Tuesday Talk: Billy Barnett. This week it’s a great pleasure to bring you an interview with Billy Barnett, a teacher and runner based on the Big Island of Hawaii. Whilst Billy might not need much introduction to some, he has made a significant impact on the Hawaii running scene over the last few years, on the roads and trails (e.g. Hilo Marathon, HURT100 and Hapalua Half Marathon) with his introspective and refreshing approach to training and racing. Without giving too much away I think you’ll really enjoy this interview, during which Billy shares a few insights on his approach to life, work and running.
LRY: Hey Billy! Thanks for chatting with longrunergy about all things running and life – let’s start from the top…
When did you first start running? Did you run in middle or high school, or college?
Billy: Hi Susie, Happy Tuesday! I started running my Senior year of high school. I decided to go on a run with a friend in a state park not far from my parents house in Virginia Beach. We ended up getting lost on the trails and running 13 miles. We could barely walk the next day but went back out for more! Growing up in a suburban area, being out on the trails really instilled a sense of adventure and excitement that still drives most decisions I make. Not long after I signed up for a 50 mile run and kept going from there! I ran one season of cross country at Virginia Commonwealth University as a way to get in shape for the 50 miler! My attitude at the time was coming from a place of rebellion so the structure of collegiate running did not fit me. I just wanted to be out on trails running my own pace.
LRY: Running competitively post-college can be tough? Did you ever consider pursuing running as a ‘career’?
Billy: As much as I would love to have the time to just run all day, I don’t think I would be satisfied. I have always wanted to have a job where I feel like I am contributing to the greater good or giving back in some way. I have found that as a teacher and still have the time to run and travel. It makes me really appreciate every run. Also I am conflicted about corporate involvement in my life. Running is a very simple activity where not much is needed, I don’t think I could be a billboard to sell products people don’t need.
LRY: Has there ever been a time in your life when you ditched the running shoes for other pursuits? If so, how did you start running again?
Billy: During my first few years of teaching I ran considerably less. It takes high energy both physically and mentally. There were days when I would get home in the early afternoon and just go to bed as well as late nights crafting lesson plans. Putting mental and physical focus on my teaching skills was just as fulfilling as going for a long run. I didn’t feel like I was missing out, just redirecting my energy. Once I got into the rhythm teaching, I naturally started running more. I am starting to run pretty high milage weeks consistently for the first time in 10 years. I also like to spend time in the ocean paddling, surfing and swimming.
LRY: It seems as though ultra trail running has your heart, but yet you have also competed strongly on the roads over shorter distances in Hawaii – as a member of Team Hawaii for the Hapalua Chase and in other events. Do you think ultra and trail runners benefit from some form of ‘road speed’?
Billy: Yes, I think running is running no matter the surface. Aerobic efficiency is being built! It’s really about the physical sensation of moving as opposed to the setting. Of course I prefer running on trails but can be just as happy on a road or even on a treadmill. I try to focus on how my body feels opposed to what my mind thinks.
LRY: Do you have a coach or a training philosophy?
Billy: I don’t have a coach, my favorite thing about running is the journey. It’s a great way to practice self reflection as there are constantly areas to learn about and work on. I try to learn from my mistakes but am very stubborn! I have always thought the best advice is to not listen to any advice when it comes to running. Learning experientially is fun even if I have to learn the hard way. The main goal is to feel happy, healthy and minimize stress so I usually go very easy. If my body feels like days off then I take it. Being self reflective is key to staying healthy, I haven’t had a major injury from running.
LRY: You recently spoke at the North Shore Trail Running Camp where we heard about your up and coming race in Italy, the Lavaredo Ultra? What interested you in that event specifically?
Billy: The beauty of the Dolomites really attracted me. Several years ago I read a National Geographic article about the history of the trails during WW1 and WW2. I thought, “Wow, I really need to go there someday!” Also, I haven’t run in a really big Euro style event like that before. It should be really competitive as part of the Ultra World Tour. I have never really “trained” for a race before and wanted to apply all the things I have learned over the years to prepare for a big event. I want to use the competition to really push my capabilities in the mountains. I don’t consider myself competitive at all, actually I’m kind of the opposite. I have had a very non structured, laissez faire approach to running. It’s been fun to add in a bit more structure and planning.
