Improve How You Move: Stroller Running Form

Calling all stroller runners and walkers who want to avoid injuries and get stronger!  Sara, our Assistant Race Director is also a Doctor of Physical Therapy with some really great knowledge that she would like to share with you about staying healthy while running with a stroller.  We are proud to offer one of the only stroller division races in the country, with our Bumbleride Baby Mama Division and can’t wait to see you out there running with your kids.

Running while pushing little ones is different for every person.  Many of us had idyllic visions of cruising effortlessly through beautiful scenery while our child cheered us on. We were soon hit with the hard reality that a stroller and the weight of that beautiful child was harder than it looks!  Beyond that, while the cheers of “Go Mama or Dada” can be heard occasionally, keeping said child entertained with endless rounds of “Itsy, Bitsy, Spider” and a constant commentary of all the vehicles you see driving by raised your heart rate to new levels, while your pace still slowed.  Finally, many people who are picking up stroller running are new moms who have just put their bodies through the rigors of pregnancy and birth.  They might have additional areas of weakness caused by these things AND are likely still under the control of hormones that make their tissues more flexible and possibly more prone to injury (these hormones have been shown to remain active in the body until 3-6 months AFTER you stop breastfeeding).  

With that said, for many parents, a stroller run is the only way for them to get a run in or a time they truly enjoy spending with their child.  

Today, we would like to bring you some tips to improve your stroller running form, both to prevent injuries AND improve efficiency.

Body Alignment:  Many people running with strollers are losing power and increasing the load placed on their bodies by poor alignment of their head and trunk.  For post partum mamas, they commonly have retained the poor posture common in the late stages of pregnancy:  pelvis driven forward, chest positioned behind their body and likely up, knees hyperextended and weight in their heels.  They then have since taken up feeding their baby, and whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding, they have likely been slumping their head to look at that adorable new human.

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Unfortunately, when they go to push a stroller from this position, it will place extra load on the body.  This can lead to injuries ranging from back pain, to calf pain to knee pain to pelvic floor issues.  It also causes them to not be able to produce as much power as they could, leading to running becoming harder and them running slower.

 

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Let’s make a change!  Stand in front of your shoulder with soft knees.  Look down at your feet like you are looking over a cliff.  While maintaining this position of your ribcage stacked right over your pelvis, equalize the weight on your feet between your heels and the balls of your feet.  While maintaining this position, think of the top of your head being pulled up and forward with a light chin tuck WITHOUT your chestbone coming up. You should feel like you are in a slight forward lean from your ankles, as if you were leaning into the wind.

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Shoulder Position:  Another factor in stroller running that drives poor overall body alignment is the position your hold your hands, arms and shoulders.  It is common to let elbows “chicken wing” out to the sides of you.  This leads to shoulder blades slumping forward, the spine rounding and shifting your body weight back.  Assuming such form can lead to excessive forces placed on the neck and back, because the shoulder blades are not in a good position to take on the load of the stroller.

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Let’s make a change!  Simply keep your elbows by your sides, moving alongside your ribcage!  A hand position that encourages this is holding onto the sides of the handlebar (see picture below).  If you are pushing with one hand, grip the middle of the handlebar, but keep your elbow tucked in by your side.  Regardless of what hand position you are taking, picture the fronts of your shoulders spreading apart from each other as you run.

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Power generation: A lot of runners, especially those pushing strollers, fall into the pattern of lifting their feet off the ground by kicking up towards their butt and then having to thrust the lower leg forward, usually with a pointed toe.  This leads to their foot being far out in front of them, essentially acting like a brake when hitting the ground.  This slows you down of course, but more damaging, puts unnecessary load on the plantar fascia, achilles, calf, knee, pelvic floor and spine.  

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Let’s make a change! A better way of bringing the leg forward to allow it to meet the ground in a healthier fashion is to focus on bringing the leg forward by lifting both the knee and toes up in front of you (see picture below).  This motion can feel particularly “weird” in post partum women, as they have had to maneuver their legs around a big belly for months, which usually causes them to use hip flexors to a lesser degree.  It is helpful to even simply practice the motion of bringing your knee and toes up (see picture below) and then alternating legs as a warm up exercise.  When running, think of simply avoiding kicking your butt and instead, bringing your knee and toes up in front of you. You can then picture your foot landing right under your body.

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Cadence (aka: how long are you spending on the ground with each step): When pushing a stroller with the weight of a little one in it, it is easy to get tired!  One common mistake I see in stroller runners is how long they are spending on the ground with each step.  This can lead to injury, as we mainly get hurt when we are on the ground with gravity bearing down on us.  

Let’s make a change! By bringing our feet off the ground faster, we are reducing the forces that compress our joints and put strain on our tendons and ligaments.  Think of how fast you pick your foot up when you step on one of your child’s legos on the floor! That is what you should be thinking about when you run.  Simply, get your foot off the ground as fast as possible.  

Bringing it all together:

Running with your kids can be exhausting, awesome and necessary when you want to get some sweating in!  By thinking a little bit more about your body’s alignment, what your legs are doing and how fast you are getting off the ground, you will set yourself up for healthier and faster running.  Another huge part of the equation is running with a great stroller.  In the same way that running in your favorite shoes (shout out to our Hoka Tracer 2.) is better than running in heels, a lightweight running stroller decreases forces on your body and makes the process more fun.  We highly recommend BumbleRide Speed, as it is super lightweight, rides extremely smooth, handles bumpy roads with ease and turns on a dime.  

