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Mum, Baby and a Six Pack

You’re a mother. 9 months pregnancy, followed by a childbirth and now, you’re holding your little angel in your arms. Completely new situation to you, new reality, new responsibilities and so many insecurities whether you can handle it or not. You’re a first-time mother with no experience with babies whatsoever. But you go with the flow, you manage to survive and your little one seems like she/he is surviving too. After few weeks you feel something is missing. You feel lonely, you feel bored, you feel like you’re doing same thing over and over again wondering whether your life would always look this way?

But you keep quiet. You don’t want to say it out loud worrying that people may judge you for being a bad mother. After all, you love your child to bits. Right?

But still, something is missing, and something is not feeling right…What’s missing is having some time for yourself, some ME time on your own. What’s not feeling right is you not feeling good in your own body, as come on, you’re not pregnant anymore but you still look like you’re. You want to start exercising and getting your body back. You want to be back doing the things you loved doing before having a baby and getting your life back. So, you start looking for ways on how to make it possible.

And then you start, slowly but surely and you begin feeling amazing again. You do your workout, you go to the gym, you take on running, you buy a jogging stroller and start training for a race. Your training schedule is quite demanding, you’re breastfeeding, not sleeping through the night and oftentimes you feel really tired. But you still enjoy it though. Physical activity makes you feel happy, that is you being in your zone, that is you doing what you love doing and that is your time when you can get rid of all the frustrations and challenges of motherhood. So, you stay disciplined, you stay committed, regardless how difficult it may be, how much you need to push yourself to be able to accomplish your goal.

And then results start showing up. You’re losing that baby weight. You start seeing that six pack again. You’ve completed that half-marathon or a marathon and your little one is with you on your picture with a medal. Only you know how challenging that was but also how needed that was for your physical, mental and emotional well-being. You feel on top of the world.

There’re people who look at you with respect, they support you and they cheer on you.  

But also, there’re people who don’t. People who think that you’re selfish, that you’re a bad mother, that you lost your mind and that you need to be having a serious conversation with someone “sensible” who’s going to tell you how you SHOULD behave. And sadly, these people are often mothers themselves…

Because, let’s be honest…

This is not NORMAL to be completing a marathon months after having a baby.

This is not NORMAL to be running with a buggy.

This is not NORMAL to have a six pack quickly after giving birth.

This in not NORMAL to look great and feel amazing as opposed to be totally exhausted and drained.

What is NORMAL… is that as a mother you SHOULD/MUST behave in a certain way. Should and must made by society, culture, religion or someone’s opinion… as a mother you have all those obligations and you’re not allowed to think differently. You should look after the baby, you should look after the husband, you should look after the house, you should look after everyone around you but yourself. It’s a badge of honour to do everything on your own, not asking for help, pretending that you even enjoy it.

How dare you want to have time on your own when your baby needs you 24/7?

How dare you go out doing something that you want, that gives you pleasure when there’s that little human being relying on you?

How dare you fancy exercising and losing that baby weight when it’s normal and even expected to be overweight after having a child?

SERIOUSLY?

I’ve said this before and will repeat it over and over again – if you don’t look after yourself first, sooner or later you won’t be able to look after the ones around you. Why all airlines ask you to put your oxygen mask on first? That’s obvious, that is normal, and everyone is ok with that.

So why it’s not normal when mother wants to have some ME time?

Why it’s not normal when mother wants to go out for a run?

Why it’s not normal when mother wants to exercise, look good and feel great in her body?

Why it’s not normal when mother wants to follow her passion and go for her dreams?

Is she still not the same woman she was before she had a baby?

Has she changed as a person and has no life, no ambitions, no passions, no interests outside of being a mother anymore?

That’s absurd.

Is anyone asking daddy what happens to a baby when he’s working, when he’s playing football, training at the gym or when he’s going out with his peers? No, no one even questions it.

So, why people are having a go at a mother who has her passion, her dreams, her business, and who is organizing her life to make it work.

They don’t know how challenging that may be.

They don’t know how hard she’s been working to make her goal a reality.

They don’t know how much happier as a mother, as a woman and as a person she feels thanks to doing so.

This is insane that in XXI century we have a culture focusing so much on mother’s belly. First, when she gets pregnant, there’re comments whether she’s not too big or not too small, whether she would be able to lose that weight after or not. I love the way Anna from My Baby Care talks about it in her post: My Pregnancy Body Shaming Story. She stresses how one random comment can change the whole perception of a body for a new mum to be. And what consequences that may have. When that mother finally has her adorable baby, there’re comments whether she can train or not, whether she’s lost her baby weight too fast or not at all, whether she’s allowed to have a six pack or not, not yet. This is crazy. Why mother’s belly is such a hot topic? Can we not leave that mother alone, stop gossiping, stop making her feel guilty regardless of what she’s doing. It seems it’s never good enough. When she’s big – that’s wrong, when she’s small – that’s wrong, when she trains – that’s wrong, when she doesn’t – that’s wrong. Whatever she does – that’s wrong…really?

Although I’m far from idealising skinny model bodies pushed by the media, I’m also far from the opinion that it’s ok to be overweight when you just had your baby. That this is ok to have dirty hair, wearing maternity clothes long after giving birth, stop looking after yourself all together and feeling miserable. And then complaining with other mothers how hard motherhood is, gossiping about the one who is passing you by with a jogging stroller. No, I’m not ok with this at all. 

I know how challenging motherhood can be, I know it’s a constant roller coaster when one minute you feel like a super hero, and the other crying your eyes out with powerlessness. I know it’s challenging to find time and energy.

I’m not saying that you HAVE TO be skinny, having six pack few weeks after giving birth or completing a marathon. However, you can if you want to, that it is possible. There’re mothers out there who make it possible. If you want to be one of them, take action. And if you don’t shut up and stop commenting on mothers who do take that action every single day. Maybe when she is exercising and sweating to burn that fat off, you’re sitting on the sofa with a box of ice creams, watching Netflix?

Respecting people is giving them a space to live how they want to live, to do what they want to do. There’s no one way of thinking, no one “right” way of motherhood. Mothers have the right to have big belly after having baby and mothers have the right to have muscular body and six pack as well. And they have the right to show it off, to wear those shorts, to post pictures about their races, to be proud of themselves, not guilty because someone may feel not good enough. They’ve been working hard to look the way they look or to accomplish their goals. 

I really dream about the world where everyone gives mothers permission to look after themselves, after their needs, to make themselves a priority. Where it’s normal for mothers to look after their bodies because body is a temple. If you don’t look after your body, you’ll have nowhere to live. I really dream about the world where healthy, active and happy mothers are not being judged but respected for being role models for their children and motivation and inspirations to the ones around.  

Are you with me?

 

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I Run Because I Can

I have never been into running, really. I was getting a stich after few hundred meters and I found it boring anyway. Then, back in 2013 I decided to give it another try. During my 3rd run I’ve completed 10k which was quite impressive. I must stress here that I was not a couch potato, I was fit, have been exercising, teaching fitness classes, so my form was already good. I do not recommend doing 10k run if you’re just starting out… I didn’t have proper running shoes, so I bought them in and signed up for a half-marathon in a beautiful seaside of Bournemouth in 5 weeks’ time. It was quite a short notice but, with a good training plan, I knew, I could do it.

My first half-marathon was not just a physical challenge for me. I was also raising funds for a good cause. My chosen project was Basket Brigade, the initiative started by Tony Robbins over 40 years ago, where we prepare and personally deliver food hampers to families in need around Christmas and Thanksgiving. Inside the hamper there is a Christmas card saying: “This hamper is from someone who really cares about you. The only thing he asks is that you look after yourself in a way that you’ll be able to do something similar for someone else in the future”. Signed “A Friend

When I first heard about Basket Brigade in 2011, I was so touched and, together with my hubby, we decided to bring it to Poland. We started small with 10 hampers with a total budget of £20. Next year my sis and bro-in law got involved and we managed to do 20 hampers.

In 2013, I wanted to play a bigger game, so I set a target of raising £800 and my first half-marathon ever was a way to do it. I’ve managed to raise over £1100 and I was hooked for good – both into running and into expanding Basket Brigade in Poland. And yet, year after year we got stronger.

