Hello! Cocoa here, still running. I am also super happy to see Salty Running make a comeback!
I am a 30-something new mother (pet mother too), marathon and ultramarathon runner, healthcare professional, and outdoor enthusiast. I'm working on completing a marathon in all 50 states. I will be blogging about motherhood, running, and any random running-related rant I might come up with.
Happy New Year, Salty Readers! Lately I’m a much better Salty lurker (I read every day) than contributor. But I wanted to write my race reports for 2017, which was a good running year, plus I have some exciting 2018 news to share. So here goes!
I came on board Salty Running late last year to share my experiences with returning to running after recovering from a Cesarian birth. I shared my first few training logs and three posts about running and C-section recovery:
Now that it’s been a year, I wanted to share my experience with racing after a C-section too. I ran three marathons during my daughter’s first year: a half and two full marathons. Before I had my daughter, I managed to get my marathon best down to 2:57. My running goal after having her was to get back as close to that time as I could, if not exceeding it! Read more >>
We’ve covered bathroom emergencies before, but since that remains one of our most popular articles to date (yes, really) we know we can never talk too much about the topic. You’ll understand why the next time you get caught in a potty emergency! The more prepared you are beforehand, the better.
All runners know the standard emergency pit stops—e.g. public park restrooms, gas stations, the bushes. But sometimes, especially if you’re in a city or a residential suburb, those options just aren’t available. Instead of soiling your neighbor’s driveway, try one of the following options. I can personally attest that I’ve had ‘success’ at all five! Read more >>
Week 6 started great—after all, it’s the last week until I meet the “official” clearance to run benchmark! Hooray! For some reason, I thought that once I hit the magical 6-week mark, I would be able to run like I used to because, hey… if there are no restrictions anymore (at least not in regards to running), it must mean you feel like normal, right?
I overdid it mid-week and paid for it. I also realized on Wednesday (after my incision area appeared more swollen and was definitely more tender), that since we left home and hit the road for Oklahoma, I have neglected icing my incision area after workouts. This was a big wakeup call that my body is not healed yet. It won’t be healed for several more weeks. I resumed icing after that and it has made a WORLD of difference. I’m not sure how long I will have to dedicate 20 minutes after my run to putting frozen peas down my pants, but I suspect it will be for a while. Me and my bag of peas. I sure love that bag of peas, gives me so much relief!
Despite a rough start to the week, the latter half was definitely positive and the best I have felt for a long time. I capped the week on Saturday with a successful 65 minute run where I got to sub-8 minute pace. I felt pretty good about that! I have to wonder…. Where would I be in my recovery if I hadn’t pushed myself to an early return to [gentle] running? Would my first run back be better than my run on Saturday? Or would it be worse?
I am looking forward to continued improvement in the weeks to come! I learned a lot of things in the last 6 weeks… a sort of summary of what I learned will be in an upcoming post. I probably won’t post any more training logs from here on out, just because life is busy, but will post occasional updates on the site when I am able to. I hope this is helpful to someone! Cheers!
Week 6 log:
Day 1: 45 minutes, I felt GREAT! Did not pace check, but was on a neighborhood trail and tried to take longer and faster strides. Felt some stinging in my abdomen/pelvic region but ignored it because it felt good to go a decent pace again. Ended at the gym and did a 20-minute stationary bike workout. I threw in 6 x 1 min on/1min off repeats. Got my heartrate up to 180bpm during my intervals and it felt oh so good!
Day 2: I had such a great time getting a good workout in yesterday, why not do it again? Who needs a recovery day anyway? This time, ran 40 minutes but I could not help myself and I went to the track to pace-check. I was going 8:16 pace! So happy to be moving again. Oh, and there were some people training at the track so naturally I had to speed up. Ended up running a full mile on the track, with negative splits. My last lap was 1:52 and I ended the mile in 7:57. I was ecstatic! It felt so good. Ended at the gym like planned. I am feeling GREAT, why not push it a little more? 30 minutes on the bike with 10x 1 min on/1 min off repeats (same effort as yesterday, just more repeats).
Day 3: Humility check. Woke up sore and my lower abdomen/pelvic region was visibly more swollen. My whole stomach felt bruised. UUUGGGHHH. Felt like I did last week instead of better. Dedicated the day to icing my incision area and only went for a slow 3-mile walk that night.
