Skirt Sports Blog

The Aging Athlete series: Get Older… Rest More!

Posted by Noelle Wilson on 05/22/2015 04:54:00 PM | 0 Comments Authors, Celebrate, Inspiration, Run, Testimonials

I’ve been so inspired by stories of women runners in their 50s and older, that I decided to talk to an expert on the concept of fitness after 50. Much of my feel-good research has been anecdotal, so I sought out Debra Atkinson, author of the upcoming book, “The After 50 Fitness Formula for Women.” She has done in-depth research on the concept of age and the effects it has on women athletes.

As we delved into the topic of women runners who continue to see improvement over 50, it became clear that we needed to define HOW these women are running. Debra’s research found that athletes who run at a moderate level, maybe 3 times per week, without following an intense or structured program, but who are instead “self-paced,” fall into the sweet spot for happy running maintenance. They don’t experience as many negative effects (injuries, fatigue and more) that more intense or more frequent runners experience as they age.

But let’s face it, most people in the Baby Boomer generation do not operate this way. This generation especially was trained to subscribe to this mantra, “The harder you work, the better results you get.” Don’t get me wrong, as a Gen-X’er, I too, subscribe to this belief. The problem is in how we define hard work. I think Baby Boomers tend to focus on the “more is better” side of the equation. I have to admit that I do too. This is a tough habit to break, the “I’m out for 6 miles, but I feel good, so I’ll do an extra few” mentality. I succinctly remember a story that Kathrine Switzer (the first official woman finisher of the Boston Marathon in 1967) tells about her Boston Marathon training at 21 years old. She was on a training run with her coach Artie in the dead of winter in Syracuse, NY. They finished 26 miles, and instead of stopping, she said, “Let’s just do another 5 to TRULY prove we will be able to finish this thing!” Talk about more is better!

When you’re young, you can abuse your body and get away with it more often. Youngsters recover quickly. But as you age, the golden ticket to athletic success is the opposite of what we consider hard work – it’s about getting enough rest and recovery. The problem is that there is no standard for how and when to increase your recovery. Wouldn’t it be great if someone said, “Now that you turned 37, you need to add 4 more hours of rest per week into your routine?” But life isn’t textbook.

I asked Debra if we can easily figure out if we are getting enough rest. She suggested monitoring the tangibles and intangibles of our bodies. It’s all about listening to our bodies, and better yet, not ignoring what we hear! We can monitor the intangibles like unexplained weight and appetite changes, mood fluctuations (though mood may be best monitored by someone close to you for utmost honesty!). When you experience sustained crabbiness, you may be in need of additional rest.

But this is not a perfect science, so a better, yet still realistic, way to measure your body is to monitor your heart rate, starting with your resting heart rate. Debra says that if your resting heart rate is elevated by 3 to 5 beats for multiple days, you are not recovering properly. Your body is in a state of fatigue. Well guess what? I’ve been in a state of fatigue since my daughter was born 3.5 years ago, so this is also difficult to monitor perfectly! If you want to get more scientific, you can invest in a heart rate variability monitor and keep a more structured log. Once you start logging, patterns will emerge.

So what happens next? How do you amend your athletic routine to account for an aging body with greater rest and recovery needs? I talked to my husband, Tim DeBoom, about this topic. Tim is a 2-time Hawaii Ironman World Champion, who after more than a decade of improvement, experienced a similar long, slow decline in his performance abilities until the end of his career. He was 21 when he started his triathlon career and he was 41 when he retired. One of the x-factors is that he may not have amended his general workout routine appropriately to account for his aging body (and all those aggregate miles!).

In retrospect, he explained the following concept that probably would have benefitted him in regards to setting up a training calendar. He planned his triathlon training around a 7-day cycle. Mondays were rest days. Tuesdays were brick workouts. Wednesdays were hilly runs. You get the gist. As we age, we can continue to include these all-important workouts in our schedules, but we should lengthen the cycle. By the end of his career, he may have benefitted from stretching his program into a 10-day cycle instead of a 7-day cycle.