I run because I can. I’m fortunate enough to have 2 legs, 2 arms, being healthy, having food on the table, loving and supportive family but there are many people out there who don’t… I feel that’s my obligation to help the ones in need.

I believe that secret to living is giving and we’ve already experience magic many many times. What you give, comes back to you tenfold.

I didn’t realize that would have so much ripple effect… my family members went for it too…my sis, hubby, bro in-law, even my mum in-law – started running, completing first 10k, half-marathons, then marathons, triathlons, tough mudders, rat races… We do many races together, we keep motivating each other and holding each other accountable. Every year we go for a bigger challenge, training hard, pushing ourselves to the limits on race days but that’s where magic happens, right?

We decided that mission of Basket Brigade Polska would be combining healthy lifestyle with the idea of helping others, so each race and fitness challenge is for a good cause.

My sister got more and more of her friends involved too. They run, they train, take part in indoor cycling marathons, cross fit challenges in their local fitness club. All to help raise money for our Christmas hampers.

Each year as well, we manage to inspire more family members, friends and friends of friends who want to be a part of Basket Brigade, helping us change people’s lives for the better. Watching the transformation of those around us when they understand that the “SECRET TO LIVING IS GIVING”, is unbelievable. Friends I haven’t seen for years, colleagues from primary or secondary school are coming with their kids to pack the hampers… Kids love it, they put their own toys inside the hampers hoping that “this little girl will love this teddy as much as I did”. It melts my heart.

Oftentimes the person who is touched the most is the one who delivered the hamper…That’s why this idea is so close to my heart.

I run because I can…

I run because I can inspire others to run.

I run because I can make a difference to a stranger who has no idea we’re coming.

I run because I can inspire others to make a difference too.

I run because I can see the transformation with people around me.

I run because I can…

If you want to support our Basket Brigade this year, please click HERE.

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Secret Santa Is Running To Town

Each year my family is working hard to help more and more families through an initiative called Basket Brigade Polska. They started with 10 small hampers in 2011 and last last year, in 2016, they delivered over 500 hampers in Poland, of which 300 in my mummy’s home town. WOW !!!

Hello amazing people,

My name is Kuba, I’m a son of Alex & Lukasz and I’m 2 years young.

My life is great, I have a loving family, warm clothes, plenty of toys and tasty food in my tummy every day. I thought this is how all children live but my mummy and daddy told me that not everyone is so fortunate…
WHAT???

I can’t get my head around the fact that there may be no food in someone’s tummy…

So what my parents decided to do is to help those families with empty tummies, yeahhhh !!! and for the last 6 years together with my grandparents, uncles and aunties, they have been providing them with food for Christmas.
I heard that this is the most magical time of the year and everywhere should be a joy and laughter, not worries and struggle.

Each year my family is working hard to help more and more families through an initiative called Basket Brigade Polska. What I heard is that they were inspired by Anthony Robbins which I call uncle Tony 🙂 He is the man behind Basket Brigade.

My parents started with 10 small hampers with the total budget of £20.00 in 2011 and last last year, in 2016, they delivered over 500 hampers in Poland, of which 300 in my mummy’s home town. WOW !!!

My family is very active, they run, cycle, swim, train at the gym, teach fitness classes and they use it all to raise funds for those Christmas hampers.

This year alone my mummy Alex ran her 2nd Marathon in Berlin, daddy Lukasz and uncle Matt completed Rat Race and their first Triathlon, auntie Gosia and grandma Danusia completed few other running races in Poland and UK. Each time I supported them all, cheering up on the way. I don’t know how they’ve done it all…

That Rat Race, I heard was wet and muddy difficult…I’ve seen them after…they were more dirty than me after messy play 🙂

Auntie Gosia in her fitness club in Poland is organizing plenty of fitness challenges like INDOOR CYCLING or CROSSFIT which I have no idea what that is but I’m sure something not easy again.

And they are not done yet, there will be more running, dancing, lifting, jumping, even football game.

And FOR ME TOO. As a member of this family, I’m fully involved in Basket Brigade for the third time. This Sunday, 3rd December, I will be running with them in 10K Santa Run in London.

There is no way I can skip that, my sporty family requires that kind of action. I was training with mummy and I’m ready for this, just not sure if I can keep up with their speed…

I also broke my piggy bank (ciiii, don’t tell my parents) but there were only coins in there, so I guess it won’t be enough for 200 hampers…

However I have an idea, I know that there is a hope… I need YOUR HELP.

If you want to help my family making a difference again, please donate whatever you can in here: Basket Brigade Polska 2017

Every penny counts. Time is limited, we need all funds by 10th December the latest to order neccessary products.

You helped us last year and I believe that togehter we can reach our goal again.

And please share this post with your family and friends, so more people can help us, let’s go viral.

Thank you very much from the bottom of my baby heart <3

Kuba

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The Story of My Berlin Marathon

Last year, in April 2016, when my son was 7 months young, I completed my first ever marathon. It was London Marathon which is one of the Worlds Marathon Majors. When I crossed that finish line in front of Buckingham Palace, I was crying like a baby. You can read all about my journey and actual day of that London Marathon HERE.

During my final kilometres in London, I said that I would never do it again…yet in October 2016, I put myself through a ballot for Berlin Marathon 2017, another of World Marathon Majors and again I was lucky enough to get my place. It was due on 24th September 2017.

I started my marathon training in June, so 4 months before the big day. I got in touch with my friend, who happened to be a running coach. I had a choice to search the web for the plan or to work with him and personalised training plan. For me it was no brainer. I believe that the best way to be successful is to find somebody, who’s already done what I’m planning to do and having a coach was exactly what I wanted. He asked me about my goal and how many times a week I could train.

The goal was to finish sub 4 hours and I could train 3-4 times a week.

From January, I got back to work, so I needed to incorporate my training between work, family life and setting up Active Happy Mama business. Compared to last year I was in different place – I was running regularly, taking part in running events, my form was much better plus in April 2017 I stopped breastfeeding.

I was given a plan for the first 2 weeks and Mario was watching my runs on my Garmin watch app. It was enough for him to know where I was and how to plan my training. I was getting a plan every couple of weeks. It was a combination of short and long runs, tempo runs, progression runs, hill repeats, fartlek and interval training, speed work plus skips, long jumps, etc.

London marathon was in April, so training was in the winter, through the rain, cold and wind. This time training was in the summer, with much nicer weather and longer days. Having said that, it was often through the heat, still through the wind and sometimes through the rain. Alongside holidays, before or after work, when I was tired and often when I didn’t feel like running at all…

The biggest challenge was when we went on holiday to Mauritius – 2 weeks between August and September, when I had the most challenging part of the training – long runs of 30k over the weekends, quite long ones of 18-22k runs in the week, training with increasing pace, intervals, etc. In couple of weeks I’ve done over 120k.

Adaptation proccess to running in a new climate took me a long time, waking up at 5am to run before it gets too hot, I was struggling with humidity, wind (again), running in sugar cane fields, on a motorway, on the roads with no pavements praying to stay alive when big trucks were passing me by. Honestly, during every single run over there, I had a stich, needed to stop, was not able to keep going, and I was not sure whether I was prepared to run that marathon at all…

In a week before a marathon I was told what and how to eat, drink, hydrate properly, since Friday I was supposed to eat Haribo’s and salty peanuts (to keep the water in), and as the final meal on Saturday I needed to have pizza (more calories than pasta, better for the race day). We also went through the plan of the marathon, Mario said that we’re aiming for 3:45…wow, I wanted to go under 4 hours, 3:45 was quite a bit under…he said I’m prepared, so I agreed to go for it.

As with my every run, this time again, I was raising money for a charity Basket Brigade Poland, where we provide food hampers for families in need over Christmas.

It began with Anthony Robbins in USA 30 years ago, and, together with my hubby, in 2011, we started Basket Brigade in Poland creating first 10 hampers and last year we were present in 4 cities, delivering over 500 hampers. This idea is so close to my heart, it affects not only people who we are helping to but, over the years, so many of my family members and friends have been transformed. You can read more about it HERE.

Friday morning, I got period… and for me that was not good news. I know my body, I know how I feel for the first 3 days of my period and on Sunday it was supposed to be my 3rd day…I know it’s quite intimate to write about it here but, as a woman, you know how it can affect you… Well, nothing I could do about it.