Day 4: Told myself ok to run as long as I went slow, short-strides, and gentle steps and ICED afterwards. I shuffled for 25 minutes w 5-min walking warm-up and cool-down. Felt surprisingly good!
Day 5: Feeling great again. Headed out for early AM run. My favorite time of day to run is when the sun is coming up. I initially set out for a 30 minute shuffle. The stars were so bright! I ran on the golf course and it was beautiful. Then my 30 minutes were up (this is where I was supposed to stop running and walk home). But the pink tinge in the sky was so beautiful and made me want to keep running. I justified it by going slow. So I kept shuffling along watching the sun rise from the golf course. Then I ran along a road by the runway. The airplanes with the sun rising behind them were picturesque. Which meant naturally, I had to keep running…. 30 minutes later, the sun was up and I knew I had to end my run. So ran for 60 minutes total. But it was BEAUTIFUL and I kept my pace very slow, minimizing pounding on the pavement. My incision swelling is way down again, even after my run, and I am feeling great J
Day 6: Just like yesterday, I set out for a 30 minute shuffle. But… I ended with an amazing 65 minute run. It was pouring rain and, in Oklahoma, storms can turn scary really fast. I ran 3 miles of my run around the track, which was close to home, in case the weather turned crazy. I have a hard time controlling pace on the track—mile one was 7:52, mile two 7:40, mile three 7:28. I felt excellent. I had a little tightness in the incision area, but as long as I kept my strides relatively short, it did not bother me. After 3 miles, I could tell that: a) I needed to slow down so I didn’t overdo it, and b) it was just going to rain. But I was still enjoying myself, so I slowed down but kept running. I left the track and ran around the neighborhoods. And I had a glorious run. Have I mentioned I love running in the early AM, and I love running in the rain? Finished soaked but with a huge smile on my face.
Day 7: Feeling great again today and my swelling is actually down! Sundays are usually my rest day, though, so I walked a lovely 4 miles with husband, baby, and 2 Vizslas. I cannot believe that 6 weeks ago today, we were in the operating room having baby girl pulled from my belly. What a crazy 6 weeks it has been!
This week went smoothly, for the most part. My abdomen continues to be very sore, mostly in the upper ab area. That pain is only present when running. It just feels like I have a severe sideache on both sides. I am a little perplexed by this—I am guessing it may be my upper abs re-engaging? It makes me nervous so I hardly can call I did the first few days this week as “running”. It was more of a slow-motion, baby short step, shuffle the whole way. Nonetheless, the ab pain randomly resolved mid-week so that was good!
My incision still burns like the dickens if anything touches it. I was so glad when we arrived at our destination on Wednesday, because I don’t know how much longer I could tolerate the seatbelt rubbing the area! It might be a while before I am willing to get into a car again.
On a fun side note, one of my running girlfriends is running the NYC marathon this November. She was my inspiration for running while pregnant (we ran together during 2 of her pregnancies). She had a c-section for baby #1 and a VBAC for baby #2, and has definitely provided moral support and inspiration for me! She’s one tough lady. I can’t wait to see how she does.
Here is my training log for this week:
-Day 1: VERY slow, but gorgeous, run through a park in Colorado, watching the sunrise. 10 minute shuffle/2 minute walk/8 minute shuffle back. The upper ab pain started to get pretty bad at 7 minutes, but I toughed it out until I got to 10 minutes.
-Day 2: Repeat of yesterday’s plan: 10 min shuffle/2minute walk/8 minute shuffle back. I probably went even slower today than yesterday’s run. I only covered 1.3 miles if that tells you anything. I ran on a roadside trail in Albuquerque. It was flat, ghetto, and creepy haha. Apparently we stayed on the wrong side of town.
-Day 3: 20 min run (was able to run the 20 minutes consecutively!), followed by 30 minute stationary bike (upright bike). I was a little sore in my upper abs, but less than yesterday. We arrived in Oklahoma today! Hurray for being done with the car!
-Day 4: 30 min run, covered about 3 miles. I felt great and my pace was faster than it has been for months!