The difficult part of this concept is that there is no perfect line in the sand that tells us when we need to add more rest. We have to figure it out on our own, often through experiencing failures and injuries. And more importantly, we need to embrace the fact that more rest and recovery does not mean we are not working hard. In fact, it can often require even more mental toughness to take those rest days!

So the moral of the story is: Keep running. Keep moving. Keep going forward. Just be sure to give your body more rest and recovery as you get older, and the best way to do this is to listen to what your body is telling you.  And my all means, please share your rest and recovery stories– we’d all love to hear!

#REALwomenmove: Distractions, Yoga Poses and a 50k

Posted by Noelle Wilson on 05/05/2015 12:44:00 PM | 0 Comments Authors, Inspiration, Run, Testimonials

Skirt Sports has done it again. As if I didn't already love this company for it's ability to make cute quality workout gear, they go and have this movement that stands for everything I believe! Have you ever noticed the ambassador patch on my blog ?

THAT'S RIGHT!  REAL WOMEN, REAL BODIES, REAL INSPIRATION! So, what exactly does #REALwomenmove mean to me? It means women being active in their own environments, lifestyles, and yes, our own bodies. It incorporates the fact that none of us have to have look like a super model to be on the move in an active lifestyle. What's more it means that you and I have support and get to support one another. We have support from women across the nation who genuinely want us to succeed in our own goals and dreams.  Women who genuinely want you and I to do nothing more than get out and not only move but have fun doing it! Most of all, women who see one another's beauty as it is and not any other way.

#REALwomenmove selfie FAIL!

#REALwomenmove means inspiration from and for others. It means supporting each other through our discouraging times as well as successful.  It means building from each experience and being #FEARLESS to surpass insecurities that have plagued us and develop friendships that are about building each other up and helping one another.  To lighten it up a little I'll be posting some photos that may be a little embarrassing but are real when it comes to learning new yoga poses!

Personally, my challenge to stay active and achieve my goals  in the next year will encompass doing it all while my husband is deployed.  The past few years I have been very fortunate as a military spouse. My husband was able to finish his bachelors degree and then trained to become a pilot.  This means he has not experienced deployments in the past few years.   So, in the next year the #REALwomenmove will be an encouragement and inspiration for me.  Encouraging me to balance my training while being a geographically single mommy. It will mean getting creative and finding ways to train with the boys and while they are sleeping.  Did I mention,  I plan to train my first 50 miler while he's training this summer and run the Bandera 50km/100km while he's deployed!   Stay tuned to read about what training plan, I (cough, cough) intend to follow.   I seem to get easily distracted and like to change training regiments up a lot.


What else does #REALwomenmove  mean to me? It means more miles going to one of my favorite organizations TEAM RWB.  During my training, I will be using the free app Charity Miles.   Charity miles tracks your mileage and gives .25 per mile ran or walked and .10 per mile riding a bike to your choice organization! If you want to join me in donating your mileage, simply download the app go to teams and #REALwomenmove!

Join me in spreading the word ladies! While racing, weight training, yoga sessions, riding, hiking, paddle boating, horse back riding, whatever your mode of activity #REALwomenmove !

#REALwomenmove: From Postpartum Depression to Marathon Maniac

Posted by Noelle Wilson on 05/05/2015 11:58:00 AM | 0 Comments Authors, Inspiration, Run

I wasn't always a runner. I ran occasionally to drop a few pounds, but it was not in any way part of my regular routine.  Then my first son was born. We had a rough start and I ended up struggling with postpartum depression. My mom suggested I go for a run. Suddenly a runner was born. I didn't run far, but 30 minutes, three times a week became my anti-depressant of choice.

It's been 13 years since that moment. Running has become a part of me. I've also fallen in love with racing. I'll never be fast. I very seldom run a race with the expectation of getting a personal record. I run races to be with friends, to challenge myself, to visit new places. I run to see what my body is capable of doing.