Finally, ending your stroller run with a “reward” for your little one, from getting to watch bulldozers at a construction site to a treat at a coffee shop, can be that extra incentive they need to let you get some happy miles in.

 

Sara Tanza PT, DPT, CFMT  is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and the Assistant Race Director forShe.is.beautiful 5k & 10k.

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The Ambassador Series: Lea Crawford

The Ambassador Series is all about shining light on the rad group of ladies that represent She.is.beautiful in their communities. Throughout 2018 we will be featuring each of our Ambassadors as they share their stories.

What do you connect with the most about the She.is.beautiful mission?

Women supporting, inspiring, encouraging other women is something we should all be doing and showing others by our actions. & of course I LOOOOOVE Pink and like to think I’ve got a bit of sassiness in me!!

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How do you define beauty?

I believe that beauty is definitely more than someone’s physical appearance, to me it’s often seeing how someone carries themselves, how they treat others, how they treat themselves…this can show so much more beauty than how they actually look.

How do you plan to spread beauty to your local community and the world in 2018?

I’ve always said that life is too short to not smile and not be positive.  I plan to continue to be my overly positive self and find the positive in just about every situation thrown my way….and to instill it in those around me the best I can. Just smiling at someone, opening the door or saying g’morning can spread so much beauty and love and hopefully those I touch will in turn touch another.

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Running makes me feel ______.

Running, well for me walking, makes me feel strong, beautiful and free.  It clears my head, provides me with a form of therapy/sanity to keep on keeping on!  Last year after being diagnosed walking truly became my escape and strength to get me through each and every day.

Running/Walking has taught me…

Walking has taught me that by simply lacing up my shoes and taking that first step I’m giving myself so much self love and by adding mile after mile, in the same day, week or month I’m only bettering myself and hopefully inspiring others to do the same, walking has also taught me that it’s okay that I choose to log my miles by walking….that I Am Enough!

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Finding Her Strength: Strong is Beautiful

The Finding Her Strength blog series explores the importance of diversifying your fitness game for three main reasons: to stay injury free, to prevent burnout, and to have fun!

As a running and fitness coach, I recommend adding in some type of cross training activity at least 1-2 times a week.  In the last installment, I explored the benefits of Spinning (indoor cycling).  I hope you gave it a try! Maybe you loved it, maybe you didn’t.  That’s the great thing about fitness – there are SO MANY different ways to move. Keep trying new things, and you will certainly find the right type of movement for you.  Find your fitness. In this installment, I’ll cover the awesome benefits of Strength Training (resistance-based workouts using weights or body weight).

Strength training has helped me develop a deeper sense of self confidence, better posture, and keeps my body strong, durable and injury free for many miles on the roads and trails.  It makes me a more resilient and more efficient runner.  And I feel that when we get stronger physically, we also get stronger mentally and emotionally.  Happy lifting ladies!

What are the benefits of Strength Training? (Won’t I bulk up or gain weight?)

I talk with women all the time that shy away from strength training because they are worried they will gain weight, get bulky, or lose their feminine shape.  Or they feel intimidated about going into a weight room which is a traditionally male dominated space.  Maybe they feel self-conscious or unsure how to properly lift weights.

The essence of the She.is.beautiful mission focuses on how movement makes you FEEL, not necessarily how movement makes you LOOK.  Focusing on how strength training makes you FEEL really resonates with me. It makes me FEEL strong, confident, capable, and healthy.

Let’s talk about the misperception of how lifting weights changes the female body.  Many of us have been conditioned from an early age to think that:

1.) being thin/losing weight should be the end goal

2.) in order to lose weight, we need to do loads and loads of cardio, and

3.) lifting weights will result in weight gain and our bodies getting ‘bigger’ which is ‘bad’.

FALSE! In reality:

1.) being healthy, strong, and happy should be the end goal

2.) lifting weights changes the composition of our body by replacing fat with lean muscle mass (which cardio doesn’t do), and

3.) muscle mass burns more calories at rest so in turn we burn more total fat while getting strong.

More Muscle > More Daily Caloric Burn > Less Fat > Stronger Body

Remember that the number on a scale does not represent who you are nor the composition of your body.  Muscle weighs more than fat, so while you may not lose numbers on a scale when you begin a strength training routine, you are certainly changing the look, feel and function of the body for the better. (Side Note: Body Fat Percentage is a better indicator of fitness than scale weight!) I encourage all women to move past the obsession with thin or a certain number on the scale, and embrace the reality that we can all be strong! I think you’ll also find lifting weights to be an empowering experience, an “I am woman, hear me roar!” kind of thing.

Strength training has many other important benefits to our health and well-being.  Lifting weights develops functional ‘real-world’ strength in the legs, core, upper body and back.  To get the most bang for your buck, opt for integrated movements (using multiple muscle groups at once, i.e. see Squat Press movement below) rather than isolated movements (using only a single muscle group, i.e. a Bicep Curl).  Strength training builds the muscles that provide support to your joints for long term injury prevention.  This is very important for runners and walkers – we want to protect our valued hips, knees and ankles by surrounding them with strong muscles, tendons and bones.  Strength training also helps to offset the aging process by decreasing the loss of bone density and the loss of muscle mass, as well as lowering the risk of osteoporosis.  Plus, lifting weights improves posture which keeps you upright and strong when running and in daily life.

