Returning to the Trails After Pregnancy

By Jessica Green

It seems crazy to think back to this time last year - I had just given birth to my daughter and was in major recovery mode. At that time, all I could dream about was getting back on the trails in Forest Park, but I knew there was specific work to do before I laced up my running shoes and hit the trails hard. I knew this mainly because I am lucky enough to work with fitness professionals and therapists who taught me how to return to running the right way postpartum.

With targeted strength work, expert advice and a lot of patience, I'm running stronger and faster than I have in years. This week alone I hit the flat trails for speed, the hilly trails for a mid-distance run and am looking forward to a 20-miler this weekend which will include plenty of undulating trails. In the last month, I finally feel like I beat pregnancy!

A dear friend and amazing Pilates instructor, Frances  Darnell, once told me that it usually takes her clients about a year of hard work to feel comletely like themselves again after pregnancy. She was right in my case. She also had a lot more to say in the article that I wrote in this month's Trail Runner Magazine, "Hitting the Trails After Pregnancy." 

To all moms and moms to be, I highly recommend taking a look at the advice Frances and others offer in this article as you begin thinking about starting to run again after your pregancy. Here's a glimpse at the article if you don't have access to the magazine:



Post-Pregnancy Lunges

By Jessica Green

Ask any fitness professional for recommended exercises to do post-pregnancy when returning to running and they are most likely going to include Clock Lunges as part of a suggested routine. This is because after pregnancy it's especially important to rebuild hip and pelvis stability.

Clock lunges improve hip stability PLUS ankle and knee stability while moving through all planes of motion. So, while these lunges improve stablity in the hips after pregnancy, they also help develop overall balance, activation and mobility for key running musculature. This is especially important for injury prevention and returning to running with proper strength and trunk support after carrying your baby for 9 months. Whether you gave birth a few months ago or over a year ago, considering adding clock lunges into your strength routine a couple times a week.

1. Imagine you are standing in the center of the face of a clock.
2. Keeping your right foot planted, step forward to “12 o’clock” with your left foot, reaching your arms forward at shoulder height at the same time.
3. Push off the left foot and bring your feet back together.
4. Continue lunging and reaching counter-clockwise around the clock with your left foot. Try to get at least 7 lunges in. Repeat 3 times around with each foot.

* Make sure to warm up with some dynamic stretching for at least a few minutes before doing this exercise. Do not do these exercises until you are cleared by a medical professional to start exercising. 

Strength Workout: Phone a Friend

By Jessica Green

Eight months have passed since I had my first child in August. For the last seven and half months, I attempted to do core work on a daily basis. I failed . . . miserably.  Finally, I phoned a friend for some serious accountabilty. My friend, like myself, gave birth to her son in August and had grand plans to do core work a couple times a week, but was struggling to make it actually happen. On our runs we discussed this problem regularly with myself frequently complaining that I had zero core support on the downhills or when trying to pick up the pace. Both of us have fall marathons on the calendar and believe very strongly about the value of proper strength before and during our training. So, it was time to get serious. For the last two weeks, it's worked and I've done my core work almost every night. 

I know that each week I present you with a new suggested strength exercise telling you it's as easy as one move a week. Well, sometimes we need more than a blog post telling us to do something. Sometimes we need a friend texting us in the middle of bathing our child that she just did her ab workout and it's time for you to do yours too. Perhaps it's the competitor in us that makes us do it. Or the real time reminder. Whatever it is, it's working! 

If you are struggling to make time for strength work (or any type of workout), then I challenge you to pair up with someone and start keeping tabs on each other this week. It works!


Interview with a Fitness Professional

This week we bring you Megan Caldwell, proud owner of FIT4MOM Cedar Mill, offering amazing pre- and post-natal fitness classes in the northwest. Originally from Connecticut (we love our east coast transplants!), Megan currently resides just outside Portland, OR.  As a former educator, and now a mom to two young boys, running fitness classes for women allows her to combine three of her greatest passions: her passion for fitness, her passion for teaching and her passion for being able to spend time with my children.  Megan currently offers Stroller Strides, a bootcamp style workout for moms to do with their stroller aged children, and Body Back, a results-based program without the kiddos that includes small group training, nutritional guidance and accountability, pre and post assessments and individualized goal setting.  We met Megan last fall when Jessica and her daughter fell in love with her Stroller Strides classes and her overall training philosophy!

Why do you like working with runners?
I have always said that getting out for a run is my “drug of choice.” Running is one of the best medicines, and being able to share this with others has been great. I’ve had the opportunity to work with all levels of runners – from those who have literally never run, to those who have run competitively. I love that running can be a common thread between any two people, no matter what their level is, what other interests they may have, their age, etc. I also love seeing the impact that strength and conditioning can have on runner’s results, no matter what level the runner begins at. One of my favorite clients, a mom to now 3-year-old twins, used to say, “I’m not a runner,” and would casually push her kiddos behind the group. When given the tools to make herself stronger, and the encouragement to give it a shot, I’d now classify her not only as a runner, but also a sprinter. She truly rocks it, and often leads the group in running! Seeing transformations such as this is truly inspiring.