-Day 5: 40 min run, and I felt amazing. I did a pace check on track– 8:16 pace!! Of course, I think I always subconsciously speed up when I am pace-checking at the track, so I am guessing that I was really averaging 9 min/mile for the bulk of the run. It is always fun to explore new areas, and I am getting to know the area of Oklahoma that we will be staying in for the next few weeks.
-Day 6: 40 minute run, probably about 9 min/mile pace again. I was a little sore in my incision site from yesterday, but since I was exploring a new trail, I went longer than I meant to (e.g., I was enjoying myself, so I refused to look at my watch so that turning around late was a “mistake.”) Followed run with 20 minutes on the stationary bike.
-Day 7: Walk 3 miles
Addendum: Since I am publishing these training logs several weeks after the fact, thought I should give an update on my friend’s (mentioned above) marathon. At her FIRST marathon back, after 2 pregnancies and a c-section, she ran a 3:16 at NYC!!! I am so thrilled for her!! And she reads this blog, so GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This week was crazy. We left on Friday for Oklahoma. My husband has a 6 week training course there, and since I am on maternity leave, we figured I might as well come along. So he secured us temporary housing, and we loaded the baby, our 2 dogs, and ourselves into the car for a cross-country drive.
The seatbelt across my incision area has been far from comfortable. My entire lower pelvic area still feels bruised, but that is manageable. The real problem is that my skin is still very tender. If anything touches it, the area feels like it is set on fire. The burning calms down eventually if I don’t let anything else touch the area. Enter seatbelt = not fun. Mostly I sat for the whole ride with my hands down my pants (holding the seatbelt and my pants away from my skin). I have also spent most of the trip wondering why I can’t just walk around naked. My pants hurt because they rub my skin, and my little one is constantly breastfeeding….
Probably better than walking around naked would be to just take some Tylenol. Sometimes I am too stubborn for my own good.
I have continued dabbling with running this week. I don’t notice the burning in my incision area when I run. Probably because I have the most amazing pair of running shorts. There is no elastic band to rub the area when I run. They are an old pair of Patagonia running shorts. I have looked online for them but can’t find them… maybe they stopped making them? Bummer.
My biggest problem with running has been really sore upper ab muscles. It feels almost like a severe sideache, but the sideache is on both sides of my stomach and up top. In terms of how I have felt on runs, I think I have plateaued over the last 3 days, which is discouraging because before that, every day felt so much better. But when I compare myself to one week ago, I still see massive improvement.
Enough babbling, Here is my running log for the week.
Day 1: 20 minutes bike, then ran 2 miles on the treadmill at gym at 11:30 min/mile pace. WOW! So thrilled with the success on the treadmill. Never knew I would be so proud of 11:30 pace!
-Day 2: Walked to dirt track by my house w husband and dogs. Ran 4 laps (1 1/3 miles) at 12 min mile pace.
-Day 3: Went downtown to lake. Walked one lap for warmup, ran one lap in 16 mins (1 lap = 1.4 miles)
-Day 4: Walked 4 miles
-Day 5: Last day in Washington before heading to OK. Headed back to lake. Walked one lap warmup, then ran 2 laps at 11 min/mile pace. My upper abdomen was very sore the whole run—sideache or just very sore muscles? I am not sure. Incision area felt good though.
-Day 6: Hectic day with driving, did not manage to find any time to exercise other than a 0.75 mile walk in the evening with my husband and dogs. Arrived in SLC which is my hometown.
-Day 7: Went for a very fun run with my mom, sister, husband, and all four of our dogs! (My dad was thrilled to have babysitting duty during our run). We walked 1 mile warm-up, then ran 3 miles at 11-12 minute pace, then walked 1 mile cool-down. Mom and sister are getting ready for sister’s first marathon in a couple weeks!! I felt great on this run, and I did not notice my abdomen hurting until the last ½ mile. I still can’t open my stride at all, so running is more of a shuffle, but I am okay with that for now. Onwards and upwards!
I feel this week was a success. My mom is still here, which helps immensely, and my sister just arrived as well. It helps having all the support at home, plus it’s just fun to have them around.
I had a “successful” return to running this week, with “successful” being defined as: I was able to do it. In truth, my “running” pace was slower than a fast walking pace, but who cares?? My body was somewhat in the running motion, and that is all that matters to me at this point.