And come on, it’s also nice to be able to open that jar of peanut butter on your own! 🙂

What will I need? (What if I don’t own equipment or have a gym membership?)

Good news! In our current technologically rich world, there are LOTS of online, at-home workouts options available with little to no equipment needed.  I’m personally a big fan of Jillian Michaels.  A simple investment in a few sets of dumbbells, resistance bands or simply your body weight is enough to get started.  Just be sure if you are opting for at-home workouts, that you already have a fundamental understanding of proper form and technique for basic strength training movements.  If you have not been taught by a fitness professional how to move correctly, I would recommend meeting with a personal trainer for a few sessions, or to drop into a class at your local gym to learn basic mechanics.

What are your favorite Strength Training workouts? (Won’t I get bored?)

One of my favorite ways to lift weights is by taking part in a Body Pump class.  Body Pump is a trademarked Les Mills group fitness program.  The 60-minute class works all of your major muscle groups through a high repetition/low weight workout structure using a barbell, plate weights and body weight.   The workout is set to powerful music, and is guided by an instructor. You will master primary movements such as squats, lunges and deadlifts while also learning exercises for your chest, back, triceps, biceps, shoulders and abs.

If I’m in a time crunch or can’t make it to a class, I like to use apps such as a Tabata timer to create a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. You choose the strength training exercise, and perform it for a prescribed interval of time (typically 20-30 sec) followed by a period of rest (10-15 sec) for a set number of rounds (6-8 rounds).  This is a fun and fast way to get a strength workout in anywhere – no equipment required.  Check out the exercise suggestions and a 20 Minute Workout below!

My 5 Must Do Strength Moves:

  1. Squat Press: This exercise integrates your lower body (glutes, hamstrings and quads) and upper body (shoulders), and develops power.
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    A. Start by lowering your body into a squat position. Push your hips back and sit your butt down so that your knees track in line with your toes and your weight is concentrated in the heels of your feet. Hold a weighted ball or a dumbbell in your hands.
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    B. From a lowered squat position, drive up through your heels into a standing position and press the weighted ball or dumbbell over your head.

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    C. Optional Advancement – Add intensity to the movement by pushing up from the squat into a jump while driving the weight over your head.
  2. Pushups: Pushups are superb for arm, chest and core strength.
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    A. Start in a plank position on your toes (or knees) with your arms wide outside of your shoulders. Brace your core, keep your neck long, and your eyes forward of your hands.
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    B. Lower your body in a straight line, keeping your core braced and stopping your chest at elbow height. Push back up to plank position driving through the heels of your hands and activating your chest and shoulders.

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    C. Optional Modification: Complete the movement on your knees.
  3. Plyometric Lunges: Jump lunges develop explosive power for running. I suggest you start with backward stepping lunges and build to jumping slowly over the course of 4 -6 weeks.
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    A. Stand with your feet hip width distance apart. Step a long step back with one leg. Lower the legs down until your front thigh and back shin are parallel to the ground.
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    B. From a 90-degree lowered position, drive back up to standing by pushing through the front foot to engage the glutes. Keep your back straight, your chest upright and your core braced.

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    C. Optional Advancement – Add intensity to the movement by jumping to switch legs.
  4. CoreRussian Twists: This exercise targets the oblique muscles of the core.
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    A. From a seated position, lift your feet with bent knees off the ground and brace your core. Rotate your core from side to side while holding a weighted ball or dumbbell in your hands.
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    B. Twist from side to side while keeping the abs braced to protect the lower back.

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    C. Optional Modification – Place your feet on the ground for more support.
  5. Single-Leg Agility Moves – Ice Skaters and Single Leg Hops: These exercises develop single leg strength, balance, coordination and agility. Think fast feet on your next trail run!
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    A. Ice Skaters – Lower the body into a loaded ‘speed skater’ position. Jump or step laterally from side to side landing in a ‘speed skater’ position. Be sure that the knee tracks in line with the toe.

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B. Single Leg Hops – Lower the body into a loaded single leg squat position. Jump or step laterally from side to side landing in a single leg squat position. Be sure that the knee tracks in line with the toe.

Sample 20 Minute Workout:

  • Begin with 5 minutes of easy warmup dynamic movements (i.e. march or jog in place, jumping jacks, arm swings).
  • Interval 1: Perform 20 seconds of Squat Presses at a hard/very hard effort level. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times.
  • Interval 2: Perform 20 seconds of Pushups at a hard/very hard effort level. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times.
  • Interval 3: Perform 20 seconds of Lunges (Backward Stepping or Jumping) at a hard/very hard effort level. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times.
  • Interval 4: Perform 20 seconds of Russian Twists at a hard/very hard effort level. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times.
  • Interval 5: Perform 20 seconds of Ice Skaters or Single Leg Hops at a hard/very hard effort level. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times.
  • Finish with 5 minutes of easy cooldown movements (i.e. march in place, spinal twists, shoulder rolls).

