From baby steps to running strides … and everything inbetween.

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A Few Terms You Won’t Find in the Dictionary: Defining the glamour of an athletic mother

The other day, I was rushing around trying to get Abigail and myself ready for church after my morning workout. I was running short on time and trying to decide where I could cut corners in the “getting ready” process. And it’s a good thing my “job” is to wear athletic clothes, because this cutting of corners in my own appearance has become a pretty typical part of my everyday life – and these hectic runarounds remind me of a term that originated back in my college days.

The Term: “Nice-Nasty”

This oxymoron was the go-to expression of my college days, used to describe a collegiate athlete’s appearance while walking around campus. If I recall correctly, the term was coined by none other than my uber-clever teammate, Phoebe Wright, and was then adopted – both in terminology and practice – by almost the entire Tennessee Track & Field team. The “Nice” side of the term refers to one’s actual appearance. The “Nasty” side of things is more a relation to one’s momentary hygienic state … or lack thereof. The basic concept? Someone is considered Nice-Nasty when they exercise or workout, and then, without showering, throw on “normal” clothes to simply go about their day. It’s a classic case of “fake it till you make it” mentality. On the outside, they look put together, but the truth is that they only really went half the distance to get there … and are hoping you’ll never know.

This term worked perfectly to describe the lifestyle of myself and many of my fellow athletes. After getting up at pre-dawn hours to get in workouts and two-a-days, all while still trying to manage classes and get the whole college experience, time was ALWAYS against you, so sometimes you had to cut corners. The mindset was often this: “Shower? Who has time for a shower when you have to be across campus in 10 minutes and are just going to sweat to get over there in time – remember, this is Knoxville, TN and all the sticky, humid weather that comes with a southern valley town – and then sweat again in your afternoon track workout”?!

Without missing a beat, the “Nice-Nasty” mindset pretty much followed me straight into my professional running days. I would often find myself coming home from a workout in the morning with the attitude that I was not going to waste time showering or washing my hair just to go and get all sweaty again in a few hours – even if I had errands to run in between. I was an athlete and these were my work clothes (and smells and smudges and …). Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means a dirty person, nor do I avoid EVER showering and putting on nice clothes.  I mean, I’d like to think Darren would have married me even if I lived in a permanent state of Nice-Nasty, but let’s be honest, occasions like our engagement dinner would have been a little less “glamorous” if I hadn’t showered. 🙂

Well, flash forward a few years into my professional running career and now I get to add motherhood to the mix. You can see where this is headed …

Let me just say, motherhood brings along a whole new set of obstacles when it comes to your physical appearance. From being pooped on (yes, it doesn’t just happen in the movies!) to leaking boobs and caring for someone else above yourself, motherhood definitely takes a toll on the time and energy that you have to put into looking “presentable” yourself.

So, now the real question: What does motherhood AND being a professional athlete do to your appearance??? Well, it really involves balancing out how much time and how much motivation I have for things such as showering, fixing my hair, or picking out a nice outfit. Most often I don’t have time or motivation for ALL of these things, so I end up picking and choosing the combination that best suits my mood. So to humor myself, I decided to come up with a few more terms that describe the different combinations that make up my fashionable existence….

Here are a few terms I have added to describe my life as a mother AND athlete:

Nasty-Nice: This is basically the reversal of Nice-Nasty. It describes the state I am in when I have time to take a quick shower (don’t even get me started on shaving … let’s just say it’s “optional”) but end up throwing on the same clothing that I just took off. I mean, putting on a new outfit would mean having time to pick one out, as well as needing to wash the old one … and who has time for that?! My child generates enough laundry to sustain me and our water bill!




Nasty-Squared: Yes, I have to go there. This term pretty much speaks for itself. It’s the state of going both without a shower and without a change of clothes. Nasty-squared can even go as far as “nasty-cubed”. When the daily grim just keeps piling on over the course of a few days. Often, when in this state, I don’t even realize it. I’m just focused on survival …

Nice-Squared: For me, this term refers to when I have time to shower and actually put on clean clothes. However, the “clean clothing” that I default to takes the form of some type of sweat pant or yoga pant and a t-shirt. It is basically workout clothing in it’s own right. Thankfully New Balance makes some pretty cute yoga/casual outfits! The only issue that sometimes presents itself is when I designate one outfit for the week as my “clean/comfy outfit”. Hence, I end up putting on the same outfit each day and I slowly start to creep back to the Nasty-Nice status as the week goes on … you can think of it like the circle of life.



