, and I have to say it’s refreshing to be able to put your phone on the ledge of the running machine without worrying about getting caught up in the cable like a fool. Or accidentally pulling your phone onto the treadmill and running on it. I’ve charged them once (they just plug into your computer), and so far I’ve gotten 8 hours worth of use, but apparently they can be used for 30 hours between charges.

Action gym shot

Action gym shot

In my opinion they are really good all around headphones, but great for running. Amazon sells them for £46.99*, so compared to other brands, it’s a really good price! A perfect Christmas present for that runner in your life.

Here's how they sit snugly on the ear

Here’s how they sit snugly on the ear

Anyway, I have to go now because my little piggy went to sleep when we were out running just now, and I can hear her snuffling around downstairs.

 

I hope you’re all having a great December, and a great start to Christmas!! Hurray!!

 

Ellie B

 

*I am not sure whether any retailers in Australia sell them, however you can order them from the UK/US Amazon sites and have them shipped.

 

Disclaimer: These headphones were sent to me to review, but this hasn’t impacted my views on them. They genuinely are a very good item. 

Post Baby Body

When you have a baby, your body isn’t your own. It becomes the property of doctors, your husband/partner, family members, and anyone who has an interest in the baby. This is even more true if you have help making the baby (meaning fertility treatment, not some kind of special night party!), or if you have complications during pregnancy or labour. Plus, your body very literally becomes the property of the little life you’re growing inside.

 

Once the baby is here, your body is yours a little bit again. Except your stomach now resembles a deflated balloon, and your little creature may claim your chest area as theirs for the next few months. In those early days you’re completely at the whim of this small child and feeling mad with sleep deprivation. I remember reading a baby book which was asking me what kind of baby I had: I remember thinking “I don’t even know who the child is myself yet! We have a stranger living with us!’

Twelve days before Baby B arrived, just chillaxing on the putting green.

Twelve days before Baby B arrived, just chillaxing on the putting green.

It’s common for women to read that it took 9 months to grow the baby, so don’t stress if it takes as long to lose the weight. This is comforting on the one hand, but on the other hand there’s enough change already without looking down and not recognising yourself. Kate Middleton was awesome when she left the hospital with George – her dress showed how much weight she still carried, even though she had her blow dry. When she left with Charlotte I felt equally sad for her and annoyed: she looked perfect. No other new mother could even compete! But I bet she was thinking ‘what the hell am I doing in these heels, don’t they know I pushed a human out five hours ago? Glad my hair is up to your standards Daily Mail, now excuse me while I get home before my boobs leak all over my couture dress..’.

 

When I came out of hospital I looked like I was 6 months pregnant still, but suddenly people weren’t interested in my stomach anymore :(  It was enough to walk up to our bedroom each day, let alone leaving the house: it felt like it was impossible I’d ever run again! Then over the next few days, I was healing and by day 5 I was able to walk to the pub with friends (I feel it was a good choice of destination for our first trip).

 

Looking back, I’d say that there were a couple of things that I did during pregnancy that really helped on the other side:

  1. Keeping up with some kind of exercise meant that the weight didn’t stick around for as long as it might have done, and helped with the recovery as I wrote about here.
  2. Watched my diet. Thanks to gestational diabetes, I couldn’t eat as much cake as I had planned to during pregnancy – there was definitely no ‘eating for two’! Or if there was, it was followed by a biiiiig walk.

 

I was also definitely lucky not to have a complicated birth. The more I hear about ‘natural birth’ the more unnatural it seems: almost all of my friends have had some kind of intervention and have taken longer to recover than I have with my operation!

Six days before Baby B arrived.

Six days before Baby B arrived.

A month after Baby B was born we started going for long walks each day. This was both to give us something to do, and if I couldn’t run, I was damn well going to walk. 5 weeks after, when my dad & step-mother arrived from Sydney I was so excited that I ran down the street like an 8 year old. It felt great – flying through the air like I used to! And then I got a stitch, and my legs ached all evening. Hmmmm.

 

By week 7 I was starting to run again, and now that we’re at week 12 I’m almost back to normal. Comparatively I know that I’m lucky to be able to say that after three months, and whilst I wouldn’t swap it, there is an element to all this that I want to raise…

 

And that is that it’s not all about how you look. Yes, I’d prefer not to look down and see a crepe paper stomach, or more orange peel legs, which are the two parting gifts I’m left with. But it’s just as much about how you feel. Your hormones are going mad, you’re adjusting to a new identity as someone’s parent, you’re trying to work out how you can cook the dinner, and you want to enjoy the little person you’re getting to know. In amongst all this, you’re also getting to know your post-birth body: what its new limits and abilities are. It doesn’t matter that people  say you look good: you’re learning where your new weaknesses are and it takes a while to get used to them.

