Time for an update: March ’21

Training update:

There is something fun about building fitness after pregnancy (or an injury). Is it because progress is so easy to see? Or my achiever mindset – where I wake up everyday, excited to get after it, improve on the day before, etc – and building from the bottom up allows me to have more to work at each day?

The big goal I’m aiming towards is Grandma’s marathon in Duluth, MN in June and am hoping to break 3 hours there. That will be just a little over a year postpartum. I have a lot to work on, including:

  • base building. It’s been a while since my mileage was where I’d like it to be at for marathon training. Goal is to be able to hold ~80-85 mile weeks consistently, with peak mileage in the 90s.
  • changing gears. When I tire, my cadence slows and I can’t seem to get the signal to my legs to quicken their turnover. I bog down. Looks like I’ll be enjoying a bit of fartlek work this spring! During some of my dryland nordic ski sessions I also tried to sprint with as high of a turnover/tempo as I could. I maybe achieved slightly-above-normal tempo, and that’s generous, ha. So I have a lot of work to do here!
  • Gaining speed back. I time-trialed a few 5ks 3-6 months postpartum and all of them were within 5 seconds of each other. 19:33 at 3 months postpartum, 19:37 at 4 months, 19:35 at 5 months (virtual Gobble Wobble done here in Northfield, pics below). I started to be coached again right before the 5 month mark (trying to follow a schedule when I was newly postpartum and in the middle of a COVID cross country season just wasn’t happening). I’m excited to see what I can do this spring! I’d love to be able to consistently race in the mid 18s.
After our Virtual Gobble Wobble 5k in Northfield. 19:35, just 2 seconds faster than in October, and 2 seconds slower than in September. Same course. Important to note: I beat Nate, who raced in his Turkey costume. Tradition of beating him upheld for another year! WAHOO!


The girls were going to do the “Mashed Potato Mile” as part of the Gobble Wobble race, but they were not excited about running much after watching our 5k. Anna thought her sign was the coolest, though, and did a little bit of sprinting in our cul-de-sac after we did our cool down back home 🙂
  • knee drive and pop. Another big weakness of mine, likely due to pregnancy/C-sections and overall weakness (core, hips). Commence lots of work:
    • lifting heavier – I’m enjoying our new squat rack! I now have all of the tools to get in my strength sessions here at home which is so nice.
Not sure what I was talking to Anna about…
    • incorporating plyometrics and short hop-based videos
    • as well as periodically trying to change my form in an easy run. If there is a gradual hill, for example, I’ll concentrate on my form and pick up my pace a little. I think: light footfalls, hips forward toward the hill, elbows driving straight back, and knees lifting (or alternatively, power off of the ground on push-off). I’m trying a lot of different form cues to see what seems to work. Generally I think it’s just a re-gaining strength thing, but also could be re-learning how to run with good form again. Pregnancies had me running without much pop in my stride for waaayyy too long!
    • I’ve started an Adult Gymnastics class in Northfield, which is new, which involves a lot of hopping, plyometric work, and general strength. You should see me trying to do some of the moves there, HA! It’s awesome, even though I’m really terrible at it.
  • gait issues. I still have some weird things going on compliments of those frayed hamstring connections and the gait issues I developed as a result. So it’s PT every other day, retraining the glutes to fire, the left leg not to lock up, among many other neuromuscular patterns.
  • Increasing lean muscle mass/losing baby weight. I’m pretty sure when I’m nursing my body’s hormone levels prevent me from burning much, if any, fat while exercising. I’ll stop nursing at about 10 months, even though I’m dreading that transition, just to allow me to have a couple of training months as my more “normal” self. Obviously, this journey involves very strategic UCAN fueling pre- and post- runs to help my body re-learn how to be a fat burner. Sigh, genetics…
Post-run UCAN shake with collagen. Then I try to wait to have a meal for another 2 hours so I stay in fat-burning mode post-run for a while.
Speaking of UCAN, look at what they sent Jack! Isn’t this just awesome?! What a cool company – I am so fortunate to be a part of their team/family!


I’ve dusted off my cross country skis again this winter! I am excited to re-learn the sport, focusing more on skate than classic. Turns out, it hasn’t been like riding a bike for me, where I could just hop back in and do it with ease – but the challenge of re-learning is fun too.

We try to get out as a family, which involves creativity. This picture still cracks me up. Jack is in the stroller, likely Anna too, and Greta is trying to be pulled along… but must have fallen the second I tried to take a picture. Talk about a workout for Nate!

If you’ve followed me on IG, you know that the Mora Vasaloppet 34k “race” was mostly a struggle to stay upright on my skis. My rear end is still bruised, I kid you not (I FELL 52 TIMES – HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!?!). That made it an easy decision to ski my 7th Birkie virtually this year. I was able to ski my 43k on the south half of the Birkie trail on the Thursday before Nate did his 17th Birkie in person on Saturday. I only fell a few times that day, but it was 5+ hours of skiing. Needless to say, I have a long way to go with this sport!

Because I wanted to put XC skiing into my training, and just not feeling 100% connected to Meghan (she is great! But I could tell that magic coach-athlete connection, where everything is working really well, wasn’t there.), Nate suggested Craig Cardinal coach me. Yup, that Craig: longtime training partner, best friend, and god parent to our kids.

I want to achieve as much for him (maybe more!) than I even do for myself. I haven’t had that relationship with a coach since I left Jerry, and I missed it dearly. There have been several days this winter where I’ve thought: I really don’t want to do this today. What if I moved it to tomorrow? But, argh, I don’t want to tell Craig I didn’t do what he wrote! So, begrudgingly, I get myself out the door. And text him later to tell him I’m proud of myself for getting it done. He has also trained alongside me through a good decade of my journey, discussing things as we ran, analyzing what is working/not working. So he knows my history, what I suck at, what I’m good at, etc. – we don’t have to build that relationship. To say I’m super happy to be in a coaching relationship that works so well for me now is an understatement :).

A picture of me after a 10k pace workout that I thought would be on the easier side of things. IT VERY MUCH WAS NOT. Here is my text picture, letting Craig know I was still alive after the hard portion of the workout.

The first week of March has me transitioning out of ski training and starting to build towards Grandma’s. Glad you’re following along with the adventure! Anyone else out there training for Grandma’s or another spring or summer marathon?

PS – I’ll end this blog post with some fun pictures of Jack, just because!

With my dad, Peter. Jack’s middle name is Peter. It is interesting to see a tint of red in Jack’s hair! He had such dark hair when he was born…

XXOO, Nichole

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  1. LOVE the photo here: coincidentally this morning I just did my fifth actual-coming-back-to-workout after postpartum this morning (I’m not counting the two I did before everything shut down last year), and my deadlifts weren’t terrible! Nowhere near my PR from pre-pregnancy, but way closer than I expected! Your first paragraph really resonated. 🙂

  2. But do you think your new coach will make you run 800s immediately after racing Grandma’s? You know if you had been Jaime Breshears coach back in 2019 you could have made her return to Lemon Drop for a few extra runs up it!🤣

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