Reluctantly Giving Up on My Half Marathon Training

Back in January I joined a running club and started a 15-week half marathon training plan. Running club met twice a week, with one of those days being a long run. Being a part of a group made me push myself and helped me stay motivated. I signed up for a Mother’s Day Half Marathon. Completing a half marathon has been a dream of mine for some time, and running one on Mother’s Day seemed perfect. I welcomed the challenge and loved how I felt after a run. I think I might like running just for the rush of completing a run.

Two weeks into the training plan we had our first hill run. I had to take D with me since I tried to get my runs done while my husband was at work (with the exception of the days I ran with the running club). This was a mistake. Coming downhill I landed too hard while trying to keep the stroller from going too fast. I could feel a jarring in my bones and knew I was going to be in a world of hurt after. Not wrong, my shins were in terrible pain for the remainder of the week.

The following week my shins still hurt, but the pain wasn’t enough to keep me from running. I continued to run while trying desperately to keep my shins happy. I tried ice, foam rolling, calf compression sleeves, yoga, calf exercises, massage, skipping my hill runs…nothing seemed to work. It got to the point where my shins hurt just walking around, especially going up and down stairs. When sitting on the floor, I would wince as D would come rushing over to sit in my lap; blaring pain would welcome me when he’d sit on my shins.

About five weeks into my training plan, I began to worry that it might be a stress fracture rather than just shin splints, so I went to see a sports medicine physician. Not surprisingly, an x-ray showed no evidence of a stress fracture (it takes a while for a stress fracture to show up on x-ray). The doctor said the only way to really know for sure was to do an MRI, but that the treatment for a stress fracture was the same for shin splints – rest. He said it typically takes around 6 weeks for them to heal, but if I wanted to continue running then I could just take an anti-inflammatory and run through the pain.

Determined to run my half marathon, I continued running and would take ibuprofen after my runs. One night while sitting on the couch with my legs elevated and an ice pack on my shins, my husband said, “If running hurts so much, why don’t you just stop?” But I couldn’t. Not until the seventh week of my training plan. After a 6-mile long run I woke up the next morning with hip pain. I ran a hill run the day after, not worrying about my pace. After that, I took a few days off from running and went to get adjusted by my friend who is also a chiropractor. The shooting hip pain had downgraded into what felt like a pulled muscle. It hurt, but it was manageable as long as I didn’t do any activities that aggravated it, like squatting, jumping, or running.

I was at a crossroads. My shin splints already felt better after just a week off from running. They only hurt when I put pressure on them or did high-impact activities. Was continuing to train for my half marathon worth being in pain for another 8 weeks? The decision was not easy. I had been ignoring my body yelling at me and finally decided to listen to it. My vision of crossing the finish line on Mother’s Day began to fade and I knew I had to call it quits.

It has been almost three weeks since my last run and, as hard as it was, I am fully confident that I made the right decision. My pulled muscle pain is gone and my shins only begin to give me grief if I do anything high-impact. I have had to modify all of my cardio workouts to be low-impact, which is super frustrating but well worth it. I can play with D now without having to wobble about in pain.

D and I have been getting out on walks several days a week with our dog, and I have been incorporating more yoga into my week. I have found that although I miss running, there are other things I can do in the meantime to keep my mind and body healthy. I can slow down and appreciate what my body does for me and treat it with more respect, rather than expecting it to just shut up when it’s trying to tell me something.

Learning to appreciate slowing things down

Learning to appreciate slowing things down    

Having to stop running was really difficult. I had to work through a mixture of sadness, disappointment, and frustration for a few days, but came out the other side of it by looking at the positives. I’ve made the best of not being able to run the half marathon by deciding to still go and participate in the 5K. I may have to run/walk it, but my husband and D might be doing it alongside me which would be a wonderful way to spend Mother’s Day morning. I know that not being able to run is only temporary. I know that there will be other half marathons. I know that when I run again, I will enjoy it so much more because I won’t be in pain. Just because I can’t run right now, it doesn’t mean I have to give up. Running will still be there waiting for me when I’m ready, and someday in the future, I know that there will be a half marathon finish line for me to cross.