We had a flight on Friday 22nd September to Szczecin in Poland, where we were about to rent a car and drive to Berlin. We got a free upgrade to Audi A3 at the airport which was a very nice start to our weekend 🙂 We got to Berlin around 9pm and shortly after my sister with her friend arrived from Poland. My sister gave me a gold necklace with 3 hangers, one of which was 4-leaf clover – for good luck on Sunday 🙂 Saturday morning, we went to expo.

I felt quite emotional…here I’m again, my 2nd marathon, 2nd of the World Marathon Majors, my son just turned 2 years and he is here with me and my hubby, my lovely sis and Magda came over to support me and after months of training I’m about to do it…

After taking some pictures, wimbling around all sorts of stands, we stopped at Abbott display, looking at all 6 World Marathon Majors medals.

And right over there I found my necklace got broken and 4-leaf clover got lost…we’ve been looking for it everywhere but with no joy. I won’t be lucky on Sunday then…well, I refused to believe in bad luck.

Saturday afternoon we spent in Berlin, walking around the city. My iPhone was playing up, from 40% battery it went dead, unable to turn on. I hoped it wouldn’t happen the next day.

In the evening, we went to Italian restaurant for tasty pizza, my companions were drinking bear, which I was craving for but didn’t touch it.

When we were coming back it was pouring rain. The weather forecast for Sunday was showing rain but I kept saying that I’ve always been a lucky girl and, with every running race, I had a wonderful weather, so this time would be the same…

When we got back home, I prepared everything for the next day – clothes, race number, pins, gels, bag, attached timing chip to my shoe laces.

I wanted to go to bed early but my son Kuba was not interested in falling asleep at all. When he finally did, I couldn’t fall asleep myself. I believe it was a mixture of excitement and stress.

I was checking weather forecast, no rain, yeahhh.

Sunday morning, I got dressed, ate my standard pre-race meal – 2 slices of wholemeal bread with peanut butter and banana. Took energy bar and isotonic drink to have before the start.

I was in the last wave H, we were about to start at 10am. We got to Reichstag around 8:30 am, few pictures together, final kisses, hugs, good luck and bye. I was told that we would meet between 11-12k, then 21-22k and then 37k to give me coca cola (Mario said that caffeine kick will help me at the finish).

Dropped my bag, put plastic trash bag on me (to protect from cold and wind), took couple of pictures in front of Reichstag, and put myself in the queue for the toilet.

Once I was uploading my pictures to facebook and saying last thanks to my friends my phone died…at 82% battery…was trying to turn it on few times…no luck…just great, here I’m, in Berlin, running my 2nd World Marathon Major marathon and my phone is dead…

I wasn’t hungry at all, so didn’t eat that energy bar, had just one energy gel and was heading to the start line. It was raining…well, my weather forecast got it wrong… I did few jumps, stretched my muscles and took my place on the right-hand side. I like running on the side, it’s easier to pass people by plus we agreed with my family that I would be running there.

The rain got stronger…but the atmosphere was great, everyone was ready to start. We got blue rain covers from the organizers, so everywhere around me was flood of blue people. Again, I felt quite emotional. Before the start, we were all clapping together with loud music, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – off we go.

My goal was to go under 3:45 to get qualifying time for Chicago Marathon and good for age time for London.

I was about to run at 5:25 pace for the first 5k. It was crowded and very difficult to pass people by, the first 3k I was quite angry, as I knew I could and needed to go faster but it was almost impossible. Anyway, after first 5k my average pace was around 5:25, good. Then next 5k I needed to speed up to 5:20, yet again was so narrow, that I was going even slower – at 6k my watch was saying 5:37…come one, I can’t continue like this…will need to make it up. I should probably run with elite runners, at least will have no one in front of me. 

7k – 5:12, Mario said not to run faster than 5:15, so I need to be careful. At 10k, I almost made up that time lost at 6k, my average was around 5:20. I was feeling very well, my legs were light, I had a lot of power. At 10k I ate my first energy gel. Drink stations – no bottles, plastic cups instead, I didn’t like it, you need to slow down to be able to drink it plus it’s such a mess everywhere…I like running with a bottle in my hand and sip it on the way.

Then, just before 12k I’ve seen them – hubby, sis, Magda and Kuba in the buggy, just waking up.

I can’t even explain how amazing it is to see the loved ones on the course. It gave me so much boost, I was flying. Ok, another 10k and I will see them again. Until 20k my pace was 5:17, I was feeling really good. If I keep it, I would be able to do this under 3:45. I took caffeine gel at 17k.

21k and narrow again…5:44…not good, big gap, will need to make it up but I still had time. Was looking for my family…22k no one, 23k no one, was wondering whether I mixed it up, maybe that was supposed to be at 26k…

For the last few km I felt I needed to use the toilet but I didn’t want to lose my time. There was always a queue and I couldn’t afford it. Then right after 23k I’ve seen open toi toi and decided “now or never” and jumped in… done my business without sitting down, off course, and I’m glad I made it then. Later, I would probably not have been able to hold my legs like that. 

And then something happened, I started slowing down, I felt that I was running at the same pace but my watch was showing 5:30.

Hmmm let’s speed up, there is no room for slowing down now. At 24k I had another gel. 25k – 5:24, 26k – 5:27, 27k – 5:19, 28k – 5:37 and I couldn’t speed up. I felt like the plug was taken out and my power is gone… At that stage I knew that my finish time under 3:45 is gone… yet still it was 14k to go. At 30k I took another caffeine gel.

At 31k my time was 5:59…and I wasn’t feeling good…what the hell. I started feeling pain in my legs, the same one as during last 10k in London marathon…come on, I need to keep moving. Next drink station and I stopped, for the very first time I stopped to be able to drink that multipower energy drink from the cap. The longer I was standing there, the more I knew that if I didn’t speed up now, I would not be able to start at all.

Managed to speed up a little to 5:38 but then 35k and 6:26…that was bad…I wanted to throw my watch away as it was pissing me off…but the way how I was feeling was worse…my legs were in pain, my lower back was in pain, my stomach was in pain, my period pain said hello too…and I was asking myself why on earth I didn’t take any pain killer for this…I said that this is my last marathon, I’m not going to go through that ever again.

I was supposed to see my family very soon again, at that stage I was almost crying and decided that if I see them, I would stop and have a break with them. 36k – no one, approaching 37k – no one…I started to worry…something must have happened, it’s not possible there were not there at 21k and they are not here at 37 if it wasn’t a reason for it…

And then I saw them, screaming for me, Kuba waving to me. Hubby gave me that coca cola, kissed me saying it’s not long to go, I kissed Kuba.

On the pictures and video from that moment – I was smiling…no sign of how I was really feeling. This is what seeing the loved ones on the course is doing.  I forgot to stop, kept running. Started drinking that coke and I couldn’t keep it in my mouth, my face felt numb, the coke was dripping down…

At 38k I was not sure if I could do it any longer…I wanted to give up, just stop here and there… 

I think that the little voice that was going through my mind should have been recorded. But come one that’s not me, I’m not a give up type of girl…the finish line was so close… That was the longest 4k in my life. On one hand, I wanted to speed up and be over it asap and on the other hand I just had no power to keep going. My head was ok, I knew that I would do it but my legs and lower back were killing me…Every now and then I was doing high knees, not sure why but that was helping. 

Final turn and I saw Brandersburg Gate…I had tears in my eyes…grand finale, almost there…

I don’t know what my face was saying but someone shouted: “Aleksandra just enjoy”. Going through the gate was amazing, it’s such an iconic Berlin landmark. I thought that was over but we still had around 500m to go. I decided to speed up and then I felt such a massive pain in my quads. I’m sure another 1k and I would have a cramp that would not let me continue…

Finish line…seeing it, getting closer to it…going through it…and it was over… I couldn’t believe it…my 2nd marathon completed, thanks God I survived and got here in one peace. 

Got my beautiful medal with Brandersburg Gate and goody bag. No T-shirt inside, which was disappointing. T-shirt is such a great reminder of the event, I like all my race T-shirts. 

I took my phone out it miraculously it turned on…Few pictures at the finish line and slowly was going towards family reunion area. First words I said to them was: “that was my last marathon”, my sister started laughing saying that she’s heard it already last year in London… At that moment I really meant it, I really didn’t want to do another marathon ever again… My sister kept asking why people are doing it to themselves and I started questioning it as well. 

