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A Guest Post: "Getting My Body Back" by Tracie Fossum

My friend Tracie Fossum always impresses me with her ambition and drive, and recently she did it again - she ran her first half marathon after having three children in four years! She is inspirational and will give you some insight into how she did it. 

I especially love her “don’t give up” attitude about her health and physical fitness as a mom! Hope you find motivation in her article and start doing something for yourself today that you have been putting off for tomorrow.  Happy reading!!

My first daughter was born in 2008, my son just 17 months later in 2009, and my third was born in 2011. They are now ages four-and-a-half, three, and sixteen months. After each was born I fought to get back into shape, but would quickly become discouraged. I envied the celebrities that I would see in magazines, clad in their bikinis just months after they gave birth. I would read about busy moms who swore that they didn't have time to work out, but somehow still looked great. I suppose there are women who get their bodies back from picking cheerios off of the floor, but I am not one of those women. I have to work at things. I have to work hard.

I have always been active. In high school I competed on the swim team. In college I participated in triathlons. After college I was an avid cyclist, and for a stint I did a ton of weight training. Okay, maybe the weight lifting was only because I was dating Mr. Muscle and was trying hard to be just as pretty. Over the years I got used to being thin, fit, and muscular. After having three kids, especially in such quick succession, I was unfamiliar with this softer, squishy version of myself.

After my third baby was born I signed up for my first half marathon. The farthest I had ever run in my life was three miles. Twelve weeks after my C-section surgery I got the OK from the doctor that I could run. The very next day I fed the baby, laced up my shoes, and I was off for my first run! I was exhausted, having been up every two hours the night before, but I was going do this. I was going running. Or shuffling. Or limping. Or maybe walking. As I loped along I thought, “Is this the way elephants feel when they run?” “Maybe I should have worn three jog bras?” “Can I still run if a hold my arms over my chest so that my breastfeeding boobs don’t hurt so much?” After about a mile or so I limped home, defeated, discouraged and sore.

I did not make my goal of a half marathon in November 2011. I was up to running only five miles. I was still breastfeeding, the baby still wasn't sleeping through the night, and I was nowhere near being able to run 13.1 miles. But I wanted to, and I believed that I could, so I signed up for another one.

This time I put a training schedule on the calendar. I started reading Runners World and Women’s Running magazines. I put new songs on my iPod and bought a new pair of running shoes. I ran three times a week, three to four miles each time and did one long run on the weekends. Every other week I increased my long distance run by a half a mile to one mile. There were times I had to skip a run, but for the most part I kept to my schedule. By June, I was ready. On June 3rd, 2012, I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon.

I am now training for my second half marathon, this one in November 2012. I have been injured. I have gotten sick. My three kids have all had the flu at the same time. I work two days a week. My advice on how to juggle all of it? Work at it. Work hard. Don’t quit. Be patient. Some of my runs are great, some not so great. But I cherish them. The hour or so that I run is mine alone. I don’t have to worry about being a mom, a wife, or think about all the dishes that still need to get done when I get back. For sixty or so minutes all I have to do is run.

-Tracie Fossum

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