On the last installment of this Local Athlete Highlights series, we looked at Pardon Ndhlovu’s training for the upcoming Olympic Games Marathon.
This week’s post is about Courtney Parish, a beachbody coach, fitness enthusiast, runner, and, most importantly, a recent mother.
Courtney was my coworker at Fleet Feet Sports, Augusta for several years. We also had a year of overlap in our college cross country and track racing.
She worked as a personal trainer for several years before having her baby, Master Liam Parish, last year. She now works as a Beach Body Coach and will be working as a paraprofessional this Fall.
In this post we’ll be looking a little bit at her training background, current goals, and most importantly how having a baby has impacted her lifestyle especially in the realm of physical fitness.
Can you tell us a little bit about your training background?
I’ve always loved running and it was always my main source of exercise.
Where did you run in high school and college? What were some of your best times?
I attended Thomson High School, but I didn’t run XC or track. I played soccer, midfield, and there was a lot of running involved with that position. I walked onto the XC team at Georgia College and State University my Junior year there.
If you had to pick one favorite racing moment from college XC/track, what would it be?
It would have to be getting to the finish line at regionals my junior year. I had been fighting with a foot injury and being chosen to run in that race was a huge honor, then finishing for my team was so cool.
Outside of running, what kinds of exercise do you enjoy doing?
I love Beachbody workouts. My favorites are Turbo Fire (lots of kicking and punching) and T25 (only 25 minutes but high intensity).
What kind of injuries have you needed to overcome throughout your running/fitness career? What are some of the things you did to help battle these injuries?
The summer before my junior year, right before I started running XC, I tore a ligament in my ankle. I was walking to class in the rain in flip flops and my foot slipped. No crazy or exciting story to even tell. I had to take a couple of months off of running and stick to low impact, like the elliptical. I also had to wear an odd looking brace for a few weeks. Then during that XC season I strained the ligament on top of my right foot. Just an overuse injury and I had to visit the trainer several times a week. She said if I could run through the pain I wasn’t going to hurt it any worse, so I ran through it. She had me pick up marbles with my toes and grab and pull a towel with my toes to strengthen my foot. I also had to go to the training room and ice my foot after every practice and race.
Can you tell us a little bit about your baby how rewarding it is to exercise as a mom?
It is amazing. I have so much pride in my body now and what it has done, from carrying and birthing our son to recovering afterwards. I see exercise as a way to reward myself and to take care of myself.
What is your training like now that you’re a mom? Do you have any specific running goals or things that you’re training for?
Training is so much different now! When I was pregnant I couldn’t run at all, my calves instantly cramped as soon as I would take off and I just couldn’t get my breathing regulated. So I had to stick to walking and low impact aerobics. Six weeks after I had Liam I got cleared to exercise again and it was so hard to get my body back into running! The impact was rough on my knees and the extra weight was tough. But sticking to it paid off and I was back to below my pre baby weight about three months postpartum. I want to get back up to running a half marathon, it’s hard to find the time though!
Logistically, how has exercise changed since you started being a parent? How do you fit training into your schedule? Do you and your husband, Jim (her husband), get to train together often?
Training happens early morning, when Liam’s still sleeping or right after he wakes up. Liam isn’t too crazy about his running stroller now that he’s mobile, so I have to go run while he’s still asleep in the morning and somebody else is there to watch him (like Jim or my mom if Jim is working). I just make it work most days. Even if Liam isn’t in a good mood and wants me to hold him, I use him as my resistance and do squats, lunges, core work, etc. Jim and I don’t get to train together much, unfortunately. His work schedule with the fire department, paired with Liam’s schedule makes it hard for both of us to work out at the same time right now.
Exactly 1 year different between these photos!
On top of working, exercising, and being a mom, you also have a blog. Can you tell us a little bit about why you wanted to start one and what you typically enjoy blogging about?
My blog is all about my pregnancy, postpartum journey, and body image. I talk a lot about Liam, of course, and motherhood as a whole. I wanted to start a blog as a kind of diary for myself to look back on and as a way of sharing my experiences and hopefully helping other moms out there.
What kind of advice do you have, especially for new parents, about incorporating exercise into your daily routine?
Just make it happen. Workout while your kid naps. Exercise while your baby is playing and distracted. I love working out with Liam, using him as my resistance and now that he’s mobile he loves trying to dance to the music of my workouts with me. Incorporate your kid into your fitness routine if you can so that it becomes bonding time and exercise.