How was I feeling afterwards? Relief that it was over 🙂

My official time was 3:57:30 – almost 28 min faster than last year in London. 28 min, that’s quite an improvement.

I was joking that if I have such a progress with every marathon, I will shortly win one. I was proud of myself, proud of breaking 4 hours, feeling so much respect for every marathoner again, for me they are all heroes. 

On the other hand, I was a bit disappointed of not going under 3:45. I was analysing what went wrong, why during my second half I was feeling so bad, I felt that I had 2 separate races, flying in the first half and struggling in the second. I had so many maybes, whys and ifs in my head… but I’m not going to put them in here, it’s irrelevant now.

The fact is that:

  • I’ve completed my second marathon
  • I’ve got second of World Marathon Majors medal
  • I’ve managed to do sub 4 hours in my second marathon
  • I’ve improved my PB by 28 min
  • I know how much work, discipline and dedication I needed to put into this
  • I’m my own hero and this is my moment of glory

BERLIN MARATHON – I’M A DIFFERENT PERSON NOW THAN I WAS AT THE START LINE.

THANK YOU FOR THE EXPERIENCE, IT WILL STAY WITH ME FOREVER.

 

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10 Tips For Running With A Jogging Stroller

If you are a runner and a mummy as well, there is an option to combine the two – running stroller. You can put your child in and off you go. No need to worry about the childcare or giving up your running all together.

Check out some important tips on how to run with jogging stroller that is safe, easy and enjoyable for your baby and yourself.

1. Be sure that your child is over six months old

It is advised not to jog with a baby under six months old in a jogging stroller, unless the stroller has a seat adapter. Never ever run with a baby in a baby carriage. There are no straps in there and it’s not stable for the head, neck and any other part of little baby’s body to do so. Keeping your baby in a car seat will enable baby to be stable and will not allow the baby to bounce around. Or you can wait untill your baby is old enough to be sitting in a baby stroller and then start running together.

2. You need to get used to it

Running with a jogging stroller requires some practise. To start with, you may need to run slower than you are used to. You need to learn how to push this vehicle in front of you, go through the pavements, bumpy roads, etc. Your arms will not be swinging naturally on the sides as you will need to keep at least one arm on the stroleer all the time. You will need to push few more pounds in front of you, so it will not only be cardio but also some resistance workout. It all requires some time to get used to, so don’t be discouraged. The more you run with a stroller, the easier it will become. And you can go for a run whenever you want to, no need to worry about childcare any more 🙂

3. Lock the front wheel

Several jogging baby carriage have a permanent front wheel, while some have an option that allows the user to either lock or unlock the front wheel. It is much more secure to run with locked front wheel as this will avoid baby stroller to turn suddenly causing a crash. I wouldn’t recommend to even trying run without locked front wheel.

4. Make sure the baby is in the harness

The harness protects your baby not only from falling but also from getting shaken. As you are moving faster, the baby is at risk to move in the stroller much more too. Although you are not running with the maximum speed, the harness is there to protect your baby.

5. Always hold your hand on the stroller

Most strollers have a special strap you can put around your hand, to make sure you never lose control of it. Always keep your hand on the stroller, it’s not safe to run hands-free, you never know what may happen. You may rotate your hands, so you get to work both sides.

6. Watch out your pace

You may be running slower than without a stroller, which i completely normal especially at the beginning. You should not be going so fast that you could not be able to stop the stroller if needed.

7. Take baby and mummy essentials you may need 

Take everything you may need for yourself and a baby during the run – nappies, wipes, snacks, water, even a favourite toy if your child has one. Most of the jogging strollers have a basket below plus some holders or compartments for you to be able to keep the neccessary things. Keep the bottle of water for yourself in there as well for an easy access during your run.

8. It’s better to run after meal time and before nap time

It is good to schedule your run before nap time because the activity may put your baby to sleep. It is not fine to schedule your run before mealtime, when your baby is hungry and might not like to be seated inside the stroller.

9. Bundle your child in the cold weather

Keep in mind that since you are running, you will be warming up, but your baby will not. Minimize your run on extremely cold or hot weathers. If the weather is windy and cold, you can use a rain or wind protection for the stroller. In hot days, be sure that your baby is protected with sunscreen.

10. If you want to take part in a race, make sure they allow runners with jogging strollers

Several road races do not permit jogging strollers, so check it out before you sign up. Other races do allow strollers but they ask runners to begin at the back. You need to know that it may be quite challenging to pass by other runners especially when it’s narrow. It can be quite frustrating when you know that you can go faster but there is no way to do so. However, when other runners see you passing them by with a stroller – their face experssion and comments are priceless 😉 and for you – satisfaction guaranteed.

Running with a jogging stroller gives you the opportunity to enjoy running without the worry of organising childcare for your little one. You are not dependent on anyone, you can go for your run whenever you want to. You can get out of the house and both yourself and your little baby will benefit from fresh air. So, go and get a jogging stroller and let’s meet on one of the running routes 🙂

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How This Mummy Completed Her 1st Triathlon When Her Baby Was 8 Months Young?

I often hear that once you have a baby, your world turns completely upside down. There is no time for the things that you loved doing, there is no time for passions that existed before, and for sure there is not time for exercises, training and sport in any shape and form. Well, I agree that with a new baby life is changing A LOT but I don’t believe that baby needs to restrict our whole life. I often hear words of admiration about my sports achievement as a new mummy, then followed by disbelief that other mums can’t do it…

Well, I want you to meet Tina. She is a mummy too and last year, in August 2016, she has completed her first triathlon before her son turned 1 year (he was 8 months, to be precise). Yes, triathlon (sprint) – 750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run. And…she’s done it this year again, for the second time…training alongside full time work, her mummy and family life. She is a super hero and a role model to her son, to her family and to other mums – showing what’s possible. She says: “WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY”. I love that.

When I was doing this interview with her, every single world resonated with me so much…her goals, her mindset, her beliefs, her attitude, her determination and her commitment…I felt that we were speaking the same language. I want you to listen to her story and get inspired by it. Read on about her journey and find out what message she has for you at the end 🙂

Alex: Hi Tina, I’m so grateful for you being here, I love your story, you are a super mum 🙂

Tina: Hi Alex, thank you for having me here, I didn’t expect that at all…

Alex: Have you been active before and during pregnancy?

Tina: Not really. As a kid I was dancing, however in later years it was rather on and off. 2 years before pregnancy I gained a lot of weight but didn’t really do much about it. When I got pregnant, I was going for long walks (min 1 hour) and I was doing pregnancy yoga. I was lucky, I had very smooth pregnancy and I must say, I loved being pregnant, all the hormones in my body had such amazing impact on my mood and general well-being. I can’t wait to be pregnant again 🙂

Alex: What made you sign up for a triathlon? Why?

Tina: I’m a very goal-oriented person. Before pregnancy I was saying to myself: “I should do this, I should do that, I’ve always wanted to do a triathlon…” but it was never enough time. So, after having a baby, there was a lot of time. Navin was born in November and in January, as a New Year’s resolution, I decided to sign up for a triathlon. It was happening in Excel London, very close to where I live, so no excuses. I wanted Navin to be outside as much as possible plus I wanted to be outside as much as possible as well.

After those terrible sleepless nights, constant breastfeeding, I wanted to be out of the house, in a different environment to be able to get my head cleared. I felt that because I was moving, I had much more energy and I believe that all mums can benefit from it.

Alex: When did you start preparing for a triathlon, what was your training plan like?

Tina: I started in January, straight after I signed up. I didn’t really have any professional plan in place. I couldn’t cycle, as Navin was too small, so I started with running. I got a jogging stroller, BOB, so I could take him for runs with me. It was difficult to start, my legs were hurting, but I was building up my mileage slowly. I’ve always been quite a good swimmer, so I knew that I would be able to manage that. I’m always about calculation, so I was thinking – the swimming will be fine, I can’t cycle now, so I need to focus on running and wanted to double my running. I was doing triathlon sprint distance which requires 5k run, but I wanted to train to be able to run 10k – in preparation for cycling. I was swimming in the Olimpic park, they had a creche there, we started with leaving Navin there for 30 min at first, then for an hour, so I could do my session. He liked it very much. I was also going to fitness classes in the local park and it was just great – hanging out with other mums, doing something for body and mind.