 

My 5 Strength Training Must Haves:

  1. A set of 10-12 pound dumbbells
  2. Tabata timer app on my phone
  3. 2-3 Body Pump classes weekly
  4. She.is.beautiful More Love muscle tank
  5. A great lifting playlist with plentiful gangster rap

 

Here’s your call to action – try mixing things up once a week for the next 30 days!  Pick a non-running activity and commit to it at least once a week for a month.  I suggest you give Strength Training a try.  But stay tuned … in my next installment of Finding Her Strength, I’ll explore the lovely world of Yoga.  Until next time, find your strong. Strong is beautiful.

 

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By: Katie Gott, Group Fitness Instructor and Running Coach, Community Coordinator for She.is.beautiful

 

 

 

 

 

What I Know About Community

She.is.beautiful 5k and 10k started eight years ago with 500 women the first year. Eight years later, the Santa Cruz event sells out to 6,000 women and girls and the Santa Barbara race sells out to 2,000 women and girls. SIB is more than just a race, it’s a community, it’s a lifestyle. It’s full of love, gratitude, and human connection. While they have professional runners lining up on the start line race for prize money, there are many women and girls of all ages, all backgrounds, all levels- some of them there for their first race experience ever. The event’s founder and director shares with you the secret sauce to what she believes has made this event so special and she calls it the “heart ping”.

Have you ever listened to a song that speaks so strongly to you? It’s a feeling, a ping of the heart. Maybe it’s the sound of the artist’s voice, maybe it’s the actual words that are being sung. Often times, it’s when the artist makes a statement of their truth that you relate to. This is what I believe community should feel like.

Sometimes community looks like someone helping you out at the grocery store when you’re struggling to carry all your bags or if a stranger pays for your coffee. Sometimes community looks like someone sharing with you that they had a really bad day and you reminding them that it happens to all of us. Sometimes community is smiling at the person on your morning run knowing they are probably tired too. Sometimes community is high-fiving, hugging, or smiling, in real life or emoji form.

When She.is.beautiful started 8 years ago, it was built on feelings and experiences that we all share but in our own unique way. Real. Life. Stories. Sweat. Challenges. Insecurities. Breakdown. Breakthrough. Changes. Love. Heartbreak. Courage. Empowerment. Togetherness. Embracing. See, heart ping. All the feels.

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We believe community should be a space where you can show up and feel valued. Where you can feel like you are enough, just as you are. Where you can push yourself or try new things knowing you will be supported regardless of the outcome. Where you can share your story and you can see others acknowledging your truths like, “Yes, I get you!”

When starting this She.is.beautiful community, I couldn’t put into words how it would be created, I just started doing, making, and showing up. There was no business plan. No end goal. It was just what we wanted in the moment. This is still the way we roll. If we didn’t have our hearts fully in this game, we wouldn’t be here.

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A web of women from all walks of life. We want your story on our start line. Because your story matters and is more inspiring than you may realize.

Your story. What you have overcome. What you dream about. What you want your life to feel like. What makes your life challenging. What scares you. Where you want to do better. In our community, we want you to show up just as you are. Leave your professional or “I’m together” aura at the door, because we want your truth (I know, sometimes that’s scary… it’s so much easier to show up with your sh@t seemingly together).

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Here’s the thing about moving our bodies. It’s taught us that our truth is what makes us special. Our truth is enough. Our truth is messy and beautiful. As the sweat drips from our forehead, love, challenges, strength, and weaknesses are revealed. We become undone and then come back together. Moving our bodies shows us how to be vulnerable, how to be strong, how to keep going.

 

I show up to our community as I am. Like many of you, over the last eight years I’ve grown, learned, cried, celebrated, struggled, fought, high-fived, and boy, have I run. I have worked hard and continue to not apologize for this person I continue to grow into.

Hi, I’m Melissa. I love to run and move my body because every other aspect of my life feels better when I make time for myself in this way.  I’m a daughter, mother, wife, sister, and friend. I have a hard time letting new people into my life because of the hard loving I’m doing on the people who have already been in it. I’m working on that while also balancing the energy to hold within myself that I need to be able to feel whole. I work hard at my job and am proud of that. I didn’t get into the colleges of my dreams the first time around, and I think that was a wake up call that I would have to work really hard in the real world to create the life I wanted.  Sometimes I feel inadequate because I’d rather be outside than cook a good meal or make my hair look good (good thing messy buns are trending). I care deeply about our communities and worry everyone is online too much. 18622371_1555658851119064_1970546904730378917_n I love my family, ice cream, and couldn’t live without running—it makes me more patient and kinder. I get nervous showing up to events where I don’t know anyone, but I’m trying to do more of this because it’s still awkward for me. Sometimes I move too fast in my day, misspelling things or missing out on tiny details, but it’s because there’s so much I want to do. Sometimes I forget to pause. I try to always see the best in people.  I have learned that not everyone will like you and that’s ok (I still have a hard time with this one!).  I love my body for all of the places it has taken me, but there were times in my life I was insecure with it although I was always grateful for its strength. I have wrinkles and don’t plan on using Botox– but I feel pressure to sometimes. I love a warm cup of coffee and sweatpants. I like to surround myself with positive people who want to make the world better.

Where am I going with these fun facts? Maybe you see some of yourself in me, maybe you don’t. Most of the time we can find a way to connect with most people in some way or another. I think finding connection with as many people as possible is a good thing. Because the more love in this world the better. In fact, sometimes when we learn more about people, we are surprised how much we have in common with them.