This past weekend I ran two marathons in two days to qualify for Marathon Maniacs. It started out as a personal goal to see what I was capable of, but it became so much more. I was surrounded by women of all shapes and sizes and ages, moving at whatever pace they were capable of. What did we all have in common? We were out there doing the best we could with the abilities we had. Even more, these amazing women were lifting each other up throughout the entire race. It was not a competition with anyone but ourselves.

#REALwomenmove. It does not matter how fast you go. It does not matter what size you are or what age. It does not matter if you choose to run or some other movement floats your boat. What matters is that you go. I don't know what my next challenge will be. I just know that there will be one.

Get out there. Embrace life. Push your limits. Move.


Erika H. aka MCMMama

Read more about my journey and success with running and postpartum depression on my blog; TOTR: Running from Depression

#REALwomenmove: The Beautiful Inside and Out

Posted by Noelle Wilson on 05/04/2015 04:36:00 PM | 0 Comments Authors, Celebrate, Inspiration, Run

You may have seen the hashtag in the last few weeks on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Just what is this #REALwomenmove deal all about? It's about you, me and every women out there just doing whatever we can to move! It doesn't matter what size you are, or what ability you may be, if you are out there moving, you are a part of the #REALwomenmove campaign!

Skirt Sports has created this awesome movement with a mission of changing the perception of women and fitness by showing the world that being fit comes in all forms. A real woman is one who is proud of who she is and is comfortable in her own body. She is a confident women who does not judge other women while leading an active life that is important to her health and happiness. Most importantly, she accepts and loves herself as she is.

REAL women are strong!

REAL women are strong!

That last part is so important because I believe a number of us need to work on loving the beautiful person that we are both inside and out. I know for me that can be a challenge at times. We see these "perfect" and "skinny" women in magazines and on television and it distorts our vision of how amazing we are. Each and every one of us are gorgeous and need to realize that. This movement gives us just that, the chance to love ourselves more and each other just as the Creator made us. Embrace your beauty!

How can you participate and be a part of #REALwomenmove? Set an example through your lifestyle choices that every women is capable of being fit and active no matter their shape or size. Empower women to make fitness a priority in their life despite demanding lives and day to day challenges. Give back by breaking barriers in your own life in your quest to live an active life.

REAL women support and inspire each other.

REAL women support and inspire each other.

-Shannon, Girls Got Sole

#REALwomenmove: You're NEVER Too Old

Posted by Noelle Wilson on 05/04/2015 04:06:00 PM | 0 Comments Authors, Celebrate, Inspiration, Run

A lot of women come to a time in their lives when questions start popping up like: “Is that all there is?”; “How the heck did this happen?”; “Where did the time go?” It can be an overwhelming time or a reawakening one. And sometimes, this mind-boggling stage transitions unbeknownst to you into your reawakening.

That moment, for me, came when my husband and I stopped at a local running store just to check out what they had and I saw a flyer for a 10 week ‘Learn How To Run’ program. At 58 I was certainly ready to prove them wrong in their claim that I would be a runner in a short 2 and a half months! I also had to fight that inner voice. You know, the one that whispers, “What are thinking?” “You’re too old to run!” “You’ll embarrass yourself!”

Well, I did join the group and was inspired by some incredible coaches to keep moving. Almost 5 years later I can emphatically state that that was the moment when my life totally changed for the better!

I have seen this same nudge from the universe happen for other older women too. I have been fortunate to be a Motivator for the Skirt Sports Kick Start program where new runners are paired with more experienced ones and, for 2 years now, have been running with several women in their 50’s and 60’s who chose to quiet that inner negative voice and keep moving.

Facing doubt, inner negative whispers, fear, and sometimes feelings of lack of self-worth are things we all face at some point in our lives. Moving on is the key. For me, the #REALwomenmove campaign is all about getting on with it and, for me, running has been the vehicle. For others, it may be gym classes or walking or biking or swimming…it doesn’t matter.

How do you move on? Be inspired! Just move!

#REALwomen Run and Play with Dogs

Posted by Noelle Wilson on 05/04/2015 03:36:00 PM | 0 Comments Authors, Celebrate, Inspiration, Run

I first started running with one goal in mind: get in good enough shape to be able to do anything I wanted, at any time, with the energy and strength needed. If I wanted to go on a 5 mile hike, I’d be ready. Kayak after work? Bring it on. Run a 5k on Saturday- let’s go!