LRY: How have you been preparing for the race in Italy from your base on the Big Island? Have you added anything new to your running or lifestyle routine?
Billy: I tried to not ramp up the mileage to early and focus on building a solid base. Lots of strength work with deadlifts and squats. There will be around 20,000ft of elevation gain in the Lavaredo so I want my legs to be able to handle the accents and descents. I try to not get my heart rate up on most runs to increase my aerobic threshold. Now I’m starting to increase the miles, cutting out the lifting and biking. I also changed up my diet big time. Nutrition has always been a thorn in my side for longer runs. I am eating a high fat/low carb diet and feeling great from that. I can go for a 5 hour run with just water and feel amazing where before it was an up and down roller coaster from the blood sugar crashes. So really a lot of low intensity higher volume runs. I feel lucky to be able to get in some runs at elevation. On the weekends I have been heading to Mauna Kea to do some long runs up hills in the 7,000-10,000ft. elevation zones.
LRY: On the flip-side, do you think about ‘recovery’ from big ultra races, building in a set time frame to let your mind & body recoup, or do you just move on and see how you feel?
Billy: Giving the body a chance to rest is crucial. I really don’t think it’s healthy to do a lot of racing, one big race a year is plenty for me. I have turned down offers to run races in far away places because I don’t want to subject myself to the stress that races place on the body. I’m kind of like a Hobbit, I love big adventures but also enjoy relaxing at home cooking a meal or reading a book.
LRY: We noticed on Instagram that you have been in floatation tank? What was that like and how did you feel afterwards?
Billy: I highly recommend trying out a floatation tank. How it works is you get in a pod like tank with about two feet of highly salted water. There is no light and no sound so it’s sensory deprivation. It’s very relaxing to experience a kind of zero gravity state. The sensory deprivation aspect is really trippy, there was a point where I didn’t know if I was awake or sleeping, just existing. Besides the physical benefits for muscles, it is good to have a mind/body experience like that without having to go out searching for LSD.
LRY: Since the publication of ‘Born To Run’, in which you feature greatly, ultra and trail running have boomed – much like road running in the 70’s and 80’s. Do you feel that the stories shared in the book did make a significant impact on the ultra running scene, or do you think the ‘boom’ would have happened anyway?
Billy: I think the internet and social media have a large part to do with the boom in Ultras. People are more aware that such things exist. Yes, Dean Karnazes’s book as well as “Born to Run” had a part to play in the boom as well. I think it’s positive that so many people are tearing down self limitations and going for it in Ultras. Any time people are out exploring and moving outside it’s a good thing! It takes a certain amount of commitment and grit to sign up and complete an Ultra, I give props to anyone who makes that choice! The flip side of popularity is the mindless consumerism that comes along with it. There are certainly products we need to take part in events but we should make conscious purchases. I recently had my car broken into and a lot of my running gear was stolen. I realized it would cost hundreds of dollars to replace everything and could only laugh at the absurdity that I owned the stuff in the first place. Trying to think of what the thief will do with a lightweight running pack, shorts and a super nice headlamp is pretty funny too. Patagonia comes to mind as a company that is leading the way by donating large amounts of their profits and taking stances on political issues. As the sport of Ultrarunning grows, it would be nice to see companies working with runners to give back to local communities in some way. We can help this by supporting companies who do good things.
LRY: If someone was planning a visit to Hawaii and they only had time for one real escape to the trails, where would you send them?
Billy: Wow, that is a tough question! Kalalau Valley on the Na Pali coast of Kaua’i is one of the most magical places I have ever been! Also the trails in Haleakala crater are surreal. On the Big Island, Volcanoes National Park is my favorite place to run, it reminds me of the Pacific Northwest. There are trails all over Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea at elevation that are spectacular. There are so many trail gems in Hawaii.