Maybe you don’t want to share things about you, but you want to hear about others. You want to smile, laugh, or cry because their story is similar to yours. We are here to live our stories. To share them in all their mess and all their glory. Start lines and finish lines, in running and in life.

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At the end of the day, community is energy that connects us in spaces we feel safe. Often times, this space inspires us to be more of who we truly are, inspires us to keep going, to grow into the people we want to become. Community feels just like our favorite songs.

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Behind the Scenes: Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center

I’m a Santa Cruz resident since 2010, but originally from Pittsburgh, PA. I’m the Executive Director of Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center, and also a licensed clinical psychologist. I enjoy baking, reading, yoga, all things outdoor, and finding new ways to entertain and educate my twin 2 1/2 year old identical twin boys.
 
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When did you begin working with WAFWC and what drew you to this organization?
I was hired at Walnut Avenue in August of 2015. I had been working in the nonprofit world since 2008 but commuting to San Mateo from Santa Cruz those last 2 years. I was thrilled when the job posting came out while I was on maternity leave and I was committed to working closer to my babies. Walnut Avenue offered everything I was looking for in a job- the opportunity to become more a part of the Santa Cruz Community, working with a gifted group of passionate helping professionals, and supporting women and families to overcome life challenges and achieve their goals. I was able to use both my passion for nonprofit management and my clinical expertise in one setting!  And the ten minute commute is just the icing on the cake!
 
Aside from the yearly monetary donation, what are you most excited about the connection between She.is.beautiful’s connection to WAFWC?
There is nothing quite like the energy of the SIB race day! Sara and Melissa are amazing and inspirational and they help create a spirit of resilience, empowerment and love of self that I have not experienced in any other event. It is one day, but it changes your outlook on your entire life (and forces you to get out there and train!!). I am most excited about creating a similar spirit of joy for life and feminine empowerment attitude throughout Walnut Avenue. In the day-to-day grind of making a nonprofit run, it is important to remember why we do it- so that women and families have opportunities to not just live, but to thrive! And sometimes we need a little help reviving that spark back into the work. For myself- just to be running with that massive group of like-minded yet tremendously diverse women, reading the inspirational signs and contributing to the love and energy of the day is a reminder of why I do the work. Women are naturally such care givers and healers, but they need events like this in their lives so they take back a little love and strength for themselves and by being that little bit selfish, they become even more strong and capable and available to be there for others.
 
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You are a mom of twins- AMAZING! Did you run, walk, or jog, before or during your pregnancy?
I have always prioritized exercise in my life and before I got pregnant, I had been jogging three times a week for many years in parallel with a yoga practice. My husband and I tried for many years to be pregnant and I am an older mama, so when we finally got the good news, and I was declared a “high risk pregnancy”, (both because of age and because we were expecting twins), I was extremely careful and chose to stop jogging throughout my pregnancy. Then when Asher and Sawyer came along, I was simply too exhausted and overwhelmed to find time for myself (every available moment alone was a time to catch up on sleep)! This year’s SIB race is special because it marks the year I finally figured out how to carve that me-time back into my life (after 3 years of being primarily a mommy). 
 
We look forward to having you participate in the race this year and we love that you have started to train for the event. How do you believe running again, after having twins, what do you feel this movement will bring to your life?
It is wonderful to be running again. I am reminded of the beauty of the Santa Cruz neighborhood where I live. I get to run to the Lighthouse and greet the ocean. I get to be reminded that I am not just Julie-ED of Walnut Avenue, and Julie-mom of twins, but that also I am a woman with my own needs and my own goals and dreams. I am reminded that in order to be the best mom, partner, and ED I can be, I must fill my own cup up with love and joy and not burn myself out. This movement reminds me that I am not alone, that I am a part of a tribe of amazing women doing amazing work, but remembering to nurture themselves along the way.
 
What is one professional and one personal goal you have for yourself in 2018?

Professionally, for the past 2.5 years, I have been really focused inwardly on the organization. Over the next year I intend to spend more time focused outwardly; seeing how Walnut Avenue can be an active force in the community, not just helping one individual or family at a time, but also helping to shape the laws and culture as it applies to much needed social services for families. Personally, I want to keep up the jogging routine and get to the point where I feel strong enough to push the boys along with me (that’s an extra 60 lbs.!!). And of course I want to be the best mom I can be without burning the candle from both ends! I feel great privilege and obligation to raise boys who will respect and honor themselves and their bodies and likewise the selves and bodies of all others.

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The Ambassador Series: Crystalynn Greenman

The Ambassador Series is all about shining light on the rad group of ladies that represent She.is.beautiful in their communities. Throughout 2018 we will be featuring each of our Ambassadors as they share their stories.

What do you connect with the most about the She.is.beautiful mission?

When it comes to the mission statement at She.Is.Beautiful, it really resonates with the person I strive to be. Being a strong, kind, positive and uplifting person is something that is really important to me.  Being able to help motivate and help others reach their goals and know their strength and beauty is truly what I fell in love with when I stumbled across the She.Is.Beautiful race series.​

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How do you define beauty?

It is really all about who you are at your core how you feel and the way in which you share yourself with the world.  My Mom taught me to ‘always assume positive intent‘ and with that, always have a positive, kind and empowering outlook and way of treating others.  My Mom is and will always be the most beautiful woman in my life in all aspects, and I thank her for teaching me to always look for the light, and beauty in others.​

How do you plan to spread beauty to your local community and the world in 2018?

