My Half Marathon Comeback 

This may not be a huge deal for some people. Heck, there are running moms out there who run marathons right away after giving birth. For me it was a big deal because it was a long, long break from long distance running. I didn’t think I had time to train…I had to learn to MAKE time. And I had to train smart and make the most out of the minimal time I had.


If you had told me 2 months ago that I would be running a half marathon and crushing my last PR, I would’ve said, “Are you kidding me?!” I wasn’t sure I could train properly with my busy mom life. At first, I told my husband I wanted to just run the relay for the Superhero Half, a local company that puts together 5Ks and half marathons. We had, after all, been running this event for 5 years in a row now (last year I only did the relay though as I was only 5 ½ months PP) and I didn’t want to stop my streak.


I looked at the calendar and saw that I had just enough time to get some decent training in. During the week, I got my stroller miles in and did some strength training. I took it easy on my long runs on Sundays with the local group I run with, but then I slowly started to gather…confidence. I was already pretty fit and I truly believe in muscle memory, but it was the process of letting my self-confidence take over that allowed me to get faster in my runs, both with and without the stroller.

So then it was a couple of weeks before the Half, when I looked at my progress and realized I needed to reassess my goals. I was thinking that finally breaking 1:48 would be really nice. Maybe even to get to 1:45. And then I analyzed my Strava data from my last long run and saw that I ran it at the same pace I did that 1:48 Half marathon a couple of years ago. When my running friend, Massoud, said to me that I should run with the 1:45 pace group and then take off if I felt good, I thought, Hmm maybe I can…

We had incredibly beautiful weather that May morning. My husband ran the first part of the relay and stayed with me until his part was done. We stayed with the 1:45 pacers but then slowly got in front of them. Once I was on my own, I stayed well ahead of the pacers and could hear them saying remark that I was actually pacing them. I kicked it up a notch at mile 9 and felt like I was flying at mile 10. I had to dial it back a little bit because I didn’t want to empty my tank too soon. I was feeling extremely exhausted at mile 12.5 but I knew the Finish Line was so close so I maintained my speed and then went into my kick for the last few hundred yards. I glanced at the clock but felt like my vision was a little blurry. Did it really say 1:43? I stopped my watch as soon as I crossed the finish and accepted my finisher’s medal. I looked down at my watch and it said 1:43:33! It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment.


MoralS of the story, don’t think it’s too late to start something. Don’t think you’ve taken too much time off. Don’t listen to self-doubt. Run when you can, run happy and run strong. Whether it’s 17 months or 17 years post-partum 😉

Xo,

Julia

The Importance of Foam Rolling

As my half marathon approaches, I’m decreasing the intensity and length of my runs, and taking it easy with strength workouts as well. The main focus now is on rest and myofascial release massage (foam rolling). 


The roller helps limit soreness and tightness by increasing blood flow and flexibility. It also helps with mobility. Even though most people think of rolling before some workouts and after every workout, it’s also beneficial to roll on a rest day, which is what I’m doing. All this helps in the enjoyment of your training process and your recovery- not to mention injury prevention.

The denser your roller is, the more of an intense stretch/massage you’ll get. For daily use, I’d recommend a regular roller with a soft, even surface (like the blue one I’m using in the photos in this post). A tennis ball also makes a good alternative for a harder, more intense roll. 

Clients often ask me, What should I roll? Gently and slowly glide back and forth on different spots on your body- calves, quads, upper back, glutes, etc, focusing on areas where you feel tightness. 


If you have a specific painful spot, it is most likely due to imbalances in other areas of your body. Rolling directly on that spot won’t do you any good.  You should actually foam roll the peripheral areas. For example if your shoulders are feeling tight, roll your chest. If your knees are achy, roll your hips and calves. 

For a video on how to use a foam roller properly, check out Sarah Fit’s blog

How often do you roll? 

Xo,

Julia

Self Care Tips for SAH Moms of Tots

Having a little human to run around after, all day long, is exhausting. Being a mom is amazing and ultra-rewarding but many of us fail to carve out a little time to do things that benefit…us. In honor of Mothers Day coming up, here are some of my favorite tips to help you find yourself again 🙂 

Be Thankful. There is always something we can be happy for. Be happy if you have a healthy child. Be happy that your husband has a good job. Be happy that your best friend got a promotion. Be happy that your in laws are taking a nice vacation. Sometimes we have to look outside ourselves and be thankful for what our loved ones are experiencing. 
Have a cozy corner. For me, it’s our oversized couch in the family room, where I’ll plop myself down to read after I’ve put Frankie down for a nap. It can be your front porch, a bench in your backyard, a stoop on your back door. Find a little spot where you can go and have a few minutes to yourself from time to time.