So, I was running 3 times a week, or 2 a week plus 1 fitness class, and I was swimming once a week or once every 2 weeks.  We started cycling when Navin was 7 months, he was about 9 kg, so just about to start, it was around June time (the triathlon was 6th of August)

Alex: How did you manage that with a small baby by your side, alongside breastfeeding, tiredness, no grandparents to help, etc.?

Tina: Yes, that’s true, I didn’t have grandparents in UK to help. When you are in the middle of everything, you don’t think about it that much, you just go with the flow, just dealing with it, you just don’t know any different. I was training with Navin – running with him in a jogging stroller, and later cycling with him in the bike. I started like that, I was a mum and yes, my life has changed a lot but I didn’t want the baby to restrict my whole life.

I believe that mums don’t need to change everything and give up on everything because they just had a baby.

Don’t be afraid of trying something new, take your baby for a run, if he/she cries, you will stop and feed him/her, it’s not the end of the world. Navin was a bad sleeper, it was hard but being outside and training was great for my mental health, it gave me so much energy, after each training I felt refreshed, energized, confident that I’m capable of everything. I’m quite competitive person, once I have a target, I just go for it. So, I did.

Alex: How was the actual triathlon for you? What was going through your mind before, during and after the race?

Tina: Before: I was excited, I had target to complete it under 2 hours but I had doubts as well, whether I can make it, maybe I should have trained harder, had a better training plan…blah, blah, blah…

During the race: I was thinking: come on, it’s my first triathlon, take it as a trial, just enjoy it, if you can make it under 2 hours that will be great, if not, that’s ok too.

After: I was soooo proud of myself, it was such a great sense of achievement. It was the most exciting experience for me. I was proud for another reason as well, I was raising money for charity –  my goal was to raise £500.00 for British Heart Foundation and I’ve done that.

So, overall 2 goals achieved – triathlon completed in 1:55 and £500.00 raised for BHF, whooo hooo.

Alex: What did you learn about yourself in the process?

Tina: That I’m capable of doing things that I was not sure I could ever do. I was very committed, when I put my mind into something, I’ll go for it, I pushed myself to the limits and I won.

Alex: Why did you decide to go for it for the 2nd time?

Tina: I set up a yearly tradition – Navin 1st year – my 1st triathlon, Navin 2nd year – my 2nd triathlon, and so on…So, I’ve done this again this year, just a couple of weeks ago.

Alex: How was the 2nd time for you?

Tina: This year I knew what’s coming, I knew what to expect, how to plan it, the distance, transition, etc. Last year I feel that I was quite hesitant in cycling, I didn’t push myself that much to still have energy for running. This year I knew that I could go faster in cycling and I would still be fine to complete my run. This year I was cycling to and from work every day, so compared to last year, I felt much better prepared for cycling.

I wanted to beat my last year result and I’ve done that, I finished in 1:53.

Alex: What’s ahead of you, any other races planned?

Tina: Next year – another triathlon and I also want to complete a half-marathon.

Alex: What would you say to other mums who don’t think they can ever do any of that?

Tina: Just do it, don’t overthink, don’t think that nonsense that you can’t do it. Where there is a will, there is a way. It will help you not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. You may think you are tired and you have no energy for any of this…believe me, when you go out and do your training, you will feel much better, you will have energy and you will feel less tired. You just need to decide, stick to it and you will do it.

Alex: Any tips to get started?

Tina: Set a goal and work towards it. Start small, one step at a time, build up gradually, don’t try to climb Mt Everest straight away. Don’t be afraid to take a baby with you, if he/she cries, that’s what babies do, they cry, they make noise, so what? It really doesn’t matter…as long as your baby is safe, clean, fed and loved. Don’t be afraid to try, just do it.

Alex: You are amazing Tina, you truly are. I’m so proud of you, you are such an inspiration. Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview, I’m sure that other mums will be inspired by your story, they will see what’s possible and they will be ready to step up their game too. Thank you so much <3

Tina: Thank you for having me, it’s been a pleasure. If I inspired at least one person, that would be amazing.

If you liked this post please share it with other mums, they may need it and like it as much as you do. You can find Active Happy Mama on Facebook or follow me on Instagram.

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Interview On Why You Need To Take Part In a TEAM Running Relay?

On Sunday 16th July 2017, together with my sister Gosia, hubby Lukasz and friends Martyna, Ania, Magda and Tomasz, we took part in Team Marathon Szakala in my hometown Lodz/Poland. The idea of that race was brilliant – 7 team members running 1k x 6 times. Minimum of 2 females required in the team. So, although me and a hubby went to Poland just for the weekend, we couldn’t miss that. Grandparents were thrilled to look after our son anyway 🙂

So, we formed a team of 7 – 5 ladies (3 mums) and 2 gents (2 dads) with age range between 30 up to 45. We were all coming with different running experiences, some of us never took part in any races before, some completed few marathons already, some were running regularly while others just for fun here and there. It was completely different experience for all of us, no one has ever run in a team race plus no one has ever run just 1k in one go. It’s such a different type of effort compering to standard 5k or 10k races, much faster, more challenging and demanding. Anyway, we were all ready to smash it having fun at the same time.

I must say that we did amazing, I’m so proud of our team, everyone gave over 100%, everyone ran much faster than expected, the guys off course were our sprinters however ladies were not far behind them. We finished the race in 3:05:10 and I wish I have such a time during my marathon. We were running alongside professional sprinters who were simply amazing. The winning team completed marathon in 2:15:53 and the team in the last place in 3:35:51. WOW, so everyone really did great job.

Overall it was such a great day; good form check-up and we want to make it again. We all can highly recommend this event to everyone. That will you your PB marathon time for sure 🙂

After speaking to my fellow team members, they agreed to share their running experience with you, so read on, we hope you will get inspired by their stories and next time we may even run together 🙂 Ok, so let’s dive in.

How long have you been running for, when did you start and why?

Martyna (mum to 4yr old): I started around 1.5 year ago, when my husband called me a “doughnut” …and I didn’t want to be his doughnut… As a present, he gave me a starter pack for 10k run. I needed to train for it and that’s how my running adventure began.

Tomasz: I started in 2012 and the reason was simple – my weight was far too much, 105kg compared to 84kg right now.

Gosia: I started running in autumn 2014, my friend suggested to give it a try and go for 10k run race in November. I like sports challenges, I thought – so many people run nowadays, so maybe I can add some variety to my fitness schedule too.

Ania: I started running in 2016, so I’m quite a fresh starter. The reason? As for many others – I wanted to lose weight. My friend persuaded me to take part in running events.

Magda (mum to 8yr old): My running adventure started in high school, so like 20 year ago 🙂 For good few years I trained athletics, that was short distance running. When I finished high school, I stepped running. But few years ago, I met some crazy people, who love running and decided that it would be great to be a part of that team and remind myself about positive aspects of running again.

Alex (mum to 22months old): I started running in 2013 out of the blue, as before I always thought that running is boring.

Lukasz: I started in n April 2017 in preparation for a triathlon.

Did you take part in any races before? If so, which ones?

Martyna: Yes, I did. I started with that 10k in 2016 and since then I completed few 10k races, 15k and debuted in half-marathon distance in October 2016.

Tomasz: Yes, I’ve done quite a few so far. I started in Lodz marathon in 2014 with the time of 3:35, my PB is 3:17 in April 2017. Few half-marathons with PB 1:30, plenty of 10k with PB 40:12

Gosia: Yes, I did take part in various races 5k, 10k, half-marathon, muddy challenges and obstacle races Runmagedon, Tough Mudder. I’ve also taken part in various group fitness challenges at my fitness club.

Ania: Yes, I ran in few Parkruns and some 10k races.

Magda: Yes, I took part in various 5k and 10k events plus completed one 15k race and last year I debuted in half-marathon distance.

Alex: Yes, debuted in half-marathon in 2013, done few 5k, 10k and half-marathons, plus completed first marathon in April 2016, also Tough Mudder.

Lukasz:  Yes – Tough Mudder, Rat Race, which are crazy muddy races and obstacle team challenges.

Why do you take part in races?

Martyna: I’m taking part in races together with my running team. It’s 5-6 of us, 4 beauties and 2 beasts 🙂

Tomasz: I like atmosphere, competition, satisfaction after reaching my goal plus that’s a great opportunity to meet other like-minded runners.