​2018 will be full of some big changes for myself and my family.  I will be moving to Utah (from California) when my husband returns from being overseas serving our Country.  Joining a running group, (or starting one) and being active in helping my community is how I intend to be someone others can look to for support and positivity.​

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Running makes me feel ______.

Running makes me feel strong, beautiful, sane, happy, and invincible.  Honestly, running helped me beat postpartum anxiety.  Running helped me find peace in my mind when it was sometimes so dark.  Running makes me feel joyous and free.

Running has taught me…

​Running has taught me that I am enough, my body is perfect the way it is and one mile is one mile whether it takes someone 15 minutes to get there or 7, and NOTHING is impossible if you’re willing to work hard for it.  The running community is truly a remarkable group of people.  They cheer and support your dreams and desires in a way that makes you feel like you’ve already accomplished those crazy scary goals.  They’re there at the finish line to give you the best high five you’ve ever had, ask what your next goal is, and help you achieve it.  

I am beyond excited to be this person for others.  I look forward to many races in 2018, tracking my miles and helping others reach their mile and race goals throughout the year!

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Fun fact about Crystalynn: I enjoy cooking, baking and making up recipes. I really love to make treats for friends or cook up a colorful healthy new recipes! Pinterest is so much fun to peruse  looking for new ideas. {See below for her yummy Oat Muffins!}

(Gluten free and can be dairy & sugar free as well depending on dietary restrictions)

Recipe (makes 18) 

Preheat oven to 350

In mixing bowl mix: 

1/2c brown sugar (optional if you’re sugarfree)

1/4c oil (I use coconut) 

2 eggs

once mixed add:

1T vanilla extract

1T cinnamon

4oz applesauce 

1.5c milk of choice

Once combined mix in:

1t baking powder 

3c oats

Then add mix ins as desired: blueberries, cranberries, chocolate chips, nuts, chia seeds, coconut flakes, etc. (get creative!)

Bake for 30 min, cool on wire rack store in airtight container in the fridge.  Enjoy as a muffin cool or warmed or heated up with a splash of milk.

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The Ambassador Series: Sarah Gruber

The Ambassador Series is all about shining light on the rad group of ladies that represent She.is.beautiful. Throughout 2018 we will be featuring each of our Ambassadors as they share their stories.

Hi! My name is Sarah and I am the Operations Manager and the leader of the Sass Squad for She.is.beautiful. I graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Public Health (a huge passion of mine). I recently moved back to my hometown of Santa Cruz, CA to be closer to my family. While my closet is mostly filled with black clothes, I’m happy to make an exception and rock pink for the She.is.beautiful community.  

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What do you connect with the most about the She.is.beautiful mission?

While I am a true believer in the entire SIB mission, two parts really speak to me.

“…to take the lessons learned on the road and trail into the rest of their lives.”

Spreading kindness to those around me has always been something I make a point to do. Running has taught me to spread that same kindness to myself. Sometimes the roads (and life) are unforgiving, don’t let a bad run (or a bad day) make you treat yourself or others unkindly. The pain is temporary.  

“We believe that beauty is more of a feeling than a physical attribute.”

Growing up as a “millennial” in the age of Instagram, Facebook and every other form of social media imaginable, makes it easier to stay in touch with people from around the world. There is not doubt there are many positives to social media. But I believe that social media makes loving yourself an extremely hard feat. Constantly comparing your looks, hobbies, jobs, amount of money, LIFE IN GENERAL to others is enough to crush anyone’s spirit. In my adult life I have been able to separate my definition of beauty from the social media standard. I think beauty is a feeling that is your message to the world. So instead of looking at someone’s hair color, what clothes they wear or the shape of their body – start evaluating people by their kindness, thoughtfulness and grace. 

How do you define beauty?

I spoke to the definition of beauty briefly in regards to the SIB mission. To put it more briefly – I define beauty as something that cannot be seen on a person but something that is shown in a person’s behaviors and the way they treat others.

How do you plan to spread beauty to your local community and the world in 2018?

I believe the best way to spread beauty is to start in a small, everyday way. In a world that often overlooks small acts, it’s nice to offer words of genuine gratitude and kindness- you never know when you may improve someone’s day. Whether it is a simple “I appreciate you” to your friend, or helping someone to their car at the grocery store.

Running makes me feel ______.

Free, strong, and grateful.

Running has taught me….

Running has taught me to be kind to myself. Some days each mile feels like I’m running in knee-deep sand. Other days I feel like I could run forever. On the hard days, I listen to my body when it says it has had enough. Instead of kicking myself for feeling like crap, I remind myself that being able to run is a privilege that not every human has the right to.

Another big thing I have learned from running is that endorphins make me a better person. While some days my run is dedicated to training – other days are dedicated to my sanity. Running helps me gain perspective and clarity. Those are the runs that I value the most. I come out of the forest (my FAVORITE place to run) drenched in sweat and ready to take on the rest of my day with kindness and gratitude.

Looking forward….

As 2018 approaches, I have decided to mix things up from past years. Instead of choosing a New Year’s Resolution that will likely only last until February, I have set a few very specific goals. For starters, I am participating in the 2018 Mileage Club with a goal of completing 1,000 miles for the year. This is big for me as I have never tracked my mileage OR set a goal that lasts longer than a month. My other goal is to complete three races, one of which is a half marathon. I am looking forward to crushing my goals alongside this awesome community of women and making 2018 epic.

