I just had a birthday and ran my first half marathon as my birthday gift to myself. Running a half marathon had never been on my bucket list. Not even close. I detest running. But I was talking with my favorite trainer, my business partner Kathleen Donahoe, and I said I felt pretty fit and strong and wanted to push myself a little further, but I wasn’t sure what to do. She encouraged me to run a half marathon around my birthday.. a few months away. I responded with shock: “I can’t do that! And I’ve never wanted to run that far… really!”  I left our meeting thinking I’d do something, but surely not a half marathon.

But the idea stuck with me. I talked to one of my friends who had run several marathons, and she assured me I could do it. She even said she’d train with me, and we could run one together. Before I knew it, I was signed up for a half marathon in Savannah, Georgia, and started training. I signed up 3 months before the race, and started on a training program that had me steadily increasing my runs each week. It was absolutely doable.. and this non-runner found I was running farther and farther (and feeling fine) each week.

I ran the race this past weekend, and I have to say, it was the best birthday present I could have given myself. It’s rare as you get older to be totally amazed with what your body can do, but I was really impressed after this race.  The last time I remember being this impressed and amazed with my body was when I had a baby.. ten years ago. THAT was truly miraculous, and I remember it clearly.  🙂

half marathon

At Oh Baby! Fitness, we encourage all new mothers to set goals when they return to exercise after having a baby.  Fitness goals are much better to focus on rather than watching the scales. They’re more attainable too.

Here are some goals to shoot for:

  • Choose a goal piece of clothing (pair of pants? Dress? What can you still not wear from your wardrobe that you want to?)
  • Complete an event (5k, 10k, sprint triathlon, hiking trip, etc)
  • If you are planning to put in serious time (along with making smart food choices) it can be helpful to take a ‘before’ picture. It seems cheesy, but as you gain muscle you can be surprised at how little the scale is budging; photographs can make it clearer what changes are happening.
  • What do you want to accomplish physically before your child turns one? Before you get pregnant again?

I’m so glad I set a goal and went for it.. and it was something I really didn’t think I could do.. it made accomplishing it so much sweeter!  Now, for that piece of birthday cake!


Clare Schexnyder is the “Founding Mom” of Oh Baby! Fitness.


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