LRY: Finally, where do you think running will take you next?
Billy: I just hope it takes me to tomorrow, haha. I want to be running healthy into old age so I will just take it one day at a time. I love participating in events in unique locations so I hope to use races as way to explore new lands and travel. Lately I have felt the urge to jump into some big competitive events but nothing beats the small local races.
LRY: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy life as a teacher to talk with longrunergy!!
Follow Billy’s trail running adventures via Instagram @billy_b_bigisland where he posts stunning landscape shots of Hawaii Island. Also check out the course for the Lavaredo Ultra HERE which Billy is running in June – it looks breathtakingly epic!
Prenatal Yoga Poses for Runners
Prenatal Yoga is really amazing for the pregnant runners’ body & mind! I’ve always found yoga a huge benefit to balancing the stiffness that running can create but during pregnancy yoga has become even more of a useful tool! Going with the flow in yoga (by noticing how my body is feeling different to ‘before-being-pregnant’ rather than pushing it to do the same) has allowed me to slow down and develop a routine that stretches out the areas that have been tightening up, such as: lower legs from carrying extra weight; lower and mid back from carrying the bump; hips from supporting everything; and even my breathing, and therefore shoulders & neck too due to compression of the diaphragm and lungs as my uterus grew.
And how about the mind? Pregnancy is a time of uncertainty about the future, excitement occasionally tinged with questions, worry and doubt. But having faith in the process (that has been happening since, well, for how long depends on who you talk to…) and staying rooted in the here & now – as you would whilst holding a stationary yoga pose for 10 breaths without running away – can really help. No one can ever know an outcome 100%, even though we might crave it. The best we can do is educate ourselves, make informed decisions that suit our individual situations and see the beauty in following the path as it unfolds, with every up and downward facing dog.
Over the last few months I’ve slowly been developing a set of yoga poses that seem to work for my pregnant yogi-runners’ body. Whilst I cannot guarantee that all of the poses will help every pregnant lady, you may find that just a few suit your body, frame, stage of pregnancy and bump! It’s a good idea to remember the relaxin hormone also affects everyone differently – certain hip openers and stretches may cause discomfort, which is always a sign to stop, make adjustments and try a different pose.
NB: Before beginning any yoga practice make sure you are hydrated and have checked with your doctor/ OB that yoga is a suitable form of exercise for you and bump. This yoga sequence is by no means a substitute for advice from a qualified medical professional. Please take all precautions necessary to ensure the health & safety of you & your baby.
Easy Cross Legs and Abdominal Breathing.
To prepare for your yoga practice start by sitting in an easy, cross-legged position – using a cushion or block for extra comfort. If crossing the legs is not comfortable, try stretching the legs out in front of you. You can also sit up against a wall or sofa/ couch for back support. Make sure your sacrum is up against the support. This pose allows the mind and body to settle and focus on the yoga exercises ahead. It also gently stretches the hips and knees.
Begin 10 rounds of deep, abdominal breathing whilst still seated. Inhale through the nose – feel the abdomen expand fully. Exhale through the nose and open mouth – allow the face, jaw and body to fully relax. Abdominal breathing is calming, helps to release tension from the body and allows you to focus inwards rather than on outside stimulation.
Pelvic Rocking: Cat-Cow Variation.
Move gently and position yourself onto all fours. When in this ‘table-top’ position, make sure the hands are underneath shoulders, knees underneath hips. Still in table-top, begin 5 rounds of gentle pelvic rocking, which is a variation of what is commonly known as ‘cat-cow’. The focus is on movement of the pelvis rather than the spine. You may know this as ‘pelvic rocking’. Inhale to tilt pelvis a little forward, exhale and move pelvis back to just beyond neutral. Pelvic rocking lengthens and strengthens the musculature of the pelvic area to prepare for childbirth. This helps to relieve and prevent lower back pain.
Wide-legged Downward Facing Dog – with swaying.