Gosia: There are many reasons for that. First, I feel that the atmosphere during races is phenomenal – amazing people, both runners and supporters, great energy that helps overcoming your fears. Secondly, I love setting myself up new fitness challenges. Thirdly, getting a medal feels amazing.

Ania: My friend Gosia invited me to take part in running events. I still remember her saying: “Kaminsko, you can run 5k, so you can as well run 10k, come one, you need to sign up! I will run with you and I will support you!” – so, I signed up and… she was away, so she didn’t run with me…:)

Magda: It’s my challenge to check whether I can do it plus I want to share joy of running with my friends.

Alex: I love the atmosphere, setting myself up for a challenge and reaching my goal. Also inspiring others what’s possible.

Lukasz: I want to push myself, to check how far I can go plus have fun at the same time.

Why did you take part in Team Marathon Szakala?

Martyna: …I was „forced” as they needed extra team member…hahaha but seriously – I thought it would be great to spend Sunday morning in the forest with other crazy runners 🙂

Tomasz: I wanted to take part in team racing as I haven’t done it before. I wanted to experience something different, passing the baton in the relay – really cool.

Gosia: I wanted to try something different, add the variety to my running events. I have friends who I always run with, that event was for running teams, so just perfect for us.

Ania: My crazy friends invited me to take part in this adventure.

Magda: So far, I was running on my own, so this time I could feel what responsibility for a team result feels like.

Alex: To take part in team relay for the very first time plus do this with my sister, hubby and Polish friends in my home town. My sis and hubby are not interested in marathons but I kept saying that we would do a marathon together one day, and so we’ve done this one 🙂

Lukasz: My wife invited me to do so 🙂

How long have you been training for Marathon Szakala and what was your training like?

Martyna: What training…? 🙂 this race for me was about having fun.

Tomasz: I didn’t have any specific plan for this race. I run 4-5 times a week, so some sessions I used for speed training.

Gosia: I train all year round – indoor cycling, cross fit, plenty of fitness classes, running. I believe that keeps me fit all the time. Normally I run longer distances, so in preparation for that event, I added some trade mill workout to check myself in much faster 1k runs, rest and repeating that process few times. I needed to learn the pace that will allow me to cover the whole 1k plus being able to speed up on that last 150m.

Ania: Hmmm. There is not much to say in here…I didn’t really train. I’ve done couple of runs as I had quite a long brake. I had no training plan whatsoever.

Magda: So far, I was running around 10k. 2 weeks before the event I was doing 5k runs plus adding faster interval sessions.

Alex: I’m training for a marathon in September, so have a running plan in place however, I needed to check myself with 1k fast run to see what my pace needed to be like.

Lukasz: I was training for a triathlon, started 9 weeks before Marathon Szakala.

So, how was that team marathon for you like, what thoughts were going through your mind before, during and after the race?

Martyna: My team wanted to be amongst first 6 teams to get a trophy…until it turned out that professional sprinters are taking part in that race too J I wanted to give 100%…and I did, before the race I didn’t believe that I could run that fast 🙂

Tomasz: Great experience, unforgettable moments with friends and other runners.

Gosia: At the beginning – excitement because of the unknown, during and after the 1st 1k, I felt that I didn’t want another one 🙂 It’s just 1k but because of the pace, I could really feel it. Long rest paradoxically wasn’t helping that much as it was quite hard to go for another 1k again. After couple of rounds I had my own plan, knowing when to speed up, etc. After the race I felt fantastic, the best part for me was that it was a team work, we motivated and supported each other and we had fun together at the same time.

Ania: Before the race my mind was going crazy: „OMG what am I doing here?”, “What do I need this for?”, “I will probably have a heart attack in here”, “They all run so fast, and me…I will slow them down”. Generally – I was stressed out and in a panic mode… During the race I gave 100%, mainly for people who I was running with. On one hand, it was supposed to be fun, on the other hand, I didn’t want to let them down. I was trying to pass anyone I could. And once all these sprinters were passing me by, I was thinking: “what do they eat?” 🙂 After the race I was happy, that these fast 6k are over and I was proud that I managed to complete them all.

Magda: Before the race: I was afraid whether my endurance let me run each 1k with a pace I had planned to and I was quite curious how it feels to run in relay. During the race: to run as fast as I could, after each 1k I thought that I would not be able to move again but apparently, I could. After the race: Very happy that I’ve done that and big satisfaction that I run much faster than I expected.

Alex: Before the race: I wanted to get a trophy 🙂 During the race: I enjoyed the atmosphere, the run was challenging however I was very pleased with my results, and I was shocked how fast some teams were running and our trophy was fading away… After the race: Very proud of our team, especially 3 females who did not believe in themselves and ran much faster than expected.

Lukasz: That I’m super-fast 🙂 and it was great fun.

What’s next for you, any other races planned?

Martyna: Unfortunately, I need to limit running for now but I’m sure there are still plenty of races ahead of me.

Tomasz: August 2017 – 10k Bieg Fabrykanta in Lodz, October 2017 – half-marathon.

Gosia: For sure. I like the energy, atmosphere and fun with my friends. Next run – 10k Bieg Fabrykanta in Lodz in August.

Ania: Yes, 10k run in August Bieg Fabrykanta in Lodz, and then? I have my little plans and I hope that I will make them.

Magda: Yes, 10k Bieg Fabrykanta in Lodz in August.

Alex: Yes, Berlin Marathon in September.

Lukasz: Yes, more triathlon sprints and Olympic triathlon next year.

What would you say to the ones thinking about taking on running? Any tips to get started?

Martyna: To start with – don’t set your expectations too high, that you are going to run 5-10-15k on your first run, give yourself time! If you want to smash your records, you need to run regularly but if that’s not the case, just run to be able to feel better and for fun J Running is great, you need to believe that…so put on those snickers and go wherever you want to 🙂

Tomasz: Running gave me: -30kg !!!, feeling great in my body, appreciation for myself and confidence that I can accomplish ANYTHING I want to. Tips: Start slowly, start smart, most importantly run regularly and records will come. In long distance running – head is the most important, everything starts and finishes in your head and somewhere in between there is body, legs, arms. Attitude and belief that you can do it – that’s the key to success.

Gosia: I believe that you need to find physical activity that you like. There is no need to force yourself doing something if you don’t feel like it, as it will be only a short-term adventure. And if you find something you like, you’ll do great thing for your body as well. It’s a good idea to give running a try, go for a few runs, don’t give up as it’s hard at the beginning. I would say – finding a running buddy is great, if my sister lives closer, I would definitely run much more!!!

Ania: Run with people who give you great energy and positive attitude but also who will tell you straight when you don’t believe in yourself and that you are capable of much more. Go outside your comfort zone, even though it’s difficult. Run and smile. I love smiling to people in the park with my running red face 🙂

Magda: At the beginning, it’s not so cool. There is a fight for every single running meter, but afterwards there is satisfaction with longer and longer distances and you feel less tired as well. Everyone should give running a try, if you like it, that’s great, if you don’t, there is always a way to find another reason and keep running 🙂

Alex: Give it a chance, you will be surprised how amazing you will feel. Running is my little escape, time only for myself when I could recharge my batteries and be back as a better mummy, better wife and better person, I’m sure you will feel the same way. Tips: get good shoes, proper sports bra, start slowly, set realistic expectations, get a running plan and believe in yourself. You can do this!!!

Lukasz: Buy good shoes, push yourself to overcome your physical limits and have fun.

As you could see – every single runner on our team had different running experience before the race. Every single one of them started running for different reasons and they all didn’t find it easy to begin with. However, ALL of them said that running is great and everyone should give it a try. Once you do, you will enter completely new world – world of positive, smiley people, world of races with amazing atmosphere, world of pushing yourself outside your comfort zone and saying to yourself that you will never do it again, until you…sign up for another race 🙂 you will step into the world that will make you more confident, you will feel that you can accomplish anything you want to, the world that is quite addictive and you will want to stay in it for sure. I hope to see you in the RUNNING WORLD 🙂 Good luck.

If you liked this post please share it with others, they may need it and like it as much as you do. You can find Active Happy Mama on Facebook or follow me on Instagram.