I followed my rules (laid out in a previous post) very strictly this week. I am still sore, but not enough to be needing Tylenol and Motrin (except for before bedtime). I figured it was okay to “run” as long as running did not hurt more than walking. And it didn’t, though both are still uncomfortable.
I still cannot lift my legs very well, but the push back (aka hip extension) is more painful than the lift up (aka hip flexion). I think this is because my abdomen is stretched when my legs are extended back, which probably pulls at the scar tissue more?? I am just guessing here as to why that hurts more. I am curious to hear from any Salty readers, especially physical therapists or someone trained similarly, to see why this would be.
My running form is a very short stride, more akin to a shuffle. I am concentrating hard to be sure to keep proper body mechanics, however small my stride may be. Every day, I feel exponentially better. It is amazing to see how, with the same effort, my mile pace is getting faster. I never knew how proud I would be of 15 minute mile pace, but it is a lot faster than my first run which was 22 minute mile pace! I’ll take the victory here.
With no further ado, here is my training log for this week.
-Day 1: 30 min bike at gym and ran 1 lap around track. This was my first “run” that was more than 5 seconds!! I made ¼ mile. Pace was slower than walking pace though (22 min mile pace!) I was ecstatic after
Day 2: 40 minute bike
-Day 3: 30 min bike at gym and ran 1 lap around track (20 min mile pace)
-Day 4: 30 minute bike and ran 2 laps at track (20 min mile pace)
-Day 5: 45 minute bike at gym, biked pretty hard
-Day 6: Walked 1 mile warmup. Ran 3 x 1/3 mile loops at my house (so 1 mile) while my husband and dogs walked around. My pace was 15 mins/mile.
-Day 7: Walk 4.5 mile hilly loop around home
A friend of mine told me that every day after a c-section you feel 100% better than the day before. Well, I have a lot of “100%’s” to go until I feel decent again, but she was right. Every day is 100% better than the day before… UNLESS I overdid it the day before, in which case I take one step forward and a half step back.
I’ve had a lot of improvement this week though. The best part was realizing that I can stationary bike at the gym without feeling pain in my incision. The trick is to set the bike with just enough resistance that I can pedal solely using the power of my leg muscles, hence sparing my core. I also found that if I kept my pedal rate about 70 RPMs, that was just about right (any faster and I could feel my core starting to engage, which is what I was trying to avoid). Read more >>
With cesarean deliveries accounting for about one in every 3 births, many of us soon-to-be or new running moms will find ourselves facing a return to running after a c-section. It is my goal to help you make your running comebacks as soon as and as smoothly as possible!
Last week, I questioned the standard c-section recovery recommendations, which require 6-8 weeks off running. I believe it is acceptable to at least question this advice if you are a seasoned runner and have an uncomplicated c-section.
This week, I want to discuss how other factors about your c-section may affect your return to running.
According to the CDC, in 2013, C-sections accounted for 32 .7% of US births[i]. That’s one in three births, people. No matter how fit we runners are, even we are very likely to deliver our babies via c-section.
However, as runners, there’s one thing we are also likely to do: disregard medical advice, especially when it comes to things like rest and recovery time. Those recommendations are for average people and we runners are anything but … or so our thinking goes.
When it comes to c-section recovery, doctors recommend a 6 week break from exercise. SIX weeks off?! You’re joking, right?
Let’s discuss whether this six weeks break applies to highly trained runners, too. Read more >>
I could have come up with the right words if I had been able to go for a long run. The longer my run is, the more I find answers to whatever questions may be on my mind at the start of the run. In fact, I am pretty sure if world leaders went for a 20 mile run together, they would find a way to make world peace.
But instead of clearing my jumbled brain on a long run, I spent the entire week with a frozen bag of peas down my pants. And, I kid you not, that frozen bag of peas did more to help my pain than any Motrin or Tylenol ever did.
Seriously, though, one thing I noticed this week was that every day was 100% better (in terms of pain) than the day before. The exception to that was day 6 (though I had overdone it the day before). Day 6 felt like day 3 in terms of how much pain I had. But then day 7 felt better than day 5 (does that make sense???).
