Look ma, no girdle!

When I first came back to the pavement post-hysterectomy, I went on a quest for compression tights which would hold my weak stomach muscles and swelly belly together while I ran.  I even wrote about my quest and several of the styles I tried.  As the weather began getting warm, I panicked.  There was no way I could afford to buy as many pairs of compression shorts as I would need to get through summer running.  Plus, I have so many pairs of running shorts and skirts that I would hate to have them sit around collecting dust.  So I did what any good frugal fastinista would do, I found a way to wear them.  My secret was to wear a panty girdle.  I had a few which I had purchased in the Fall so that I could wear real clothes again after the surgery.  I hadn’t worn them since.  So I started wearing them under my shorts and skirts to run.  I tested them out on my shorter weekly runs and then an 8 mile long run.  They worked perfectly! They held me in without discomfort as I was still rebuilding my core.  I wore one under my skirt at the Baltimore Ten Miler and even though it wasn’t my best race I couldn’t blame my belly.  For the Dreaded Druid Hills 10K, I wore the one pair of compression shorts which I did purchase.  I would have worn compression shorts regardless of being a hysterrunner because…well it’s the DREADED Druid HILLS! But then the inevitable happened, I needed to do laundry and didn’t have a clean panty girdle to wear.

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Laundry day at my house. Seriously, this is what it feels like!

So for the BWC, I wore my skirt and regular undergarments & I was fine.  I think between my core work over the past few months and recovery in general I can safely say I don’t need the extra support in my midsection when I run.  However, I do like compression garments for support and recovery of muscles during and after intense workouts.  So I will probably continue wearing compression tights or shorts on long runs.

Do you wear compression gear?  What is your go to gear for intense workouts?

Being a Hysterrunner is What’s Beautiful

Last night as I have for most Tuesday nights of the past year, I ran with Twilight Tuesday’s Baltimore Black Girls Run group.  After the run, I led our brief ab workout which we started doing in May.  When I was cleared to go back to doing core work in March, I could barely do 10 crunches.  They were brutal.  When I planked with my husband in Brooklyn the week before the Cherry Blossom, my abs were sore for days.  Now I can do several types of crunches in sets of 1 minute several times a week.  I also can get through Bikram yoga and other core work in ways I wasn’t able to before.  I may not have a flat stomach or be an elite runner, but I truly can say that I have grown as a hysterrunner.  I have embraced the mantra of NO UTERUS, NO PROBLEM and it’s been beautiful learning about myself in this way.

Last night, I was reminded that there are other hysterrunners out there and others who one day may be hysterrunners or hysteryogis or anything.  You never know when someone may need to hear your story or in this case, my story.

One of the newbies to our group joined us last night.  She has been training for the BWC using the Couch to 5K and attending their sessions.  She made it through 2.5 miles with us in 35 minutes.  It was the furthest she had gone.  She then stayed for the ab work.  When we were done, she mentioned that she was so glad that she had come out because she had begun to get discouraged with her progress.  I shared my story with her which prompted her to tell hers.  She has had some health scares, including a hysterectomy in 2011.  She then proceeded to say that some days she feels as if her body belongs to an 80 year old woman.  Dawn & I talked with her at length about how with exercise and proper nutrition she can begin to feel better.  She was so happy to have found a group of supportive women that she almost cried.  I was glad that she was able to feel supported and hope she returns.

You see when I realized that my hysterectomy was inevitable, I searched for information about fitness and exercise post-hysterectomy.  I barely found anything.  I decided to start this blog because I knew there were others like me who needed to hear that it was possible to become fit and come back to your best self even if you weren’t the fittest chick before surgery.  It is my hope that my little blog can reach someone and support them in the way that meeting the newbie last night and sharing my story in person did.  I am still on this journey and I invite you to continue to join me.  I know that I am what’s beautiful.  I thank Under Armour for reminding women of that with their challenges.  But I also know that there are so many other women who are not a part of the Under Armour women community who need to be reminded that they are what’s beautiful.  For my hysterrunners out there, remember…

No uterus, no problem!

No uterus, no problem!

Three things I LOVE!

Of course, I love myself first. If I didn’t, then nothing else would matter. It is because I love myself that I am aware of the three things I love the most.

Family– My husband and my son truly are my heart.  I focus on getting better every day so that I can be the best I can be for them.

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I come from a decent sized family.  Talking to any of them – my parents, sisters, brother, cousins, etc – is usually a joy and a blessing that I don’t take for granted.

Faith – I can do everything through my God who strengthens me.  Battling back from my hysterectomy has taken a lot of faith that I would heal.  Daily prayer and going to Mass regularly helps me to remain connected to God.  I hope that sharing “Faith & Fitness Fridays” with you helps you to connect as well.

Fitness – I may not be an elite athlete.  But, I truly love becoming that FIT CHICK.  Whether I am running, doing Water Aerobics, or shaking it in a Zumba class, I love pushing my limits and getting physically back to the way I used to be.  I have been enjoying this journey back to fitness and look forward to the next stage.  Speaking about running…

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The guys over at the runchat have asked this week for us to post things you love about running.  So to elaborate on one of my 3 things I love, here are the things I love about being a HYSTERRUNNER!