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Why I Ran a Half-Marathon When My Son Turned 6 Months


My son Kuba will be 2 years old in September…I don’t know how that happened…it feels like he’s just been born… Looking at my handsome little man, how fit and strong he is and that his favourite activities are: running, jumping, climbing on anything he could possibly go, playing up with dumbbells and exercising with my husband and me while we do our workouts…I can’t stop thinking about the power of transferring those “interests” onto him right from the very early stages of his life.

I was exercising and teaching fitness classes throughout the whole pregnancy. Very soon after giving birth, I got back to training regime too. When Kuba was  6 months young, I crossed the finish line of Wembley half-marathon. I still remember the faces of people looking at us in disbelief when I was lifting Kuba up in the air, putting my medal around his neck…

How did you do that” they were asking. The answer to this is quite simple – I’ve done this because I was prepared, and I was prepared because I was training for it.

The real question is WHY did I do that?

Why did I put myself through that demanding training, having such a small baby by my side?

Well, there were few reasons for it. And what I discovered, is that my reasons are really the universal truths that apply to any area of our life. While you are reading, take a minute and think about how my half-marathon story resonates with you, with your dreams, aspirations and your WHY behind anything you do.

 

I run my half marathon on Kuba’s 6th month birthday because:

  1. I SIGNED UP for it, so I had a specific GOAL with a DEADLINE

Well, the truth is that I signed up for London Marathon first and was lucky enough to get a place. This is a big story itself so that I will write more about it in a separate post. Signing up meant that I had a specific date of the event that I needed to be ready for. That’s it.

There was no room for procrastination, excuses, and justification. I had to put a plan together, training per the schedule, be mindful of the nutrition, hydration and recovery time.

What gets scheduled, gets done.

Without a specific time frame, it’s much easier to miss the training, having a cheat meal or quit all together.

  1. I wanted to TEST myself

The marathon was happening end of April, so I felt that it would be a good idea to test myself in a half-marathon first. Checking how my body will cope with the race was very important.

I didn’t run during pregnancy, I started training 3 months after having a child and needed to take the baby steps. Even though I felt quite fit, my body has changed and forgot some movements that were familiar before. So, one step at a time, overcoming few challenges on the way, I was able to move forward towards my goal.

  1. I wanted to FEEL the ATMOSPHERE of the RACE

When I run my first half-marathon, I was hooked. I loved the buzz before the race, those butterflies in my stomach, the feeling of excitement and apprehension. The atmosphere on the course was fabulous, with people cheering all the way, offering drinks, fruits, gummy bears, kids giving hi-fives. After experiencing that for the very first time, I knew that I would be coming for more. Positive emotions associated with certain events are like a good addiction, you just want to feel them again.

  1. I wanted to EXPERIENCE the finish line in Wembley

When I was going through the list of half-marathons happening in early spring time in the UK, I knew straight away that Wembley would be the one. Crossing the finish line inside an iconic Wembley Stadium – yeaaaah, I wanted to do that.

For me, life is not about buying things; it’s about experiencing moments that will stay with us forever…

I must say that it was, indeed, a magical moment for me.

 

  1. I wanted to go OUTSIDE MY COMFORT ZONE

Training for a half-marathon and marathon alongside breastfeeding and sleepless nights was a challenge. There were many times when I was crying out loud and wanted to give up. But I didn’t.

The magic happens when we step out of our comfort zone and do something that we never thought possible.

Confidence skyrockets, new possibilities open and we are not the same people anymore.

  1. I wanted to DO SOMETHING FOR MYSELF

Mummy’s life in the first few months may feel quite daunting, repeating same things all over again, being busy all the time but, at the end of the day, it looks like nothing has been done. I know that I would go crazy if I spent my whole time with my baby, even though I love him so much. Doing the necessary training was my little escape, some precious time only for myself – time when I could recharge my batteries.

Each time after training, I felt much better, looking at mummy’s challenges under a different light. I was coming back as a better mum, better wife, and a better person.

 

  1. I wanted to RAISE MONEY for a good cause

I’m fortunate enough to have 2 legs, 2 arms, being healthy, having food on the table, loving and supportive family but many people don’t have that. I feel that’s my obligation to help the ones in need and for the last few years, together with my family, we’ve been doing that through an initiative called Basket Brigade. We combine a healthy lifestyle with the idea of helping others, so each race and fitness challenge is for a good cause.

I believe that secret to living is giving and we’ve already experience magic many many times.

What you give, comes back to you tenfold.

I hope you found yourself in my story as well. We are all humans, and we are all doing different things for the same reasons. I would love to hear from you, what are your takeaways here. Please leave a comment below.

 

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Running – The Best Little Escape For a New Mummy

Being a mum is magical. But it’s exhausting as well. New mum suddenly has her life upside down, where everything is around the baby. There is no time for routines that existed before, for the things that we loved doing. It seems impossible to have even few minutes just for yourself, not to mention an hour when you can head to the gym or even sit on the sofa with your favourite book. You love your little angel to bits but sometimes you feel that you need to be out of here otherwise you would start crying or screaming or both. We’ve all been there…

As a new mummy, something I call my “Little (BIG !!!) Escape” is RUNNING.

It gives me so many benefits and no side effects. I got back to running when my baby was 3 months old and for the first 3 months, I was running on my own. Even though we got a running stroller it was advised to wait until the baby is at least 6 months old and comfortable in the sitting position. When Kuba turned 6 months, we started running together, however, every now and then I was still running on my own. I can say that running has saved me during the most demanding moments of early motherhood.

Check out what I believe RUNNING can do for a new mummy, it certainly did for me:

“ME” TIME

As a new mum, I was 24/7 involved in everything related to my baby, making sure that he is fed, dry, warm and content. My needs and feelings were forgotten, there was no time to think about myself, well sometimes there was no time to think at all… But when I went for a run I could escape…escape to a different world and have some ‘ME’ time – I could reset my mind, listen to my thoughts and what was important to me. I could focus, I could plan, I could create, and the best ideas came to my mind when I was running.

And other times I just switched off and let my thoughts flow.

I loved this “ME” time; it gave me freedom, I could clear my head, completely de-stress and look at things under a different light. After each run, I was coming back as a better mum, better wife, and a better person.

ACTIVE ‘READING TIME’ – THE VALUE OF AUDIOBOOKS

I love reading, and I used to read a lot. Since Kuba was born my reading went out of the window, well I still did read but mostly baby stuff and not even enough of those. Every minute was so important during the day, so if I got a chance to use a net time I did. When I ran, I could put my headphones on and listen to an audiobook, course, or a seminar and feed my mind with anything I wanted. Most of the time I was going through personal development books or programs which put me in such a good state that I felt that I was flying rather than running. I was doing great stuff for my body and mind at the same time. This was so important, especially when I was tired and overwhelmed with all the mummy’s tasks.

ENDORPHINS RELEASE

As a new mummy, I was tired, especially because I was not sleeping during the night… I was breastfeeding, and my little one was awake few times at night. Anyone with sleeping problems would agree that sleep deprivation is nothing you want to wish for. I did sometimes feel exhausted and wanted to cry. But running benefits our mood too. It causes our brain to release endorphins – a “feel good” hormone that can mask pain and create a sense of well-being. Numerous studies have found running can reduce symptoms of depression and increase self-esteem. When I ran, my body was moving and all those amazing endorphins released into the bloodstream. I suddenly didn’t feel as tired as before; I could smile and felt that I had much more energy, actually I felt on top of the world and capable of doing anything.

THE FEELING OF ACCOMPLISHMENT

Sometimes looking after the baby feels like doing same things over and over again, can you relate? When I finished my run, I felt so proud of myself. So proud that in spite of many excuses why I couldn’t go for a run today (most of them well justified), I made it.

Regardless of how much I was struggling to get out there, I always felt much better after a run both physically and mentally, and I mean ALWAYS. I don’t know anyone who’s ever felt worse after a run.

WEIGHT LOSS

Yes, losing weight and staying in shape goes hand in hand with running. As my body was moving and I was burning calories, I could get rid of those pregnancy kilograms much faster and get my figure back. Not only I could look better; I would feel better too. Plus, as my endurance went up, I was going to be a fit mummy.

FRESH AIR

Each mummy dreams about getting out of the house. Running was perfect for this. Being outside, breathing fresh air, feeling the wind in my hair. It was so good for my body, my lungs, my heart, improving my cardiovascular system and helping me get fit.