How Meal Planning Made My Life Easier

Meal planning has been a struggle of mine. I hate the time it takes to scour the Internet and cookbooks for new recipes and then make a grocery list. With a toddler it feels like such an arduous task. Eating mostly a plant-based diet at home can leave us in a bit of a rut with our meals and lately our eating habits has been less than stellar. My body really feels the difference when I’m fueling it with junk. I needed a change and decided to look for meal plans online. It was disappointing to find that most of the meals on the plans I found were meat dishes.

Enter Meal Mentor. I came upon it while participating in a 100k step challenge through Happy Herbivore. I have two of the Happy Herbivore cookbooks, so I figured why not purchase the 7-day Family Meal Plan and give it a try? I purchased my first meal plan last week, and this week I decided to dive in and purchase a premium membership which signs you up for 4 weeks of meal plans.

Meal Mentor has made my life so much easier! I love not having to think about what meals to make. The plans provide a make ahead prep sheet, an ingredient prep sheet, and and lists the cooking order for the meals which makes it easier to cook  or prep some or all of the meals at once. It also has a pre-made grocery shopping list that I can simply print out. The recipes are easy to follow and are not complicated. I love the breakfast recipes because I was in desperate need of some new, easy, healthy breakfast options. Since it is a plant-based meal plan, there are no animal ingredients. We aren’t 100% vegan 100% of the time, but I like that the meal plans are vegan because it gives us the flexibility to add in some cheese on certain recipes if my husband or I want.

So far I have found what works best for me is to save the plans to Google Drive. Before grocery shopping, we clean out the fridge and figure out what ingredients we have that can be incorporated into that week’s meal plan. After grocery shopping, I figure out what meal we’ll have on what day based on what ingredients will most likely spoil first. Yesterday I was able to make that night’s dinner, prep all the vegetables for a meal later in the week, and get the patties made for some falafel burgers we are having tonight – all in roughly 45 minutes. I felt so proud of myself!

The meal plans have made such a difference. My family is eating healthy meals, and the plans save me time and have reduced my stress. If you are interested in trying out the meal plan, you can try a 3-day sample plan to see if you like it. You can also visit the website to see what meals are on the current week’s meal plan and find a plethora of information about what Meal Mentor is and how it works. If you do sign up for the premium membership, you will be able to download both the family and individual meal plans, and will have access to resources like the Meal Plan Starter Kit and Easy Meals – 6 Ingredients or Less.

Cinnamon rolls without the sugar coma that usually follows! Super easy to make, yummy, and great for breakfast.

Cinnamon rolls for breakfast without the sugar coma that usually follows!

Do you use a meal plan or create your own? What has worked for you and your family?

Flying Solo and Why It’s Not So Scary

The waiter/ress probably thinks I’m weird sitting by myself. Are the patrons looking at me? Should I eat slower? Should I not eat all of my food? 

These are all of the thoughts that would go through my mind when I thought about eating out at a restaurant by myself. Not that I have the opportunity very often anymore, but before D was born there certainly were times where I could have. I’m sure that I’m not alone in thinking that eating at a restaurant is reserved for outings with friends, family, or significant others. I occasionally see people sitting by themselves at a restaurant and wonder how they do that and then I find myself kind of envying them for being secure enough to do so. Because that’s what it pretty much boils down to, right? Security.

I’m an introvert and also crave security. I don’t like being out of my comfort zone and it takes a lot of courage for me to try new things. I don’t even like going out for walks on hiking trails by myself because I worry about – I don’t know – being attacked by someone hiding in the woods and throwing my body over a ravine, never to be found again. I love my mother-in-law’s adventurous spirit and her ability to go out and try things by herself. I long to be that way, but it’s just not me.