Somewhere along the way I lost sight of my primary reason for running and I got swept up in the running life style.  

That’s not a bad thing, but as I progressively ran farther and more frequently  the “mega marathoner” culture took over my life. One, two, three marathons a weekend. A 50k or 50 miler every other month and at least two attempts at 100 miles per year. I was wearing down but addicted to the sport.

Then I got injured. A simple walk through the neighborhood, an unfortunately placed pot hole, and I was out with a broken ankle for the summer. I was cleared for cycling fairly quickly and I could walk in my boot. That broken ankle was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I started cycling again. I walked and walked. I slept in on weekends.

I started spending time with my dog – now 12 years old – we played and explored. My interest in dogs was renewed and I soon found myself rescuing a dog slated for euthanasia. Now the three of us walk and play and explore.

Two years have passed since that broken ankle. I truly believe I’m happier and more fit than ever. Yes, I’m running again but with balance and perspective. All that walking and cycling has allowed me to run less yet still compete in long distance races. AND I’ve returned to my primary reason for running in the first place: to live a life full of movement and adventure.

-Marilou, The Dove Dialogs

#REALwomenmove: Determined, Hard Core, Relentless

Posted by Noelle Wilson on 05/04/2015 03:20:00 PM | 0 Comments Authors, Inspiration, Run


Real women move.  Yes, they sure do.  But what does this mean to me?  It means that it doesn't matter what your body shape, size or fitness level is.  It means that you are getting off the couch and doing something.

When you think of an athlete, do images of super fit people in Runner's World come to mind?  Do you think of someone with either huge muscles or no body fat?  That is what media wants us to think.  But to me, it is someone that is strong.  Someone that has the willpower to get out there and try to weather their storm.  Someone who will try  to run their first 5K or a marathon, it doesn't matter as long as they are becoming a better version of themselves.

There is a giant tree near my home.  I run by it as much as possible.  It is America's largest Bebb Oak on record.  Some call her Grandma Bebb Oak.  She has her own Facebook page.  To me, she is strong.  Her limbs are heavy and her bark is brittle, but she still stands.   She is said to be well over 200 years old. To me she is strong and she is real.  

I used to be a slave to the scale.  If a certain number didn't come up, I wasn't happy.  If my pant size wasn't the right number, I was disappointed.  Now I realize that my body is strong.  I might not have the perfect amount of body fat.  I might be slightly overweight at times.  I have never been accused of being skinny.  On the flip side, I have been labeled as determined, hard core, and relentless.  My legs are more like tree trunks, like that Bebb Oak tree.   But those tree trunks get me to the finish line of 100 mile races.  I think that if you can believe it you can achieve it. 

So get out there and do the impossible.  Do what you think you cannot do.  Don’t let others establish your limits because they see you in a different light.  Redefine yourself. Accept yourself, love yourself.   Prove people wrong.  Be strong and prove that #REALwomenmove!

#REALwomenmove is a new campaign by my favorite clothing company, Skirt Sports.  It is based on REAL women, REAL bodies, REAL inspiration.  Skirt Sports believes we all can and should embrace fitness and health.  We should be strong, confident and not judge, but rather encourage other women.  You can read more about #REALwomen move and check out their great running skirts and other great clothing items at

-Sandy, the Ultra Freak


Posted by Noelle Wilson on 05/04/2015 11:58:00 AM | 1 Comments Authors, Celebrate, Inspiration, Run, Testimonials

When I was a little girl growing up in the Midwest in the 70s and 80s, I was exposed to every sport available. I was born in 1972, the year Title IX passed, a benchmark that paved the way for women to have more opportunities in athletics and academics. I never felt barriers to participating in sports, and for that matter, I never felt limited in anything I wanted to pursue.