Every ounce of my being wanted to walk in a hunched-over position. I forced myself to stand up straight when walking around. Standing up straight wasn’t fun at the time, but worth it in the long run. It’s humbling how fast I went from running marathons, to just trying to stand up straight when walking!! Onwards and upwards, my friends!
Anyhow, with no further ado, here is my day-by-day progress week 1 after c-section. Of note, I took Tylenol and Motrin around the clock this week, and iced immediately after every walk.
- Day 0 (e.g. baby birthday). Walked to nurses station and puked at the end. It was only about 30 feet max. I couldn’t really feel my legs very well during this walk and am pretty sure I was duck waddling.
- Day 1: Walked a few loops around hospital halls, very slow and painful. But I did take a shower that afternoon! I even managed to wash the soles of my feet somehow.
- Day 2: Left hospital! I love walking my dogs. It’s one of my favorite things to do. So my husband and I decided to take our dogs to their favorite park (about ¼ mile from home). We walked towards the park, with me taking very slow and fragile steps. I then realized I could not make it that far, so we headed back. After maybe walking 200 more meters, I could not take another step. My abdomen felt like I was being stabbed with 10 sharp knives. I couldn’t stand up straight. I felt like a little crippled old lady. No joke, my husband had to get the car to drive me the last 200 meters. Ugh. At this point, I can’t imagine ever feeling normal again.
- Day 3: For this walk, we went to the elementary school across the street. Why? Because the school has lots of bleachers that I could rest on. And oh, were those bleachers needed!! I also timed my Tylenol and Motrin, so that they would be in peak effect during my walk (so I took them both 1 hour before we left for the walk). Thanks to better planning, this walk went much better than my day 3 walk. We lapped the school 3 times, which is about ¾ mile. I couldn’t have made it that far without the bleachers to rest on.
- Day 4: Walked our dogs in the woods by our house. I took baby, baby steps and knew that if I slipped on the dirt trail, I’d be toast. Halfway around the loop, I discovered that if I pushed on my incision site with my hands while walking, it actually decreased the burning that I was feeling. That led to me tying the dog leashes around my lower pelvis area to act as a sort of brace. And it helped- a LOT! Total walking distance: ¾ mile.
- Day 5: Mom arrived today! Hubby and I went on a “date” downtown to walk around the lake. I found that the best “brace” for my incision area was a long-sleeved shirt. I evened out the sleeve of the shirt and used that as a belt over my incision, then I tied the sleeves in a knot behind my hip bone, pulling the sleeves as tight as I could. From now on, when I refer to my “belt”, this is what I am talking about. We walked 2 miles at a pretty quick walking pace. I felt great!! Amazing!! Feeling elated!
- Day 6: Feeling deflated. Definitely overdid it yesterday and I am paying for it. My incision site burned like the dickens, and my whole lower pelvis area throbbed. I walked a slow, tender, defeated mile around the neighborhood with husband to recover.
- Day 7: Walked 2 miles with my husband and dogs, just around the neighborhood. I had my “brace” on which helped. For the record, this is when I started tapering my Tylenol and Motrin. Instead of taking them around the clock, I tried to just take them when I couldn’t stand the burning anymore. I still was pretty reliant on them, though.
Salty readers, have you ever experienced recovery from surgery? What are your memories or tips for coping with the first week?
I kind of think I’m invincible. I’m willing to guess many of you can relate to this feeling. I live an extremely active lifestyle, running about 50 miles per week, bike commuting 6 miles each way, and walking my dogs at least 3 miles a day. I was able to run (ok, waddle would be more accurate) throughout pregnancy thanks to encouragement from Salty’s pregnancy posts. I even ran 6 miles the day I went into labor!
So long story short, I was shocked when, at 38 weeks pregnant, my baby turned breech and I was told that unless she turned head-down by delivery day, I would need a C-section. Me? A C-section? There’s no way! I was going to have a perfect, natural, unmedicated birth and bounce right back into running without barely missing a step! Read more >>
Hello Salty readers!
I am excited to be joining the Salty bloggers. I benefited greatly from reading Salty’s training logs during pregnancy, and having undergone a recent c-section, I wanted to give back a little and provide my own training logs during recovery. C-section recovery has been addressed a little bit on Salty running before, but I am hoping to go into more detail about my recovery.
I also really love talking about running (shocking) and what better atmosphere than here! Read more >>
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