Today an opportunity to fly solo presented itself. My husband took D out on a playdate with one of his friends. I decided to take our dog out for a walk on a hiking trail. I didn’t feel too worried walking her by myself since she is a very large dog. Anyone wanting to attack me would have to go through a rather intimidating looking dog. I found the experience very serene. I enjoyed walking with just my dog while taking in the scenery; not worrying about carrying on a conversation or keeping D happy. It felt rather…freeing.

Walking the dog After our walk I was very hungry. I had a hankering for Mexican food and a margarita. Should I? I wondered. A little ball of anxiety began swirling in my stomach, but I put it to a halt. I decided to make myself feel more comfortable, I would swing by the house real quick to grab my laptop so that I could write (Side note: I took my dog home so she was not sitting in the car).

I walked into the restaurant and asked to be seated in the bar. “Anyone joining you?” the host asked. I smiled and replied, “No. Just me.” I pulled out my laptop and opened it up next to me on the table. A little sigh of relief could be felt somewhere inside of me. My laptop was like my companion – or maybe an electronic security blanket. Flying solo at a restaurant The experience was rather liberating. I didn’t have to keep a toddler from throwing his cup of water or food on the floor, and for the most part, the bar was rather quiet. I got to write by myself – nobody to bother me except for the waiter to take my order. How wondrous! Even better, I got to enjoy not one, but TWO margaritas while I wrote. Since I was busy lost in my own thoughts, I didn’t really notice that an hour had gone by.

After today I realize that there is nothing to be afraid of when I fly solo. Being my own company is very relaxing and who cares what anyone else thinks? Chances are they don’t give a flying swizzle stick that I’m by myself. I encourage everyone to try it more often. You might even learn a thing or two about yourself along the way.

Thoughts on Sleep from a Tired Mom

I both hate and love sleep. I crave more of it but wish I did not need as much. It is elusive, like a mirage that I can never grasp. Not enough sleep turns me into the jabberwocky, as my husband can attest to. No matter how much I bribe and plead with the Sandman, he does not listen. I’m left waking in the morning trying to pull myself together after a night of broken sleep.

Coffee and strong black tea serve as a band-aid for my sleep deprived state. After nearly two years, I no longer remember what a full night of sleep feels like. “Sleeping in” is a phrase that has gotten dusty in my vocabulary, sounding very foreign if it slips off my tongue in conversation. Staying up late means in bed by eleven, worrying about how the extra sleep I’ve lost will come back to haunt me in the morning.

In my group of close-knit mom friends, we have a rule about sleep. We can complain about it, but we listen without judgement. Unless asked for, no one is to offer advice. Nobody says, “You should do this…” Because we understand that sleep is its own beast.

Sleep is a beast.

Do not cross a mom who is lacking sleep. “How do I manage that?” you may ask. Here are some tips:

  • Do not ask if her child is sleeping through the night. What does that even mean? This is a particularly silly question if the child is an infant. Small children are not adults, thus they do not sleep like adults. Yes, there are those magical children who sleep ten uninterrupted hours, but chances are the mom you’re talking to does not have one of those.
  • Do not give unsolicited advice. We tired moms have read the conflicting literature and the thing is, every child is different. What works for one kid isn’t going to work for every single one. Chances are we have already tried your sage wisdom before. Giving unsolicited advice can make you come off as self-righteous. Just don’t.
  • Do not brag about how well your child sleeps. I had a friend who had another mom comment on how tired my friend’s child looked. My friend said, “He hasn’t been sleeping well.” The other mom replied, “Oh, my daughter sleeps great. Actually, she has been a great sleeper since she was born.” This is probably one of the quickest ways to get on a mom’s shit list.

One of the best things I have heard is this: How a child sleeps does not correlate to parenting. Meaning, if your child is a good sleeper that doesn’t mean it’s due to good parenting. On the same token, if your child is a bad sleeper that doesn’t mean it’s due to bad parenting. Children all have their own temperaments that they are born with, and that includes a temperament when it comes to sleep. So please do not feel like a failure if your friend’s child is a champion sleeper and yours thinks sleep is for chumps.

To all of you tired parents out there, I raise a hand in solidarity and say these famous, utterly frustrating but true words: This too shall pass.