Move more! You knew this was coming 😉 Exercise gives us endorphins. I’ve been loving running with Frankie lately, but if you don’t have a jogging stroller, there’s other things you can do. Find a local exercise studio that has babysitting and being your kid along. Go to the park and do air squats and jumping jacks as you push your child on the swings. Hold plank while you build Lego masterpieces on the floor. 


Pamper yourself. Use products that make you happy. I became a Rodan+Fields consultant a year ago after looking for new anti-aging products. The products are really top notch and do what they’re meant to do. It may be hard to have both a morning and nighttime routine when you’re a tired mom, but there’s always something you can do. Have a mini regimen and stick to it every night. Invest in that great eyecream and moisturizer. Give yourself a mini facial once a month. Buy a pretty lipstick. And always wear sunscreen!


Find a (Mom) Tribe. A mom tribe is obviously ideal because you may all be going through the similar things, but don’t underestimate the benefit of having friends who are in different stages in life. It may be hard to have a social life when the kids are young but there’s other ways to find support. Have your single neighbors over for cocktails. Talk to the elderly lady who you see walking her dog every afternoon. There are people around us who are probably also looking to make new friends.

Unplug. Yes I love social media and think it’s great for keeping us connected to friends and family far away or for making new friends and acquaintances. But don’t forget to connect with the people that are right in front of you. I make it a point to not read emails or messages when I’m playing with Frankie. Mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook sometimes is hard so I put my phone in another room or leave it charged. Also remember that people usually post their highlights and hardly ever show the backstage to their lives, so be easy on yourself when you see a mom who seems to have it all together. Who knows how long it took her to stage that photo that she shared. 

There are many other things that you can do to have your Me Time. These are just some of my favorite ones! 

Stay healthy mamas,

Julia

Conquering some fears at the Jersey City Challenge 

Last Saturday, I woke up with almost no voice, not quite sure if I was going to be accomplishing what I had signed up for many months prior. I was supposed to do my first obstacle race, the Jersey City Challenge, but I was still getting over a cold and now had lost my voice. The hubby was sure I was going to say we should just chalk it up as a sunk cost, but I told him to give me til after breakfast. And so…I had my coffee and breakfast and said, Let’s do this!

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel during the race. Would I start coughing and have to stop? I decided it was worth it to at least get there and see how far I could go. 

It was a chilly, rainy day as we arrived in Jersey City. We brought a backpack to check in (for $5) with a change of clothes and where we could leave our wallets and phones. That was a nice thing they offered and we didn’t mind spending a few extra dollars for it. The bib pick up was slow- surprisingly there was only one person trying to help everyone. Although they do highly suggest that people pick up their bibs ahead of time, that’s just not posible for some of us non-locals. Hopefully they realize this and make it easier for next time.

I had not intended to do this race for time. I didn’t even wear a watch. However, I knew that chances were high that I’d get stuck behind people in front of me so I made sure to sprint between obstacles to give myself the best workout I could.

The penalty for not completing an obstacle was 30 jumping squats. The obstacles included barricades, cargo nets, walls of different heights, and a pyramid that had to be climbed. There was also a reverse wall and a rope climb. Oh and we had to jump over a cop car and taxi cab. I chose going on top of the cop car- that felt pretty badass.


 Prior to running it, I was fearful that the walls were all going to be super high and that my fear of my heights would get the best of me and I’d had to skip some, but it turned out to not be the case. It must’ve been partly due to the adrenaline that I felt- I got through all just fine and was really proud of myself. I climbed the rope all the way up and rang the bell! I even got half way through the rings which were set up on monkey bars (and so I did my 15 penalty squats). Those were among my top two highlights of the race.


There were also other CrossFit-type obstacles like box jumps, kettlebell swings, sandbag carries, heavy jump ropes and bear crawls. The heavy jump ropes were super hard! There was also a balance beam and I ended up having to get help from the City Challenge Staff because it was super tricky. I think that if I took my time and didn’t rush through it, I could’ve done it a little better. 


So my lack of voice or any other doubts or discomforts didn’t hinder me. Would I do this event again? I think if a group of my friends wanted to do it, I definitely would again. A bonus was that there was no gross mud involved. After all, their motto is, “Think outside the mud!” It’s one of those things that you do for the experience. To test your strength and your fears. To have fun! It was not something I cared to do for time.  I’ll leave that to my running races. 


Xo, 

Julia 

Stroller runs are fun!

I’ve been taking Frankie out on the stroller the past few weeks and it’s going great so far. I was nervous that he would start complaining after just a mile or 2 but we’ve done up to 4 miles so far. Success! 