Lift hips up as you start to straighten legs and move into downward facing dog with feet wide apart. Extend hips up and back to lengthen your spine and to prevent weight from collapsing forward into your wrists. Hold for 3-5 breaths, breathing slowly and deeply. Gently bend one knee then the other and sway hips from left to right. Also flex ankles and toes if that feels good for your lower legs. A great stretch for the entire back of the body, from neck down through the legs. Also releases tension from the neck and jaw.
Modified Camel Pose.
From downward facing dog drop knees to mat slowly, sit back on heels and then begin to reach hands behind you to move into a modified camel pose. Inhale and lift hips until you feel a gently stretch in the front of quads and hip flexors – keeping face forward, chin slightly tucked, and knees together without moving into a full camel pose. Exhale and slowly sit back down, then repeat 3-5 times. If kneeling is uncomfortable place a block between your feet to sit on. This helps to stretch the front of the body and strengthen lower back.
Warrior II with Eagle Arms.
Slowly come to standing. Prepare for Warrior II: feet 3-4 feet wide apart, right foot pointing forward, left foot turned out about 45 degrees (varies from person to person). A straight line should run from back to front heel. Turn hips and shoulders so that they are parallel with the long side of the mat, but keep front knee directly over front ankle. Lift arms until they are parallel with the floor – try not to lean forward, keep shoulders stacked over hips. Look out over front arm. Hold for 3-5 breaths or longer – feeling lungs expand with inhale, allowing shoulders, neck, face and jaw to relax with exhale. Warrior II is a great strengthening and stretching pose – beneficial for legs, ankles, groins, shoulders, back and more!
Turn to face forward, and allow arms to move directly in front of you. Cross right arm over left at the crook of the elbow. Bend forearms straight up, then bring the back of your hands together, or weave hands so that palms touch. Hold for a few breaths, maybe gently lifting and lowering the elbows to feel a stretch across the back of the shoulder blades. Breathe deeply. Release lower arms and then switch by crossing left over right arm, and repeat the process. Eagle pose arms greatly ease tension in the upper back and shoulders.
Stand with feet wide apart. Open toes to point feet outwards, about 45 degrees. Bend knees and sink into hips, keep weight back and dropping into your heels – as if you were about to attempt a squat. Hands can rest on hips or legs for balance, or you can stretch arms out to the side. Keep back tall and straight, shoulders wide and open. Hold and breath for 3-5 rounds of deep, abdominal breathing. Stand up slowly to move out of pose and give the legs a shake out. This pose stretches the hips and groins, helping to prepare the pelvis for childbirth.
Stand with feet just wider than hip distance apart. Have a yoga block or cushion handy. Squat down, with feet turned out to 45 degrees as in goddess pose and keep weight back over hips, and dropping into heels. Try to keep heels flat on the ground as far as possible. If needed – use a yoga block or other support to sit on for comfort. Inhale and lengthen the spine to prevent rounding the back and bending forward. Exhale and aim to sink lower towards the ground, pressing down through the feet, and onto the block if in use. Bring hands into a prayer position, and place elbows inside knees. Hold for 8-10 rounds of deep, abdominal breathing. Additional bonus – do some kegels! Squatting is a great way to prepare the pelvis for childbirth – it stretches the groins, thighs, hips and knees.
Sit on the floor, with or without a cushion for support, bend the legs and swing the right knee in front, the left knee out to the side and the foot behind. Inhale and stretch the spine forward. Exhale and fold from the hips (keeping back straight), lay down over the knees – making adequate space for your baby bump. Using a yoga block or another supporting aid here will help to keep bump elevated. Relax over the block or support and stay for as long as comfortable – breathing deeply, smoothly and steadily. When ready, sit up very slowly, then rock back gently onto hands behind you for support as you switch legs around. Repeat on the other side when ready. Hip openers allow the joints to stretch open, and let the body fully relax.
Hip Flexor & Spinal Stretch.
