Strength Training 101 for Hysterrunners

I’ve been working on my upper body strength for the past 2 weeks or so.  It was my intent to write this post last night and post it this morning.  But I was sidetracked by a physical setback and, like everyone else on the East Coast, Hurricane Sandy.


Picture posted by my favorite weatherman, Justin Berk.

The physical setback was sheer exhaustion coupled with back spasms and a throbbing incision which started Friday evening and kicked into high gear on Saturday afternoon.  The reason – I attempted to put back on my Superwoman cape before my body was ready.  On Friday, I picked up my son from school and then proceeded to go to both Target and Safeway to restock the pantry and fridge.  Most moms know that this is a monumental task normally.  Add on the recovering from a hysterectomy issue and you have pain.  But, no I did not rest on Saturday like I should have.  I had committed to presenting a workshop for youth at a bullying conference that afternoon so I did.  By the time I got home that afternoon, my body was SCREAMING for attention.  So I rested and haven’t left the house since.

Today while monitoring local and social media to keep track of the storm, I came across the following tweet from our friends at Runner’s World.


It was just the nudge I needed to write this post about Strength Training and Upper Body exercises.  I’m not ready to tackle these exercises, though.

I’m not the most avid of strength trainers under normal circumstances.  It is one of those things I know I’m supposed to do for my overall fitness but don’t always get around to doing.  I have crosstrained with Zumba and Yoga but regular strength training.Embarrassed smile  Being that I can’t do either of those right now, I have been on a quest for exercises that I can do which are safe for me to do.  I came across some videos from Australia on YouTube that have been very helpful.

How to tone strong arms without pelvic floor strain

I have been doing the 3 exercises in this video along with tricep kickbacks from another of her videos.  I can complete 3 sets of 10-12 reps at a time.  I’ve been able to do these every other day for two weeks, including today!  I figure that if I keep this up, I too can have arms like Michelle Obama! Winking smile

Remember I had a reasonable level of fitness before my surgery and still have setbacks.  I started doing these at almost 4 weeks post-op.  If you’re not up to starting strength training that soon, it’s ok.  Each person’s recovery is their own – listen to your body and do what’s best for you! Open-mouthed smile

Faith & Fitness Friday

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all. – Ecclesiastes 9:11 (New King James Bible)

Pasta Sauce & BGR

Depending on how my doctor’s appointment goes tomorrow, I should be heading back to work in less than 2 weeks!  I’ve been warned by most women who have had hysterectomies that I shouldn’t expect to be fully back to myself by then.  In preparation for that, I am trying to get my body back on a schedule.  So today, I spent a good bit of time doing research for papers that I am working on.  I also took some time this afternoon to prepare some homemade pasta sauce for the freezer.

My CSA and my garden both produces a lot of tomatoes.  My hubby has been using them in a lot of things – cooked and raw – as he has been responsible for most of the cooking the past few weeks.  Usually, I turn them into yummy pasta sauce which I freeze for busy nights during the Winter.  However, that didn’t happen.  The tomatoes had started to go bad.  So today, I decided to make sauce before they all spoiled.

I cut up the tomatoes (about 2 pounds of Roma and Plum), a purple onion, and 4 cloves of garlic.  I added a drizzle of olive oil and about a cup of vegetable broth.  I also added a tablespoon of my favorite Italian seasoning – Hearty Spaghetti Sauce Blend from Wildtree.  I cooked it down for about 45 minutes the left it to cool.

Tomatoes, onion, & garlic After 45 minutes

While the sauce cooled, I went to the Lake to walk.  Since it’s Tuesday, I met up with my Black Girls Run Twilight Tuesday crew.  I didn’t realize how much I missed them until I saw all of their smiling faces!  Since I’m not cleared to run yet, I walked with two other ladies.  We got 2.6 miles in while other ladies ran 3-5 miles.

For those of you who don’t know about Black Girls Run, it is an awesome community of African American women who support and encourage one another in their fitness journey.  Women can be at any point along the “running” spectrum – from walkers to new runners to experienced runners and anywhere in between.

Anyway, it was good to get my walk on with the group, walking alone had begun to be a bit boring for me.  As much as I don’t mind it, I prefer walking or running with friends at times to break up the monotony.