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My Running Truth: Running shows me almost daily that tides will change, that hard can turn easy, easy can become hard, that what I need to do is focus on persevering.

I can mostly be defined by three major decisions I’ve made in my life (so far). The first was when I was six-years old, I came home from the barn, sat my parents down and informed them that I was never eating animals again. It wasn’t quite that simple, as my parents had no idea how to feed a vegetarian and my diet was mostly Oreos and french fries. In those days Oreos were made with lard, so really it was a slow start. But, it began to paint the picture of an animal lover, who one day might master vegetarianism. The next two decisions, more self-explanatory, really defined the things that keep my fire burning bright through thick and thin. They bring the highest highs and lowest lows, becoming a mom and becoming a runner.

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When did you start running and what inspired you to start?

Well, running was never really my thing. I had every excuse in the book ready for PE on running days. As an adult, I had started walking and hiking on a daily basis. After my first son was born, I would leave him with my husband for a walk or hike, come back an hour or so later and all was well. However, after the birth of my second son, the look of terror in his eye when I left him with a newborn and a toddler for a hike made me rethink my plans. I had a neighbor (that I will FOREVER be grateful to) that proposed meeting at 6 AM on our corner and “running” 3 miles. I was 29, a mom of two, and I had NEVER been in so much pain as those first 3 miles. The side aches I remembered from childhood came rushing back, my knees, hips everything  hurt and to add insult to injury, when I stopped my legs turned bright red and itched like I had been attacked by fleas. 
So, I guess it wasn’t love at first lap. As a matter of fact it wasn’t love for a long, long time. But, we stuck with it. She stuck with me and I kept trying. I’d say it took at least 3-months of daily running before I felt like my body knew what was happening.   

 

What has been the biggest lesson running has taught you?

Running shows me almost daily that tides will change, that hard can turn easy, easy can become hard, that what I need to do is focus on persevering. It’s given me faith in my ability to get through the toughest stuff, and how to be present and appreciate those painless magical free-flying miles.  

 

How do you stay motivated to keep running on days you don’t want to get out the door?

I joke that I’m a ‘co-dependent’ runner, but I’m not sure it’s really a joke! I organize friends, set-up group texts, anything to make sure I have someone to meet for a run. One of the best things I’ve done is joined a group track work-out, making that dreaded day one of my favorites.

 

What has been the biggest challenge for you when it comes to running?

Finding the balance between the much needed training/me time, and my family. As much as I love running and it brings me so much joy, sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s okay to miss a day or week, to experience life. I wish I could suppress that, “Ashlee didn’t run today, so she’s grumpy.” 

 

Who has been your biggest inspiration to  get you going?

Inspiration is alive and well in the running community. Running is a ‘suffer sport’ and anytime I see someone out there trying to make it happen, I’m inspired. New, young, old, elite or weekend warriors, it doesn’t matter, I’m impressed. 
The last two years I’ve taken on new challenges in running. Inspired by my kids and the way they jump into sports despite the fact that they aren’ t naturally talented. I watch them work, I see their resiliency and it makes me want to knock down the walls I’ve put up for myself. I was told I was too tall to excel in trail running, so that was my first goal. I ran my first 50K a year ago, and this summer when I completed my third big trail race, the Cortina Trail 48K, I was, for the first time, really proud of myself for the work I put in, for believing in myself when I knew others had their doubts, and facing a lot of my fears on those super technical trails. Coming into the finish was one of my happiest moments, that moment when you’ve defied even what you thought possible. My second challenge was to try cross-country this fall. I’ve always thought, “Hmmm, cross-country, what a nice sport!” Now, I can just laugh at that sweet naive image I had. Cross-Country is raw, it is fast, fierce, unbelievably hard, and unforgiving. But, surviving a cross-country race? Fabulous. There’s nothing quite like it. Having completed my first season of cross-country I have so much admiration for the kids that race XC. One more place to find inspiration, in those sweet, smart, XC kids, that go out and race their hearts out, for their themselves, their teams and their schools. 

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What are your favorite shoes to run in?

I have a shoe problem. There, I said it. Buuuut, since you asked, I’ll tell you about it. I rotate 3-4 pairs of shoes, depending on what I’m working on. My workhorse shoe, tried and true, is the Brook’s Launch. It runs a hair small and you might need to size up if you’re thinking about trying it. It’s a light, neutral shoe that I use for marathon training, all my long runs, and any race over 13.1. For my faster workouts, I love the New Balance 1400’s, I use them for track, tempo and racing the 13.1! I like to keep a steady diet of trails in my mix, so my third shoe is a trail shoe. I use the Saucony Peregrine for almost all my trail miles and they are awesome!! I’ve used them in conditions from water crossings (they drain quickly), to sand in the desert, to the most technical trails in the Dolomites, I can’t say enough good things about them. The fourth pair of shoes depends on what race I’m getting ready for, I have the Brook’s Mach 18 in my closet (a spike-less spike for XC), the Brook’s Ghost for a softer road recovery shoe (during Marathon training), but currently my fourth shoe is a lighter, faster trail shoe from Hoka that I’m super excited about.