From the sitting position of the hip opener in the previous exercise, place one hand directly behind your right hip – or whichever knee is in front of you, and then push hips up, off the ground. Stretch the other hand up towards the sky and arch gently backwards – only as far as feels comfortable. Hold for 3-5 breaths and then slowly sit back down onto the mat. Rock back on both hands for support to switch legs around, and to stretch the other side of your body. A great way to stretch out the front of the body and the spine, this pose also helps to strengthen the body.
Relaxation in Recovery Pose.
Begin to move from sitting into a recovery position on the ground. Use pillows, blocks, bolsters and cushions as much as you need to – ensure that you feel very comfortable and the body is fully supported. Tilt or roll the hips forward to give the baby bump support, taking pressure and strain off the lower back. Allow the body to sink into the ground, and close the eyes. Take your attention to the breath, and follow each inhale and exhale. Notice how your breathing softens when the body and mind relax, and vice-a-versa. With each exhale let the body completely relax. Stay here for 5 mins, or as along as needed to let every part of your body and mind restore itself via the relaxation process.
A PDF version of this post with the yoga poses is available to download for free here: PrenatalYogaPosesforRunners
Tuesday Talk: Introducing a series of ‘talks’ with people who I think will capture your imagination, pique your curiosity and sow a few seeds of courage towards making things happen in 2017!
To start the series is a chat with Polina Carlson. I’m so happy to bring you a new interview with Polina, Oahu’s elite female distance runner (read previous interviews with Polina on longrunergy HERE), because Polina is abound with infectious positive energy. A talented runner with an incredible work ethic (Polina recently won the Phoenix Marathon in 2:39:27), Polina is someone who still carries a lightheartedness about her that brings joy to any conversation. I think by the end of this post you’ll totally agree!
LRY: Let’s jump straight in, how is 2017 going so far?
Polina: Hey Susie! It’s going great. I’ve already done a couple of local races. I’m running injury free and excited for the summer racing season to start!
LRY: Can you expand on your experience at the Phoenix Marathon? Did you go into that race with a specific goal?
Polina: After a disappointing race at the Honolulu marathon, I was thrilled to have a break-through performance at the Phoenix marathon. Leading up to the race, my training block was the longest I’ve ever had, so I was itching to compete and see what my body could do. It was tough. It became not just a race for me, but a journey of self-discovery to see how much I could endure. That’s what made the win so special to me. Going into that race, my plan “A” was to PR and break 2:35, and plan “B” was to run sub 2:40 and win the race. I felt very grateful and content when I crossed the finish line.
LRY: Do you feel that the marathon is the distance you will focus on in the next few years?
Polina: Absolutely! I still haven’t run Boston and Chicago, so doing one of the major marathons is on my bucket list for 2018. Seeing so many of my friends and other Hawaii runners running Boston this year, inspired me to be a part of it next year!
LRY: Switching gears, and looking back at 2016, in December you ran back-to-back weekend races, winning the XTERRA World Trail Champs and then lining up for the Honolulu marathon just a week later? It’s not totally unheard of – two of the elite men and many local runners also did the same, but how did you prepare for that challenge of running two big races close together – physically and mentally?
Polina: It was a challenge! Both races are completely different. So, I combined doing high mileage with a lot of strength training. That’s what I felt would make me prepared for both races. Since I love running on trails, having the XTERRA Worlds on my racing schedule was a good excuse to spend more time on trails between my key marathon workouts. Leading up to two big races, I spent a lot of time in the gym working on strength which gave me confidence, especially for the XTERRA Worlds where you need to have power to muscle up those big hills!
LRY: It seems as though you really enjoy trail running? What is it about the trails that keeps you coming back for more?
Polina: I never get tired of running trails! I feel such a sense of freedom and happiness being surrounded by nature. I always feel re-energized afterward. And, since we don’t have snakes in Hawaii… that’s a bonus! 🙂
LRY: How do you manage to combine the speed work and strength you need for competing over both road and trails?
Polina: I focus on hills, and for my long runs, I often choose a hilly route. I also spend time in a weight room – at least twice a week.