EXPLORING THE AREA

Running gave me an opportunity to explore new places in my neighbourhood. I found out areas I didn’t know existed like hidden playground, beautiful park and even a lake. It was amazing.

RUNNING COMMUNITY

There are more and more people running, so there is a chance to meet some other runners in your local area. It’s great to find a running buddy, join a running club or just pop into local Parkrun (organised every Saturday at 9am). Meeting so many wonderful people sharing the same passion, training together, helping and motivating each other, preparing and participating in races. Plus it’s so good to have conversation not related to nappies or weaning

Running has such a positive effect on body and mind with all the health benefits.

I really believe running is a perfect little (BIG !!!) escape for a new mum where she can spend some time with herself, recharge the batteries and come back calmer, happier and ready to face new challenges.

Happy Mama = Happy Child.

Check it out, get yourself out there, go for a run and tell me how that was.

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Why “Wings for Life World Run” Should Be on Your Bucket List

Last Sunday on 7th May I took part in Wings for Life World Run for the very first time. It was the 4th edition of this amazing event, and I feel so grateful for being there. Why? As this is not a type of running event you know or hear about – the idea is so brilliant that I’m giving a standing ovation to the organizers who came up with it. I highly recommend it to everyone. Whether you are at the beginning of your running adventure or you are already an experienced runner, put this event on your Bucket list, the next one is in May 2018.

What is so unique about it? And why was it so special for me?

1. It’s happening simultaneously all over the world

Everybody starts at the same moment, 11am UTC. Whether it’s day or night, bright sun or pouring rain at your location – you’re running together with the world and sharing an amazing experience. Anywhere between USA, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, most European countries, Russia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Taiwan and Australia. So you can run with your family or friends even though you are living in different countries. Your name shows up on a Global Result List, too.

2. The finish line is completely different to all the other races

In this race everyone goes through the finish line. A half hour after the race starts, a moving finish line, the “Catcher Car” chases runners along the course. The car speeds up at steady increments until they have caught up with every single competitor and knocked them out of the race. So the distance you end up running with depends on how fast you run. These vehicles are what make Wings for Life World Run unique, so it’s only right to sit some special faces behind the wheel. Local heroes and international stars are taking the control at every event, so in UK – Formula One driver – David Coulthard,  in Poland – former ski jumper and current rally driver Adam Małysz and in Mexico football captain Rafa Marquez, to name a few.

 

3. 100% of all entry fees and donations are going to a good cause

All entry fees and all donations raised through fundraising campaigns goes directly to life-changing spinal cord research projects and clinical trials at renowned universities and institutes worldwide. The nonprofit Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation is a driving force behind the mission, so we are all running for those who can’t.

4. The event so far attracted over 430 000 people from around the globe

So far Wings for Life World Run attracted more than 430,000. In the first 3 editions people from 193 nationalities ran more than 38 countries across six continents. They raised 13.8 million euros while covering more than 2.8 million kilometers

5. We took part in this race as a family

In Cambridge/UK I was running with my mum-in-law, my bro-in law, his girlfriend Ewelina and couple of friends. We were supported by my hubby, dearest son Kuba and my parents who came over to visit. My sister Gosia was running with our friends Magda and Robert in Poland, so even though we are living in different countries, we could take part in the same event, sharing the same experience and sending all positive thoughts towards each other.

6. It was my longest run since September 2016

After completing half-marathon in September in Poland and 10k in Olympic Stadium in London in November with my sister, I wasn’t training for any particular event.  I was running here and there in preparation for Wings for Life but not really following any plan and no more than 10k. However based on my current form and speed I was aiming to do 18k.

7. A bit of My Personal Story about this race

The day didn’t start well for me. After spending the day before in freezing cold supporting my hubby, bro-in-law and a friend in Rat Race (13 miles and 150 crazy obstacles) I woke up with really sore throat. On top of that something was wrong with my knee and even walking was quite painful. Anyway, we got to Cambridge, picked up our numbers, and after kissing hubby, parents and my little son Kuba, we all got to the start line. I was in the second wave with my bro-in-law and a friend (yes, the ones who just done Rat Race the day before…they are my heroes…). My mum-in-law and Ewelina were in the third wave.

When we started, the guys went off and I was running on my own. I wanted to keep the speed around 5:30/km. That was my first time in Cambridge, and after getting a feeling of this beautiful city, I know that we will be back to spend some more time there.

Quite demanding uphill welcomed us at the second kilometer. It was still crowded and narrow, so I couldn’t really pass other runners. I was feeling well; my time was good, even better than I thought. I felt my throat, swallowing was painful, but surprisingly I didn’t feel any discomfort in my knee. After 8k my friend Marta caught me and we’ve done over 1.5k together. She is a faster runner to me, so I wasn’t keen to continue running at her speed for any longer; otherwise I might not be able to cover the whole 18k.

It was sunny, it was warm and I was wearing long sleeves, T-shirt on top and a little scarf around the neck to protect my throat… After about 11k we were on the countryside road, in an open field with the sun and wind in the face. I don’t like running with head wind as you feel that you are not moving forward. On top of the above, at 15k, it was uphill again and I was struggling, that was my longest kilometer there.

I still had my goal to accomplish 18k, and with my current speed I knew I could do it. 18k and I was still running. I was impressed, but at the same time I was hoping for the catcher car to save me here and there. It’s funny how much of mixed emotions and contradictory thoughts go through your head at any one time of running 🙂 I’m sure all runners can relate to that. 19k passed and still running, started hearing motorbikes with people saying that the catcher car will be there any minute. So, exhausted at that stage, waiting to finish, I felt so close to 20k that I decided to push myself and speed up. Many runners have done the same while others had no power and slowed down even more. It was quite narrow again with those motorbikes on the right hand side, so it was impossible to pass anyone at that stage.

Still pushing myself forward I could hear the car approaching…come one, few more steps, few more steps…”I caught you”…NOOOOOOOO… The guy behind the catcher car was saying through the microphone: “Congratulations, you’ve made 19.5k”. I was proud as I didn’t expect to cover such a long distance but a little disappointed with that final 500 metres to get to 20k – for sure that was due to that massive hill at the 15k…and wind in the face…

Anyway, the race was over for me and I was happy. My form was better than I thought but there is still much more to improve on before Berlin marathon in September.

Fortunately, the drink/food station and bus stop was just around the corner…I was hungry and thirsty. My legs were shaking. The buses brought us back to the start line where we all met again. My mum-in-law managed to do 9.3k, Ewelina with injured knee over 12k, my friend Marta over 21k and the guys went really far with over 31.5k. My sister in Poland was caught after 13k. Big congratulations to everyone.

 

8. Everyone all over the world is getting the same T-shirt

You are getting a medal and a beautiful bright colour T-shirt. If you ever see anyone wearing it, once you are on holidays, or up for a run in your local park or anywhere in the world – you know that you’ve done this race together.

9. After completion, we were still following the race on the big screen at the start line

The buses brought us back to the start line, where on the big screen we were watching what’s happening in the event all over the world. We could see and support the winners still going through regardless of the heat, cold, rain, wind, sun, day or night as well and overcoming their cramps and tiredness. Well, some of them looked like they’ve just started…

Global winner – Swedish Aron Anderson in Dubai has done 92.14k. I’m so proud of Polish people who really smashed it this year. The runner with the further running distnce of 88.24k was Polish Bartosz Olszewski in Milan. Polish Dominika Stelmach made a female world record with over 68.21k in Chile. In Poland we had 2 other male winners – Tomasz Walerowicz with 85.14k and Dariusz Nożyński with 68.74k. Polish Jacek Cieluszewski with 68.80k won the race in UK as well. Honestly WOW. Congratulations to everyone involved all over the world. You freaking rock.

10. Getting personal certificate with the number in the global ranking

Once the race is finished, you can check your name on a global results list online. It gives you your number in the global female or male ranking as well as your number in the country ranking. You are also getting personal Wings for Life certificate that you can print out and stick on the wall 🙂

To sum up – I loved this race – the idea, the catcher car finish line, the atmosphere before, during and after the race. I loved being a part of the global race and the feeling of accomplishment when I put the medal around my neck.

Next edition – May 2018 – make sure you reserve your place. I will see you there 🙂

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