 

Reading that it takes 9 months to grow a baby so it may take 9 months before you feel back to normal is helpful as it sets kind and realistic expectations. Personally  I have also enjoyed taking a more proactive approach. Breast feeding does help, and as soon as we could, Baby B and I were walking everywhere. It wasn’t running, but I was able to enjoy the things I love about running still: being outside, feeling the fresh air, feeling like I’m doing something good for myself, and now for Baby B. So whilst there’s still a way to go with the actual weight and my figure, I feel better for being able to do something that resembles who I was before. It feels familiar and new at the same time, and the best part is I get to share it with my new little sidekick.

 

Of course, this is just my experience, and  I’ve always been independent and impatient! My approach has been to try and be kind to myself, and to work within my new limitations. It seems to be working so far – but the most important thing I’ve learned since Baby B came along is that every plan is good in theory, but the reality is so different!

 

Ellie B

 

 

Cesarean Section: the lowdown, and did fitness really help?

Hi everyone – wow, two weeks since my last post. You can guess what happened recently: we had our baby! Baby B is now confirmed to be a little girl, and for the past three weeks we have learned that she loves bath time and cuddling, and hates changing her clothes and being put down anywhere. At all. She knows. And she’ll scream.

 

This post I thought I’d look at the process of the cesarean. When I found out I was having one, I was very nervous about the surgical element: I’d never had surgery that big before, and the recovery was really scaring me. I tried to find some info about the process that wasn’t vague, NHS guidelines (which were helpful, but I was after some actual insights and personal experience rather than general advice), or that wasn’t on a Netmums forum, where it seems you can’t post if you value punctuation and complete words instead of abbreviations.

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So here we go. Two days before the birth I was admitted into hospital for steroid injections to help Baby B’s lungs mature as she was coming out a little early. As a result, I had to have my blood sugar monitored every hour thanks to he gestational diabetes. Day and night. For 48 hours. So … that was fun. I only found out on the day that I’d have to be admitted that early, and was kind of tearful as I re-packed my bag from one night to potentially four, and said goodbye to all the nice things I’d planned for the last day without a child. No romantic dinner with SB, no final aqua class. Sounds silly, but I was pretty emotional when SB took me to the hospital and then eventually drove away and left me in my new ‘home’ for the next few days, which was a four bed ward with two other patients.

 

However, this soon wore off. By that stage I was getting some pretty severe braxton hicks, so it felt safer to be in the hospital. It was nice to know that all I had to do was chill in between getting my blood sugar monitored, and helped me to calm down and focus on what was coming up. I watched a lot of Suits (so many good looking humans and so many sports metaphors), and my first episode of the Great British Bake Off. And wrote an emotional blog post 😉

 

On the day itself, SB arrived at 8am, and I put on my awesome surgical gear. We were prepared for a long wait, but by 9am we were called in. It all happened so fast, and we were frantically texting our family as we walked to the theatre. There, we waited for the team to assemble: there were approximately 9 people in the room as well as SB and myself. Once my spinal bloc had been administered, they lay me down and checked that it had worked. Then they put in the catheter (lovely), and they began.

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It was a really weird sensation to lie there knowing that people were digging around inside you, and even more weird to know that in a few minutes our baby was going to arrive. In labour, I’m guessing that the process helps you prepare, plus you’re probably somewhere in your own zone just trying to get through the pain. And once the baby’s out, I’ve read your body is filled with hormones that help you forget the process and help you bond with the baby. My experience was nothing like that – I was conscious throughout and had nothing else to focus on apart from trying to imagine what would happen in the next few minutes. You can feel them rummaging around inside, but you can’t feel anything, and you can’t make sense of what’s happening because you know it’s such a big moment: how do you comprehend what’s going on? At one point, I saw the doctor’s hand above the screen holding two little purple feet, but she wasn’t completely out yet: that was the strangest experience of the whole thing, and really brought home what was happening!

 

Because she was breech, they had to push really hard to get her head out. Poor thing. I could feel a lot of pressure – it wasn’t painful but it was uncomfortable. When she came out, she was blue and in shock, so they took her over to a little bed to give her oxygen and warm her up. Here I should say a huge thank you to One Born Every Minute because I knew exactly what they were doing and that it was normal! Otherwise it would have been pretty scary. After a minute or two we heard a thin little cry and she was here.