It has been really fun going out and spending time outside with Frankie. Sometimes we run to the park which we are so fortunate to have so many in our vicinity in Morris County.

I remember how hard it felt to push the stroller last year when I would run with him occasionally. Umm and it’s only gotten harder now that he’s 25+ pounds! I’ve been looking on Instagram and online for bloggers who may be training for runs with a stroller but haven’t been very successful. If you are one and I missed you, please comment and let’s connect! I feel like I’m going sooo slow in the BOB, so it’s hard to gauge how I would do in a race.


Speaking of which, I’m doing my first 2017 5K this Sunday (after skipping out on one due to super cold weather last month). And I’m contemplating doing a Half next month. I know I can do a half but the competitor in me wants to test my speed first before I commit. 


Have you trained for a race while racking up miles in a stroller? I’ll take any tips! 🙂 

Xoxo,

Julia 

Easy Treadmill Speedwork

Hello friends! Happy Tuesday. I have to admit, my running has been slacking the past 2 months or so, and except for the run we did while traveling in California last month, my mileage has been pretty nonextistent. 

Trail run in Sausalito, CA in February.

So what’s the best way to get out of a running slump? Signing up for a race! The hubby and I will be doing our local St Paddy’s 5K on Saturday. Obviously not aiming for any PRs, but just looking to get our groove back a little bit. I think that with Spring being right around the corner, I’ll be more motivated to get Frankie out in the BOB too!


Here’s a nice and easy speedwork workout I created. You can increase the easy and fast running if you’re training for a longer race.

Run 1/2 mile at a comfortable/easy pace. For me that was 8:30 pace.

Then alternate with a very easy jog for .2 mile (for me that was 9:31 pace), and then a sprint for .2 mile (for me that was 6:58 pace). Repeat for 2.5 miles (for a total of 3 miles).

Today I will be doing some barbell squats and core work and get back to running tomorrow.

Follow me on Instagram to see how I do on the 5K! @thepetitefastinista 


Xo,

Julia

Raising a Bilingual Baby

I was enjoying a quiet snowy morning two days ago when I started writing this…although my day did not actually start very relaxed. Frankie was up at 4:30am the night before due to teething :/ And then took forever to go down for his morning nap. Last night was also tough. But Mama had some extra coffee today and got to finish this post today!


You may know that I was born in Paraguay and speak Spanish fluently. It was important for my husband and I to make sure Frankie grew up learning some Spanish too. However, the fact that I speak mostly English makes it very difficult for me to stick to just speaking to him in Español. I find myself reverting back to English when I can’t think of something fast enough.

The other day, I joined a virtual Facebook event on raising bilingual kids. Have you ever joined any of those before? They’re so great  for busy people because you can click “Going” and then just read the posts when you have a chance, from your couch, in your sweats. The event was hosted by the site Tinyhood and the advise came from Chontelle Bonfiglio, English teacher, mom to 2 bilingual boys, and Creator of Bilingual Kidspot, a website offering practical advice for parents raising bilingual children. She addressed some questions that most parents have and I summarize a few below:


Q- Will my child have a speech delay?

A- No, it’s been proven that bilingual kids develop their language skills the same as monolingual kids. In fact, regular experience with 2 different languages has been actually linked to social and cognitive advantages.

Q- Should each parent speak one language to the child?

A-Sure. This is called the OPOL method  (it’s what we try to follow) – One Person One Language. It’s important to be consistent with this to make sure the new language gets exposure.

Q- What if my child can’t communicate with friends and kids at the playground?

A- You can use the MLAH method – Minority Language at Home. In this case, you make the “second” language your home language, and English the Community Language. Chontelle also points out that kids, depending on their age, will usually still play with each other irregardless of what language they speak.

Q- What if I’m trying to teach my child another language and they refuse to speak it?

A- You can try to encourage them to do so, especially if you know they understand what you’re saying, by using a puppet, doll or teddy bear that “only speaks Spanish”, for example. If you make a game out of it, they may be more likely to respond.

I thought these tips were great and wanted to share them with you 🙂

If you have kids, are you teaching them another language or what language would you like for them to learn one day?

Now, here is a workout I did the other day. Very simple but it’ll get your heart pumping fast! You’ll just need a kettlebell but you can also use a dumbbell or even a plate if that’s all you have.


1 Kettlebell Swing

20 Mt Climbers

1 Tuck Jumps

2 Kettlebell Swings

20 Mt Climbers

1 Tuck Jump

3 Kettle Swings

20 Mt Climbers

1 Tuck Jump…

all the way up to 15 Kettlebell Swings (same number of Mt Climbers and Tuck Jump)

What do you think?!