LRY: Can you give us a few insights into how you relax and recover after a big race? Do you ever take a total break from running?
Polina: Yes I do! After BMO Phoenix marathon I took a week and a half off from running with no exercise. It felt good to give my body a total break and take care of the little pains and aches. After every big race, I make sure I have enough time to get completely healthy before I jump into a new training block.
LRY: We noticed that you have tried cryotherapy in the past? What was that like and how did you feel afterwards?
Polina: I was curious to try cryotherapy after I read that Usain Bolt started adding full body cryotherapy to his training routine. Luckily enough, Egan Enue, invited me to have a session at the Cryo Therapy Hawaii where I got my opportunity to jump in a cryosauna and feel the effects for myself. It was cold. Very cold! Despite being surrounded by vaporized liquid nitrogen reaching minus 150 degrees Fahrenheit, I felt incredible. The effect the cryotherapy had, specifically, the decrease of inflammation around my muscles and tendons, continued after I got out and throughout the next day.
LRY: There are so many different types of athletes: some people need to focus 100% on their sport during a training cycle for a specific event, with very little outside distractions, and others prefer to maintain outside interests. Which group do you think you fall into? What interests do you have outside running?
Polina: For me when it comes to running, it’s important to not over analyze my training and keep things fairly simple. I enjoy photography and working in editing software. It takes my mind off a hard workout that I may have the next morning.
LRY: As a Brooks sponsored athlete – which is your favorite shoe right now?
Polina: Brooks Asteria is my favorite right now. They are super lightweight, great for tempos, and a perfect racing flat.
LRY: And finally, where can people see you racing over the summer on Oahu, and elsewhere? Which races are you most excited about?
Polina: I’m excited to be a part of the Team Hawaii Sport for the Ekiden Relay in May! It’s always fun to be around local runners and run as a team! I also have a mountain race debut this summer. I’m getting ready for the Broken Arrow 54K Skyrace with the ascent of more than 10,000 feet. Many runners, including Max King, called the event “the hardest event of its type in North America.” I get nervous and giddy when I think about this race. One thing I know for sure – it will be a true adventure!
LRY: Thanks being part of Tuesday Talk Polina and good luck at Broken Arrow!!
Awesome, as always to hear from one of Oahu’s fastest runners! You can keep up with Polina online via Twitter @polinaruns and Instagram @polinaruns where she shares some beautiful photos of running in Hawaii – extra motivation to pursue those dreams you’ve been chasing! Go get’ em!
Roll on Spring!
Spring has sprung, which is wonderful – lighter evenings & mornings – but it means our due date will be here fairly soon (May 17th)! Yikes! It reminded me that I had an update on running & the second trimester of pregnancy to write.
Disclaimer: I’m no expert at pregnancy, and since no two pregnancies are the same I don’t advocate repeating what I have, or have not done. Overall I highly recommend listening to your intuition, body & bump – and taking it easy! And yoga.
Second Trimester & Running
At this point I can definitely agree with everything that people have written and talked about – the second trimester of this pregnancy was definitely the honeymoon period. From about week 16-17 onwards I started to regain my appetite and energy, and overall felt much better than the first trimester. However I did start to notice a slight de-stabilising in my pelvis and simultaneously a tightening and pain in my lower back (due to the psoas and other back muscles taking the strain of added weight to the front of my body). The relaxin hormone that prepares the body for labor and baby-delivery was starting to kick in.
It really wasn’t bad pain, but in order to ease my lower back I used our homemade rice-sock. After heating it in the microwave for about a minute I would sit against a support or lie down with the rice-sock against the upper part of the back of my pelvis. Additionally I added more yoga poses that open up the front of the body such as low crescent lunge & Warrior I to my day. And I also made sure to stick to a regular core strengthening routine that mainly consisted of planks (easiest and safest to practice when pregnant), lunges, single-leg dead-lifts and squats and some light dumbbell exercises.