 

They brought her over for SB and I to hold while they closed me up. This takes longer than getting her out, but you don’t realise because you’re looking at your baby and trying to work out what has just happened! Afterwards, they wheeled me into recovery where we (unsuccessfully) attempted the first feed. Then they took me back to the ward, where we were left with our baby, and where I waited out the anaesthetic.

 

Because of my diabetes, they were very strict in feeding her every three hours and make sure she ate. So she had formula for the first 48 hours in addition to me trying to feed, because it’s bloody hard work and they needed to make sure she ate. For the next two days, I stayed in the hospital while I tried to feed her, and the midwives topped her up with formula. The midwives were so patient and sat with me for an hour each time trying to help me: neither baby nor mother have any clue as to what to do, so it’s really tricky. By day 2 Baby B and I had kind of worked out what to do (thank god), so we were discharged, and SB and I were left to try and keep this small baby alive by ourselves!

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Sorry about the language. But this is what it’s like.

So. The recovery after the operation. Once the anaesthetic wears off, you are definitely very tender, and I was given pain killers every 3-4 hours, but nothing stronger than a powerful anti-inflammatory with paracetamol. The midwife took the catheter out and helped me to stand about 6 hours after the bub was born, and I was advised to walk around. So I did. It was a very ginger walk: I was hunched over, and moved very tenderly, like an old lady. This continued for about three days, but each day was better. I had a shower that night, and took the dressing off the wound. Going to the loo wasn’t painful (which is a concern!): I stayed very hydrated, and I tried to relax when I went which seemed to help. The muscles they sliced into seem to be used for everything: sitting up, going to the loo, twisting your torso, walking, and so everything was done very slowly to avoid pain. The day after she was born I was walking around the ward regularly, and the day after we were discharged, so much more walking that day. Each evening the wound was tender, and the hardest things were getting out of the bed and getting off the sofa. These were painful every time.

 

By the 5th day I was able to walk to our local pub for dinner with friends. I stopped feeling regular pain after about 6 days, and only if I moved the wrong way. The first two weeks were difficult: as well as no sleep, worrying about whether the child is eating enough, trying to get used to your new way of life where you can’t go anywhere and where your house looks like Mothercare threw up in your living room, you also have to be careful of not lifting things and taking care of how you move. But I think that’s the same for natural births too.

 

Now – 20 days after – I can walk my normal distances, however I can’t walk very fast still. I barely feel the wound, apart from in the evenings if I’ve had a particularly active day. Thanks to Baby B being a bit of a cling-on, we haven’t really gone very far, which is helpful as I’m pretty stubborn and not used to being immobile!

 

After she was born, my stomach was still pretty big. I looked 6 months pregnant still, but it was soft and there were marks and bruises from the surgery all over it. I went through a phase of missing my lovely bump, and feeling my little bub inside me. My legs swelled right up after the surgery – much more than anything I experienced when pregnant. They look like two tree trunks, with no definition at the knees or the ankles. This was fluid retention, and went away after three days. Now, my stomach has deflated somewhat and my legs are back to normal.

 

So was all that effort to stay fit during the pregnancy worth it? I think so. I think it really helped with my recovery: it made the first walk not to painful, and meant that I could walk more regularly a lot more quickly than some others (or so I heard from the midwives). I don’t think my core has been decimated as much as I thought, which helped once I was at home as walking up and down stairs wasn’t as problematic as I expected. Plus, I’m very fortunate that my stomach did deflate pretty quickly, and I’m sure this is because of the exercise I did when pregnant. So, even though it wasn’t in preparation for the ‘marathon’ that is labour, it still really helped me out and made the whole experience better.

 

 

I am itching to get out there in the fresh air and start walking regularly. The weather is still nice, and I know Winter is closing in soon. However, Baby B has other plans and hasn’t decided whether she likes the pram or not. If we go out and she’s in the wrong mood, she’ll just cry and cry, which is not nice. To be honest, I’m starting to feel panicked that I’m not getting out and about enough, and the being sat in my living room for hours on end feeding can result in some pretty severe cabin fever. But I have to remind myself that she’s not even three weeks old yet, and that these things will come with time. I should just enjoy these days when my main focus is sitting and feeding – I should watch more Suits. Because really, the cast is so attractive, and they love a quick, slick exchange of words. It’s like The O.C. for adults.