  • I can run! It doesn’t have to be fast or far.  But, I can do it.  I have come back from 0 miles/week to just under 20!
  • It has helped me recover.  Being in decent shape because of running helped me to manage pain better immediately after my surgery.  Getting back to running post-surgery has helped me get my body back.  Slowly but surely!
  • I don’t need much equipment to do it.  A good sportsbra & my Sauconys are all I need.  Of course, being that I run mostly outdoors, I have invested in some tech gear/cold gear/etc.  But I can just get out there and run – anywhere, anytime, anyhow!
  • It’s the one thing I have TOTAL CONTROL OVER!!!  My body still has its issues.  I don’t always know when I wake up if my incisions will twitch or if I will have swelly belly and not be able to fit in what I thought I could wear to work that day.  But I do know that if I get out and run even a little bit, I feel better mentally and spiritually which is better for both my FAMILY and my FAITH.
  • I love the running community.  The online community helped me to focus when I was lying in bed recovering and could barely walk much less run.  My Black Girls Run group encourages me and pushes me to run even when I am not sure what my capabilities are.  My Road Runners Crew is always there with tips, tricks, etc.  My offline running friends are always there with personal support.

So there you have it – the Three Things I love combined with what I love about running! How’s that for a Valentine’s Day!

runners_valentine_card_i_heart_love_running-p137917693705586184bfmxk_400http://www.zazzle.com

A Quest for Tights

It’s Fall which is perfect running weather.  As the weather grows colder, it is time to figure out what to wear to run.  There are many blog posts and articles out there which can help you.  Cold Weather Tips for Beginners on active.com is one.  The Never Say Never November 2012 issue of Runner’s World has a great article titled “Bottoms Up” which is a great gear review for cold weather bottoms.  So this post isn’t about to recreate the wheel.  What I am going to do is share with you my quest for the perfect tights for my fellow hysterrunners. (WARNING – This post is longer than normal for me.)

Women who have had a hysterectomy know of the dreaded swelly belly.  What is swelly belly you may ask?  Well, according to the HysterSisters website, swelly belly “refers to post-op swelling of the abdomen. It can occur in any type of hysterectomy procedure, but seems to be more prevalent in abdominal surgeries.
The current views are that swelly belly is caused by trauma to the abdominal tissues, gasses used during surgery, and/or fluids collecting in the tissues due to trauma during surgery.”  Trust me when I tell you that it is UNCOMFORTABLE, especially at the end of the day.  From what I have seen and read, it can last for up to 16 months post-surgery!!! YUCK!!!

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Because I don’t intend to let swelly belly stop me from being a hysterrunner, I need to find running tights which support it.  During the day, I have been wearing a girdle under my clothes to support my injured stomach muscles in much the same way as someone would ear an Ace bandage to support an injured ankle.  However, girdles don’t cut it for running.  Hence, the quest.

On the HysterSisters site, a fellow hysterrunner had mentioned that compression tights were best.  I agree with that.  Now which ones should I choose became the question.  So during this month, I have tried 4 different types of compression tights – Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Compression, Nike Element Thermal, Saucony AmpPro2 Training Tight, and the CW-X PerformX.  You can check out the individual websites for their official features and compression fit for muscle stability, etc.  What I am going to share with you is how they worked for me and my swelly belly.

Saucony AmpPro2 – I had high hopes for these tights.  They came in a cute tube which I have had displayed on my television console during my entire recovery period.  They were what I dreamed of wearing when I ran my first post-op run.  For compression, my legs felt wonderful! For swelly belly, these were a no-go!  They were subject to slippage.  In fact, 1/4 mile into my first run, I felt a cool breeze as I discovered that they had slipped below my butt.  It was a good thing my shirt was long in the back!  They also didn’t really sit right over the belly and provide any support above the legs.  I will save these for next Fall/Winter when I can wear them with a pair of shorts over them because of the leg compression.

Nike Element Thermal – When I put these on, I liked the fact that there was a drawstring so I could pull them tighter around my waist and belly.  They also have a brushed fleecy feel on the inside which makes them warm and cozy just where it is needed.  Like the Saucony tights, these also were great for my legs.  They were ok to run in; but, I still had a bit of a belly jiggle going on.

CW-X PerformX – These were the third pair I tried.  I was planning to save them for a long run because of their reputation for supporting muscles that have gone the distance.  But when I realized that my first two choices weren’t as supportive as I would have liked, I decided to try them out on a 2-mile run.  As soon as I put them on, I was in heaven.  My muscles and joints truly felt like they were in alignment.  They provided perfect pressure and support to my swelly belly as well.  When I ran in them, I didn’t hear LL Cool J rapping – you’re jiggling baby! I had hit the motherlode.  These tights are the go-to in compression for most runners and they are definitely the go-to for me as a hysterrunner.  However, the price is somewhat cost prohibitive.  I want to be able to run 3-4 times a week and only one pair isn’t going to be enough.  So I continued my quest.

Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Compression – Last but not least, I tried these.  They look like plain black tights; no fancy stitching or reflective stripes.  They don’t even have a drawstring waist. But…wait for it…they have an awesome fit for my swelly belly!  They come up above my waist with just enough support and pressure.  I wore them around the house for about an hour before I headed out for my run and didn’t feel uncomfortable.  They kept supporting me while I ran and I only heard LL when my MP3 shuffled to him!  These are definitely a keeper.

So, basically I have come up with 2 pairs of running tights which are about to be in heavy rotation this cold weather running season that work with the swelly belly of this hysterrunner.  CW-X and Under Armour will be my new best friends.  I will probably invest in at least one more pair, which one will depend on if I can get a sale or not. (I’m a frugal Franny!)

I should probably tell you that I was not provided with any of these tights for free.  I bought most of them on clearance during the summer when everyone else was focused on shorts. (Frugal Fanny again!)

Talk to you all soon! Continue to Never Say Never this November!

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Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon

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