If you could tell a runner one piece of advice, what would it be?
Allow running to be FUN. Although this may seem like a “duh” to those who have always enjoyed running, for those who have not, it’s a great reminder. For the competitive runner (whom I used to be, and I guess still sometimes am!), it is important realize that running is more than just a time or a pace or a result. Finding a compatible running buddy or group WILL keep running fun. I’ve learned running can be a common thread to develop lifelong friendships.

Lastly, I think being able to have fun with running stems from making sure you are in a pair of shoes that works for your body and training purpose. I got fitted for a pair of trainers my first year of college and have been running in the same shoe model since (pain and injury free!)

What is your go-to fitness activity and why? 
Although I still love just “getting out the door” for a run, that’s harder these days with two small children. I’ve come to really enjoy both at home and group HIIT workouts (high intensity interval training). Combining spurts of cardio, strength and core, incorporating both body weight exercises and those with free weights or resistance bands, it’s been a great way to gain strength and keep fit. Not only can I get a great workout in in a half hour or less but as a runner strength training has not only helped make me a stronger, faster runner, but also assists in injury prevention.

What is your favorite post workout meal?
I LOVE a good smoothie! I’ve found smoothies to be a great, easy way to get some protein in after a workout, as well as sneak in some other great nutrients! My smoothies always include non-fat plain Greek yogurt and frozen fruit, either coconut water or low fat milk and a handful of leafy greens (either spinach or kale usually). I then like to switch it up, sometimes adding in oatmeal, chia seeds, avocado, you name it, I’ve probably given it a shot! If I’ve been out on an exceptionally long run or completed a tough workout I may throw in a scoop of protein powder.

When did you start running?
If you were to ask my parents, they’d probably say I began running around the age of one, and haven’t stopped! As an avid soccer player and basketball player from a young age, I joined track in middle school merely as a means to stay in shape for my team sports. Fast forward a few years, after a successful high school career as a three-sport athlete, I went on to compete in soccer and track in college. Primarily as a sprinter and jumper, after one season of collegiate soccer, I decided to focus my energies on track and field where I competed four years at Tufts University in Boston as a heptathlete (think decathlon, but for women.) College track is really where I think I found my love for running. Post college I decided to give long distance running a shot (something I swore I’d never do!) Over the past 10 years I’ve run two full marathons, a few halfs and many, many 5ks and 10ks. I’m looking forward to my first race post-baby #2 – Portland’s famous Shamrock run in March!

Dear Kate's Ultimate Thong for Every Runner Mom

By Jessica Green

The Hazel Sport Thong by Dear Kate is the ultimate thong for every runner mom (and every lady runner for that matter!).  Dear Kate is a company specializing in “a new kind of underwear with a built-in breathable liner that protects like a pantiliner.”  What I found is that not only is it breathable and protective against minor postnatal drips, but it’s extremely comfortable, fashionable and holds up on long runs. Other sport thongs end up soaking wet, bunched up, saggy and barely staying on after 10+ mile run. Not my Hazel Sport Thong!

After giving birth to a baby girl in August, I spent a lot of time making sure incontinence was not going to be an issue for me when I was ready to return to the world of running. Despite my efforts, five months after giving birth there’s still the occasional minor drip during a walk break or as I get more fatigued on the longer runs or if I forget to use the restroom before I start my run. Although it’s not a major issue, I didn’t love the way my sport thongs were holding up throughout all of this. Then a pair of Dear Kates arrived in my underwear drawer – the Hazel Sport Thong in black with green lining (see below) – and I am a new person!


I fell for my Hazels as soon I opened up the box and the card said “Hey, Gorgeous” fell out.  Everyone loves to be called gorgeous especially when about to try on a thong.

Next up was the material. When I took the thong out of the box, it felt super soft, but a little thicker than you might imagine a sport undie feeling. After a single wear, I realized the thickness was a benefit rather than a negative. Somehow Dear Kate managed to make it breathable yet protective – and comfortable! The material really does “wick” away moisture enough to hold up on long runs and leave those drips unnoticed by me or anyone else.

The fit is true to size and extremely comfortable as well as flattering. They are the kind of undies you want to prance around in before you put on your running tights and after you take them off.  The girl in the ad online actually makes sense! 

The cost of a pair of Hazel Sports is $32, which might be more than you are used to paying for your underwear, but let me tell you that every penny is worth it.  To help get your Dear Kate collection started (because it’s impossible to have just one!), Dear Kate is offering 25% off your first order until February 9th with the code “hotbird” at