 

 

Sorry if an in-depth analysis of a cesarean isn’t what you wanted from a running blog, and sorry if it’s TMI. But I would have loved to read something like this when I was getting used to the idea, so I wanted to put it out there for others. The whole process was not as traumatic as I thought it would be, and on balance there are definite pros compared with a natural birth, such as:

 

  • You know when your child will arrive, and can mentally prepare
  • There is no long labour leaving you exhausted
  • I think my recovery would have been similar to that of a natural birth, particularly if the natural birth resulted in stitches
  • You get to stay in hospital for longer – this is a major advantage when learning to feed. How are new mothers expected to know what to do when they leave hospital after 5 hours?!

 

So… all I’m saying is that it’s not as bad as you think. And sorry again if you were hoping for a more running-oriented post.

 

 

Ellie B

Labour vs C-Section: A Runner’s Late Night Worries

There are some things runners are known for. An unhealthy interest in the state of our feet. A collection of bedraggled, muddy trainers that we would rather build a shrine for than throw out. And needing to feel in control of situations.

 

Oh yes, we runners, we are all quite the control freaks. Maybe not obviously, but we like to log our training, to put the work in and see results, to adjust workouts based on weather predictions, hydration levels and how much fun we had the night before.

 

The closer it has been getting to our delivery date, the more I have been approaching labour like a marathon. I have been at the gym, keeping my cardio levels as strong as I can, and I’ve been working out muscles that would, quite simply, make you blush. Did you know that contractions last approximately 60-90 seconds? The perfect amount of time for some serious mental toughness: ’90 seconds, you can do it, breathe and focus on counting down, don’t think of the next one, concentrate on this one’. It would be like mile 18 during the Edinburgh marathon when every step was painful thanks to the blood blisters which had actually taken over my feet, but I had to keep going to get to my end goal. I even had my brand new ‘positive vibes only’ t-shirt ready to wear, and my selection of sports drinks to help me through.

Baby feet

As I will not be running any races in 2015 (something which hasn’t happened for five years), this was going to be it. My marathon. The thing that would test me more than any marathon ever could, and the thing that would give me the greatest reward. Deep down I knew it would be much worse than any marathon, and that the similarities would only get me so far, but I was confident they would help. Plus, it felt great to have something to work towards.

 

Last week we found out this baby will come by cesarean section, and that changed everything more than I thought it would. Bye bye marathon moments, bye bye sports drinks and birthing balls, tens machines and gas and air. Hello: who knows? I haven’t had an operation this big in my life – even though it’s very routine, it’s pretty big abdominal surgery, and at the end there’s a tiny human relying on you to keep it alive, while you’re still coming to grips with how your stitches hurt every time you move.

 

Rather than staying fit to help me through the delivery, suddenly now the role of my fitness will be to contribute to a quicker recovery. Hopefully! I hope it does that! I am not sure how I feel about having my stomach muscles sliced into, and not being able to walk up and down stairs. I am not good at asking for help, and the thought of not lifting anything heavier than the baby is not one I enjoy.

 

With most things, you can estimate how you’ll react based on how you know yourself. But this…. I was walking today, and it struck me that this could be one of the final times that I can walk unheeded and unaided for a little while.

 

I am sure there are people out there who have had c-sections, or those who think I’m being melodramatic. But – please see the first paragraph. As a runner, I feel like we have a deal that we put the hard work in, and our bodies support us in our endeavours. Not that I’ve been betrayed by my body – not in the slightest – but it will be carved into in a way I’ve not experienced before, and the unknown is pretty daunting. We work so hard at maintaining and improving certain fitness and performance levels, and I’m daunted by the recovery of this. How will my abs heal? How long will it be until I can actually walk, or drive safely, let alone go for a gentle run? Throughout pregnancy, running (or going to the gym) has helped me feel like me, and I have a feeling that for the next 6-8 weeks, I’ll feel less like me than ever before…

 

One of my colleagues had a c-section two weeks ago, and she said ‘I was kind of looking forward to beating labour’ – and that is exactly how I felt! I wanted to do this thing that millions of women had done before me, and show it who’s boss. And yes – I know there’ll be a gorgeous little baby at the end (touch wood), but I’m still intimidated by the change of plans and by what’s ahead.

Baby 2

Anyway, surely being fit cannot hurt in terms of recovery. This is still my marathon: it’s just a different one to what I’d imagined. It’s prepping for a hot Summer’s race and getting a rainy day. That’s all: a change of plans, but nothing that can detract from what’s going to happen in the near future.

 

Ellie B