I did, however, feel insecure about myself, especially during my formative years. In 1994, at age 22, I was so intrigued by the subject that I wrote my senior thesis at Yale University on women athletes and body image. It was called "The Female Athlete: An Oxymoron." My research showed that women athletes, primarily in sports where their uniform requirements were on the skimpy side, suffered from body image negativity. Running was one of those sports where women were told that they needed to be rail-thin to succeed.

As we know, success is relative. If you’re shooting for the Olympic marathon gold medal, your body is like a finely-tuned, high-performance sports car. But the overwhelming majority of women are running for different reasons. They may want to improve their times, but they are not gunning for the gold. They are running for sanity and health above all else. They do not need the added pressure of feeling less than amazing as they try to do the best they can for themselves and their families.

Today we are liberated in so many ways, but we are still surrounded by messages of intimidation and exclusiveness in the world of fitness. My goal with #REALwomenmove is to stop the madness and show women that being fit is something we can all do, regardless of our size, shape or activity level. I want to help motivate women and girls who are unmotivated or intimidated and show them what it looks like to make health and fitness a priority, despite the daily obstacles that are thrown in their paths.

Please join me in this quest! Post your photos and share your stories. You'll be surprised by how much influence you have on the people around you. For every 5,000 #REALwomenmove hashtags, we will give away a "Get Started Scholarship" to help someone else get started on this incredible path.

Today we celebrate the #REAL women of the world!

The No Dessert Challenge

Posted by Noelle Wilson on 04/22/2015 01:31:00 PM | 2 Comments Authors, Celebrate, Inspiration

Nicole & Tim's April Eating Experimentation2

I completely forgot to update you on my eating plans for April. Don’t worry about trying to join me because this month sucks and you would probably hate it too! I suggest you save yourself the torture, but I’ll leave that in your court. There's still over a week left.

Based on feedback from some of you, Tim and I briefly considered cutting out sugar in April. While we will consider a sugar-free month later in the year (I am thinking of the ultimate challenge – Halloween month!), we decided we weren't ready, especially since we had one trip on the docket that we wanted to fully enjoy – Tim’s induction into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame in Boston. We knew they’d be serving dessert and it gave us an excuse to put off the impending no-sugar torture for a while longer.

So we decided to modify the No-Sugar approach and change it to No-Dessert. Here are the rules: We have to eat dinner a minimum of three hours before bedtime and we can’t eat anything afterward.

It has been the most torturous month I can remember. I think the problem is that we're actually breaking a lifelong habit. I can't remember a period of more than a few days (other than when I've been extremely sick – minor illnesses don't count) when I haven't nibbled after dinner. Many days we actually gorge on dessert. Ice cream, chocolate, cookies, pie, cake, you name it. Whatever sweet-somethings we had in the house, we would break out and eat.

The first night was a shock. We made it even harder by doing a lighter dinner. After the last bite, we realized we were in trouble. No more food for hours? How would we survive?

So like most industrious food-lovers, I learned to cheat within my rules. I bought chocolate and stashed it in my office. I started eating my dessert during the day. As the month dragged on, I also increased the size of my dinners, knowing I would be miserable an hour later. I also spent about $50 on decaf tea and coffee. A little extra milk in my tea at 9pm isn’t a rule-breaker.

Finally, about halfway through the month, Tim said, "I think this eating philosophy could work if you get a cheat day once a week." To that I said, "Hell yes!" So after two weeks we added a cheat night. The sad part is that it was sort of a letdown, didn't taste as good as we hoped, and we went to bed annoyed.

So in other words, this month sucks, but it's also helped us see how ingrained our dessert-eating had become. In May, I may consider an amended approach, to include "healthy dessert" like fruit and yogurt. I'll keep you posted and in the meantime, I would love some healthy dessert suggestions so I can transition off the pain-train into something more manageable and enjoyable. Let me know what works for you!

Core Moves for Your Workout

Posted by Noelle Wilson on 04/13/2015 03:19:00 PM | 0 Comments Authors, Inspiration, Run

It's time to add core strength to your work out.  These 3 workouts are a great addition to your routine!

All photos taken at Core Studio Pilates and Yoga in Monroe, NC.

*Consult a physician before performing this or any exercise program.