Xoxo

Remembering to Put On (Real) Pants

Before I had Frankie I told myself I would never be one of those moms who loses sight of herself or wears Mom jeans or never brushes her hair. As judgy as that may sound, it really was a challenge to myself to make sure I still made time for Me! It’s hard to do, and some days impossible; I totally understand that now.

Figuring out my priorities helps. I know that exercise and reading are some of the things that make me feel good and help me improve myself. One trick I do to make sure I get some exercise in is put on exercise clothes in the morning. It makes it easier to follow through if you’re already partly prepared.

As wonderful and smart as this sounds, I also really, really need to give myself breaks. I need to realize that some days the workouts are not going to happen. Part of my self care routine needs to be putting on “real” clothes! I am good with  doing my hair and having a pampered morning and night skincare routine but I don’t need to live in yoga pants 🙂  

Unfortunately I don’t have time to read books right now. I was reading something  great on my Nook a few months ago and now I can’t even tell you what it was, and you know what? I just had to accept the fact that I had to let it go for now. Right now, reading articles or magazines is what I have time for and it’s a good compromise. 

Now let’s get to the workout! You can  substitute the run with some other form of cardio if you prefer.

Run 1 mile, then:

2 rounds of

30 kettlebell swings 

20 push press (45# barbell)

30 step ups

20 bicep curls (8# dumbbells)

30 rotating side planks 

This was a great total body burner.

I had not been on the treadmill in a while so the 1 mile was totally doable!
So that’s it for today! I will be trying to post more often and stay connected. You can always follow along on Instagram (@thepetitefastinista) as well!

Photo by @oh_tilly

Have a great Friday!

Julia

Staying Fit Through the Holidays

None of these are secrets! You have probably heard them before. But are you actually doing them? Here’s how I keep myself in check:

1) Schedule it. I know if I write down my workout, I will get it done. This also goes for anything else I need/want to get done- I write it in my agenda otherwise I forget, forget, forget. My mom brain has gotten worse as Frankie has gotten older.

2) Avoid sitting for too long. Sitting for prolonged periods of time has been proven to be hazardous to our healths. Remember this when watching Christmas movies with your family- get up and stretch occasionally.

3) Drink up! Water that is, not sugary stuff. Many people track their food intake. I say, track your water intake. I have an oversized water bottle that I refill several times a day. I drink at least 1 gallon of water a day.

4) A little bit is better than nothing when it comes to exercise. This is so true now that I’m a mom, especially one who is at home. My “me” time is pretty much non-existent, so I rely on naps to get stuff done around the house or for my R+F biz. Sometimes I do wall sits or push-ups or jump squats while playing with Frankie. Get creative!


5) Indulge a few times, but not the whole Season! We only live once, so go to the Christmas parties but just be smart. If you really want to try the desserts, snack on the lower calorie appetizers and limit your alcoholic drinking.  Tonight I’ll be going to a Cookie Exchange Party and trust me when I say I will be enjoying a few but I also made sure to have a light dinner instead of my usual filling one. 

6) Don’t make a New Year’s resolution to stay in shape- stay in shape ALL YEAR LONG! If you simply can’t get yourself to do all of the above, then it’s time to consider investing in yourself. Find a fitness coach to help you stay motivated and accountable. Find a friend who has similar goals and try to workout together if you can.


Thank you following my blog this year! I wish each and every one of you a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season! May 2017 be full of blessings! 

~Julia 

Frankie’s First South America Trip

It’s been over a month since we got back from our trip to Paraguay. It was a way-too-brief visit to my family but an unforgettable trip regardless that filled us with new memories to cherish.

It was our first time taking Frankie on a plane so we were naturally super nervous. Overall, he did great on the way there and did even better on the way back. Funny though, that on our way back home he didn’t have his own seat and slept so much better. On my lap. Sigh.

This was my first time visiting since my Grandmother’s passing just over 2 years ago. I was feeling extremely emotional weeks before the trip. I vowed that I would spend every minute I could with my family. That meant we did not do much exploring and didn’t get to visit friends that lived in other cities.

During these 8 days, our only exercise was a 3 mile run at a park minutes away from my Grandmother’s house. We ate delicious homemade food and decadent desserts EVERY.DAY. We took a siesta almost every day. We had 0 regrets. 

Whenever I return from Paraguay I’m left a little depressed. I feel blue thinking about how far away I am from so many people that love me and whom I love. I feel blue thinking that I may not see some of them the next time I return. It was also great to meet some family members I’ve never met before.

I’m so happy that we were able to make a quick escape and visit this past August. I hope to be able to visit again within the next 2 years.


Do you have family in another country or even another state that you don’t see often? 

Xoxo