 

What does healthy mean to you?

Moderation. Moderation in everything. And, I say that, not being the most moderate person myself, but I try. When I strip it down, I know what feels healthy for me, and that’s good food, daily exercise and a full heart. But, the truth is, all three of those things are great luxuries in today’s world. I picture the three as buckets and I try to keep them in balance, when they’re out of balance, I think about what I need to do to bring it back. I don’t use hard deadlines or diets, I try and implement small steps to get back to where I want to be. Sometimes, it also means asking for help. A friend to watch the kids, so you can get a short run. When my heart bucket is low, sometimes all I need to do is help someone else and spreading a little love usually brings it back too. Healthy is not just a solo pursuit, I think it’s important to fill your life with healthy people. It’s okay to move away from relationships you find toxic. Healthy is a constant, evolving element in my life. I try to make decisions based on what is healthy for me, while balancing what it means to those I love and how it is healthy for them too. And, laughter. I love to laugh; bring on the smiles, bad jokes and cute animals, I’m pretty sure all those things help me stay healthy.

 

How has running effected other aspects of your life?

Running brings clarity to rest of my life. After a run, I can step back and see multiple sides of situations and come to solutions in a much more balanced and methodical way (especially if my run buddies help me). It helps me to keep up with my kids, take on challenges, believe in myself. Taking on running challenges has showed me that walls can become doors. And, best of all, running makes food taste even better!!

 

What advice do you have for new runners?

Moderation. Make goals for yourself that start simple. Runners, also walk. Remember that getting out the door and running any part of your journey is a success. Don’t be hard on yourself, focus on your victories, no matter how big or small, do not spend time on negatives or presumed failures, there is no failure in trying. It took me months to get to a full 3-mile run, months of walk/running, walk/running/sitting on the curb, months of hurting and showing my body it could do something it thought impossible. You can do it, take your time.

 

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Showing up for the miles, showing up for your life.

Find the things that bring you joy and strength in this life, and do them often. I love this, I believe this, I’ve held onto to this strongly this year when things felt overwhelming. Running for me is so much more than a movement. Like many, it’s where I find clarity, peace, strength, love, and my favorite place to reflect and be inspired.

I am a believer in chasing big scary goals. But the truth is, some years the goal isn’t out of the ordinary. Sometimes the goal is just to show up as best you can each day. This year, my participation in the She.is.beautiful Mileage Club was far less about the mileage goal itself, but a fun way track my progress in a year in supportive/non competitive community. Today I’ll hit 1,000 miles- my mileage goal for 2017. Each of those miles mean days I said, “Let’s do this.”

Running this year was never convenient but always worth it.

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About a week old newborn and newly 2 year old…and me wondering if I will always dress my new daughter in head-to-toe adorable while I’m in PJ’s and messy bun all day.

I didn’t start running until mid February of 2017 as I was recovering from a c-section in December. There isn’t really one right way to come back to running after having a child because each experience is different (that’s a whole other blog). I ran 4 weeks after my first baby, and I know some ladies that run 1 week after birth and others that don’t run for 6 months. Everyone is different!

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Here’s me forgetting how small yet how much newborns eat, and how active 2 year olds are. TIRED!

The meaning behind my miles today is not about the glory of hitting the 1,000 miles but the obstacles and journey it took to get there. This year adding our second baby has been magically fuzzy- mentally, emotionally, and physically. Between the honor and responsibilities of running a business and running a household with 2-year-old and new baby, I had little room to make for myself and running. I learned that 6am would be my best time to run and have the least amount of impact on my family –  I could be home by 7am when everyone was rocking and rolling in my home. (Shout out to my partner for holding down the home-front all those early mornings!)

I often set multiple alarms for 5am, 5:10am, 5:15am, 5:20am to prevent myself from snoozing too many times. I’m a big believer in coffee and peace before a morning run and I learned to love the quiet of the morning and looked forward to the warmth of my coffee. Some days were harder than others to get out of bed (and some mornings I didn’t), but as I laid in bed debating whether to go back to sleep I would remind myself of how much better my days seem to go when I start them with a run.

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Monterey Bay Half Marathon in November

Running has been my greatest support, centering me each time I move my body in this way. I owe so much of my sanity this year to this movement that brings me so much clarity. For me, my running this year has not been about race times and striving for personal bests (ironically I ran my best half marathon time to date). Running this year has been a place I’ve held tightly for myself to just breathe without pressure, commitment, or responsibility. It’s a space I’ve come to remember who I am and what I am made of.  It has inspired me to look at spaces in my life to bring more presence and peace too.

Find the things that bring you joy and strength in this life, and do them often. Running has allowed me to practice showing up for myself- even on the hard days. I’m planning on celebrating my mileage goal with my favorite croissant and a coffee with my son- before I drop him off at preschool and head into work. When we reach goals- big or small- life often doesn’t stop, but it’s good to pause and take a look back at how far you’ve come in a year. Because if we don’t stop and celebrate the moments in our journey, life leaves us asking the elusive, are we there yet?

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Did you have any goals for 2017 that brought you joy? Share with us in the comments below- we love to hear from you!

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1000 miles later: a 1 year old, a 3 year old, and an 8 year marriage all playing the game of life. We do our best to show up in the present- sometimes often it’s messy, sometimes there’s tantrums, but it’s real and full of love.

 

 

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