I also invested in a Gabrialla support band, on the recommendation of a few running friends. The support band really helped in terms of providing a little extra stability during runs, but I don’t wear it all the time. And as a Birth Educator recently reminded me – it’s not great to overly rely on the band since you still want to use and strengthen your core naturally.
In January, after a great break in Arizona for the holidays, I returned to running in Hawaii feeling refreshed – and ready to soak up the oxygen rich air again. With three races lined up it was fun to focus on running for fitness that would enable me to comfortably take part, rather than be a competitive ‘racer’. It’s also advisable to keep up some form of cardio during pregnancy to help build stamina and endurance for labour. And, maybe more importantly, it meant I could keep up with the social side of running, maintaining a link to the wider running community. I was starting to feel that the ‘people’ aspect of running was something I had completely taken for granted – and unwittingly relied upon as a form of support network. Chatting and venting with runner-friends has been a big part of my life for the last few years, if not always! And we all know how long runs with good friends can solve all sorts of problems!!
Along with runners from the Windward Training Freaks group, I took part in the Pearl Harbor 10k, the Great Aloha Run and also the Hawaii Pacific Health Women’s 10k. I wore the Gabrialla support band for each, and carried nuun in my Simple Hydration bottle, tucked into the back of my sports bra (apart from in the women’s 10k – when I left it in the car – which luckily turned out ok – read why below). I also wore Oiselle clothing, and even tested a new design of the trusty Roga Shorts. Read resulting review of the shorts HERE.
In each race I had no other goal than to just stay relaxed, listen to my body, and run for fun – rather than push through perceived tiredness or mental doubts as you might under usual racing conditions. I began to notice that I was adopting a slightly different running style during pregnancy, one that tilts my hips more underneath my body. Also, I have been trying to actively engage more core muscles and run ‘tall’. It seems to help balance out the bump weight, and prevent the bump from slumping forward – which places extra strain on the lower back.
The last 10k, on March 5th (at 29 weeks pregnant), definitely required the most energy and concentration, mainly because it started in a complete down pour, during which everyone cooled off after any form of warm up! The course also involved running up and over Diamond Head – a testing hill under on any day and so I just tried to run steadily & smoothly. The cool weather did thankfully save everyone from over heating, which meant just drinking the water on the course was enough for hydration needs! My shins and lower legs felt tight from the ‘cold’ Hawaii conditions over the first few miles (sorry everyone in England & on the East Coast) but by the time the finish line appeared, I was finally warmed up, feeling great, and managed to cross the line on a high note – my last ‘race’ for this pregnancy complete – photo evidence below.
Overall this is what I’ve personally found helpful during the second trimester of pregnancy as a runner:
- Running by feel. Good indicators are your breathing and how relaxed you feel. If there is too much resistance in your body – breathing rate is high, everything feels ‘tight’ – then maybe it’s a walking day. Or maybe you need to slow down, or stop and do more of a dynamic warm up before continuing.
- Focusing on good running form – staying tall and trying to keep the feet turning over.
- Not having a set plan – apart from some form of movement every day. Even if just 20-30mins of walking. I’ve also been trying to swim at least once a week.
- Yoga! Setting up a time to practice with a fellow pregnant-runner-friend once a week helped enormously. In between those yoga-dates 20-30mins per day was still great to help with flexibility, breathing & relaxation.
- Recovery. Feet up somewhere (chair, couch, wall, cushion) for 5-10mins to rest.
- Drinking lots!! Staying hydrated has become even more important than usual.
- Snacking – yogurt is still my go-to for some reason?! Cooling, with calcium & protein maybe?
Growing a small human is no joke, but it’s also pretty amazing. I feel super lucky to still able to run – even if just one mile at a time. What this is all going to fee like post-birth, well, we’ll just have to wait and see!
In the mean time this weekend it’s the North Shore Trail Running Camp that I’m really looking forward to co-hosting with Lindsay Bliss and Malory Peterson. It’s going to be an awesome day of trails, yoga, talks and trail-talk-story!
Longrunergy’s website over-haul is still in process… thanks for hanging in there for the update!