When I came in from my walk, I used my immersion blender to puree the sauce and put it away in the freezer for another day.  The 2 pounds of tomatoes made about 4 cups of sauce.

The finished sauce

All in all, today was a good day!

Walking Works

For women who have had a hysterectomy, the doctor usually encourages light walking beginning a week after surgery.  Usually at this point, you may still be on pain meds and using an abdominal binder so light walking is just that – easy, light walking.  It may be to the corner and back then gradually increasing to around the block.  Since you can’t lift anything heavier than 5 pounds, taking it easy is necessary.  My first few excursions out of the house meant that I had to take a nap when I came back in the house.  Some days if I ran errands, I would be wiped out the next day.  However, I didn’t regret moving around and walking.  If anything, I beat myself up because I couldn’t do more.  Having a support network through the awesome website at Hyster Sisters helped.

About 2 1/2 weeks post-surgery, I was able to get up to 1 1/2 miles of walking done.  I took a break at the halfway point.  I also wasn’t able to do it again for a few days.  But eventually I did.

(This isn’t my first time walking for fitness. I walked 2-3 miles several times a week for about 2 years. I began running because I was bored one day and wanted a challenge. I would run from one streetlight to the next then walk for the next interval. It was my own personal run/walk method way before I knew who Jeff Galloway was.  I had just gotten up to running 2 miles at a time when I developed high blood pressure.  My doctor had me go back to walking until I got it under control.  I trained for the Baltimore Women’s Classic as a walker and was only cleared to run again 2 weeks before the race.)

By 4 weeks post-surgery, I could get 2 1/2 miles of walking done without a break.  The first time I did felt AWESOME!!!! I have now been able to do so every other day for a week.  Now this progress may not be the same for you.  It would be fast if you were not a regular exerciser pre-hysterectomy.  The key is to listen to your body.  It may take months before you are comfortable moving from down the block to 1 mile to a 5K.  But, if you are consistent and listen to your body, you can do it.  If your body tells you to stay with walking and not become a runner, that works, too!

Faith & Fitness Friday

Never think that God’s delays are God’s denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius. – Comte George Louis

4 weeks without my uterus–otherwise known as I need a run!!!

On September 20, 2012, I had a total abdominal hysterectomy.  Basically, my uterus and cervix were removed through a large incision in my abdomen- no laparoscopic laser surgery for me!  Needless to say, I haven’t had a run in a while.  In fact my last 5K race was on September 16th, 4 days before my surgery.  I ran the Run Wild for Autism race through the Baltimore Zoo and Druid Hill Park in support of autism research.  My son is autistic and I ran with him, my husband, and some really great friends!


This is a pic of us coming across the finish line at the same time. I’m the one in the white shirt!

Anyway, I am not an accomplished runner by any means.  I am a weekend warrior who rediscovered running in November 2011.  I hadn’t run regularly since high school before then.  My first race since my son was born was the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K in June 2012.  The BWC was not only my first race but also my first race since being diagnosed with both high blood pressure and menorrhagia.  I hadn’t planned it but running in support of other women ended up being a blessing to me.  The next day I went in for a routine outpatient procedure to deal with my menorrhagia.  It didn’t go well and after a couple of doctors’ opinions and a lot of soul searching, I scheduled my hysterectomy.

While training for the BWC, I had set a goal for myself for 2012.  That was to run three races – one of which was to be the Baltimore Running Festival in October.  Once my surgery date was set, the BRF was out of the question.  Never one to give up on my goals, I decided to do back to back races in September to meet it.  I ran the Run to Remember in honor of 9/11 the week before the autism run.

Now that I’ve reached Week 4, I can start walking and light strength training again – nothing too strenuous.  I have been recovering relatively quickly which I credit to being in better shape before the surgery.  I hope to be cleared to start running again at the 6 week mark.  I have also set new goals for 2013.  I intend to run a race every month of 2013, including my first half.  This blog will be a way to share my progress; and, to help others who are dealing with health issues.

Hello world!

Welcome to!  This blog will serve to chronicle my journey back to running after a total abdominal hysterectomy.  Posts will include information on gear and fitness plans as well as reflections on runs and races.  Expect the first official post on October 20th – one month post-surgery!  In the meanwhile, happy running!

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Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon

Race # 10September 15, 2013
Aiming for a PR!