SweatyHair-Couldn’tCare: This term describes most of my attempts at looking presentable to venture outside the house. It involves a shower and putting on nice, clean clothes – Nice-Nice. A win, right?! Not so fast. It still fails to leave time to wash my hair. Washing and fixing my hair is just too time consuming to do on the regular, so for now, it continues to be reserved for super-special occasions.  If I ever show up to one of your functions with fully-done hair … consider it a compliment.

Unicorn: In the words of “M” and “M”, “it does exist!” It’s a rare, but glorious sight. It usually does not happen, unless for a special occasion, and it not only involves a shower and nice clothes, but full makeup and styled hair. Yes, makeup. M-A-K-E-U-P (if you are a new mom, the word probably rings a bell but it might take you a minute to process…). The unicorn doesn’t happen too often for me, but when it does, I make sure to document it (see also: Instagram).


A rare “Unicorn” sighting

I am sure there are many more terms and variations of terms that could be part of this list. And even if you aren’t an athlete or a mom, I’m sure you can relate on some level. For me, it’s the reality of my life right now. However, I wouldn’t trade anything in my life to have more “unicorns”. I love that I get to do a job that feeds my competitive spirit and also be a mom to someone who reminds me what really matters in life. My life is a unicorn, and no matter what my appearance may be on the outside, my heart is always full.


Trials of Trials

“Getting there is half the battle”, isn’t that how the saying goes? Well for me, getting to the 1500m starting line at the Olympic trials felt a little more like a full-fledged war than a “half the battle” kind of deal. From a post baby body consisting of stress fractures, osteopenia and a tumor diagnosis, to navigating the waters being a new mom, I’ve RMR Ep 1definitely been on quite the journey the last few months. – A public journey too, I might add, since the whole story has been documented through an ESPN 30 for 30 web series titled ‘Run Mama Run’.

Now that the Olympics have come and gone, the final episode of ‘Run Mama Run’ has been approved for release. With the release of this final episode, it’s finally the appropriate time to get out some final thoughts and feelings about my journey. Continue reading


Episode 1 – Run Mama Run

RMR Ep 1Episode 1 of “Run Mama Run” was one of the toughest to film and is still one of the hardest to watch.  While those who truly knew us and knew our intent, approach and purpose showered us in support, those who don’t, sometimes didn’t; And often times could be downright ugly.  We faced that negativity head-on when it was unavoidable and, together, persevered through some harsh and hurtful criticisms. Continue reading


Getting Down to the CORE of it!

One definition of core is “the central or most important part of something”. When people refer to their body’s “core strength”, they are talking about the muscles of the torso; lower back and abdominal area. I don’t think it is by coincidence that this region of the body is named the “core”. It is this region that maintains our posture and supports our functional movement. Therefore your core is indeed one of the most important parts in maintaining physical wellness and athleticism. It is the very base for creating a strong foundation to build upon.

Pregnancy definitely takes its toll on a woman’s core. It creates imbalances, stretches muscles and overall weakens the core. One of the major components in returning to physical activity postpartum is the healing, rebuilding and strengthening of these core muscles. Continue reading

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Washington Post: Training for the Olympics is grueling enough; imagine being pregnant while doing it


Training for the Olympics is grueling enough; imagine being pregnant while doing it

Training for the Olympics is grueling enough; imagine being pregnant while doing it

It’s a development that still has its skeptics but one that has been given a boost by elite female athletes like professional runner Sarah Brown, who gave birth last Friday after training throughout her pregnancy and is now set to compete at the Olympic Trials in July.

“Initially, we approached the guidelines with much caution,” Artal said. “Over the years, it progressed to where we said, ‘It’s okay to exercise in pregnancy.’ It was not until this past year that we said, ‘It’s also okay to engage in vigorous, intensive exercise, provided there are no complications of pregnancy.’”

Read the whole story by Kelyn Soong of the Washington Post HERE

Sarah Stretch


Appreciating “Flaws”

Everybody has at least one. One change they want to make to their body in order to feel better about themselves. Even the most confident of persons has one. No one is immune to that nagging voice telling us, if we could just change this one particular feature on our body, then we’d be happy … we’d be content. Well, I am no exception.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment in time when I first “noticed” this particular feature and started feeling self-conscious about it. There was no trigger, no “ah hah” moment when I decided to start disliking this aspect of my body. It sort of just came about over time. It crept up on me and manifested in my mind before I even had a chance to defend myself.

So what is this body issue that I am speaking to? Continue reading


I Didn’t Think I Would Do It…

I didn’t think I would do it. I actually laughed out loud at the absurdity of the suggestion; brushed it off and thought “what kind of crazy person actually does that”. But now…now I’ve changed my mind.

So let me start at the beginning. The suggestion actually came several weeks back… Continue reading