I’ve said it in previous blog posts and on numerous IG posts, but it warrants repeating: Lacing up the running shoes and trying to get back into the swing of things postpartum is really really effing hard.
At first I thought it would kinda be like starting from scratch – You know, that day almost 7 years ago, when I signed up for my first half marathon, downloaded a Hal Higdon plan off the internet, put that bad boy up on the fridge, and set out to train for 13.1. BUT, despite my current physical constraints, I thought this time I could come to the table with loads of knowledge and experience – I know which running shoes and gear work for me, I know how to optimally fuel my body for various distances, I understand the importance of easy, moderate, and high effort runs and how to space them out accordingly during training cycles. Put simply, I thought I had this shit handled. This was gonna be cake – right?
Unfortunately, as I put it in one of my IG posts (Here’s where I whore myself out: Follow me @stepbitestep), when it came time to actually start running, I felt like I was starting from less than scratch. Don’t get me wrong – mentally and emotionally, it felt amazing to get out there and run again. It made me feel almost human again. But physically….ohhhh man, it was a big ol’ mess. It was difficult to carry that extra 10-15 pounds hanging around my butt and thighs – and as I tried to force my legs to make running-like motions, it felt as though I had lead in my shoes. My once microscopic boobs were giant, rock hard, heavy, and popping out of my sports bra. At one point I think I narrowly avoided a black eye. And I had to pee literally every half mile. I didn’t even wear my Garmin for that first month of runs, but if I had to estimate, I was clocking in about 10-11 minute miles, a far cry from my 7:45/mile half marathon pace and 8:25/mile marathon pace I had sported pre-pregnancy.
Running is magic for the mind, body, and soul…unless your childbirth-ravaged body feels absolutely foreign to you. In which case, running makes you want to throw yourself off of above-pictured bridge. Oh don’t get all panicky on me here, the bridge was like 3 feet off the ground.
The gains are very slow this time around, and as I mentioned in one of my IG posts, there’s also a bit of a balancing act with my training and breastmilk supply. If I start to train harder or more often and eat too “healthy”, my supply goes down. But, when I don’t train as hard/often and eat more fats and sugars, my supply will go back up. I’m not ready to stop breastfeeding Naia, and she’s not done hanging out with the girls either, so the hard training will need to wait in order to maintain my supply.
This is all new to me. From the moment I began distance running as a new hobby, the physical part has always come easily. If I put in the miles, stuck to the training plan, and ate well throughout a training cycle, my training and races would reflect that. Easy peasy. Back in the day, it was my mental game that was always lacking. I worked really hard over the years to improve my mental game, run and fuel my body based on feel rather than what my Garmin was telling me, rein it in during the early race miles, and run through the pain at the end of races. Hell, I don’t even race with a Garmin anymore I know the bod so well!
See…no Garmin! And proving that even 17 miles into a marathon, I simply ooze class and glamour.
But now the physical part, the part that used to come so naturally, is now sooooo challenging. I have gotten upset with myself and discouraged when I feel like I am hauling ass, and look down at my watch to see a pace that used to be reserved for my recovery runs. And then it effs with my mentality: the doubt will creep in, and I’ll wonder if I’ll ever get back to where I used to be, if I’ll ever be able to toe the line at Boston someday. And then I’ll try and talk sense into myself, to remind myself that it took years of training, of falling in and out of love with running, of overcoming injuries, of learning how to properly train for my body and lifestyle to get to where I was when I got pregnant. And the cycle continues…
So here’s the first 4 weeks of half marathon training thus far, in a nutshell. Most runs have been done at an easy or easy/moderate pace. I’m just not physically or mentally there yet to dial it in and do any scheduled speedwork (tempo runs, intervals, strides), and to be honest, my aerobic base needs some major work to do speedwork the right way anyways. Some speedwork has happened, it just happens on a whim…like “Oh hey there legs and lungs! Nice of you to join me!…you felt pretty good during warmup and that first mile. Let’s play for a bit!”
Week 1 (July 18-24): Had been running 15-20 mile weeks the few weeks prior but had a nasty stomach bug all week, so this week was basically a wash. July 18-22 were spent on the mend.
Runs were replaced with a couple trips to dog beach with the family. Running with a tummy bug is just a really bad idea for everyone involved. Don’t do it. Ever.
Saturday, July 23: 3 miles (8:58/mi pace)
Sunday, July 24: 8 miles (9:31/mi pace)
Week 2: (July 25-31) – 22 miles total
Monday, July 25: Rest and 3 mile walk with the babe
Checking out the US Open on Monday morning before all the drunken shenanigans started.
Tuesday, July 26: 5 miles (9:17/mi pace)
Wednesday, July 27: Taught a yoga class + strength training (upper body)
Thursday, July 28: 4.5 miles (9:06/mi pace)
Friday, July 29: 3.5 miles (9:12/mi pace) + Taught boot camp
Saturday, July 30: Rest
Sunday, July 31: 9 miles (9:15/mi pace)
Week 3 (August 1-7): 18 miles total
Monday, August 1: Rest and 3 mile walk with the babe
Tuesday, August 2: 4 miles, tempo (Mile 1 w/u 9:20, Mile 2 8:55/mi, Mile 3 8:48/mi, Mile 4 8:41/mi)
Wednesday, August 3: Taught yoga class + 5 miles (9:16/mi pace)
Thursday, August 4: Rest
Friday, August 5: 9 miles (9:18/mi pace)
Always run BEFORE weekends in Palm Springs. Because running after those weekends is basically worse than running with a stomach bug.
Saturday + Sunday, August 6-7: Palm Springs
Yea right – not pictured – I’m a sleep-deprived mother of an infant and was in bed by midnight. #lame
Week 3 (August 8-14): 24 miles total
Monday, August 8: 3 mile walk with the babe
Tuesday, August 9: 4 miles (9:30 pace)
Wednesday: 5 Miles, tempo (Mile 1 w/u 9:05, Mile 2 8:55/mi, Mile 3 8:45/mi, Mile 4 8:12/mi, Mile 5 c/d 8:55) + taught boot camp
Friday: 5 miles (9:14/mi pace) + taught yoga
Saturday: Rest & stretch
Sunday: 10 miles (9:23/mi pace)