After pregnancy my belly button resembles a crater left by a small asteroid,which might exempt me from appearing on the cover of Runner's World (not that they've asked).
If you've seen the latest cover of Runner's World magazine (I'll make it easy for you, it's the image above) then you're familiar with Carrie Tollefson. She's Minnesota's home girl, a three-time national champion, a 2004 Olympian, and new mama to Ruby, who was born on April 1. That's April 1, 2010. To look at the cover, you might think "No Way!" Way.
Carrie and I share an admiration for the orange Bob Revolution stroller and a belief in the power of strong muscles to prevent injury and rehabilitate the postpartum body. I just LOVE the advice she provides for moms-to-be: Don't think of yourself as a runner, think of yourself as an athlete. Get yourself to the gym!
She has a fantastic routine in the October issue of Runner's World, which also happens to be online. Check it out as soon as you're done reading this interview with Carrie. And while you're reading take note that whether you're a world-class runner or struggling to get to the gym three times a week, balancing motherhood and fitness can be a challenge for all of us.
Mama Sweat: Pregnant for the first time we all have preconceptions about what motherhood will be like (baby sleeps through the night by three weeks, all workouts are easy to squeeze in because baby naps long and often, child grows up to be Nobel-winning scientest, etc.) How have your preconceptions about motherhood stacked up with reality?
Carrie: I think juggling the baby and training has been tough but I am slowly learning now that I will either have to get up early or I will have to hire someone to watch Ruby. I really wanted to try and be home with her and work around Charlie's schedule but that is hard for him too. He likes to get his runs in and also wants to work on things at night so it doesn't always work out to just head out the door the second he gets home. We have started running with her in the jogger. So we now go for some shorter runs with her and bring her to the track.
Mama Sweat: I have referred to what you describe above as the "workout relay" and baby is the baton passed between mom and dad. I have to admit, it's kind of nice to know that even world-class athletes have the same challenges managing workout schedules with their spouse. If you can do it, I can do it! And even though running is your job, I love that you still take some opportunities to run with Ruby. I mean, if my mother were an Olympian and she didn't push me in the jogger once in a while I'd definitely call her out in therapy.
But moving on, has motherhood changed your perspective on life? On training?
Carrie: Life with a baby is a lot different but I love it. I never knew I could love someone this way. Don't get me wrong, I love Charlie and my family like crazy, but to see this little baby looking up at me is amazing. So with that being said, sometimes a run doesn't happen if we are busy doing something else and I think that is okay. So many times when I was in my heavy training I would skip out on things or slug through just to say I did the run. I often wonder if that is why I struggled with injuries because I just didn't listen enough. So now, if I am too tired or if life gets in the way, I am not going to stress. It is just a little more rest for my body and I know that is really a good thing for me.
Mama Sweat: Readers, did you get that? If not, read that last paragraph again, paying special attention to: "...if I am too tired or if life gets in the way, I am not going to stress." Bravo Carrie. And what about the 2012 Olympics?
Carrie: As far as getting back for 2012, I am on that train but I am also trying to take my time. I don't want another injury and I do want to enjoy being a first time mom. So I hope to be back in the full swing of things this fall but really, just taking my time doing so. 2012 isn't far off but it is far enough that I can be careful and make sure I do it right. I would have to say that because I have such a big goal, maybe I have been a bit more cautious than most returning moms. I am scared to go too hard too soon. Maybe I should get it going a bit more but I feel good; my workouts are coming around, so I am excited with the progress.
Mama Sweat: For motherhood and for training it takes a village. Who are your fit-mom mentors?
Carrie: As far as other moms, I use my own mom, my sisters, and some pro moms advice. My best friend, Carmen Douma-Hussar, has been my main source of information. She had her baby 9 months before me and has plans of returning to the Olympics as well. So we chat a lot and basically the best advice she has given me is to take things slow and it will come. I have also read a lot of how Paula Radcliffe and Colleen De Reuck have come back along with Shayne Culpepper and Blake Russell. I know I could get in touch with these ladies if need be and ask questions but so far I am just going with the flow.
Mama Sweat: Thank you Carrie for joining us here at Mama Sweat. I know I can speak for my readers when I say we wish you the best of luck as you return to Olympic-running shape!